Feeling Numb: why pain is good.

To be honest, I’m feeling quite shitty today. I skipped Tuesday’s dose of celexa because I had run out. I got my hands on a refill and took the dose the following day (Wednesday). On Wednesday I had to go down to the housing help centre to fill out some paperwork to get my benefit. It was a very powerful experience; not in a good way, either. I saw some realities that really changed my perspective and I think caused this odd change in me – and is responsible for why I now feel so numb.

I saw homeless men barely hanging on, I saw beaten down people depressed and unsure how to move forward; I saw helplessness and apathy. I saw pain and suffering. And it really frightened me. It made me feel something I don’t like feeling; doomed. It made me feel like this is the life I’m destined to live. And so I felt very anxious and very afraid. I didn’t know how to handle it. I hated the anxiety, I hated feeling weak – as I so often do. I know that I’m strong, and I knew that over time this feeling would pass. But I also knew that it would return, and in full measure – without warning. And that was probably the scariest part. I knew that my life was immensely complex, and that the probability of ending up like those people was fairly high, but add to that the certainty that I will eventual fall down again, will feel such raw, consuming, powerful anxiety and helplessness – weakness – was too much to handle. And so waiting for the bus I thought and thought and wished and wished that I didn’t have to experience this. I thought how great it would be if we could create some medication that would numb you and prevent you from feeling these things; like Spock, who can turn off his emotional side as he so often chooses to do in moments of great peril. And for the longest time that was such an appealing thing to me; to be able to turn off your emotions and not have to feel weakness and pain and suffering. But there’s something I never realized; you can’t have one without the other. You can’t have pleasure without having pain. They’re all part of the emotional palate that makes us human. You can’t turn off your emotions when you’re feeling sad, and then expect to still feel happy, to feel beauty and to feel love. I never knew that until now; I never appreciated the suffering for what it really was, instead I fled for how it made me feel.

And now I’m numb. I don’t know why, I don’t know how, all I know is that I’m numb. There was a moment last night when bending over my dog I noticed slowly that I felt less for him; like I felt differently. He didn’t make me as happy and I wasn’t as excited to see him. And that thought, even typing it out and admitting it publicly, scares the absolute shit out of me. He saved my life. He made my life manageable. I love him to death and couldn’t bear to lose that bond; that part of my humanity. But I have – to a certain degree. And it’s more general. I don’t really feel anything at all. I don’t feel confusion, or pain, or anger, or uncertainty. I’m just kind of going through the motions; everything’s grey.

I don’t know why this is happening, I don’t know how to make it stop, all I know is that it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. But also the best. Because if I ever recover from this, I will be armed with the ability to deal with absolutely anything. The hardest part about living with chronic pain, and living sick was the pointlessness of it; the randomness. The ‘why me’ effect. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. I didn’t have any good reason to keep going, because to me it seemed like there was none. It was random, and pointless, and hedonism is the only way! It sucks that it took numbness for me to realize that pain is good; pain means your still capable of feeling. It means you’re still human. It means you’re still sane. I don’t know how much more of this I’m destined to experience. I never thought I’d long for suffering so much; it’s odd.

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