How to power through apathy? Or why even bother?
June 12, 2013 11:07 AM   Subscribe

I have come down with a case of bad apathy. How do I find the energy/motivation/desire to even start to want to come out of it?

I just can't seem to care about anything anymore. I would have to work up the energy to even rise to the level of basic caring. I know that I should want to care but I just can't. How do I get out of this? Or how can I get the basic desire to want to get out of it?

I've had life long depression. I've done all the meds (Yes, all the meds.) and last week started (with my doctor) to come off the ones I am on because they just aren't working. The only other real solutions I am being offered are surgery (I have no idea what kind) and ECT. I am used to my depression. This is something different.

I just don't care. I have a new relationship. I have a dog. I am going to therapy. I am doing all the things I need to do (see my question history for more details of my saga of depression). Yet I just don't care.

I know I should care. I know I should be excited about having found a kind and supportive girlfriend. I know that I should be thrilled that I have this fabulous dog in my life. I know that I am better off when I was constantly suicidal. I know all the changes I have made. I've come far. But still I just do not care about anything.

I am faking it until things change but I just can't even find any ounce of pleasure in anything and I don't know how about to find a way to get my spark back. This apathy started before I came off my meds so it isn't that.

How do you make yourself find joy in life again? Or, not even joy, just an ounce of pleasure. I am at the point now where you could boil my dog's head in front of me and I'd just go "meh".

How do I get out of this? How do I find a way to get out of this?

Note: I am not suicidal at all. I am just existing.
posted by kanata to Human Relations (13 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
You say you've done all the meds, but what about going to a nutritionist and seeing if you're deficient in anything? I spent a year on meds feeling miserable until one of my doctors realized I had a severe Vitamin D deficiency and when I started taking supplements it was like all my systems turned back on again. Now when I feel apathetic I know I need to dose up again and check to make sure I'm eating right so that my diet is as balanced as possible. Maybe you would benefit from that sort of thing, too.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:23 AM on June 12, 2013

Is it possible you're legitimately bored? Tried anything new lately that puts you in a different environment doing completely different things from what you usually do every day? Traveled to an unusual place you've never been to?
posted by wondermouse at 11:27 AM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]

I suffer from depression too, and know what you're going through. I get this way sometimes. Usually, though, it isn't the depression alone that is causing it, rather the depression is magnifying my boredom.

Are you apathetic because you're also really bored? Can you sit down and think of ANYTHING that would make you excited? Travel? Adventure? Some new project? Find a way to properly shake things up. Do something totally different and outside your norm. Challenge yourself.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:27 AM on June 12, 2013

What about exercise? Have you done thirty planks today? Start there.
posted by oceanjesse at 11:40 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Does this cooincide with the latest meds? Some have that side-effect.
posted by moira at 11:46 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't have any advice, unfortunately, but I do want to pass along something that somebody wise once told me.

You do care. Through all the layers of "meh", at the bottom, this situation isn't satisfactory to you, which is why you're asking this question. I don't know you, and perhaps I could be wrong about your particular situation, but I would guess that there is a very deep well of caring about your own wellbeing and your life, and that deep well is where this dissatisfaction is coming from. It's not manifesting right now as overt concern, excitement, or however else you feel it should look... it's manifesting as a feeling that "this isn't right" and that you should feel differently. I'm not telling you that feeling apathetic is wrong or that you SHOULD feel differently, I'm just pointing out that your dissatisfaction is actually a pretty strong indication of your caring, showing up in a different way.

I have not been where you are, but I've had days or moments when I felt withdrawn and apathetic, and those days and moments were deeply unsettling to me, as if I'd become unmoored from my own self and the rest of the world. What was comforting in those times was recognizing that that disconnection was painful and while I wasn't exactly feeling the pain AS pain, I was feeling it nonetheless, and that indicated that I was a real, feeling, caring person and that I didn't have to be afraid that I'd become an uncaring robot who would never care again.

All the best to you. It sounds like your head is screwed on straight.
posted by Cygnet at 11:48 AM on June 12, 2013 [12 favorites]

Do you do things for others? Do something nice for someone else. Promise to build a wall, take their kids swimming, do the shopping for someone else. Give something of yourself. It helps them and you. Get out of your own head and show it that you are stronger than the cloud it is pulling over you.
posted by 0 answers at 11:55 AM on June 12, 2013

It sounds like you are experiencing one of the *other* symptoms of depression. Been there, done that. It has always gone away for me in the past within a few months.

This post from Hyperbole & a Half sums it up pretty well.
posted by id girl at 1:17 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

There's 2 kinds of not caring. The second is where you're afraid to care. It can be inconvenient, embarrassing, stressful, disappointing, and scary to care.
posted by Obscure Reference at 1:31 PM on June 12, 2013 [6 favorites]

Exercising got me out of that hole... Go for a long walk with a podcast, it might just change your life. Even if you only feel 2% better, this builds up and after a few long walks you might feel 10% better.

Another thing that has helped me honestly is in counselling, we did this exercise where the counsellor asked me how good I felt from 0-10, 0 being the WORST and 10 being amazing, and what it would take for me to get my score up by 1. And then just take a TINY step in the right direction. It's scary to put yourself out there, but you need to do it for yourself.

Also Hapyr is surpisingly effective. I'm on day 10 and honestly my brain is so much more tuned to being positive and grateful without being gross and perky. Try it, worse comes to worst you hate it and stop doing it.

You want to feel better, so you have to start DOING things, and be patient, it takes time but you are the only one who can get yourself out that hole, and you CAN do it, so go for it!!
posted by dinosaurprincess at 3:21 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd also ensure your thyroid and other hormones have been tested lately.
posted by barnone at 3:21 PM on June 12, 2013

This was me for the past few months. In my case a blood test showed I was hugely deficient in both vitamin D and B12, both of which can cause depression-like symptoms. Since taking supplements I feel MUCH better.

In your case, if you can't find a physical cause, and the stuff you are trying for depression (exercise, meds, therapy) isn't helping, and you just want to power through and do stuff anyway, try Beeminder. I just started using it thanks to a Mefite's suggestion in another (old) thread, and it's amazing. The key is to set it up with a monetary pledge right away, AND the automatic repledge function, so that if you fall off the wagon, you don't give up entirely, or wait too long before retrying it.

You can use it for things like spending time every day on a hobby, or getting up and showering before 10am, or having social contact with others twice a week, or daily exercise, or whatever it is that your apathy is stopping you from doing that you know deep down would probably help your mood if you could just make yourself do it.

In my case, though, I don't think I would have been able to make myself set it up and start using it while the apathy was still so bad - it's only the recent improvement that gave me the energy to try it. So don't beat yourself up if you just can't face it (yet). Try it or something similar though when you are feeling better (and you will!), because I think it's a good hedge against future apathy if it's already set up and running.
posted by lollusc at 5:59 PM on June 12, 2013

I am almost 30.

I have had lifelong depression, since I was 10 years old.

I have seen many therapists, since I was 11 years old. Two or three helped, somewhat, but not really.

I have tried meds, which made me physically sick.

I have tried DBT and CBT, which helped, slightly.

Big Bad Things happened to me last year.

Also last year, I did ECT. It is the only thing that worked. Someday, I hope to reduce the stigma attached to it.

After the ECT series, I found a talented therapist. Those two things, in that order, saved my life. I didn't know I could feel normal and happy, the way I do now. The healing process after ECT is slow, but I can feel myself getting better, and better, and better, still.

Cygnet is spot-on.

Memail me.
posted by mild deer at 9:34 PM on June 12, 2013

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