Dear Aunt B,
I've been wanting quite a bit to ask someone or the world in general about something I've experienced all my life; I have no idea whether this is normal or not. I'd like to preface this by saying that no, I am not depressed. I have been to a psychiatrist and been put on various anti-depressants, and they've never changed a thing about me.
For about as far back as I can recall, I've never had much emotion but, contrary to that, I've always had quite a bit. Hopefully I can explain this, as it sounds rather confusing right now. I can cry at the drop of a hat if I have to, I can display any and all emotions very well, but even when I'm crying or yelling or laughing until my stomach hurts, my mind is completely calm and uninterested and at times amused by it. I feel like life is on mute, or in sepia tones... it's the only way I can really explain it. Of course, I'm not saying I'm unhappy - I'm content. I'm not unhappy. I do feel emotion but only on a very minute scale. I'm not mentally at unrest. I spend time with people, I'm a contributing member of society, I do things. I accomplish goals, I make money, I do good work. Yet, it all feels silly. I feel a bit like I'm just bored and waiting for when I don't have to do this anymore. It feels boring. Life feels boring, even when I'm doing things at extremes. I've subjected myself to all sorts of dangerous things just to see if it affected me, and it didn't.
The other part of this is that I just don't care about other people. I've lost friends (to death) and haven't felt any regret: I don't miss people when they're gone. I don't miss people if they walk out of my life. I don't feel close to people, mostly because I just don't care about them. I have to fight at finding other people worth attention, as arrogant as that sounds. I'm not a bad person, I donate to charity, I donate my time to causes, I've lost feeling in my legs holding someone on my lap when they were crying all over my shoulder. I'm very polite and make room to accept everyone's beliefs. However, no matter how many good deeds I do or how much I bend over backwards for others or how much time I spend on other people, I still don't care outside of showing emotions outwardly that I think I should feel. I've walked out on my family and I haven't missed them; when their names are mentioned, despite raising me for seventeen years of my life before I left abruptly, I had to stop and remember who they were. I don't feel any regret. I have lived many years without them, and I don't lose any sleep.
This extends beyond emotions; I have no interest in spending time with people socially. I don't enjoy people at all, as I'm never sure what I'm supposed to feel or do or how to react. In high school I did find a very unfortunate way to give myself small "highs" of emotion - I treated everyone else like they were below me and quite horribly so. The sick ego boost made me temporarily happy; I do not do this anymore and I recoil when I see others do it.
I have an extremely high IQ, and I grew up extremely fast, so I've always talked above people my age. I've never had any children's books or toys, really... I read the 1988 Encyclopedia Britannica by the time I was six. It was my childhood reading. With my vernacular being the way it has been, I've always felt distant from others. However, I'm a jack-of-all-trades, master of none sort, so I've never found any niche that interested me because I was never specialized enough to fit in with the particular fans of _insert interest here_. This is fine, as I'd much rather read than spend time with people. I have no sexual attractions, either. I'm extremely asexual; my body functions, but it has no use to me in terms of sexuality. I ensure I have sex four times a year via pay, simply because it seems like I should. It seems that intercourse is somehow important to other men, so I do it just because of that. I find orgasm boring, too. It's a health issue to me.
Of course, I'm not a robot. I feel a very little sample of everything. Extremely rarely I feel too much and it causes me to get horrible migraines. I then lock myself away and put in earplugs and pull a pillow over my head. I have a calendar I keep to make sure I've cried a certain amount of times per year, too, because I'm concerned that if I don't necessarily feel it that it could have some negative effect if it really is there and I haven't released it. I recall someone I know watching an episode of a show called House; there was a girl who did not feel physical pain. Her body translated it all to pleasure. Well, watching it, that's how I feel emotionally quite a bit. I feel like I've trained myself in how to behave and perform "checks" to count that all the actions I think I'm supposed to take have occurred. I refuse to believe that this is in anyway some sort of emotional problem, despite my emotions having their "volume dial" most the way down. I have noticed that if I take drugs or drink a large amount of alcohol, I begin to feel a great deal. (I do not do this very often; perhaps once a year I've experienced that.) It seems as though something is almost instantly triggered that changes the way I feel. I have wondered sometimes if there's some electrical disturbance or problems that stop all of it from properly processing. I wondered if with alcohol it had to do with introversion of some sort - I am a very reserved person despite being sunny and polite when engaged - but I found the exact same occurred with drugs that are not known to affect introversion. In fact, during one experience with a restricted narcotic I experienced severe paranoia and was even more intent on avoiding people, but still I felt things very acutely. I have journalled and timed (as best I could considered my state at the times) my bodily reactions, mental state and awareness, emotional "volume" and other such things with a great number of drugs. They seem to almost all carry a similar time frame for releasing emotions; it takes about seventeen minutes from ingestion of toxin to increase of emotions. I've taken journals to doctors but was simply nagged about drug use and informed that they were not that sort of clinical-test doctor. I wish someone would take me seriously and realize I am not drug-seeking, I am attempting to diagnose some sort of error in my brain processor! I don't even enjoy drugs, I hate feeling overwhelmed and trapped by them. Maybe this description will help someone help me in determining what this is?
