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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Australia
    Age
    33
    Posts
    789

    Numbness and Isolation

    Hello all,

    I guess I just want a little vent and some advice. I am so fed up with feeling so emotionally detatched all the time!! I think I've been like this for a while now, but it hasn't been especially bothersome until these last few months. I think that's because I've been under a lot of stress and I've been able to notice the absence more than I would normally. All this stuff is happening around me; it feels like one crisis after another at the moment. But I can't feel it. All I feel is this horrible tension that either worsens to the point where my whole body is tensed up and my mind races if I'm really stressed, or looser if the pressure is off. How can I be so totally overwhelmed but not be able to feel emotion about it? Flashbacks bring some emotion, it's almost a relief to feel it, but it's always very short-lived. Sometimes I just want to bawl and let it all out, but it feels stuck inside. I am engaged and worried (or feel that I should be, anyway!) because I am less and less able to give or receive affection. A friend of mine came into uni today very upset because of something that had happened with a friend of hers. She walked through the door into our little office and started crying and talked and let it all out and, while I'm obviously not jealous of her situation and did my best to listen empathically, I just thought, "I wish I could do that sometimes!" What do I do instead? I laugh!! I have an incredible defensive laugh! It all just makes me feel so isolated, even when I have friends all around me. That's the vent!

    Now, what can I do to help fix this?? I'm having counselling for problems stemming from sexual abuse, and it's going ok, but I am curious as to whether other people have had good results from a particular approach that they could share about. Any ideas?

    Thanks,
    Meg
    "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being." - Carl Jung

  2. #2

    Numbness and Isolation

    Hi Meg,

    The important point to note to yourself regarding this situation is that you are aware of it. Secondly, being aware of something you want to change without judging yourself is also important. You have been through a lot and it takes time to open back up. Being kind and gentle to yourself is a place you can start. The defensive behaviors are distancing techniques to keep you safe. To be understanding of others, one must be understanding of themself. Judging yourself for the distancing methods (which were being used to keep you safe in the past) is more hurtful to you than helpful. Make sure to discuss this with your counselor. Tell your counselor that you would like to work through your attempts to distance yourself when others are hurting. Talk about and identify your feelings when someone comes to you to share their feelings. Please keep us posted. Take care Meg!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Australia
    Age
    33
    Posts
    789

    Numbness and Isolation

    Thanks for your reply :)

    I realised when I was reading it that maybe I hadn't quite explained myself properly... I didn't mean that when someone comes to talk to me that I laugh at them, though I can see why you might have read it that way from what I wrote! Oops. I'm quite able to be serious and focused in that situation. What I meant was that when it comes time for me to discuss my own situation with someone I do way too much laughing about things that really aren't funny. I minimalise things. I guess watching my friend vent out all the things she needed to amongst friends just made me... realise I was missing something, if that makes sense. It's frustrating because I think I need to work through whatever feelings are not being felt, but I can't do it unless I know what they are! I hadn't thought of myself as judging myself for the distancing, though I knew I was probably being a bit hard on myself. Thanks for helping me get this a bit straighter in my head, I appreciate it!

    Meg
    "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being." - Carl Jung

  4. #4

    Numbness and Isolation

    One thing you can try, hon, is to start with little things. We all have little, niggling things that happen that just cork us off bigtime! Next time one of these happens to you, share it with someone you care for and trust. Share with them the feelings you had when this irritation occurred, and share them seriously without trying to minimalize your feelings. When you can be comfortable sharing life's little kicks in the rear, you'll find it easier to share the bigger wallops.

  5. #5

    Numbness and Isolation

    Hi Meg,

    I am new to this forum. I am a survivor of crimainal sexual assualt. Dec. 19 will be one year since my incident. The longest year of my life. I can relate to your feelings of avoidance when it comes to your affections towards your boyfriend and or from him. Single! Thats my safety and in the same the lonliest place for me right now. I have been emotionally detached for sometime from everything. I just got back to working full-time, and recently tried to have relationship which was very short lived. In the last year I have learned to allow myself to feel everything even though i often feel nothing. I allow myself to be numb. I refuse to minimize my feelings of apprehention when it comes to what happened to me. Do yourself the same favor. Allow yourself to the space and the time to heal. He'll understand! Always be gentle with yourself. I am angry inside and scared and often feel misunderstood. I blame myself for my bad feelings while hardly acknowledging the good ones. Don't do that to yourself. Counseling is a great start. I too, go to a group therapy session every wed. religiously. It has saved my life and given me great perception on my past and my future. I have learned to fuse them together because i am more than my rape. Our past does not define us. It makes us stronger. I wish you all the luck in your future. Happy engagement.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Australia
    Age
    33
    Posts
    789

    Numbness and Isolation

    Hi all,
    I had counselling today (two and a half hours of it!!! I am so tired now!) and we talked a little about the emotional detachment...not much though really, she has a set program that she works though. Anyway, she basically just said that, because I experience the bodily reactions appropriate to whatever situation I'm in but can't feel it emotionally, that I should take the time to stop and identify what I'm reacting to and what the emotion would be. I think I do that already though... I mean, I know what it is about a situation that's making me react physically and what kind of emotion should be there, it's just... not! Apparently we put all the pieces of the puzzle together in the session after next. I'm really looking forward to being enlightened about all this stuff we've been doing, I hope it helps!

