Have you ever felt like you’re trapped in a fog while your mind is in overdrive? Your focus is shattered into a million tiny pieces and it’s scattered all over the place. You feel like you have neither the power, or the desire to control your mind. It’s a free for all, all the time; and you’re just there. It’s like you’re behind a thick wall of glass that blocks out most of the noise from the outside world, while you sit back and watch. You hear what they’re saying but it doesn’t make you feel anything. [ you know you are human; your heart is beating, but all human emotions are irrelevant to you ] You see what they are doing but you feel detached and too tired to care. You feel like you are on the outside looking in; trapped in a stranger’s body. You know you must feel something, that is how life happens, somewhere there is feelings but there is nothing to send those emotional sensations into action.
It’s almost like you’re in your mother’s womb again. You feel strangely safe and secure behind a protective wall of flesh, this time it is your own. You can hear some of the noise of the outside world, but it doesn’t matter to you. In these moments you’re in a comfortable, safe place and the things from outside can’t reach you in here. They can’t see your emotions. [ Will they ever again? ] You’re about to be thrown into a world full of strangers, harsh noises, violent sensations and exhausting passion. But for now, everything is as it should be. You don’t have to do anything.
In your mind you are in a safe place and with no emotions means no one can reach you…
It’s just like watching a movie in third person. All the things you see, hear, touch, smell and taste just seem unreal; you know where the emotion should be, its just not there. Your clouded mind is unplugged from reality and you feel like you are a video game, your body just goes with it, sculpted per situation. It’s like you are on autopilot, always; your actions are scripted and rehearsed. They happen on their own, without your input.
You remember what it’s like to feel strongly about things, if anything at all… to feel passionate and emotionally invested in things. But right now, you’re too tired to emotionally attach to anything [ because its exhausting and could lead to a deeper state of numbing ]
If you can relate to any of this, then you’ve experienced emotional numbness caused by anxiety in the past. [ loss, grief, PTSD, depression, etc. ]
Most people have experienced the sensation of being emotionally numb at least once in their lifetime, usually after or during a very stressful/anxiety ridden event. For most people, this involves a temporary feeling of separation or disconnection from the body and outside world.
It can be a very scary experience when your mind numbs out your emotions in a desperate attempt to drown out your panic and anxiety. [ your defense mechanism ] You become an onlooker of your own life, separated from the world around you. Your words, your actions are all happening on autopilot and all you can do is watch and drift along with it.
Emotional numbness is a state of low consciousness caused by severe anxiety. It’s your brain’s way to prevent mental breakdown by dimming out – and sometimes even shutting down – sensory inputs.
And why do you have to go through all that?
It’s to prevent the overload of negative emotions.
That’s really at the heart of this anxiety symptom.
Our minds have an amazing ability to protect itself from extreme stress, trauma and mental suffering. You can have gone through so much trauma or stress in your life that you find yourself in a place where you feel nothing. Behind every single action in our life, whether good or bad, there will always be an emotional motivation. A feeling we are trying to experience like joy, peace, excitement, or a feeling we are trying to avoid like shame, guilt, fear and so on.
Sometimes we can become so focused on running away from how we feel, or worse we’ve given up on striving for positive emotions, that we can become emotionally numb. As much as negative emotions like sadness or fear, are emotions we want to avoid, nothing terrifies a person more than when they get to a place emotionally where they feel completely numb. Completely unable to feel, anything. Not fear, not sadness nor joy. It’s a place in our mind and spirit where we are checked out of life and checked into auto pilot. [ emotionally gone ]
For great example, you may have felt strongly about your significant other yesterday; but today you just can’t find those strong feelings anymore. You can only hope that they’ll resurface tomorrow… but you can’t be certain. [ there is no explanation. ] Emotions are brief, popping in and out of existence. It’s every bit as scary as it sounds. You are aware of what’s going on around you; the information gets through to you but that’s all there is. The usual genuine feelings that you would feel are gone. [ lost in the abyss ] It’s as if there’s a barrier between what’s happening outside of you and what actually gets through your senses. You feel completely light-headed and hollow [ empty ] inside. Almost like a ghost or a robot on auto-pilot.
Dissociation means you’re detached from physical and emotional experiences. Or to put it another way, your emotions are not engaged by your environment.
Derealization means that you feel as though you’re in a dream. There is a disconnect between your senses and reality. You don’t quite feel the things that you know you should be feeling.
Depersonalization just means that you’re looking at the world from inside your body but you’re not part of what you see. You’re a spectator of the world, looking at it from a third person view. You feel strangely distant from your environment, like you don’t belong.
Even if you are uncomfortable with admitting to others that you are feeling pain, at least admit it to yourself when you are looking in the mirror. The hardness, the armor, the “I don’t care” “so what” attitude is enough. Once we recognize there is a problem we are more than halfway to finding good solution.
Slowly but surely.
One step at a time.