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What It 'Feels' Like to Feel Nothing

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People have a very strong association in their minds between depression and sadness. While sadness is often a sign of depression, so is a lack of feeling. For many, including myself, depression comes with frequent feelings of emptiness or numbness. This emptiness is an odd feeling. It’s one that’s difficult to describe to the portion of the population who had never felt it. But let me try.

The emptiness that comes with depression feels like detachment. It feels like you’re not even in your body and you’re going through the motions, but they mean nothing. You are not really breathing, you are not really feeling the cold wind on your face or the ground beneath your feet. There is no hunger, no thirst, no cravings for sweets. You don’t feel the physical pain, strong as it may be. You don’t feel the softness of the bed beneath you. You don’t feel tired, but you don’t have any energy. You wish to stand in a hailstorm and feel the icy water hit your skin. You wish to jump into an ice cold pool and feel the shock of the water. You wish to stand in front of a fireplace and have the warmth fill you and make you feel safe. Somehow despite wishing it to be so, you can’t feel any of these things.

From this long list, you should see it is absolute emptiness. To tell the truth, it feels like you are not even alive anymore. In those periods of emptiness, it seems you could stroll into the street and get hit by a car and feel nothing. But you don’t, because what would be the point?

To me, this odd detachment is worse than sadness. It is worse than pain. I would rather feel every feeling in the world than have this absence of feeling. Even in the moments of the worst emotional pain, I do not wish for this numbness to return. Yet, it does come back and without warning clouds my life. For those of you who have never felt this, please understand it is not that I don’t care. It is not that I don’t want to feel. I just don’t know how right now.

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Originally published: February 7, 2017
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