2022: Why am I numb emotionally​? Signs of being emotionally numb​.

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Living a life of emotional numbness – depersonalization 

Sitting in front of me, there was this beautiful smart girl I had a conversation with. Impressively calm, very balanced, even restrained I would say.

I was impressed by her. But then I finally was able to put my finger to it and  It  was the absence of vitality. That got me thinking. She was kind of cold, she missed the energy you would normally see in people’s eyes when they talk about things they love. 

I could see something was not right. And then I came up with this question that came very naturally in our talk: ‘How are you feeling?’, I asked her. The answer I got brought me to the topic today: ‘Nothing. Bernadette, I feel nothing’, she said.

In today’s podcast I’m going to be talking about the sense of nothingness that’s becoming more and more prevalent. Emotional numbness.

 

Do you sometimes feel disconnected from the world around you? 

Have you experienced feeling unreal for some periods of time, or feeling the world within and the world around you seems strange and somehow empty? 

These experiences are just part of what emotional numbness feels like.

Emotional numbness makes you feel like you are living someone else’s life rather than yours; it’s like you are looking at yourself from the point of an outside observer, and your body doesn’t really feel like it belongs to you. You may feel detached from the sense of self, your surroundings somehow feel unreal and you might even start questioning your presence in your own life. 

It's sort of like you are in a state of some sinister awake coma.  You feel isolated, insecure about what exactly is happening to you, disconnected from your own emotions and thoughts. It sometimes feels so hollow that you can’t recognize familiar emotions like compassion, love, gratitude, and even fears and pains start disappearing leaving you in a state of emotional numbness. 

Let me take you now through some reasons that are likely to have made you feel emotionally numb and lost. Because knowing the potential culprits behind it, and what made you feel this way can just help you so much in coping with it. 

So, maybe you’ve recently experienced a traumatic event in your life, like the loss of someone close to you, or had a painful break-up, or faced a failure. This is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the way it activates emotional numbness in you is by simply making your brain shut down when you experience emotions that take you back to that traumatic event. It could be an object, a person, or a place that triggers your negative emotions.

This post traumatic effect can last pretty long. It may last for months, sometimes even years after you had the negative experience, and it could be a mental barrier that stops you from making friendships or connecting with people in general. 

Traumatic events are the cause for emotional numbness for many people, but maybe that’s not your reason. What else could cause it then?

Well, if you experience emotional numbness regularly but there is no specific event that you can point out as a reason, then your lack of emotions might be a trace leading to depression.

Depression usually makes people feel sad, lonely and lacking self-esteem. But that’s not the case for some. Emotional numbness is just another face of depression that makes you feel nothing in situations you are supposed to feel joyous. Or instead of feeling happy for the good things happening in your life, and feeling sad when you lose someone – you feel emptiness. 

If you recognize yourself in my words, this is a sign your emotional emptiness is rooted in well covered depression. 

But there is another possible reason behind this psychological condition. 

Have you heard of the term Depersonalization? 

Depersonalization disorder could be another cause for emotional numbness. Apart from feeling emotional emptiness, you also feel physically disconnected from your body. Actually, only around 2% of the people experience depersonalization. 

You need to be aware that recognizing you are experiencing depersonalization on time is very very important. Yes, it might affect a few people, and maybe only for a short time, but it can also become chronic and take over our lives. If we don’t identify this condition early on, it stays for a long time, and becomes the captain on our emotional boat.

I asked her to help me understand better what exactly she is going through, so she explained to me the sensations of depersonalization in a way I can relate to by using a simple example I’m going to share with you.

You know those little games we all have played with our minds, like staring at the mirror for a very long time until getting to the point you don’t recognize your own face? Or when you repeat the same word so many times that it no longer sounds familiar? These examples of temporary strangeness can help you understand what depersonalization feels like. 

Well, here’s the thing - while the examples I gave you serve as momentary impressions for us, to her that’s a constant feeling. So depersonalization could be another face of emotional numbness. 

 

The best thing to do in order to break out of the cage your emotions have imprisoned you in, is by directly addressing them. 

Reaching out for a specialist is a huge step towards resolving this condition. Psychotherapy and proper medications, good diet and regular exercise are extremely beneficial for freeing yourself from the chains of your emotional emptiness.

Beyond professional help, another huge factor in tackling this condition is your surroundings. Yes, you heard that right. You shouldn’t hide and be afraid of what you are going through! 

It’s very very important that the people you are surrounded by understand what’s going on with your emotions and conditions. 

Professional support is always a way.So when you feel hollow and your inner voice tells you you are a bystander in your own life, you have to ask yourself a few very important questions. Start with this one: 

‘What is the thing that really inspires me? The activity, passion or type of work and way of life that truly empowers me and makes me want to spend time doing it?’

By asking yourself this question and taking the time to really reach the answer, you are a step forward towards the boat that takes you back to your deserved happiness.

The next very helpful question is:

‘What makes me feel satisfied’, and in reverse – ‘What doesn’t make me feel happy? What is the thing or things in my life that drown me more and more, and make me feel more lost and insecure?’

Those are really powerful questions that challenge your negative spirits and remind you of who you really are. The third question that gets you back in the driver’s seat of your own emotional environment, leaving behind the emotional numbness is:

‘Why can’t I express my joy and happiness / my excitement, anger or pains?’

After answering these questions and focusing on really reaching the answers deep down in yourself, you realize the need of emotional satisfaction is nothing to feel ashamed from, but instead, it’s a feeling you have to make sure you constantly feed and take care of.

And always remember – you are not alone. We are in this together.

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