Perspective on Emotional Numbness

Jayden Murray, Journalist

   Stress, depression, anxiety and many other disorders can cause chaos in a person’s life. People become unmotivated to do simple tasks, become unfocused or detached from the world around them. They could lack all or most emotions and are disconnected from them. 

   Melissa Arnett, PVHS Social Worker, and Jen Hagstrom, 11th grade counselor for PVHS, explain the root causes for emotional numbness and recommend many different methods to people who are searching for a path of enlightenment. 

   The feeling of being emotionally numb is uncomfortable and when a person avoids their emotions by ignoring the problem, the consequences are serious. 

   Becoming easily distracted is a common symptom, along with lacking comprehension to small or large tasks, memory loss, outbursts or no reaction to different situations.

   “Yes I am familiar with emotional numbness,” Melissa Arnett, PVHS Social Worker says. “The root cause can come from many different possibilities, a few examples, trauma or loss of someone you love.”   

   Diana Deaver, who’s a professional life coach, speaker and visual artist for “Emotional Health Coaching,” focuses on deep personal exploration, understanding and compassion.

   “Common reasons for why we turn ourselves off could be due to overexposure to pain,” Deaver explains. She also mentions that we could become overwhelmed by the intensity of a particular emotional balance, “often coming out of balance when dealing with intense emotions.”

   There are conscious and unconscious numbing methods. Consciously, some people lean towards drugs and become addicted. Some look for any way to distract themselves from the situation at hand or find obsessions to cling to in hopes of escaping their reality.  Unconsciously, there are people who have been exposed to pain so long they can’t feel it anymore.

   Treatments vary. They could need long or short term guidance to help become connected with the world. Some go to psychiatrists or they have support systems, and others learn to identify emotions by expressing their problems with the people around them. 

   Hagstrom said “There are many different ways to treat anxiety and depression, PTSD, etc.” She uses coping skills and building resiliency to help kids at PVHS feel stronger “in social, environmental and academic situations for optimal success.”

   Getting back in touch with one’s emotions takes time and a lot of self reflection. Most of it has to do with what we go through internally but trying new hobbies and changing lifestyles, like creating a daily routine, can help greatly increase a person’s motives.

   “Increase your stress relief activities,” said Deaver. “Sometimes we can ‘process’ certain emotions without consciously trying to.” She adds that chopping wood can help release anger, doing yoga can help release worry and anxiety, or even a walk in nature can bring perspective and reduce fear. “Get good at stress relief. Find your own ways that best suit your lifestyle and hobbies.”

   Shame often has an anchor on us all. Having feelings and being “emotional” is natural, human, and healthy. Deaver said. “Very few of us are taught how to deal with our emotions. The opposite of self-criticism is self-compassion.” 

   I made this article to seek answers for myself and help bring me back to level ground. Dealing with this first-hand was difficult and time was wasted running to people trying to figure out what I should do to replenish my senses. 

   When I was in 10th grade my parents got a divorce. I was heartbroken over it, but it was out of my control and I had to live with the constant back-and-forth bickering and arguments.

   My mom talked about my dad and it pushed me away from him. Every time my brother and I would go visit my dad, everything my mom said would stew in the back of my head. It was hard facing him and he knew there was something up. 

   I never expressed my problems and I would stay isolated from everybody. Over time, this bottled-up anger and confusion created a shell that trapped me in my negativity and constant sorrow. I couldn’t go anywhere it seemed. 

   I would try distracting myself and go out with friends, but it got to the point to where I ran from my problems for so long, I lost my sense of perspective and responsibility and I caused more stress on myself in the long run. 

   Embarrassed over the fact I had problems, I had no help because I pushed people away. In my head, I believed nobody could help me because I couldn’t even help myself at this point. 

   My biggest mistake was keeping everything to myself while I was going through a hard time in my life. If you have people who support and love you, go to them for help. Support and love is important during this time in anybody’s life.