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July 9, 2013 2:46 AM   Subscribe

How to be more sensitive to my feelings after depression?

I have a history of depression in the past and I full-out cried non-stop for a few years, but it is almost as though I drained everything out in those crazy numb weepy years... Lately, I have been in many situations where something sad or nostalgic is happening, and everyone else is crying. I can identify why cerebrally it is sad, and know I'm supposed to feel sad, and would have cried a few years ago, but instead I just stand there stony eyed, feeling at best a very distant twinge of sadness even if I try to imagine how they might feeling, I just feel blank and detached. Part of being human is feeling the full spectrum of human emotion, and I never feel bursts of real genuine joy anymore either. I want to feel things in their full intensity, to be free from this laughable blandness.. So I was wondering, for those of you who have had similar experiences (I can't be the only one.. right?), what you did/what I can do to feel things more and let them out in a healthy way?
posted by dinosaurprincess to Human Relations (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Lack of feeling is the flip-side of depression to too-much-feeling. It sounds like your depression has just changed its disguise.

Are you seeking treatment? I have experienced both sides of depression. Medication evened out these highs and lows of intensity of feeling for me, and when I was ready to come off it, CBT helped me manage on my own feet.
posted by greenish at 2:55 AM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

That's a really hard question for people to answer because your life will be different to ours. I notice though that western culture is taking the fun and adventure, meaning and creativity out of life in ways that can do nothing but make people feel numb. I don't know if the medication is always the answer. (But I don't know anything about your situation, either.)

So my general advice is find the thing/s you feel are most meaningful in life and get lost in them. The rest will follow eventually.
posted by inkypinky at 4:05 AM on July 9, 2013

Depression takes many forms, being very sad or despairing is just one of them. Being apathetic and lacking emotion is another. Only you and/or a therapist is equipped to determine whether you're still suffering from serious depression — but you should consider the totality of your life right now. Do you feel you have energy, are there things you look forward to doing, things you enjoy doing? How do you feel about the relationships with other people in your life? How you answer those questions will provide some clues.

And it's also possible that you've overcompensated. You're afraid of your life being disrupted by unpleasant emotions and so you're very strongly shielding yourself from them. If so, this isn't a coping mechanism that will be healthy in the long run. But you can strongly habituate yourself to it and it will be more and more difficult to allow yourself to feel your emotions more naturally. If you think this is what's going on, then you should explore the reasons why you would be afraid of feeling strong emotions. Just forcing yourself to feel them isn't necessarily going to work, you'll need to deal with why you're avoiding them.

In either of these two cases, and with other kinds of things, you probably need to be in a situation where you feel "safe", where you're secure in having strong emotions. Where that would be, what kind of situation, will be pretty specific to your personality. So if you want to explore "letting them out in a healthy way", the first step will probably be finding a safe place ("place", metaphorically or literally) to do so.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:58 AM on July 9, 2013

In my experience, I have felt that numbness and distance when my anti-depressants needed to be reduced, and also when I was starting to feel less horrible, and numbness was a much better alternative. For me, depression always ends, and joy and feeling always return.

Try to take some comfort in not crying all the time. Seek out good experiences, like sunrise, sunset, nature, hanging out with a dog, eating something good. Read Hyperbole and a Half. on depression. I know that exercise, sunshine, fresh air and good nutrition help a lot. When I'm really depressed, it doesn't matter that I know that, because I can barely move. If you can make yourself get outside and get exercise, it will help. A good therapist can also help a lot.
posted by theora55 at 9:56 AM on July 9, 2013

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