Anhedonia is the failure or inability to experience pleasure. It is a significant symptom in clinical depression. I’ve experienced it before, and it’s not pleasant. Not being able to experience good feelings or any feelings makes you feel emotionally empty. Right now I’m feeling pretty ambivalent about some things that I used to care about a lot. I can’t call it anhedonia, it’s not that strong of an non-feeling. I used to really enjoy gardening and my flowerbeds were very attractive and my vegetables thrived. Right now the only thing that thrives in my yard is weeds. Everything is overgrown and bordering on ugly. And I just haven’t really cared a whole lot about it. It could be just the fatigue/lack of energy that keeps me from doing the things I used to. But I’ve been avoiding dealing with it because it’s gotten so out of control. Today was the first time I had to do the mowing myself (my son has gone off to college). That was a challenge in itself. The mower was not cooperating and kept stalling out. Let’s just say the lawn is less than half done. But I did get the new dog run hung, and that has waited to be done for at least a year. I’m certainly not in a hurry, that’s for sure.
Sometimes I worry the meds are making me unemotional or flat. Maybe that is why I don’t care about things that used to be important to me.
So I guess my feelings about gardening and yard work are no longer what they were. If this continues, I may need to go condo.
Every once in a while I think we all take the time to be still for a moment and just listen…It can be in the midst of a hectic day at work or a lull in a Saturday afternoon. Right now I’m being still at home. The furnace just kicked on, I can hear the hum of the dryer as it tosses the towels about. I can also hear the twitter (how we used to use the word) of the birds outside that came back way too early this year. And the tick of the clock hanging on the wall above me. So there are lots of noises going on besides the constant noise in my head (and I’m not referring to the chronic tinnitus I’ve developed from ear infections either).
But do we listen to each other? One of the skills I’ve developed as a nurse is the ability to listen to patients and families. Sometimes people just need to talk without interruption. Listening with intention is a skill. It’s becoming invested in what someone is saying, having empathy, being moved to respond meaningfully. Sometimes when we talk, we don’t want solutions or answers, we just need to be heard. It means we have truly connected with another human being, having communicated our thoughts and feelings.
At times it is ok to just be in the silence together. The unsaid is just as meaningful/powerful as what is given over to words. The old cliché of “reading between the lines” is an apt description of the power of the nonverbal. Listen to the silence. What hasn’t been said? What might it mean? Perhaps we should just ponder it…in silence.
Mysteriously and in ways that are totally remote from natural experience, the gray drizzle of horror induced by depression takes on the quality of physical pain.
I HATE getting ill or injured. Of course everyone does. But it seems way worse for me because it aggravates my Depression. I am just miserable. Everything feels ten times worse. Symptoms are exaggerated, pain is amplified, I could just curl up and stay in bed until the thing blows over. How long do you think it would take?
For example, I picked up (sounds like I did it on purpose) a viral illness that gave me a headache, body aches/chills and diarrhea. This lasted about 48 hours. I felt pretty lousy, spent the first part of that time sleeping it off in bed, minimally conscious of the world or of time passing. I made it to work the next day, well medicated and eating very light. But my mood was generally highly sensitive and irritable. Felt like it was very easy for my buttons to be pushed. Even found myself crying to Christmas carols in the car, boo-hooing over the demise of my marriage that ended around this time of year some 15 years ago. Now where did all that come from??? I really think these episodes of acute physical illness trigger something emotional as well, or break barriers down that usually keep things in check. But why? And why now? I think I’ve grieved plenty over the loss of that relationship. And doesn’t everyone feel irritable when they are sick? It just seems so much more heightened for me, I don’t know quite how to explain it. I would like to know if there are others who have had similar experiences and are willing to share.
I’d like to think that I’m doing better since starting new medication and being in therapy for a while now, but I doubt myself as usual. I guess one thing that makes me question myself is that I find myself in tears nearly the entire therapy session. Now granted, I’ve always been more toward the overly emotional side of things, and my heart is not on my sleeve but dangling somewhere by a thread, and getting kicked around by steel-toed shoes.
It was actually rather darkly humorous that we didn’t even begin to talk and the tears started to flow. I laughed about how she brings out the angst in me. We couldn’t decide if it was the place or her, and I said we would have to run into each other in a public place to see if I had the same reaction.
So all the waterworks does very little for my already congested sinuses and chronic headache. She is taking a vacation and promises she will be all stocked up again on facial tissues when she returns. That’s a promise I expect her to keep. We’ve been having some tough conversations lately about intimate relationships, and I’ve had to admit to some big mistakes and bad judgement. Yes, you heard right. This gal has made mistakes. Not perfect. And I’m working on being ok with that. I hope others can be too. Now if I can just address my situation…
Therapy can be outright torture at times. I’m talking about psychotherapy that is. I used to tell my son when he was young it was the “talking doctor.” I can’t recall making it through a single session with any therapist without shedding a tear. I am what you would call, an emotional, or “highly sensitive person.” A psychologist actually coined that term, her name is Elaine Aron. Her book, appropriately titled, The Highly Sensitive Person is all about people who feel overwhelmed and overstimulated by the world. I’ll talk about that some other time.
Soooooo, many tears are shed during therapy sessions, hence the investment in facial tissues. My life reads somewhat like a soap opera, and sounds quite entertaining when it is all laid out in chronological order. When I tell just snippets, it sounds like utter chaos. That’s how it feels too. So imagine sitting down with a third therapist in 15 years and having to explain how I got to this point. Ugh. Double ugh. I shouldn’t be crying about things that happened 15 years ago, but when severely depressed, everything hurts. I sound like that stupid antidepressant commercial. So which pill can help THAT? I don’t think there is a pill to plug up the flood. Probably shouldn’t be either. Like other bodily fluids, better out than in. Eeww, right?
I guess I can only justify the tears in relation to what Therese Borchard (author of book & blog Beyond Blue) said about the butterfly emerging from its cocoon; it needs to struggle to get the fluids moving in its little body and so its wings will be strong enough to fly. The butterfly is known as a symbol of hope. I want to be strong enough to fly again. My therapist is going to help me work on that. She promised.