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.
Because 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.
Tracy, N. (2012, January 12). Bipolar Depression and Feeling Nothing at All, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 25 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2012/01/bipolar-depression-and-feeling-nothing-at-all
Author: Natasha Tracy
I can't tell you what your specific answer is, but I can say you need help. If I were you, I'd see a therapist and psychiatrist as soon as possible. If you're already on medication, you likely will need to adjust/change it (under a doctor's supervision, of course).
Please reach out. Life doesn't have to be like this
- Natasha Tracy
What you're describing is something that happens to people sometimes. It can happen for a variety of reasons. For example, if you've experienced trauma, this can be the result. If you're taking medication, it might be the wrong one or the wrong dose. Of course, depression can do this too.
You need to reach out to a therapist and/or doctor. They can help you work this out. You can begin feeling again but you'll likely need help.
- Natasha Tracy
What I can tell you is that your husband needs to seek medical treatment. There are therapies and medications that can help.
- Natasha Tracy
Natasha, once again, I am searching for help, for truth, for some form of a life raft to hold onto, and once again, you are there!
God it's so hard, but not paralyzing, as it is many many (most?) days.
Oh my God, thank you for being there, just to talk. I am so much wanting & needing a shoto of vitamin 12, I think, so I've heard.
My depression has been debilitating.
Just now, I've come up for air.
I meet a problem that i have never imagined i would one day cope in my entire life: i cannot cry. I feel the water at the surface of my eye, but it would't go out. Yes, i'm having problems of my own right now, but i usually tell myself it will go away soon or later. This time, it does not. It stays, and slowly eat away my ability to feel something. I feel nothing. Absoulutely nothing and it terrifies me so much. I feel like there is somehing in my lung and it makes me hard to breath. Also, first time in my entire life, i want to cut myself. At least by doing that I can feel something. Whatever it is.
Would greatly appreciate some words of encouragement. This is new to us and we feel so lost and hopeless.
There is always hope. 21 is very young and it can, quite literally, take years for doctors to find the best treatment. I can understand feeling lost and hopeless, that is normal. Do your reading about the illness, learn as much as you can. Being emotionless can end with the right treatment but it takes time to get there.
- Natasha Tracy
I'm the same age as your son, and i have the exact same thing, even though i haven't let myself be diagnosed with it. I just don't want that diagnosis hanging over me as well. I also don't want the meds, as i'd rather deal with the issue than shove it under the rug. I'd rather fight even if i don't know if the outcome is going to be positive. I don't want to be a zombie on meds.
As to how you could help your son: Don't try too hard. He'll know and despise it. After hiding it for a very long time i told my parents that i was likely depressed, but i didn't really know why or couldn't put it into words. I then told them the last thing i want from them is to treat me differently, that'll break my heart, because what i'm trying to do is to find my old witty, happy self again. I didn't want them to bear my burden on their shoulders, because them knowing im struggling makes me even more sad. I know everyone has problems, and i don't want them to have to deal with mine aswell, it feels unfair and useless. They've started treating me like a ticking bomb, almost as if they're scared of me or what i'll do, or as if they're not sure who they're talking to - which just makes it all worse. I want to go back to having a genuine emotional connection with my family and people again, instead of having to TRY to feel every time i'm with them. That's pretty much what it all comes down to, having to TRY to feel really sucks, because we know we care deep in our hearts without the slightest doubt, but the physical emotion just isn't present all the time, and even more so, not when we really need it to be. I tend to lie awake thinking about how much i love my family and that they worry about me, and how much i want them to know i'm trying to show it, i want to go hug them before it's too late (if someone dies) but the second they step into my room it's like something snaps and my emotions all lock up and it usually ends with me treating them badly and regretting it the second they close the door again. Makes me feel like a 14 year old shitkid. I know what i'm destructive, but i can't stop it - i usually feel like apologizing, and sometimes do, but then again that also makes me feel like more of an emotional burden and a bit of a dramaqueen. such a loop. overthinking everything.
