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Bipolar Depression and Feeling Nothing at All

While depression commonly makes people feel sad, it might also make a person feel nothing at all. Feeling nothing with bipolar can be just as devastating.

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.

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.

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

  1. But how do we know it will be the same again one day? I’ve had the numbness for around 20 years now. At least I’m stable (sarcasm). I have to get back my emotions, I can’t die having not felt anything since I was a teenager, and even then the mood swings started so things got distorted pretty quickly. Nevertheless, this post made me feel relieved to hear my experiences put into words. Yes, I just sit and wait for my child to eat his ice cream, I force myself to go on a walk with him, wondering when we can turn back around. I have a great job and dread getting a new assignment because I don’t have motivation. I didn’t realize this could be depression. I just thought it’s what it was like to have a stable mood.

    1. Hi Karen,

      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

  2. I dont feel anything. Its been going on for quite some time and i chosed to ignore it, thinking maybe im just being dramatic and such. When i hang out with my family or friends, i do laugh and try to have some fun but i dont think i genuinely feel happy inside. I thought being in a relationship will somehow help me through this but the sad part is, it didn’t. Once when we were still together, he told me i was a ‘cold, unemotional and uncapable of loving’. And when our relationship ended with him just leaving without saying anything, i actually didnt felt anything. Not even a tinge of pain. I refused to think of what went wrong. I refused to think of our whole relationship. Basically i just went on with my life. Didn’t even cried for him. I rarely get mad but when i do, i totally lose it. Its like you feel nothing for quite some time and all at once, youll feel something, unfortunately, its anger and you just have to lash it out. I pretty much break everything i get a hold on during this phase. So i really try to controly anger. But the weird part is, i like reading books with sad endings. Maybe this contributed on why im feeling this way but the reason why i read those things is that, ita make me feel pain. Sorrow. Like i could feel my heart being squeezed and that feeling, i hold on to it. Cause its something that makes me feel… Human…

    1. Hi Emily,

      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

  3. I have been feeling nothing for the past few months I don’t feel sad or anything I can’t cry I can sit there and get yelled at but still nothing it’s just like there not saying anything at all I’m not sure what to do so I just try to act normal around my friends.

  4. I don’t feel nothing Rn I don’t love no one I am not mad I am not sad even tho I have a lot of reasons to be it’s just blank it’s weird and I am trying to cry but I can’t

  5. My husband with bipolar,just told me this morning that he has times in his life when he feels nothing at all. In searching for information on it I found this website. It’s comforting to know there are others out there that are dealing with this and how they are dealing with it. We are a praying couple . He says hasn’t felt God for along time. He goes through the motions forcing himself to work or go to Church and or carry on daily living. I wish I could do more to help support him. Any ideas are welcomed?

  6. Yes, I don’t know why I’m here. I can’t feel anything. I wonder “what’s the point”, to each day, for having every single thing I have in my home, daily things, my clothes, kitchen contents. Like everything. I wonder “what’s the point?” I can recognize the joy I get out of my bird feeders, which just returned a couple weeks ago! And under debilitating fatigue, I I finally cooked for the first time in weeks & weeks, and I love to cook. I have no energy & I have to go lay down.
    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.

  7. I constantly feel nothing. Or if I do then it’s guilt for feeling nothing and letting people down for not having excitement or enthusiasm

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