The second installment from our mystery blogger
This is the second posts in the series The Other Side of the Glass, where I explain in detail what it feels like to live with PTSD. I’m writing this series to give Beth, and anyone else that has a loved one with PTSD, an understanding of what it is like to live without emotions or to be emotionally numb. Each person suffering from PTSD has their own trauma, their own symptoms, and their own circumstances, but I’m just trying to give you a glimpse of what it is like to live with this horrible disorder.
What does it feel like? is the first in the series. If you have not already read that post, it would be best to start at the beginning. (Read here)
So now that you have an idea of what it feels like, we will explore what it is like to exist on a daily basis when you cannot feel any emotion.
What is daily life like without emotions?
“You don’t know what you have until it is gone.”
That statement really hit home when I started to deal with daily life without emotions. I never realized before how much of one’s life centers around how we feel. Even as a young man, I had a clear understanding that men think, while women feel. That idea made sense to me, but even as a man, I had no idea how much I relied on feelings for basics of life.
After The Void arrived, the first time someone asked me, “How are you feeling?” (A common greeting where I grew up.) I stood there dumbfounded. My reply was, “I don’t know.” I wasn’t being sarcastic of flippant. I really had no idea how I felt because I couldn’t feel my emotions anymore. With my heart in the glass box, even simple questions were now a challenge. That simple question had totally thrown me for a loop and I didn’t know how to respond. It was that very moment when I realized how badly damaged I was.
Soon afterward, I realized I could no longer listen to music. All the lyrics were talking about love, happiness, and all that other bullshit that no longer made any sense. I could only listen to jazz with no lyrics, and even then it really depended on the melody. If an emotional piece came on, the radio was changed to talk radio.
TV and Movies were completely out of the question. Most TV programs and movies try to invoke emotions out of their viewers, which means absolutely nothing to a person without emotions. TV and movies became bland and boring. There was no entertainment in anything anymore. I actually found little enjoyment in anything. There were a few things I enjoyed doing, but we will discuss that in another post.
When one loses one of their physical senses, the body compensates by heightening all of your other senses. If you lose your vision, your hearing improves, etc. When you lose your emotions, there is only one thing left to help you compensate.
You think. Constantly.
Once I could feel no emotions, it was as if I was thinking twice as fast, all day long. My brain tried to compensate to help me get through situations were my emotions would have normally handled the situation.
As I mentioned above, a simple question like, “How are you feeling?” was no longer an instinctive reaction of, “I’m fine,” or “I feel great!” Instead, I had to think about the answer and reply.
You don’t know this answer, just say you are fine.
Imagine how much you actually feel every day. When you walk out of your home and the sun warms your skin and the soft breeze caresses you, it makes you feel happy and comforted. It’s natural and seamless…until you can no longer feel your emotions. All of those feelings become thoughts.
The sun is bright today. There is a nice breeze. I think I like it.
There is no longer any rest. Your brain goes into overdrive and you think and think and THINK. Unfortunately, that has its own set of problems. When you cannot quiet the mind, insomnia, and dull headaches are the main issues you must also battle.Sleep deprivation is evil, and it only adds to The Void.
All of that thinking leads to exhaustion. Your brain becomes mentally fatigued. There was one day I could not remember how to get home from work. I just kept driving as the things around me looked familiar, but I could not remember anything past my line of sight.
I remember another time when I looked into the mirror and I no longer recognized myself. I literally did not know who the person was that was looking back at me in the mirror. I would have been scared…had I had the ability to feel fear.
- A new perspective: Thinking INSIDE the box (comfortablynumb7.wordpress.com)
- PTSD & Me: Conversations (auroramorealist.wordpress.com)
- Teaching Emotions and Emotional Regulation (engageadhd.org)