I’m very concerned about you. You make a reference to trauma but you don’t mention having had any therapeutic help for it.
Not everyone has every symptom of PTSD. It’s true that many people do have “flashbacks” in the literal sense of the word. Some people instead reexperience the traumatic event in different ways, like not liking to be around anything that reminds them of it.
Of equal importance in making the diagnosis is persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness. It sounds to me like this is the predominant symptom in your case.
Verywellmind.com’s website explains how PTSD can cause emotional numbing in a person: “Emotional numbing symptoms are part of the avoidance cluster of PTSD symptoms. Emotional numbing symptoms generally refer to those symptoms that reflect difficulties in experiencing positive emotions. The specific symptoms that make up the emotional numbing symptoms are: A loss of interest in important, once positive, activities, Feeling distant from others, and Experiencing difficulties having positive feelings, such as happiness or love. PTSD and emotional avoidance go hand-in-hand. Many people with PTSD try to escape their emotions. They may try to avoid thoughts, feelings or conversations about the traumatic event and places or people that bring the event to mind. Avoidance also refers to difficulty remembering important parts of the traumatic event and feeling as though life has been cut short.”
The website also states, “It has been found that people with PTSD often try to avoid or “push away” their emotions, both emotions about a traumatic experience and emotions in general. Studies have found that people with PTSD may withhold expressing emotions. In addition, it has been found that the avoidance of emotions may make some PTSD symptoms worse or even contribute to the development of PTSD symptoms after the experience of a traumatic event.”
You are absolutely right to be worried that you aren’t in touch with your own feelings and with the pleasurable parts of life. Fortunately, these can be reclaimed with some therapy. Please make an appointment with a mental health counselor who has experience in trauma work. Your life doesn’t have to be forever shadowed by whatever happened to you. Don’t let one event or series of events, however terrible, have that much power. Work with your therapist to help you put the past where it belongs so you can enjoy life again.
I wish you well.
This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on October 10, 2010.