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  1. #1
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    Default A Strange Problem, Any Advice Appreciated.

    I've been improving my life gradually the last year or so. I've had a lot of success in many dimensions, and a lot of staying the same in others.

    Thing is, for those areas I've yet to improve in, I know what I need to do and I likely will do it at this rate. There is, however, one very important area I simply have no idea how to proceed in. So I'm asking here. It's a very strange thing, so bare with me.

    I was sixteen when this started, I know the specific week it began but am vague to the day. I simply stared at the sun for approximately fifteen seconds. It was a "sungazing" thing I was trying, I don't really remember much of the why though, and it's not really important now. I'm still stupid in many ways, but I was much more stupid back then.

    Anyway, after those fifteen seconds I became very "numb", all my feelings (more the positive than the negative) we're weaker "echos" of what they were before. Long story short, I panicked, in a very numb way, got depressed for a few months, in a numb way, got over it, in a numb way, five years later here I am.

    I'm much happier now than I've ever been before, but for different reasons. That numbness is still there. I've since experienced brief glimpses of the old height of feeling I could achieve before, and can't help but occasionally remember the power of what I felt back then in comparison to now.

    There's lots of problems with subjectivity, bad memory, difficulty measuring and such, but I'm quite certain the numbness is still there. I've tried to account for things like nostalgia, cherry picking and such, but the big thing I can't isolate are simple changes that coincide with the growth and maturing process. The main thing I have to go on are songs, video and games. Media in general was the most direct way I experienced the change, as I got some very powerful feelings from there beforehand, and they were the first I noticed faded afterwards. I still have quantifiable behaviour that emphasises the difference in how I felt towards these things before and after (goosebumps, cold rushes, able to appreciate a song many times over, they all went immediately afterwards and have not returned).

    There are many possibilities I've considered (I did briefly see a psychiatrist on the the matter, but can't afford to at the moment), but I truly have no idea which to favour or how to approach "solving" any of them.

    The main possibilities I see:-

    1. When it actually happened, I think my negative reaction to the initial change may have had a larger effect than whatever else happened.
    2. I don't think the sun did anything to my mind directly. More likely something similar to the placebo effect or hypnotic suggestion.
    3. Both a psychiatrist and someone else suggested things akin to PTSD and EMDR. I can see why, but I honestly don't know how to find any trauma in my past that may have caused it. Specifically the psychiatrist said the level of focus required to stare straight into the sun may have exaggerated certain negative thoughts (I can't quite remember what she said). This doesn't help me solve much.

    What I'm asking for is any direction really. Ideas, similar experiences, advice, questions etc. I'm stuck really, and anything you could offer would be much appreciated. I'm aware it's a strange situation, and feel quite vulnerable posting this.

  2. #2
    Symbolic Herald Vasilisa's Avatar
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    Thank you for being brave and opening up about this personal topic, erm. I know how it feels to do that on this forum. Your story is interesting. Reading it, I think about photo editing, and how the process of turning up brightness leaves color washed out, fainter.

    So, put another way, there was a distinct point in your life after which you could no longer feel the highs (and lows?) of emotion the way you had prior? If I understand correctly, you know that during past times you had joyful feelings that were more intense than what you feel now, but looking backward on those past times doesn't evoke that richness, and nothing in the present can either. So its almost like being a a malfunctioning monitor that can no longer project a full spectrum?

    I want to think over what you have posted and post something more later on. In the meantime, please know that someone hears you.



    I sincerely hope it doesn't offend if I say that your story made me think of the movie π, which I was discussing just recently.
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  3. #3
    Another awesome member. Curator's Avatar
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    *hugs* im not sure what to add to this at this time, im very tired... even if i wasnt, im not sure what I can say to help...
    You are not powerless, you just need to accept your power for what it is, a part of the whole, no one man can save the world, but you can be a light to those who envelope themselves in darkness, The candle that sparks the inferno.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vasilisa View Post
    So, put another way, there was a distinct point in your life after which you could no longer feel the highs (and lows?) of emotion the way you had prior? If I understand correctly, you know that during past times you had joyful feelings that were more intense than what you feel now, but looking backward on those past times doesn't evoke that richness, and nothing in the present can either. So its almost like being a a malfunctioning monitor that can no longer project a full spectrum?
    Well, yes, essentially. I've sort of forgotten how intense it was, getting "glimpses" of what is was like less often than I used to. Makes me worried I'll eventually either forget or simply stop caring about the difference. It makes me wonder, if it wasn't such a small time-frame in which all this occurred, would I even have noticed?

