Is it normal not to feel things?

Sometimes I stay in bed all day. Could I be depressed?

It’s not a good idea to self-diagnose, says our elder — but I encourage you to seek help.

Dear EWC

I have so many memories from my childhood of times where I felt extremely happy, sad, mad, relaxed, etc. And sometimes these feelings were simply brought on by a fond smell or sight (like waking up to see everything outside covered in snow or the sound of crickets at night). However, with each year that passes I find myself thinking about how I never feel emotions quite like I did the year before. Near the end of grade 5, I had moved away from a place where I had lived for the past nine years and left all of my friends behind in the process. I hadn’t thought it strange that I felt nothing when saying goodbye to even my closest childhood friends until I saw videos of my friends playing games at some end of the year party. Seeing the video I felt a wave of emotion that nearly brought me to tears. I missed my friends, I was sad that I couldn’t be a part of the celebration with them, and I realized then that I had no friends in the area in which I now lived.

Fast forward a couple of years and I am about to graduate middle school and enter high school. At this point, I have stopped keeping in touch with my childhood friends but I still find it interesting to see pictures they post on social media and seeing how much they’ve changed. I had many friends but the one close friend I had moved away and the different time zones made it difficult to keep in touch. I have lost any motivation I had to study but I still enjoyed certain subjects such as math and music and I am genuinely excited to enter high school.

Four years later, I am now a senior in high school and I have a small group of friends that I hang out with but none of us share much of our personal lives with each other. I have lost all enjoyment in anything, there is nothing in life that I look forward to and I have no personal hobbies or interests. I am essentially an empty, boring loser with no personality, and as you can imagine this makes it rather difficult to choose a career path. My lack of motivation and drive have made it increasingly difficult to get out of bed in the morning. There are days when I don’t have anywhere to be where I simply stay in bed all day without eating and drinking. Is this normal? From what I’ve read online my behavior is similar to that of people diagnosed with depression. However, I think that self-diagnosis can often do people more harm than good so I wanted to ask someone with an outside perspective if you think this is normal, or if you have ever experienced this or something similar to this.

GrannyJ replies

You asked if people feel emotions less intense as they get older and I think that is true to an extent, but a lot of that is based on each individual’s personality and temperament. All people are different, and our emotions are influenced by our own individual surroundings and experiences. You moved away from your friends in grade 5 and, although you did not feel sad when saying good-bye to them, you did feel sad later when you viewed the video, which seems like a “normal” emotional response.
You mentioned as you’ve gone through the years you have become a little more detached and less interested in school, but you still had friends you hung out with and had some enjoyment in school. I didn’t note anything really out of the ordinary until you mentioned that currently, you have no interests, or hobbies, and no interest in getting out of bed in the morning, not even to get something to eat or drink. Since you are writing for advice it’s obvious you are aware this is not normal, healthy behavior. I am also going to assume you are not happy being like this. You’re correct, it’s not a good idea for people to self-diagnose, but if it helps you become more self-aware, I think that’s a good thing. Then you are able to realize you may have a problem and may need help.
I am not a professional therapist but from what I have read and learned, I can say that I agree your behavior seems consistent with someone with depression or some similar disorder. I think it would be a good idea for you to go see your family doctor and explain to him how you are feeling. He may want to do a complete physical to make sure you are healthy. He can also make recommendations, and refer you to a therapist if he feels there is a need.
I really encourage you to follow up on this, because the sooner you do, the sooner you can begin to feel better. What you are experiencing may not be anything you can fix yourself, but at least, in the meantime, try to be proactive and motivate yourself to get out and get involved in some activities. Maybe get some exercise and try to improve your eating habits. I know if you get on top of this, you can turn things around.
Good luck. I hope things work out for you and I’ll be thinking of you. Please write to EWC anytime.

Letter #: 432067
Category: Self-Improvement

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