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My Life Feels Empty and I Cannot Enjoy Life Because I Do Not Enjoy the Small Things in Life

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I’m spiraling into this state of despair because I cannot enjoy what is around me. The birds, the trees, the sky, the smile of people, nothing. It brings no joy to me and it really bothers me. However, I understand that no human can live this wonderful life all of the time and be scott free without seeing some things that bother them. In my case, I’ve seen some very horrible things, mostly car accidents and family members who have died from various diseases and being mortified and shocked at them having no life anymore. I’m very sensitive to such things as well and it effects me more than anyone else I know and it bothers me. Even a dead deer on the side of the road traumatizes me for the day or seeing some zombies. One particular day, however, sealed the deal with me being pretty much traumatized constantly. So I’m 13 years old and I’m going to a doctor’s appointment and I see an old man with his skull crushed in and the insides of his head splattered all over the highway from a Semi hitting him in his car. Imagine how mortified I was. I didn’t speak for a whole day as a matter of fact and I cried the whole night. That perhaps sealed the deal with me being shocked. So fast forward to me being 20 now and I’m upset that I can’t be happy because I am in this constant state of shock and I do these thousand yard stares yet think and feel nothing because I’ve seen what horrors the world has offered. I can’t be happy at all. I ask God to help me but my mental capacity does not allocate me to register that there is innocence around me and that I should smile because my innocence and happiness has been permanently stolen from me and I am in a constant state of shock and I feel “out of the world”. Not like I’m high, I just feel permanently detached from everything, which includes me happiness. I can still feel sadness which is unfortunate but I try to cope with it. To do this I’ve grown very very attached to horses and I hug them to feel better, however this is temporary and I wish to be happy from my surroundings.

My Life Feels Empty and I Cannot Enjoy Life Because I Do Not Enjoy the Small Things in Life

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A.

Perhaps without realizing it, you seem to have been describing the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). An assessment with a mental health professional, in-person, will help to determine whether a PTSD diagnosis is warranted.

PTSD is a disorder that sometimes develops after an individual has experienced a horrific, frightening or shocking event. You have described experiencing several of those.

Virtually everyone will experience a number of reactions after a shocking or traumatic event. That’s natural and to be expected. However, when those reactions last longer than they should, and disrupt your life long after the events have passed, that’s often indicative of PTSD.

For an individual to be diagnosed with PTSD, their symptoms must last for more than a month, and significantly interfere with relationships, and their everyday lives. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual For Mental Disorders (DSM), some of the symptoms include: experiencing recurrent, involuntary and intrusive distressing memories and dreams about the trauma; experiencing dissociative reactions including flashbacks in which the traumatic event(s) feels like it’s reoccurring; experiencing intense or prolonged psychological distress when exposed to cues that remind you of the traumatic event(s); having physiological reactions to cues that remind or resemble the traumatic event(s); attempting to avoid certain stimuli that remind you of the traumatic event; experiencing emotional reactions associated with the traumatic event, including the persistent or exaggerated negative beliefs and expectations about oneself, others, and the world; feelings of hyper-vigilance, sleep problems, concentration problems, and so forth.

Those are some of the experiences, reactions and cognitive affects associated with PTSD. It seems as though you have described a number of them in your letter. If you have never received treatment for your symptoms, then it would make sense that you feel the way you do. It’s important to know that treatment exists for these symptoms. If you are open to treatment, you can be helped.

It’s great that you have your horses. It’s also great that you are attempting to connect with God. Assuredly those strategies help to ease your emotional pain but they are not enough, at least not at this time. They are helpful adjuncts to treatment but they should not be considered substitutes for treatment.

I would encourage you to contact a mental health professional who specializes in PTSD. Treatment may involve trauma-focused psychotherapies including prolonged exposure, cognitive processing therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Other treatments may include medication and hypnotherapy, among others.

Meet with a mental health professional to begin treatment. Choose a therapist who makes you feel the most comfortable. You are not destined for a lonely life. You were a victim of trauma through no fault of your own. You can overcome these issues with treatment. I encourage you to give it a try. Good luck. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

My Life Feels Empty and I Cannot Enjoy Life Because I Do Not Enjoy the Small Things in Life

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2019). My Life Feels Empty and I Cannot Enjoy Life Because I Do Not Enjoy the Small Things in Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 20, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2019/09/04/my-life-feels-empty-and-i-cannot-enjoy-life-because-i-do-not-enjoy-the-small-things-in-life/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 30 Aug 2019 (Originally: 4 Sep 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 30 Aug 2019
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.