I don't have a solution, if anyone did neither your son or i would be in this situation. The thought of going to a shrink for help is just awful to me, i've tried it, but how can a random person who just read some books on psychology solve my brain if i can't do it myself? I mean, it's hard enough for me to think about what it is im struggling with and how i can deal with it - so how on earth would a random shrink be able to put themselves in my exact situation and deal with it properly? I tried it, and hated it.
My best advice for now would be as previously stated: your son loves you and is trying harder than he's ever tried anything to get back to his old self and to be able to talk to you normally and act normally again, but identifying exactly what it is is extremely hard. For me, i think a lot of it is about finding my passion in life, because i can't decide what i want to be or for what reason i want to. I know i need to have a passion for whatever i'll end up working with or i'll hate my life as long as i live. There's just no other option. Just don't give up on him, because he's there, just buried deep under some very nasty confusing shit. Also know that he cares, A LOT, but sometimes feels like he doesn't, and that makes him even more angry with himself. It's a horrible loop. I have days when i feel happy, but when night comes, i start to get anxious because i can feel the non-caringness pour over me, and i don't want it to. i dont want to be like this. I used to despise people who are depressed, and never understood why they just don't deal with it.
Your son is likely to be very much like me. So i'll give you as much insight as i can. I analyze conversations as they go along, and think about what the person i'm talking to is thinking, how he expects me to react, how he wants me to react, and then i have to consider if i should act like the person wants me to, or to act like i really feel, which sometimes is just... why are we even talking about something as trivial as this. I just want to be able to have a normal small talk conversation (or any kind of conversation) with someone instead of constantly overthinking, and if your son starts to feel like you're adapting your conversation, he'll instantly notice and it's very disheartening knowing that your parents don't feel like they know you anymore when you know you're still you. I've beaten myself up over this so much. I also worry a lot about not saying things before its too late. I feel like there's so much i wont be able to say until it's too late. Almost as if im waiting for someone to die so i can go to their grave and tell them how i feel then. It's so fucked up, but i guess it's just because of the analyzing part of the mentality that comes along with this. I'm analyzing mistakes other people have made, like not expressing their love towards their parents until they were dead and they start to regret it. Therefore i end up hating myself for not being able to be fully open with them and tell them how extremely much they mean to me, like having an entirely human to human open-deep level conversation, but i just can't get myself to do it, even though after all my analysis, i've concluded that all people have these thoughts on some level, but i want to break the barrier and be the one that goes to that deep level, but im sort of scared it'll weird our relationship out even more.
I know this was very badly structured, but im just ranting along as i'm trying to give you as much insight as possible. Just came home from a walk in the woods bawling my eyes out and i'm sort of getting back to my normal state now, which (encouragingly enough) is quite a decent-happy state of mind, i feel like i could even have a laugh now, without sounding too much like a robot. I miss laughing as often as i used to though. In general people my age laugh less than we used to because of the stress that comes along with having to actually do things that makes us uncomfortable like going to a shitty job where neither you or your boss really gives a shit. Makes us feel stuck. We all know it, but don't admit it. For the record, i'm not as boring and nerdy as i might sound, but this truly is a very hard state of mind to deal with. Feel free to ask questions. We're not that fucked, you can have a lot of fun with your son too, it's just the periodical fucked-up-ness that really really really sucks to deal with.
I don't want to feel this way.
I take quite a bit of school of and my peers think it's cause I'm lazy. No it's cause i just couldn't care less about school. Thanks for the help and I'll try to remeber. I don't want to take medicine nor go to a pyschiatrist. I hope one day the bunnies will hop again.
We were in the car having fun like crazy, then all of a sudden I felt empty.
I don't know how to describe it, I just felt an absence.
After a while, my friends noticed my sudden mood change-if you could ascertain my state to a particular mood.
So I tried to act happy and 'hoppy' but I just wasn't able to even try.
I'm still feeling that way. I know it will go eventually, it's not the first time it happens.
But what really bothers me is that I know that it can be toxic to my entourage.
Prior to this episode of mania followed by depression I was symptom free for 11 years. I have to remind myself that there is no reason with the aid of a mood stabiliser that I can't get better and stay better.
