Numbness

Are My Feelings Normal?

Every once a while, it is normal to feel burned out or drained emotionally. If you have experienced a huge loss or disappointment in your life, like the death of a loved one or the break-up of a relationship, you might sometimes feel like you hurt so much that you have no feelings left.  You may feel empty  inside--this is called feeling numb . You might also feel this way when you have been feeling the same thing for so long, that it seem as though you no longer feel  or care about anything.  Numbness can also be linked to extreme stress.


Should I be Worried?

Feeling numb is a scary place to be, but often, it is the result of something terrible that has happened in your life and should go away with time. Sometimes, though, that feeling of emptiness just doesn’t go away. If it seems like you don’t feel anything anymore, that you feel lost and no longer care about things, this may be a sign that something is very wrong.

Feeling numb can be your body and mind’s defense against a horrific, shocking, or extremely hurtful and painful event, situation, or memory.  A death or loss of a loved one, having witnessed or been the victim of a violent attack or accident, being bullied, or suffering some kind of abuse (physical, sexual or emotional), can all lead to feeling numb inside.  Feeling numb is like your mind protecting you from terrible hurt, like an armor. The problem is, with this armor on, you have trouble knowing what you’re feeling or even that you are feeling anything at all. You might appear like you don’t care anymore and seem “cold” or distant. People might look at you differently and wonder why you lost your “spark”. If all of this sounds familiar, you may be experiencing a reaction to a traumatic event. If the feeling of numbness doesn’t go away and is affecting your everyday life, you might be suffering from a condition called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. If you are experiencing other related signs, it is important to talk to someone (e.g. your doctor, a counselor) and get help.

 

Sometimes, there may seem to be no explanation for feeling numb or empty. Nothing terrible has happened in your life, but still it’s like you have lost all feeling and have stopped caring about everything. You may have lost interest in doing the things you used to enjoy doing, you may feel like sleeping or staying in bed all the time, and you may have no motivation to go to school or work. In this case, numbness may be a sign of depression —please read the section titled “I feel sad all the time” to find out more about depression. If you are worried that you might be depressed, it is also important to seek help, because it tends not to go away by itself.

 

Numbness can also come with using drugs or alcohol, or hurting yourself (e.g. cutting) to deal with your pain. If you drink or take drugs to stop feeling hurt, pain, or worry, then this may be a sign of a bigger problem. Feeling drunk or high may dull a feeling of pain, but once you come down from that high, you will probably feel even more empty and worse than you did before. This can lead to a bad cycle of drinking or using drugs to cut off all feelings, which doesn’t help you deal with the problem underneath. Similarly, cutting or harming yourself to let out your pain or to stop feeling numb is an unhealthy way to cope. Once again, it is important to talk to someone about this.

 

Tips for Prevention and Wellness

If you have been feeling numb for while and it’s affecting your life in a negative way, here are some tips to try:

  • Try to tune into yourself and your true feelings.
  • Try writing, drawing, painting, singing, rapping, playing music or dancing as ways to express yourself and let your feelings out.
  • It is important to take care of yourself and to know when you need time to deal with your emotions, rest, and heal.
  • It might feel easier at first not to talk about what is bothering you, but it will probably keep popping back up in your life if you don’t deal with it. You might need some time before you are ready to talk, which is okay.
  • When you are feeling ready to talk, you can talk to a doctor, counselor, or simply someone you trust. You might be surprised by how helpful it is to talk, even though it might feel really painful and difficult at first.
  • You need to give yourself permission to take that time for yourself when you need it. Remember, it’s just as important to take care of your emotional health as it is your physical health. Be emotionally healthy!

 

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