It wasn’t until about my tenth year of being on my medications that my psychiatrist defined one of the side effects of the medications I’m on. It took me some time to realize I wasn’t feeling the full extent of my emotions. I told my doctor I couldn’t really feel any emotions when I acted angry. I would raise my voice, throw a dishtowel down in an argument, but I couldn’t feel anger. It kind of seemed like I was acting. Same with deep feelings of sentimentality, or a pining after something – I couldn’t really feel that either.
“Emotional blunting,” my doctor said. My paraphrased definition: the inability to feel or experience emotions 100%.
The range of emotions that the human psyche is capable of experiencing is like a vivid rainbow. Being emotionally numbed with antidepressants or mood stabilizers varies in degree from person to person, but for me it’s like the saturation of my color scale is at something like 88%. For those who struggle with their medications and emotional blunting more, they may have a less colorful or even grayscale view through their zombie-fied scope of emotional expression.
Bipolars seem to not want to take their medications because of the “emotional blunting,” because they feel like zombies when they’re on them. That’s been the case for me at certain points, but not anymore. When I was trying different medications in the two hospitalizations I had, they had that mind-numbing, body-stiffening effect on me. Since finding a good dosage and combination of anti-depressant and anti-psychotic, I have been blessed to have minimal side effects. I’m also aware this is rarely the case.
So if you’re bipolar, how do you deal with emotional blunting? Tell me, what’s it like for you and how do you cope?