    Thatlady: thanks for the advice, I've been trying to let myself do that. I'm working on it :)

    Jojorae: Welcome to the forum, I'm still fairly new myself. I'm sorry to hear that you've been through such a horrible experience and a difficult year. You seem determined to confront these problems and sound as though you're on the way to overcoming them. That's wonderful, well done I know it's hard work! I left it longer than I should have to get help... almost four years after being abused for a year and a half. Seems like I did too good a job of suppressing my feelings both during the abuse and in the time since. I'm glad that you've found group therapy to be a positive experience, and that it has helped you to look forward to the future. I totally agree that going through such difficult experiences makes us stronger. Good luck to you too!

    Meg
    "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being." - Carl Jung

  7. #7

    Numbness and Isolation

    Hi Meg,

    I have found that human beings have a tendency of distancing themselves from their emotions. I was told by my therapist that we don't have to sit with our feelings 24/7 but that we need to be able to sit with them periodically so we know where we are coming from so to speak. This awareness of our feelings as well as other behaviors can ignite a streak of judgment toward ourselves that is damaging. Realizing that we do something a certain is being aware...adding ideas of "I should..." "I need to..." and other similar phrases are full of judgements. When you become aware of what you are doing, this is the time to kind to yourself and sit with those feelings before moving on. The distancing I spoke of can be accomplished by quite a few ways. One can distance themselves from their own feelings or others using humor, being overly entertaining to others, over analyzing emotions and behaviors as well as criticism of yourself and/or others. It is amazing how we can be so kind to others but we can be so hard on ourselves with judgments. I hope your next session goes well for you. Keep us posted.

    Take care Meg!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Australia
    Age
    33
    Posts
    789

    Numbness and Isolation

    Hi again,

    Thanks for your reply Dr Dobson :)

    I had another session this morning. I think we only have one left to go. I think that going in itself, in feeling that I'm trying to do something about it, has helped a bit. In terms of the content of what we're doing, though, I just don't feel as though it's helping much. Most of the things we do just make me feel a bit...patronised, maybe. I think what I really want is just to sit and talk about what happened and why it happened and how it's affected me so I can get it all out of my head with someone who won't judge me. All these little questionnaires and things we do about self-esteem and all that just seem so pointless. It's not like anything that comes out of them is a surprise to either of us. And it's not like we talk about them or anything, it's more like 'ok that one's done, what's next?' I know that they all link in and I can see the logical progression of what we're doing, but none of it seems like anything I haven't already figured out for myself. I don't know if I'm being totally unfair or ungrateful, I certainly don't mean to be. I have the counselling at a government-funded support service and it wouldn't be fair for me to sit there and waffle for months while there's a huge waiting list. I don't know. I'm just so physically tired and fed up with being so confused about it all.

    Anyhow, that's me. I just felt like sharing. Thanks for reading :)

    Meg
    "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being." - Carl Jung

  9. #9

    Numbness and Isolation

    Meg, From my experience, do stay open to healing. You seem sorda closed off. Understandable, but really focus on each sessions message. There is one and it will come together full circle in time. We can talk more if you want. Your not ungrateful, and I do know how you feel. Keep goinh though.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Australia
    Age
    33
    Posts
    789

    Numbness and Isolation

    Hi Jojo, thanks for your message :)

    I don't think I'm closed to the idea of healing, otherwise I would never have gone for counselling in the first place. Nobody was supporting me when I made the first appointment, only two people knew anything had even happened. I think the reason I'm frustrated is that I think what I really need to do is just to sit down with someone and talk through the whole story. I have never done that. I don't really want to, either, but I recognise that it would probably be helpful and worthwhile in the end. I'm scared of doing it though, and I don't think I could just say "I would like to tell you my whole story, would you mind listening?" It would mean putting myself into a situation that I'm horribly uncomfortable with. I'd be there thinking "Meg, just say it, she's not going to say 'no' and it'll be worth it in the long run", but just not be able to get it out! I'd be seriously stressed! Maybe it's unrealistic, but I just would love it if she would encourage me to do it without my having to say that I wanted to! I feel like I need to be given a bit of a push. Or a large shove heh.

    It's not that I can't see any value whatsoever in the sessions we've had so far. Maybe I was a bit harsh yesterday. It's just that I don't think they're addressing the most immediate need I have: to simply get things off my chest! Holding everything in is not achieving anything helpful. The only useful thing is that things I'd normally find stressful don't faze me because I'm detached! My thesis is due in less than a week and everyone else is totally strung out and upset while I'm just cruising along even though I'm one of the furthest from being finished! I just can't get worried about it, I'm the one dishing out the reassurance and encouragement to the others heh. Anyway, back on track, I'd be much more interested in exploring things more once we'd been through the story. The reason I didn't bring this up with her before is that I assumed that we'd get to talking about the actual experience at some point. I actually thought that point would be yesterday's session and I was all braced for it, but that wasn't what we did. I can see, now, where she intends to go with the course we've been doing. She's given me the sheets to look over before the last session. Now that I'm enlightened as to where all this was heading I feel like it's a bit late to change the direction we've been taking. I think the next session is supposed to be the last one, and I may as well see what we've been doing through to the end, having got this far. I just wonder what'll happen after that. I guess we'll probably talk about that though, she won't leave me hanging, I'm sure.

    What a lot of babble heh. Thanks again Jojo for your reply and encouragement :)

    Meg
    "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being." - Carl Jung

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