    Prior to the event, I could initiate positive feelings every day that had more intensity than anything I can reach now. Whether it's a lower "upper-limit" to intensity, or a fade out where the less intense feelings also decreased is hard to say. I have to make a conscious effort to remind myself of that now.

    As the for the negative side, there certainly was a decrease there too. However, I obviously had, and still have, far less concern for a decrease in the intensity of negative feelings over positive ones. Though I would gladly take the negative back if it means getting the positive. I'm sure physical pain didn't change, however, just as physical sensation didn't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vasilisa View Post
    I sincerely hope it doesn't offend if I say that your story made me think of the movie π, which I was discussing just recently.[/SIZE]
    Well never heard of that before. I can see the similarities. Shame I'm not getting any divine inspiration from my situation, it'd be a nice silver-lining.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vasilisa View Post
    Thank you for being brave and opening up about this personal topic, erm. I know how it feels to do that on this forum.

    In the meantime, please know that someone hears you.
    Quote Originally Posted by Curator View Post
    *hugs* im not sure what to add to this at this time, im very tired... even if i wasnt, im not sure what I can say to help...
    Thanks. Considering how strange the whole thing is, I'm quite worried people won't take it seriously. It's reassuring to hear that.

    I know it looks similar to Anhedonia, which is strongly associated with depression. I am, however, not depressed in the slightest. Neither clinically nor otherwise. This isn't eating me up inside or destroying my life. I do think it has lowered the quality of my life drastically, and continues to do so, but in a very emotionally unnoticeable way, since my feelings don't seem to remember the old intensity like the rest of me does (they still catch the glimpses though). I think there were some benefits to becoming more detached and distant at the time I did, maybe even more than the drawbacks, but those benefits have long since run-out, and I'm quite desperate to get this sorted.

    Some ideas I acted on some time ago:-

    1. That the event had caused me to over-analyse things, and such analysis was causing me to detach from my feelings. Simply put, when I felt a rush, I would instinctively begin analysing and comparing it, making the rush less intense as a result.

    2. Related to the "openness to experience" personality trait supposedly increasing the enjoyment of music. The event may have caused me to close off, not allowing myself to enter or follow the experience to the same degree.

    Both kind of similar. Any attempts I made based off those theories yielded no results though. Admittedly they don't provide much information in way of a cure, but I improvised some stuff.

  5. #5
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    Weird how fast it happened. I don't think I've ever heard that before. But being numb is not anything too extraordinary. I think most of the people are numb in some way or another as a part of defense against the world. Either you can accept it as it is, or open yourself for all that comes at you. The trick is to make yourself vulnerable in all situations. That's not too easy.

    But if you want something more practical, maybe you should try writing a journal (without sensoring anything, free association if possible), or learn something like dancing or joga or kung fu, anything that is concerned with freeing your body or mind.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by nolla View Post
    Weird how fast it happened. I don't think I've ever heard that before. But being numb is not anything too extraordinary. I think most of the people are numb in some way or another as a part of defense against the world. Either you can accept it as it is, or open yourself for all that comes at you. The trick is to make yourself vulnerable in all situations. That's not too easy.
    I know it's normal to put up psychological guards. I didn't think it was normal to never experience such highs ever again. I thought them becoming increasingly rare, or more focused to fewer aspects of life was the norm, not them simply vanishing never to return.

