Something that I have come to realise, only fairly recently, actually, is that the reason why I find it so hard to talk about how I’m feeling, is because I don’t feel anything. It is for this reason why, when people ask me ‘what’s wrong’ when I’m being quiet or ’subdued’, I can’t answer because, I just don’t know how I feel, or why I feel that way. All I really feel, though I know it’s not really a ‘feeling’ but more so a lack of one, is numb.
Whether I’m getting tattoos, cutting all my hair off, or spontaneously deciding to go skydiving, I do impulsive things to escape such a feeling of numbness/ to feel something ‘other.’ In the past, I also ran for this reason, too, and I became so entwined with my eating disorder because of it as well…
In terms of why I ran, and why I developed an eating disorder, it is a complex picture and one that I myself will probably never fully understand, what I do understand, however, is that they both let me feel something, and this is why I became so obsessed…
I became obsessed with feeling the burning sensation in my legs, lungs and, towards the end, heart, as I pushed my body to its absolute limits, running mile after mile.
I became obsessed with feeling hungry, a sensation that left me feeling as though I had achieved some great feat.
I was addicted, but not to running or to not eating, but to the feelings that doing such things gave me- pain and a warped sense of accomplishment, with such feelings also leading me to feel a sense of nervous anticipation and excitement, these being feelings that I crave, all the time (despite such feelings being signs of my body shutting down/being on the verge of death.)
Because I crave such feelings of nervous anticipation and excitement, things that should scare me, they just don’t. Take the terrible situation with Ukraine and Russia, for example. The threat of a nuclear war breaking out is a very real one, but this isn’t something that scares me. If anything, and I know this is going to sound crazy, but the idea of it, and other similarly ‘scary’ events occurring, they actually excite me. They give me the same sense of nervous anticipation that I experienced at the start of the pandemic, when Boris Johnson was holding press conferences every night, informing us all that we must ‘stay at home.’ Unlike other people who were terrified of catching the virus or, at the very least, terrified of their life changing in such a drastic way, all I felt was excited at the prospect of my mundane existence, the same existence that saw me getting up and doing the same things day after day, being ‘turned upside down.’
Now, I know that it shouldn’t take something as drastic as a deadly pandemic, or a nuclear war for me to feel things, in fact, I’m very much aware that, really, it should come as naturally to me as breathing, but, unfortunately, I seem to be an anomaly. One would assume that, with me being so caught up in my own head, going through my thoughts on what feels like a 24/7 basis, I would feel things deeply, what with me having so much time to mull over my thoughts. Why this isn’t the case I do not know. I wish that I did know or, at the very least, know how to change it but, it’s something that is very much out of my control.
You see, when I’m having a bad day, or hour, or whatever it might be, my life feels like it has an unforgiving cloud hanging over it, blocking so much as a slither of light from breaking through into it. No matter how badly I want the sun to come out, it won’t for, I have zero control over the weather, just like I have zero control over my feelings. I can’t just ‘snap out of it’, even when I do remind myself of how lucky I am compared to so many other people. Unfortunately, though, as I know from my own experiences, one can practice all the gratitude in the world but it’s never going to be a ‘cure’ for mental ill health. In fact, referring to my own experiences again, telling myself that I have nothing to feel down about actually makes me feel worse, because I feel guilty for feeling the way I feel when, as I often tell myself, ‘I have nothing to feel bad about.’
I think that what I describe in this post is something that people who have experienced any sort of addiction will probably relate to, whereby one becomes addicted to escaping their reality, to feeling something ‘other’, whether that be through alcohol, drugs, food, exercise, anything. The danger of this, however, is that we never quite ‘get’ the thing that we are craving. We always want more and, in our pursuit to get more, we end up destroying ourselves in the process. It is for this reason why it is paramount to nip any unhealthy habits ‘in the bud’ before they become real problems (i.e., before they become addictions.)