The closest I have ever seen is Dexter, a character from a series of novels I read awhile ago. I was quite fascinated, because it felt as though someone had put a finger on my aberrant behaviour. However, I have no traumatic incident, nor am I some sort of serial killer. I dislike people, but I don't hate them or think that I am somehow better than them or permitted somehow to hurt them just because I feel next to nothing for them. The same thing is there, though. I even use people in the same way, weighing whether or not I want to put up with conversation based on what I can use them for later down the road. I'm extremely manipulative in that way, but I've never hurt anyone from it. I like to think that I'm not parasitic, but rather that I share a symbiotic relationship with them; I try to give reasonably in return to what I receive. Only one person in my entire life has interested me and kept me due to my feelings for them, yet I'm not sure why. It's as close to love as I can feel. I overcompensate for my lack of empathy by spending all my money on her. She is my best (and only real) friend. She's aware that I seem to have some sort of serious sociopathic issues, but she doesn't care as she may not feel that way, but tends to agree with my caustic opinions that I share with only her. She seems to accept that this is who I am, and is very patient and actually engages me in discussion about things that other people have waved off as ridiculous. (For instance, theological debate from the point of view of someone who has no emotional connection to the issues. She even tolerates the fact that it leaves me too logical and too trigger happy to argue every point, and never pick a side.)
My question, really, is what should I do? Is this normal? Are there other people who experience this, and is it some sort of disease? Or is it just personality showing an extreme? Are emotions that important? Or, like those who are religious opposed to those who are not, is it something "missing" that is unneeded to those who do not want it? Could this cause me some sort of damage, could this be the symptom of some sort of other problem? I know it is not depression; my psychiatrists have tried me on every dosage of every brand of every kind of antidepressant, and none have changed one iota of my personality or disposition. (I have experienced a fascinated array of very gross and unfortunate side effects for the last eight years until I told them to just give up, involving everything from cluster headaches to a very gross explosion of hives, right along to wonderful things like diarrhea and sight impairment.) I'm perfectly healthy otherwise, apart from being mildly overweight (what desk worker isn't?). I do fully admit to "suffering" obsessive compulsive disorder along with this. I don't see how having a perfect order system for all my belongings and knowing where everything is has to do with "suffering", but apparently OCD is a disease so I suppose I should couch it in that phrasing. I'm hoping that you can provide some insights, ideas, point me in the direction of research; maybe someone will read this and know what this is. If anyone could help me on this, I'd love to hear it. You can act your way through life only so far before realizing that you're playing snakes and ladders without the ladders. Too many things in life require connection; art, music, my writing, design, naturalistic pursuits... so much of this I have all the technical knowledge in the world, but constantly hear, "We can't see any emotional connection to your art/composition/violin/photos/etc." It's very frustrating to not be part of this magical little club everyone else seems to be in.
Thank you very much if you have the time to read this and respond. I understand that a lot of people probably write in, so I'd understand if you didn't have time to get back to me. Whether or not you can, I appreciate it and hope you enjoy the upcoming weekend.
You see? I'm not a horrible person, I'm very polite. It's just... What is that saying? "If you can fake sincerity, you can do anything"?
Remember that I am no professional, but I would bet money you have heard what I will say about this.
You sound like you have Disconnected Emotions, commonly referred to as Dissociative Disorder(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissociative_disorder ), more specifically Depersonalization Disorder.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depersonalization_disorder) There are a lot of sites geared towards this way of being, and it is recognised in psychological terms as a disorder. I can’t tell you what is and isn’t normal (mainly because I feel that is not objective), but I see how you think, and this would be my guess.
There are four basic “types” of emotional beings: The intuitive which operate from their *heart*, and the disconnect who over thinks and has no consult to their *heart*(I say *heart*, because I am not talking about the organ, I am talking about the emotional heart). The empath who acts as an Intuitive but with unhealthy boundaries, and the person with a bit of everything here: the balanced.
The relationship you have with your “friend” sounds very much like a dissociative/empath relationship. Which is also a typical behaviour, to search for an outlet to release your need for emotion.
A person, such as yourself, feels dissociated because of many reasons (most dissociatives are from traumas, but not all, some are the rare kind of too high of intellect and environment factors), but in general to be dissociative is to be insecure and to assure that their own sense of worthiness is not in jeopardy. The ironic piece about your situation is that you do feel, and quite strongly, which has shut your emotions off. The reason I say this, is from the things you have described about being a *good* person. A person who shows a dissociated personality can’t deal with being thought of as bad, or lacking goodness. It makes you feel unworthy, and that is the main fear here.
I strongly encourage you to read this site: http://www.clearreflectioncoaching.com/EmotionalDissociation.htm
Because it has a very clear definition and healing goal for a person which is disconnected with their emotions. The site is more geared towards the intuative and how to help, but the reason and logic should be enough for you to process.
I would also advise you to seek a professional therapist that will work with you, using Cognitive behavioral therapy, not drugs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_behavior_therapy . This is far more benificial and uses your own intellect to find your emotional switch.
I realize that by putting this out here for you, your persona may regard this as a threat and toss it into the “this is ridiculous” bin. But the end of your letter was so important: “My question, really, is what should I do? Is this normal? Are there other people who experience this, and is it some sort of disease? Or is it just personality showing an extreme? Are emotions that important? Or, like those who are religious opposed to those who are not, is it something "missing" that is unneeded to those who do not want it? Could this cause me some sort of damage, could this be the symptom of some sort of other problem?”... these are the questions asked by a person who does feel, who wants to feel, and who wants to figure out how to feel everything again.
Again, I am not a professional, so this isn’t a diagnosis. This is my best guess as to what might be up with you, and hopefully some insight and a path to ask a professional.
I really do hope that you find your way to your heart. We all deserve to feel.