Do You Ever Just Forget To Feel? Deep Diving Into Depression

By Amy W

Photo by Briggy Jones, Graphic by Diana Noko

Photo by Briggy Jones, Graphic by Diana Noko

So here is the thing: people often say. “I hope you feel better.”  

“I've got a cold”

“Ah, I hope you feel better!”  

“I'm not having a good day”

“I hope you feel better.” 

“My anxiety is playing up today.”

“I hope you feel better”

 “I'm really low.

“Ah, um, well...I hope you feel better.”  

But what if it wasn't just about feeling better as much as it is about FEELING. Do you ever just forget how to FEEL, or is it just me? 

I'm talking, nothingness, full-on numbness over here. No tears, no anger, no joy.  Just a sort of lack of any distinct feelings and emotions.  

That point when you can’t seem to make the important things in life make sense, or there has been some trauma of some kind. Personally, I think it is just my coping mechanism to get me through those rough times. So, I am wondering–-is it just me? 

 

 Being Unable to Feel on a General Day to Day Basis

When I get low, and I mean really low, I bumble my way through life like a little bee who has woken up too early and really needs a morning coffee. Everything and everyone seems to be moving a million miles an hour around me, and all I can manage to do is gawp. I sit there just barely getting myself from A to B, hoping that I will be able to catch up to regular pace at some point. I’ve got to the stage of what I call “hyper-coping”.  I have the emotional energy and stamina to get through a day, and nothing more. I have no capacity for anything other than the bare minimum. To me, this is what numb is like. 

Tears are a show of many different kinds of emotion: frustration, sadness, anger, physical and emotional pain, joy, elation, surprise, empathy, and even pride. At any one time I have cried, or at least been bleary-eyed when feeling any of these. Yet during times where the whole world is rushing on around me, I can’t even do that. Oh, believe me, I can talk the talk and walk the walk. I can sound happy, I can look sad, and I can fake it until I make it with any of those things just like we all can, but inside, I am simply hoping that no one will see through the cracks of my fingers that I am metaphorically holding up to my face as I shake my head and wonder why I don’t feel a thing. It is like there is no pulling yourself out of this kind of slump; it’s quicksand. The more you struggle the more you sink, so you stop struggling. Emotions are a luxury at this point. There is neither the time, nor the head space for them. Senseless is how it feels to be in my head right now! 

  

Finding Myself Again

One of the worst times has to be when I was in a job that was less than ideal – in fact, it was soul-destroying. My so-called “support network” as a trainee consisted of colleagues who were evidently content to suck my soul straight from my body. I was a dogsbody to them. It was awful.  

I started having really intrusive thoughts about harming myself in order to get out of being in that environment--most dangerously these would occur on my drive to work. Like, what if I didn't arrive to work? What if I had crashed? At least I wouldn't have to go in, at least I wouldn't have to see that person, or at least they couldn't ask me to do X Y Z.” And do you know what? I really didn’t care if I drove my car into a tree or not, I was that desensitized that this was the reality of my situation. 

However, it was only when talking to a friend that I realized that I was in dire need of seeking help. I was having these thoughts that I was letting seep into my being, completely oblivious of how significant they were and just how damaging my work environment was to my mental health. I was in such an extreme point of ‘hyper-coping’ that I was simply deadening myself to anything that could trigger a break down. If I didn’t feel, it didn’t count. If I didn’t feel, I could pretend it wasn’t happening. If I didn’t feel at all, then it couldn’t hurt me, they couldn’t win. 

I spoke to a friend very casually over a regular coffee date we often had. When I mentioned the thoughts that I was having, they were so alarmed and concerned for me that they actually cried at the time. I distinctly remember looking at them and wondering what on earth was wrong. I didn’t feel ANY of the emotion that was so clearly being displayed as my friend empathetically felt my pain that I didn’t even know I was in. They were the mirror of the emotions I simply was not feeling. 





What I Had Been Missing All Along

And then I saw it. What I had been missing. The boxes that I had compartmentalized these feelings into in my head started cracking open. I saw my situation through their eyes and it shocked me. It’s good to know that there were hugs, there were more tears from them and there was serious talk about getting help, which, thank goodness, I did go and get. 

The point is, becoming that anesthetized to emotions is really dangerous but can be a seemingly normal coping mechanism at the time. Being emotional just isn’t a viable option sometimes, so bottling it up and packing all of those things away in different compartments in your brain seems completely acceptable. When this becomes a habit, things can really go awry. It is totally possible to be in a state where we are existing only to exist, merely to get through each day without having complete meltdowns. Emotions can become a real luxury during these times. When numbness means the difference between a breakdown and carrying on, why on earth would we choose to feel pain?  Why would we choose to love when even something as precious as that could be too much and could tip us over the edge? On occasion, the risk of rejection, the risk of failure, becomes too much – and it is okay to both recognize and accept that just getting through the day is a huge achievement. It is okay not to be okay. Let’s just take a second to say that again, nice and clear -  IT’S OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY. 

  

Learning How to Feel All Over Again 

Photo by Diana Noko

Photo by Diana Noko

Speaking to someone and letting them in on how the weather was in my head was the only thing that got me out of a rapidly nose-diving situation because their reaction gave me a small glimpse of what it was I should possibly be feeling.   

Now don’t get me wrong. That isn’t always a healthy thing as our emotions are our own and you will never experience circumstances in exactly the same way as someone else, but asking yourself what you would do and what advice you may give to a friend who came and disclosed the same issues is just one way of looking in a psychological mirror and trying to assess your personal situation and mental health. Listening to someone that knows you well can be a blessing, an eye opening experience to say the least. 

If you find yourself at a point where you seem to be looking from the outside in on a world just happily buzzing along, you haven’t really accepted invites anywhere, maybe you haven’t seen or called those you would normally call in a few weeks or, if you seem to be habitually running through the motions in order to keep those locked boxes in your brain from busting open...talk to someone. Grab some coffee, just share some of your thoughts with them, and ask them for an honest, candid reaction. This may well give you the insight you need. Head weather is complex and confusing; storms are so often clearer to interpret and deal with rather than a breeze less void of nothingness.   

I am so thankful for all of the times I have had great friends by my side, they ask the right questions, take note of how I am feeling and ultimately enable me to keep a better check on my head space. If you have friends like this in your life thank them, hug them and please make sure you appreciate them as best you can. When you can be a friend like that, make sure to be one. Notice things, speak up and be there.  

“I want to stop feeling

But then I could never feel better” Elly Diya


Amy

Snapchat-1119161720.jpg

Amy Washington

I’m Amy, and I am a Brit abroad!

I am currently living the life down under, seeing the world and living my travelling dream but working hard too. I am a maths teacher, a tutor, i have been a Nanny and a bar manager (on top of whatever other opportunities come my way)

I love dancing, drama, music and just anything that makes you want to live and love life! I love social media for the contact, outreach and support it can give. I believe that promoting self care, open minded living and equal rights are a key potential of social media. Networking across the world has exponentially increased with its use, which is why I am doing my best to learn more about it including dipping my toes into writing about my experiences travelling and such. I would love to be able to live a remote lifestyle for flexibility and comfort moving on with this next stage of my life as I hope to be living abroad and making new corners of the world my home.