What is “emotional numbness”?
Mighty contributor Elizabeth Duff shared how she defines it in her piece, “WhenDepression Makes Me Numb, Not Sad”
“One symptom I wish more people understood is feeling numb. A sense of hollowness — like a dull, numb lump — often defines me when I’m really down. It’s a shitty, zombie state of gray flatness. Life passes by and you won’t bother to wave at it because you don’t really care. In fact, you just don’t really feel anything.”
She’s not the only one who has felt this way, so we asked our Mighty community to share something they do because they’re emotionally “numb.” You can read what they shared below.
If you can relate to feeling numb, you’re not alone. Whether you’re struggling with numbness from a struggle with mental illness symptoms, the impact of trauma, grief or something else, we want you to know we see you. We are so grateful you’re here and in our community. If you’re struggling, we encourage you to post a Thought or Question about it on the site to get support from other people in our community who get it.
Here are things people don’t realize you’re doing because you’re emotionally “numb”:
1. You Isolate
“I isolate myself behind the ‘introvert’ behavior when really, I’m hiding. I’m barely out in public. When I do, it’s usually forced — shopping, events or errands. I make myself go out to do those things. Point A (work) to point B ( home) is all I focus on.” — Janelle F.
2. You “Overreact” or Don’t React at All
“I’m in the ‘either or’ mode… either I overreacted or I don’t react at all.. I can be functional with a smile, but inside I’m completely numb.” — Ashley W.
3. You Have Trouble Hearing and Processing What’s Going on Around You
“When I go numb, I basically stop hearing and stop processing most of the world around me, going into work mode so people just assume I’m busy or in a bad mood.” — Cathryn C.
4. You Don’t Laugh Out Loud Anymore
“Something I’ve noticed I’ve been doing lately is not reacting externally if, say, I watch a funny YouTube video, but I can still feel myself laughing internally. It’s like my brain knows it’s funny, but I have no outward expression whatsoever.” — Katie S.