Losing My Ability to Feel

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

What’s wrong with me? i have no emotions. I have been through years of sexual abuse my parents are unaware of, growing up around drugs, delusional people, animal horders, poverty, and people walking out of my life. i have moved five times in six years, i havnt seen my first dad in seven years, and see my step dad infrequently. one of my dogs has died, im failing school, and i cant tell anyone why. i get depressed. last year, right before my parents divorced, i had terrible mood swings, and i would often yell at my dogs, and become cruel. during this time my mother would often snap at me becuase she was unhappy. i would cut myself (i have before, and have scince) in a cross hatching pattern on my thighs. my parents eventually found out. i also tried to stay out of the house as much as possible. i wanted to commit suicide, and have settled on a way i want to die. i did not because i am living for my parents, and i do not want to hurt them. i was unable to sleep for days at a time, and would then sleep sixteen hours straight.

i have tried several times at relationships, but all have been unsuccessful. when i have revealed my past, one completly ignored it and continued to fast until he caused me to have a flashback and a panic attack. and a female friend used the knowledged to her advantidge, performed sexual acts on me. because of this i no longer trust people. i am also unable to orgasm. i have never done so, even though i have masturbated and tried.

i have noticed that my emotions were slowly slipping away. last year all i could feel was depression and anger. now i no longer feel even those. the only way i can tell i am depressed is i have the urge to cry, even though i am unable to do so, and havnt been able to in years, and i dont want to do anything. it is affecting relationships with family and freinds. the ones that do no about my past say that i am to harsh on myself, and when i say that i am complaining, and didnt have that bad of a childhood they assure my that i am not complaining. i find that i am unable to have oppinions about anything, because i dont care either way. i have no clue what is wrong with me and any help would be greatly appreciated.

A. Given all that you’ve been through it makes sense that you would lose your ability to feel. What may be essentially happening is you are becoming numb to all the painful experiences you’ve endured. The numbness has become like a psychological defense mechanism. It’s akin to a survival skill. These mechanisms are in place so you’re better able to withstand the stress of your painful reality.

You may also have post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after experiencing a frightening event or series of events that threatens your safety. PTSD can occur as a result of sexual abuse. PTSD can make an individual feel disconnected or numb, something you’ve described feeling. If you have PTSD please realize that it is a very treatable disorder.

You experienced sexual abuse as well as moving multiple times, not having your biological father in your life, a stepfather that you don’t see on a regular basis, losing one of your pets, failing school, being raised around drugs, poverty, and psychotic individuals. You’re also engaged in cutting behavior, experiencing depression and are considering suicide. You have panic attacks and you’ve recently been sexually harassed by a friend who took advantage of you.

You’ve endured multiple challenges but never had the opportunity to address them in a healthy, therapeutic way. You need help and guidance. You should not be trying to deal with these issues alone. You may need to see a trained mental health professional. It may help if you told your parents about what you’ve been experiencing. You already mentioned that they don’t know about the sexual abuse. Do they know about anything else you’ve experienced in the past? What about now? Do they know about the cutting, suicidal ideation, or your panic attacks and depression? If they knew they might offer to help.

I hope you will consider talking your parents. The things that happened to you are not fair nor are they your fault. You are a victim who is continually suffering. Ask your parents to get you help immediately.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Jun 2009

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2009). Losing My Ability to Feel. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/06/08/losing-my-ability-to-feel/