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Depression – I Can’t Enjoy the Good Things

I love good things theoretically, but with depression, I can’t enjoy the good things. Most people don’t get this. Most people can’t conceptualize of this. But even when good (recently great) life events occur, I just don’t feel pleasure (Depression Is Not Sadness). I can’t enjoy the good things when I’m depressed.

Enjoying the good things isn't easy with depression; in fact, enjoying good things is very hard. I should be excited - but am not - so what can I do about it?

Enjoying a Great Thing

Recently I published my first book: Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression and Bipolar. It’s an extremely exciting time for me. There are the sales, there are the reviews and there is the promotion. There’s a lot going on. But regardless as to all of that, there is simply the enjoyment of the major accomplishment of getting a book out there.

Or, at least, you would think. My mother keeps saying that I must feel so great about it. She keeps asking me about how excited I am. Enjoyment of this big accomplishment is just assumed. I get it. I do. But I don’t feel enjoyment. I just feel like it’s hard. Everything is hard with depression.

Why Does Depression Prevent Enjoyment?

Honestly, I don’t know why depression prevents the enjoyment of good things. In my understanding of neurobiology I could posit a theory involving the reward circuits of the brain, but, in the end, how my brain isn’t working is kind of meaningless. The only relevant thing about a lack of enjoyment is that it’s happening.

Everyone (Who Isn’t Depressed) Enjoys the Good Things

It’s very sad that “everyone” enjoys the good things because I’m not part of “everyone.” I’m just part of me. And because “everyone” enjoys the good things, “everyone” doesn’t understand what the heck I’m talking about. No, I’m not terribly excited. No, I don’t feel really great. I know that people don’t understand this because all their brains work just fine. But mine doesn’t. My stupid, depressed brain just doesn’t.

So What Do I Feel About the Good Things While Depressed?

It’s hard to say how I feel because I’m in a bipolar mixed-cycling-mood-thing right now. I feel a bit thankful; after all, I know how hard I worked on it. But mostly I feel sad. I feel sad that everyone else would enjoy this and I can’t. It’s almost like I’m waiting for the stage of the book publishing process that will create enjoyment. I’m waiting for the stage that will never come.

But I know how to handle this problem. I know that I can’t think about how other people without bipolar depression would feel. I know I can’t compare myself to them – or anyone else. I know that whether I enjoy this good thing or not, I can’t beat myself up about it. I just have to take a deep breath and accept my personal reality. It’s not easy and it’s not fun but with depression, I just don’t enjoy the good things, but I fight so that one day I will.

Check out Natasha Tracy’s book: Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar and connect with her on FacebookGoogle+ or Twitter or at Bipolar Burble, her blog.

Image by nosha from Pennington, New Jersey, USA (laughing) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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7 Responses to Depression – I Can’t Enjoy the Good Things

  1. "Smiling" Depression says:

    No doubt people with depression experience a loss of pleasure, especially in things that used to bring joy into their life. After all isn’t that one of the symptoms of depression?

    But for those of us with bipolar 1 who may be on an antipsychotic medication to reduce the dopamine in our brain and thus reduce the mania, we also get a double dose of the blahs (for lack of a better word). Often while in hospital, for instance we are flooded with an antipsychotic (or lithium) to quickly reduce the negative symptoms of mania. I suspect this is why some people on antipsychotics also complain of “feeling nothing at all”, “void” or like a “zombie” a lot of the time. This is especially troublesome when we are no longer in mania and must now continue to take it for stabilization because we can’t tolerate the side effects of lithium, for instance. Feeling void or like a zombie can also add to manic depression. Since bipolar refers to the two poles of mania and depression, this also begs the question, “Is it the chicken or the egg that comes first in this scenario?

    Dopamine is calld the pleasure or feel good centre of the brain. To reduce that dopamine is to also reduce how “happy” your gonna feel.

    There have been a number of articles I’ve come across lately that also refer to a phenomena called “smiling depression” where people are depressed on the inside but “smiling” on the outside in an attempt to mask their depression.

    I am considered “high functioning” but I also suffer with bipolar 1 and was on antipsychotics for a long time before I complained to my psychiatrist and finally took myself off them. When you are considered “high functioning” and “smiling” on the outside to keep up appearances people tend to think everything is alright down there in “who ville” but they’d be wrong, wrong, wrong?

  2. Patrick F says:

    I get you. When in a depressed mode I’ll finish a project (no small thing, those days), look at it and my brain will say “Yep, there it is… That’s definitely done… No doubt about it.” …No Pavlovian *ding* of reward, no satisfied glow. My brain makes no emotional comment on the situation.

    Congratulations on getting your book out on the market, Natasha! Big accomplishment. I hope it is very successful, it speaks for so many and I thank you for providing an intelligent insight to the bipolar mind. It might be that you can’t react emotionally right now, so be sure to come back and read all the Congratulations when you feel better and can enjoy the appreciation.

  3. Lui Bliss says:

    Make sure you are getting good quality fish oil with high EPA, vitamin b’s, c, Rhodiola and as you know NAC. You may also be taking too many meds if u r try lowering them with docs supervision.

  4. Natasha says:

    I completely understand where you are coming from.I have felt this way for nearly three years.I wasn’t getting pleasure out of anything.things would make me smile or pleased when i was feeling okay but that was it. I explained this to my doctor at my last visit. he lowered one of my meds and put me on a new mood stabilizer. it was instant,the next day after my first dose,i found myself smiling as I listened to my daughter singing and relized that was enjoying it,really enjoying it. last night we went to a show and I was really enthusiastic about it.something that was not usually in my life.We had gone to see Coldplay a few months earlier and while I appreciated the fact I was there,I wasn’t besides myself with joy,I wish i’d been on these meds then as I love coldplay and I know I would have had a completely different experience. Can you talk to your doc about switching things up to try and bring pleasure back into your life? I couldn’t bare the thought of living like that any longer and was having “bad: thoughts.Thank god i found this med. wishing you pleasure,
    Natasha

  5. JohnT says:

    Depression and anxiety keeps you from enjoying anything. Even High School sporting events with kids keeps you on edge and nervous. Jogging becomes impossible until a better day.

  6. cassa says:

    I rarely feel enjoyment or even pride in something well done. I’ll do something big or accomplish something and people will say, “Wow, you must feel really good about that” and yet I don’t. It’s nice to have it done or to have accomplished it, but compared to how I know I’ve felt after completing similar things before, there’s nothing there, no feeling, no nothing.

  7. Suzi says:

    You so describe my feelings. I am building a new house, and everyone keeps saying “you must be so excited”. I am happy with the project, but i am not sure if it my bipolar meds, or just the tiredness and depression i suffer from, but I am just not excited by it, or anything else really.

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