Lithium, Seroquel, thyroxine, zyban, deraline, ritalin - ritalin and seroquel help 100% racing thoughts 85% of the time are gone. Plus ritalin helps immensely, both seroquel and ritalin were horrible at first but approx six weeks my body adjusted. Serquel no doubt has done wonders. My mind is at ease.
Get up and get help.
The heartless measure one applies to keep going,only half there,bowed over by the pain inside.
Some little light,thought faint and far away comes and goes.
It comes in different forms,the voice of a loved one or message from a friend.
It may be that joy while outside that you gave you a lift.
It may be rough and far from the best,will it change though when we pass this test?
Right now I am basically mimicking at least the vitamin part. I am also getting 35 minutes of exercise a day (speed walking). I know I know that it is the worst time of the year to begin an exercise routine but I'm doing it anyways. I'm 2 weeks into it.
I am doing a 30 day trial to see where I get to.
If you are interested in the doctor my bro used google "the lee clinic" it is the first result as of today. You don't even have to be near VA to work with him. He can work with you over the phone. My bro goes to a doctor / clinic to get blood tests done and the results are sent to the doctor.
I personally haven't used him because I don't have the money right now (he's a bit pricey but insurance should cover a good chunk of it) and I am also seeing where I can get with what I am doing.
I am mostly posting this to give others an option that worked for my brother. Vitamins seem like a decent option that I hadn't considered much before my brother started working with this doctor. I am simply mimicking what I found from Dr. Lee's website that helped my bro.
I have learned that not all vitamins are created equal. I have learned that some forms of the same vitamin are better absorbed into the body than others.
It has been about 15 years of depression and anxiety for me. Treatments have worked and then stopped.
Two years ago I thought I was better. All my feeling came back to me in a sudden rush. I felt like I mourned my losses and forgave all trespasses against me. It felt truly spiritual.
They call it hypo mania. My quest to not be fired required medical proof of my illness. Out went seeks ng Aspergers with ADD and in comes Bipolar with Social Pragmatic Comunication Disorder.
Before the "help" my mental health was good in my opinion. I felt content and at peace. My meditation practice had never worked better, through eight years of practice. Yes there was an "incident" and their opinion differs from mine. I certainly had no rights and I was traumatized. Yet if you repeated the scinerio right now, I would have done as I did. My desire to get help still seems rational to me now.
I stayed in this "hypo mania" state for a year. I felt like myself, the person I was before depression ate away at me. I did what I was supposed to do. I went to psychiatrists ( I need the SSRI). With the bipolar diagnosis they "needed" to add something...
Now I am flat again. Almost 9 months of flat. I go lower and it gets worse. I love my family, and it is empty love. Sad things happen and I don't cry. I don't feel, unless it is awful.
I am waiting and hoping that I will find my way back again. I know that there is no way to happiness; happiness is the way... I just don't know why I don't or cannot do what I know can be done
I was diagnosed with severe chronic depression abt 5 years ago and was on medication,my life was turned upside down.
I was not the person I was anymore and I couldn't hold on to my marriage I then got separated and eventually divorced.
Recently thou I met someone and for the first few meetings I was fine I thought Im being normal again.I felt close to her and then suddenly out of the blue I feel nothing like I did prior to meeting her.Basically I cant be in a relationship im soooo scared of commitment and I dont want to hurt the other person.
It feels like I can abandon anyone close to me in an instant.I cant seem to feel anything.
I don't know when last I felt alive,felt happy.
I just take each day as it comes im not excited about anything I dnt know what excitement feels like.
What do I do ????
I often feel happy when spending time with my friends though, but when I get home again and think about them, I feel nothing, and that makes me feel as if spending time with them only makes me happy because it proves that there are people who think I'm okay and not some emotionless shell.
I think that when I get jealous or something, it's not because I feel so much for my girlfriend, it's because I'm afraid to loose this appreciation that tells me that other humans do not see me in the way I see myself. In fact, I can't let other humans see how I am, because that would turn them away from me and not having ANYONE to show me that I'm human will just have unimaginable consequences. I'm not suicidal and have never been, but I'm pretty certain that letting people see that I don't feel anything for them will turn them away from me, leaving me with the need of appreciation and suicidal.
So yeah, I guess I gotta keep putting on this mask.
dead have never shed a tear.