I Have Bipolar Depression. Why Can't I Cry?
There’s a lot happening around me that ought to have made me cry, but I just haven’t. There have been personal losses — the death and funeral of a dear friend. Occasions when I should have cried tears of joy — when an estranged friend wanted to reconnect with me. Professional losses — when I finally had to give up and admit that the novel I had spent years on was just not good enough to be published.
I’ve even thought about the deaths of some beloved animals, to see if that would make me cry. It didn’t. In the past, I’ve never had trouble crying. As my bipolar disorder is largely bipolar depression, I have cried a lot — teared up, sobbed and wept on occasions that were appropriate and some that weren’t. I can’t even cry over the fact that I don’t seem able to cry.
There have been times in my life when I probably should have cried, but didn’t — when I was helping my mother pick out a dress to wear to my father’s funeral, for example. In that case and in others like it, I postponed crying, or put my emotions in a box and sat on the lid.
Actually, I have had to do that many times throughout my life. Back when I was a teenager, an unmedicated person with bipolar disorder, and full of the volatility, despair, rage and hormones of that time in life, I suppressed the impulse to cry, in order to look more “normal.” It didn’t always work. For instance, some songs like Simon & Garfunkel’s “I Am a Rock” would almost always turn on the waterworks. But for the most part, I tried to suppress the need to cry.
The thing about it is, when you stuff down the ability to feel sadness or despair, just to survive, you can end up suppressing most of your other emotional reactions as well. Peace, humor, interest, gladness, tenderness all go into that box with the sadness and despair and you sitting on the lid.
That may be what has happened this time. I know I had to suppress my feelings to pick out a funeral outfit and attend the service. I felt despair over the end of my writing attempt, but I didn’t cry. I felt a sense of waiting to see how it would work out when the friend appeared to be reengaging.
I don’t know what else is in the box or how I can get it open again. I am not interested much in the TV shows I used to watch obsessively. I can read only a few pages of books that I would otherwise have devoured. I can’t remember the last time I laughed over something silly my husband said or did. I did not cry over the movie he finds so very touching that he cries every time he sees it.
I am doing all the right things, though. I am taking my meds regularly and as prescribed. I have called the psychologist that I used to go to and made an appointment for a telehealth session. And I’m trying to figure out how to tell my psychiatrist all this when I go for my med check at the end of the month, if nothing else has worked by then.
Maybe one of those things will open the floodgates, un-stuff the box of stuff, and allow me to cry again, normally, when it’s needful.
But I don’t really know. Writing this post hasn’t done it.
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