Dave's Progress. Chapter 18: Me and My Anhedonia.

Dear readers, I've been thinking about writing another blog for a long time now, but with Christmas and the New Year and the inevitable whoop and wharf I've been finding it rather difficult. You could say I lack the drive to positively engage with my blog. You could say I feel a little lacklustre. You could say, as klahanie, a friend of mine in cyberworld, once did, "I was going to write a blog about apathy, but then felt that I just couldn't be bothered."
So, what is it with these feelings of withdrawal, lack of any seeming enthusiasm and what I feel is an inability to feel. Indeed, I often used to get frustrated at counselling sessions where the counsellor asked me, "how do you feel, David?" I just couldn't answer the question, other than to say, "well, I really don't feel like I feel anything at all." I felt I had just gone through a complete emotional shut-down. Even emotions for my friends and family didn't quite feel the same. They were torpid, dormant, hibernating somehow.
Now I have recovered somewhat, I still find that some of these feelings remain. Perhaps I should call them non-feelings. And some of it is explained away by what I have previously referred to; negative symptoms of the disease and also perhaps side effects of medication. But this doesn't take away the joylessness of being joyless.
But now I have found a word which perfectly expresses such non-feelings, and that is the Greek word anhedonia. We all know about hedonism, well just think of anhedonia as its opposite. An inability to feel, to experience pleasure, to know love. You could call it, as Woody Allen (a fellow sufferer, by the way) does, chronic dissatisfaction. In fact, the original title of "Annie Hall", one of Allen's abiding masterpieces, was "Anhedonia". So, at least I'm in good company.
I have to say though that these non-feelings aren't present all the time. I feel better when I have something to do, to occupy my time. That is perhaps why I so value the voluntary work I do. And then it seems, as well, that such non-feelings may be just an inevitable by-product of being bored, or to use B.C.Bamber's phrase, "the tyranny of the comfy chair." So, wouldn't it be nice just to have a more normal existence. To work, to go on holidays, to have a wife and children. These all seem like relatively achievable goals to any normal person, but after twenty years of illness, they can begin to appear like some distant, foreign dream.
Perhaps the answer is political. If only mental illness were not so stigmatised, and there was more help out there to fully achieve latent potential, then perhaps the dream wouldn't appear so distant.
As for now, me and my anhedonia seem like partners in a crime of emotional malfeasance. Somehow, I may never be truly present, fully engaged. You may look in my eyes and think- "what is he really thinking?" Not that there is any malice towards anyone intended on my part. I just know that somehow, at present, I don't seem to be fully taking part in my own life. I can only wish this were different, and perhaps I am being a little hard on myself. All I know is my feelings used to be my compass, now they have become my dread.
Anyway, no doubt I will feel a little differently by the time of my next blog and hopefully it will not be so negative. But that's about all for now from your normal, average, paranoid, delusional and unusually depressed man.


dcrelief said…
"On the other hand are four fingers and a thumb." Author unknown (by me)
David you just described exactly the strange spot I am in. A loathesome spot of great, greedy nothingness. It craves more and more of my previous joy until there is nothing more to give.
If anything ever "sucked" this is it... (I mean that in a polite way, though I'm not laughing either.)
This for me is beyond writer's block. This is existence block on a large scale. Oh to simply feel paranoid about something or someone!!
All aboard for Anhedonia? Ticket please! (Woody had it right.)
Thanks David.
David said…
Thanks so much for your comment dcrelief. In my blogs I try always to put something positive out there, but this time I was a little worried that it seemed all too negative. So thanks for reminding me that there are others out there who just might feel the same. I really felt I had "exposed" myself this time (in a polite way, of course) so your comments are very reassuring and welcome as always.
Yours with Warmest Wishes,
dcrelief said…
Actually David, this is one of the best pieces I've read on "chronic dissatisfaction". Yet for the "twists" that play in my mind and find solutions from within your post, I would request to make a copy of it, please.
I would love to add it to my "well ness toolkit".
Please advise if that is alright with you. This is simply for my personal use, however, I understand if you decline.
Most sincerely,
Dixie Copeland
David said…
Dear dixie,
Please feel free to add my blog to your "wellness tool kit". If it goes some way to making you feel a little better then I am all in favour.
So sorry that I did not get back to you sooner, but my blog addiction seems to be decidedly in decline, with my anhedonia only on the up!
Yours with Warmest Wishes,
klahanie said…
Greetings dear David,
Thank you for this blog. Another masterpiece from a chap who talks about a feeling of unfeeling.
Dcrelief's comments are most eloquent so I shall conveniently just say I agree with her comments.
I share in the continuance of reducing the unfair stigma that is attached to mental health issues.
Below is the actual quote from my blog titled "The Cynic Clinic".
"Hi there. I was contemplating doing a blog about apathy but I couldn't be bothered. Somebody asked me if I was always indecisive. Well yes and no."
Thanks again for your blog David. Thank you for your comment on my latest blog.
Warm wishes Gary.
David said…
Thankyou Gary aka Klahanie,
Great to be back in blog world and have you commenting on my blog again. Sincerely hope you are well and feeling creative in the hope of producing more insightful and funny blogs.
Yours with Warmest Wishes,

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