Is emotionally numb a good thing?

My medications are working and I honestly have no worries or major issues right now. I question the healthfulness of this. Am I like a zombie? Is my head empty? Or are my moods being regulated by medications that are properly blocking various aspects of the synaptic transmission of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine neurons?

Have I found the miracle cure? Is my brain balanced to a level of stabilizing my emotions?

Is it good to feel nothing? I would answer with a resounding “YES” if you have suffered a major depressive episode, such as I have. My mental health needed a break from the negativity that unregulated neurotransmitters can do to my thinking.

It feels similar to a time after my father died. I was 19 years old and I took his sudden death hard. At the time, I didn’t know I nose-dived into one of many major depressive episodes. But when I came out of it about 3 years later, I vividly recall searching for the sense of loss, the grief and the loneliness that I had been feeling without my dad around. Miraculously I couldn’t find it. I felt at peace. The passing of time healed me that time. (Without medications—amazing!)

However, it wasn’t long until I took up a new neurosis–anorexia and excessive exercise. On my 5’8″ frame I got down to 117 lbs., which is quite thin for me. But, that’s another story.

Today I celebrate the peace I feel. It is a welcome relief. I’m consciously avoiding issues that may trigger depression because I’m not confident this mood is stable or just a reprieve before the next episode.

I don’t want to dwell on my past. I was browsing my local used bookstore and saw an autobiography about surviving childhood sexual abuse and I usually buy such books. Not this month, I put that book down and walked on by. I wanted the book but I was afraid what it might trigger. I also haven’t talked to my brothers at all in the last month because I just don’t want to feel like I’m faking it or avoiding topics with them. I called my mom, though, and she was pleased and we had an hour-long conversation that was superficial but, nonetheless, made her feel good. I felt my usual sense of not being important but such is my life as the daughter of this mother.

I see Lynn on Saturday after a 4-week break between sessions. I don’t have issues except the topic of side-effects of my medications. Is that wrong of me? Should I dig deep and bring up the differences my husband and I have – even if I tolerate them and don’t feel upset about it? Should I complain that I am too serious and not as spontaneous as I would like? Or should I accept who I am and give up on the spontaneity thing? Why try to fix something that doesn’t feel broke at the moment?

Perhaps in this lull between depressive episodes is the exact time when I should push the envelope. Dig deep. Complain about my husband, my mother, my childhood, my friends, my need for isolation and privacy. Is now the time to open a can of worms and work on the issues they expose?

If I did that, perhaps I could get to the root cause of my drinking. I know it is to block out painful emotions. It’s an emotional addiction. A way to self-medicate. What am I hiding with my wine drinking?

Isn’t that why I walked into Lynn’s office? To face that dragon and slay it?

I am gaining more control over my alcohol consumption but I haven’t stopped bingeing as my preferred defense mechanism. I hear the voices telling me, get through the week, see Lynn on Saturday, act like all is well and then Saturday night you can let your façade down and drink your feelings away.

REALITY CHECK — The fact that I’m using alcohol as a mental reward/goal if I do as I should is a sure sign alcohol has a negative hold on me.

I guess I’ve answered my own question. There is definitely more to work on with Lynn. But, am I ready to reach the final frontier? Can I expose my secret way of coping and discuss pulling it out from under me? YIKES! What will my life be like if I learn to stop drinking?

Not drinking will require a new way of long-term management that I do not think I possess the skills to do at this point. I have no parachute. No trampoline to help my fall.

Numbness is good. I prefer this sense of dullness around the edges that the medications create. I also prefer to keep my head in the sand about how much my drinking really effects my enjoyment in life.

When I go without a drink I feel so great after a week or two of abstaining. But, god damn it, something always draws me back. I read others blogs about how they cope and many of us have our issues.

Seriously, what’s the difference between cutting, anorexia, bulimia, social withdrawal, smoking, drugs or drinking too much wine? I fear if I drop the wine I’ll just move onto another coping mechanism. I have an innately addictive personality.

But, I know that if social occasions cause such anxiety that the only way to fake my way through is to dangle the reward of a cold glass of wine on the weekends, then there’s an intrinsic problem.

I know this but am I ready to make the effort to change? It is ultimately up to me to decide how I approach Lynn on Saturday.

Perhaps I can tell Lynn the difficulty I’m having in exposing the true depth of need I have for my coping mechanism/self-medication/emotion-blocking behavior. That would be a start.

3 responses to “Is emotionally numb a good thing?

  1. lts a great comfort to see that other strong women question themselves like this. And I think its a sign of real intelligence. I mean, these are GOOD questions. Real marrow-of-life stuff. Dig deep. I know its scary to be so vulnerable but you’re loved and supported.
    PS I had no idea your dad died when you were so young. how?
    pps Get your money’s worth out of your session this Saturday!!!
    x

    • Thanks for your kind words. My dad had a massive heart attack at the age of 50 without warning. The autopsy showed that his arteries were almost completely blocked. He and my mom divorced when I was 10 but my brother’s and I saw him every weekend. He was an honest, intelligent, humble and funny guy. When he died I was in college and I spent many nights alone crying in my dorm room. I’ve never felt so isolated in my entire life. I managed to graduate college with excellent grades, anyway. I suffer through almost anything to keep showing the world I’m okay and don’t need help. I wish I had taken time off and mourned for my loss but I wasn’t ready to confront a lot of things. I still miss him greatly, 2 decades later.

      This sounds like a good topic for my blog!

    • PS. Thanks for the advice about getting my money’s worth with Lynn. What is my deal that when I know what my problem is I feel like I should have solved it by myself already. You are right, it’s okay to get help and I shouldn’t be so scared to show my vulnerabilities. XX

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