6 September 2014

On Emotions, Feelings and Numbness

This is a follow up to a post I wrote a few months ago about numbness. Here it is for ease of reference...

Just to put that last post in context, it was written just after I had experienced an extended period of numbness: I posted it up as a way of simply coming to terms with the whole experience. I wanted to understand what it happened, and why. I wanted to identify what had triggered it. The Pink Floyd song just summed it up for me!

The odd thing was that, during my 'numbness' experience, I couldn't honesty say that I was, on the whole, particularly unhappy. It was just that I didn't really feel anything. Everything was just kind of neutral, non-descript. A rather bland shade of beige.

I'm coming back to this again as I've gained a new insight in to this in recent weeks. My son has just turned 18 and he's encountering a whole new series of challenges, one after another (social, emotional, physical). And I'm seeing the same sort of thing happen to him. He's struggling to process all of the emotional input. He goes into autopilot, goes into what he calls his 'dog and pony show' routine (when he's going through the motions). Interestingly, he is an introvert, like me. Is there a connection?

I believe so. In searching for clues I have come across plenty of people who are able to share their experiences about introverts and this 'lack of feeling' seems to be remarkably common! Many have asked similar questions. What causes this inner numbness? And how do you fix it?

The key to this for me is in understanding who I am; how God has made me. He made me an introvert; and a highly sensitive one at that. Introverts like myself don't thrive in busy social gatherings; in fact, the whole experience is intensely draining. We then recharge by preciously guarding periods of 'down time'. Time alone, away from distractions.

I must admit, in times of high emotion, I get swamped! Some experiences, emotional highs, can be overwhelming. Yes, the times are great - but enough is enough. And too much is way too much! My times of numbness have usually followed frantic periods of activity, huge chunks of time taken up with crowds of people or loads of interaction, one person after another. I'm running on vapour by the end of the day and simply start 'switching off'. It's automatic, a self-defence mechanism - to combat the constant energy drain, I start to shut down my emotions.

However, I've learnt (often, the hard way!) that this means I need to rest! Start up the next day without being properly rested and I run the risk of these emotions failing to boot up at all! Regularly ignore all the warnings and pretty soon my emotions will be so well hidden that even I won’t know how to find them...

I'm getting better at reading the signs, now I know what it means. It's OK, I just need time to recover. I'll soon be able to feel again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good Afternoon,

There's a fine line between being thoughtful and being introverted and sometimes that line gets confused.

However, if you are a true introvert, fine. That does not necessarily make you dysfunctional. It means you carefully choose when, where and with whom to act/be.

As for me, time has made me subdued and I long to be sensibly exuberant again.

Yours truly,

The Artful Dodger.