Blunted Affect

After feeling too much, sometimes it's hard to feel anything.

When people claim that antidepressants turn people into emotionless zombies, it's hard for me not to laugh. I think back to when I was ten or eleven and first started showing signs of mental illness. I would lie in bed at night, crying so hard I gave myself hiccoughs, sometimes getting worked up to the point of vomiting, but having no idea why I was even upset. Being an emotionless zombie would have been a blessing.

Twenty years later, I still encounter the assumption I can just talk my way out of being crazy, that something awful must have happened to me to make me the way I am. Plenty of shitty things have happened to me throughout my life, but nothing had happened to ten-year-old me to make her as hysterical as she was. It's only now, thanks to proper treatment, that I am living something resembling a normal life.

Medication hasn't dulled my emotions; decades of suffering have.

Anhedonia-- the inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable-- is a common symptom of depression. Like most sufferers of bipolar II disorder, my mental state operates in waves. Some days I'll want nothing more than to sleep my existence away. Other times, I'll be almost crawling out of my skin, anxious to do something incredible, my mind racing so fast at night I can barely keep my eyes shut, let alone sleep.

This condition is much more tolerable when I'm in a depressed state. When I'm hypomanic, I become extremely agitated. I'll drink too much and buy things I neither want nor need, all in a futile attempt to wrest some sort of stimulation out of life.

A common recommendation from mental health professionals is to continue doing the activities you've lost interest in. Anhedonia makes my interests about as enjoyable as flossing my teeth-- and it's about equally as likely I'll do either. One of the reasons I plan so much travel is in the hopes that surrounding myself with exotic sights and sounds will keep me sated.

In some ways, I don't think I can ever consider myself 100% better with respect to my mental illness-- anhedonia is one facet of that-- but I've still come a long way.