    Quote Originally Posted by nolla View Post
    But if you want something more practical, maybe you should try writing a journal (without sensoring anything, free association if possible), or learn something like dancing or joga or kung fu, anything that is concerned with freeing your body or mind.
    I'll try the journal thing, thanks. Never done that before, worth a shot. I meditate for about an hour each day now, and have been for several months. Having plenty of lessons, improving and such. Meditation (and things like exercise or socialising more) have made no difference whatsoever, as far as I can tell. They've changed my emotional landscape, sure, in positive ways, sure, but the intensity is as lacking as ever.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by erm View Post
    I know it's normal to put up psychological guards. I didn't think it was normal to never experience such highs ever again. I thought them becoming increasingly rare, or more focused to fewer aspects of life was the norm, not them simply vanishing never to return.
    In my experience it is both. The amount of control people have over their lives makes all surprises less frequent, and surprises are the usual highs and lows. What makes it less powerful is the escape from the now. If you are having a good time and thinking about something else, then the experience is less real in a sense. Just focus on what you are thinking, and you see most of it is taking you away from the present experience.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by nolla View Post
    In my experience it is both. The amount of control people have over their lives makes all surprises less frequent, and surprises are the usual highs and lows. What makes it less powerful is the escape from the now. If you are having a good time and thinking about something else, then the experience is less real in a sense. Just focus on what you are thinking, and you see most of it is taking you away from the present experience.
    Maybe that's true, I don't know. I'd considered something similar a while ago.

    I'm sceptical whether it's related to this though. A simple video when I was, err, about 14 I think, gave me a cold rush each time I saw it. The very first time I'm not so sure about, but I remember watching it literally dozens of times afterwards and getting an intense rush each time. It was just a certain moment in a cartoon I liked. There was so much ecstasy it was difficult to focus on and so I started moving or expending energy fast to distract myself (rather like with intense pain). It wasn't a surprise, especially the fiftieth time I watched, yet I still got that same rush, and I was imagining a different scenario in my head each time, so was quite distracted and unfocused.

    Nothing even close to that post-sungazing. There were many things like that I was enjoying right up until it happened. One of the many times I cried in the depression that followed was when I watched such a video and felt nothing. Once in the five and a half years since do I remember experiencing enough excitement as to reflexively cause movement, and slightly overwhelm my mind like happened often back then, but I remember thinking afterwards that it paled in comparison to what I could achieve daily before. And like I said, it was excitement, not ecstasy. I've had plenty of adrenaline rushes since, of course, but they've been a consistently neutral experience for me throughout my life, and remain so now. Intense pain still has the same effect too.

    I certainly know people my own age and slightly older who get that same intense rush from music/video. I know someone from back then who seemed to get more intense experiences than I did. He's the same in that area now, it seems. Less expressive about it, but describes similar experiences as before.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by erm View Post
    I'm sceptical whether it's related to this though. A simple video when I was, err, about 14 I think, gave me a cold rush each time I saw it. The very first time I'm not so sure about, but I remember watching it literally dozens of times afterwards and getting an intense rush each time. It was just a certain moment in a cartoon I liked. There was so much ecstasy it was difficult to focus on and so I started moving or expending energy fast to distract myself (rather like with intense pain). It wasn't a surprise, especially the fiftieth time I watched, yet I still got that same rush, and I was imagining a different scenario in my head each time, so was quite distracted and unfocused.
    Hmm, yeah, you're right, I didn't think about that...

    I don't know, I guess I've got nothing for you. Usually I would put this in the category of detachment from immediate reality, but your case seems so different. I know that I was once numb in a very similar way and it was because of some events and the defensive reaction, but I really can't tell if this is the same. It seems quite different. Even the fact that you are aware of the numbness is radically different. I realized it only when I was becoming better, at which point I was already suffering quite a lot.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by nolla View Post
    Hmm, yeah, you're right, I didn't think about that...

    I don't know, I guess I've got nothing for you. Usually I would put this in the category of detachment from immediate reality, but your case seems so different. I know that I was once numb in a very similar way and it was because of some events and the defensive reaction, but I really can't tell if this is the same. It seems quite different. Even the fact that you are aware of the numbness is radically different. I realized it only when I was becoming better, at which point I was already suffering quite a lot.
    Well, I'll give some of the stuff you mentioned a shot. Thanks for the input.

    My main plan of action at the moment is to try as many things as possible that might help. Somewhere along the lines seeing a psychiatrist again and perhaps trying a drug approach, but until then all this other stuff that might work.

    I'll probably make a list later of all the stuff to try.

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