At first, the flat feeling that comes after a depressive episode is a relief from the crushing feelings of sadness. I wouldn’t even call the flatness a feeling since feeling flat is essentially a lack of any full feelings at all.
I still have them, those things called feelings but mine are muted and unpredictable. I have to remind myself to put on a brave face most of the time and at least pretend to be happy for the sake of everyone else around me. Yesterday, which was Mother’s Day, a celebratory event, was rather torturous for me and it’s not because anything bad happened. It was a lovely day, beautiful weather at a fabulous brunch buffet with my family. But all I could think was “try to look happy, or at least try not to look so emotionless.” Having to constantly monitor my facial expressions and appropriate responses to conversation is exhausting. The day seemed like it was never going to end. Today, someone asked me how the food was and I couldn’t even say if I enjoyed it or not. I think my taste buds, along with my emotions have packed up and left the building.
My moments of just feeling normal again are unpredictable. Some days are good, others are not. I never know what the outcome of activities are going to be. Things that once made me feel good are not guaranteed to make me feel anything at all anymore. Going for a walk down by the lake and taking some pictures which was once a sure thing for me, now produces only a hint of what used to be there – it’s right there in front of me but just out of my reach.
I do still care enough to maintain. My job keeps me busy and I like it, so I know I am still capable of some positive emotions. I just wish it would happen more often and outside of work.
I have started to see a therapist who told me that this emotional flatness is a part of depression and it might take me some time to thaw out, so to speak.
Just last week the east side of the lake was still covered with sheets of ice and chunks of snow on the shoreline. This week the ice is gone, the snow has melted and the water is wide open. Hopefully with consistent self-care, plenty of patience and a lot less of being so damn hard on myself, I might start to thaw out too soon.
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