Anhedonia


Cover of "The Wall"
Cover of The Wall

From the Greek ‘an-‘ meaning against or not, and ‘-hedone’, meaning pleasure.  Therefore, a lack of pleasure.  One of the hallmarks of depression.  Not to mention something I’ve been suffering from to one degree or another for months (years?) now.  Really, I can’t tell how long anymore.  When was the last time I was truly happy and enjoying my life?  I don’t know.

I define happiness as an overall contentment that makes a person pleased when they wake up in the morning and eager to get out of bed to meet the day’s challenges, whatever they may be.  Those challenges are not met with anxiety but with fervor and gusto.  Episodes of unhappiness or down feelings are fleeting and do not last long, unless something big like a death has occurred.  A happy person has things that they work on that make them feel fulfilled, whether it’s their job or their home or doing the New York Times crossword puzzle for the day.  It doesn’t matter what it is.

I’m missing these things, and I can’t tell anymore if it’s because of my brain chemistry or because the inherent elements of my life are no longer fulfilling or pleasing.  Worse, it’s entirely possible that my brain chemistry causes me to think that the inherent elements of my life are no longer fulfilling or pleasing.  Like a horrible trick is being played on me from inside my head.

Then the shoulds come marching in, like Pink Floyd’s hammers in The Wall.  I understand that double-album so intimately now, from end to end.  I get it in a way I really wish I didn’t.  But there they are, those hammer-like shoulds.  You should be happy because you have a beautiful family.  You should be happy because you live in a great city.  You should be happy because you have great friends.  You should be happy because you have so much freedom.  You should be happy because your husband takes such good care of you and makes sure you have what you need.  You should be happy for a billion reasons that you must be ignoring or else you’d be happy, and therefore you should feel bad because you are not happy.

The shoulds spiral around in an ever-tightening circle that inevitably leads back to me, laying the blame of everything in my life that should make me happy but doesn’t at my weary mental feet.  Guilt, shame, and blame: the staunch guardians left over from a childhood of watching the hammers beat down the other people surrounding me.

I would give anything to want to get up in the morning and to greet the day with enthusiasm about what it may bring, rather than weariness or fear.
I would give anything to go through my day with ease and contentment, addressing each task in a relaxed way that did not tense my body and mind.
I would give anything to deal with my family with a serenity that did not treat every problem as though it may be earth-shattering.
I would give anything to lay my head upon my pillow each night feeling good about the day, knowing that there was another one on the other side of my dreams.

I would give anything to be freed of this demon that has followed me for so many years and has only relented when I’ve been able to travel, have been in school, or have been in a position to have goals, dreams, and hopes bigger than myself.  Perhaps I have these things and I just can’t see them for whatever reason, and need to clean those shit-colored glasses I seem to find myself wearing so often.  Is this one of those places where it’s difficult to tell where I stop and where my illness begins?  If so, I truly hope the answer is found soon, as my tolerance for the medication dance is already wearing thin.  “Nope, that didn’t work, let’s try another one!”  This can go on for years for some people.  I’m not sure if I have the stamina for that.

In the meantime, I wait and tell the appropriate people when I’m feeling particular ways and try not to do too much damage along the way, to myself or anyone else.  And hope that I am bigger, stronger, and more patient than anhedonia.

2 thoughts on “Anhedonia”

  1. I feel the same… Let me know how did you you overcome that (if ever)? that iís my story…
    Dears,

    I would like to ask you for a piece of advice. I am very interested
    in some Osho´ talks and am trying to meditate and live according to
    the “teaching”. But I have a following problem. If I try to be free
    from all my desires, from attachments, ambitions, hopes and any
    dreams, I feel like a stone, like a “just” animal which only eats
    and sleeps. No enthusiasm, no interest in anything, no aim,
    everything seems to me as if it lacks any meaning.

    I feel myself as if I live in a desert (even I have a family) or in
    a dark abyss. No light, no joy, no hope, no dreams… How can I live
    “fully” without dreams, without hopes, without sexual and love
    “relationship” even on an “ordinary human level”?

    My credo was (and still is) that “There is nothing to gain, nothing
    to lose”, but how one can live like that? I can´t find anything what
    could be “interesting” or ” fulfilling” for me. Except love – I
    mean ” loving two-sided relationship” (not only based on sexual”
    partnership”, not abstract “non-addressed love like metta or
    karuna). I need to not only give love, but also to feel be loved,
    to touch, to embrace, to kiss… Simply, I am a man (even not a
    young one already), who still needs to “touch” love, to feel it not
    only in my heart, but somehow more… ok, also “physically”. I am
    not so well spiritually developed not to feel this somato-psychic
    “need” or desire of that kind ( I mean physical and emotional
    closeness and intimacy with a woman). Even I am married many years I
    have been lacking it and still am thirsty for it so much.

    Once I was in love and felt so fulfilled and content. Everything
    aroud me was blooming, full of love even a small stone on the road,
    trees and rocks were full of life and love. I was able to radiate
    the love aroud me even to strangers and people who were not nice
    to me. When this love affaire was over I start to meditate to
    overcome my sadness and loneliness. A was and still am trying to
    wake up that love in my heart and spread it outside to every
    beeings, trying to embrace the exisrence “as it is” (according to
    metta bhavana), but it is very “artificial” not very true… What is
    wrong with me? Am I still too much attached to my previous love
    affair? Am so much attached to the fact that I am simply a man which
    has his “normal human” desires and dreams? Even I am married I live
    almost in celibacy (and am probably missing satisfying sex life),
    there might also lies my problem?

    Can you share with me your opinion on that matter? I would be very
    grateful for your view on that issue.

    Thank you very much.

    With warm regards,

    Rene

    Like

  2. I just wanted to say how awesome it was to find your blog and start reading your posts. I had tears down my face within a paragraph, and I understand so well the monkey mind and the ought to do piles, the shoulds and the fears. Thank you so much

    Like

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