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Bipolar Depression and Feeling Nothing at All

Bipolar disorder is an affective disorder, in other words it affects your emotions (among other things). Bipolar disorder symptoms are often about feelings. Well, they’re about FEELINGS. I feel HAPPY. I feel SAD. I feel IRRITATED. I feel ENERGETIC.

But one thing that’s rarely recognized is that sometimes bipolar disorder is about feeling nothing at all.

Depression and Bipolar Disorder

Depression is one of the two poles of bipolar disorder (the other being mania / hypomania). And myself, being bipolar type 2, I’m darn familiar with it because people with bipolar disorder type 2 spend 35 times more time depressed than they do in hypomania.

Depression and Emotion

And while depression is a “low” mood and, of course, is known for sadness, there is something else you might feel when depressed: nothing at all.

Yup. Nothing. Just a void. You feel an absence, if such a thing is possible. You feel the blank page, silence, dark matter, dishwater. You move through the world, and things happen to you that you know you should feel, but instead of feeling, nothing happens. Like turning the key in your car’s ignition and the car not starting – it’s unsettling.

Yay! I’m Not Sad!

So feeling nothing must be a great break from feeling terrible? Right?

Not in my experience. Feeling nothing just makes you feel like you’re not human, not like you’re not depressed. It’s like being the shell of a person. A walking and talking corpse. Like you’re nothing. The human experience with emotion removed isn’t the human experience – it’s really no experience at all.

mp9004444861Because emotions are how we make sense of the world around us. They are how we remember the day. If you loved the fact that you ate lasagne for lunch, you might remember it. If you ate the same dull ham sandwich for the 14th day in a row, you probably won’t. And what does anything matter if it doesn’t make you feel? If you don’t care about eating ice cream or seeing your kids smile or browsing a book store or taking a bubble bath then why bother doing any of those things? Why bother doing anything at all?

And this is the thing that people fundamentally don’t understand about depression. Depression, bipolar, mood disorders, are about moods that don’t respond as expected and in this case don’t budge at all. There is nothing to do, nothing to say, no strategy to try because nothing moves the needle, even a little. It’s not that I’m not trying it’s that trying doesn’t matter.

And that is a recursive depression. It’s depression that makes you feel nothing which makes you feel depressed which makes you feel even less (because yes, there are degrees of nothingness). It’s depression that breeds depression. Like bunnies. Depression bunnies, all grey and un-hoppy.

What to Do When You Feel Nothing

Now comes the part of the article when I make my stunningly insightful recommendations. Ah. I’m having trouble with that bit because I only have one suggestion: try to remember it wasn’t always like this and it won’t always be like this in the future.

That’s it. Try to remember. Because I don’t have a stunningly insightful recommendation for how to fix the problem, I can only remind you that the problem wasn’t always there and won’t always be there. You just have to wait. And trust.

One day the bunnies will hop again.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter or at the Bipolar Burble, her blog.

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar Burble, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

167 thoughts on “Bipolar Depression and Feeling Nothing at All”

  1. This has really helped. I thought it was me. My body language. My responsesto questions are not real answers. Feel like the conversation between people is forced. Thinking on this subject the pattern starts with a situation that involves a third party. I have the Answers and my natural impulsiveness would resolve this problem in a second. But others can’t, so i get irritable and draw to a blank…

  2. Im 17 and when i was in therapy they diagnosed me as bipolar. Im not in therapy anymore and i no longer get any help and noe for the first time i actually understand that im bi polar and its starting to really effect me. I just started a relationship amd i get butterflies sometimes. I like him but other times its absolutely empty and i dont think its fair for him to wonder why im so down while we’re on our date. I feel it creeping up on me and i think its about to get much worse . Id like help but im about to be 18 so its not going to be free anymore.

  3. It has been a little soothing reading these posts knowing I am not the only one that feels like it is all for nothing , no one loves me or thinks of me I am just a waste of space , I have no idea why I am still living or how to keep going for reasons that are not clear my children are all young adults and find me to hard to deal with , I just want to FEEL SOMETHING. I just want to be alive I tread water and I am just so exhausted I am so over it all I wish I could go to sleep and not wake up .

  4. Yes, you put it into words for everyone to understand. That is exactly how depression is like and I’ve struggled with it for a couple years in my life, up until I tried MDMA. I know sounds crazy and somewhat dangerous (as long as you get some water in your system you’re good) but it completely changed my perspective in life in general. I’d even say that it saved me from myself. I was lost in the world. I wasn’t present in the moment whatsoever because I just didn’t want to, there was no point to it. MDMA just helped me understand the point in loving the people that love me and most importantly myself. It gave meaning and purpose to life. greatest epiphany of my life up to this point. Note that I’ve only done it once in my lifetime. There are plenty of articles on the web that talk about MDMA assisted psychotherapy. It’s really interesting.

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