I Want To Be Numb!

After my first time diagnosis with PTSD back in 94 I went through some quite intensive therapy. At the beginning of this I was asked what I was hoping for as outcomes. Part of my answer was to reach a point where I felt comfortable with the difficult memories. I was quite specific that I did not want to feel nothing at all as that would seem to remove an important part of myself.

During my recent illness this changed considerably. I would have given anything to feel nothing at all. I craved numbness. The lyrics copied below from a Pet Shop Boys song sums it up pretty well I think.

Don’t wanna hear the news
What’s going on
What’s coming through
I don’t wanna know
Don’t wanna know
Just wanna hide away
Make my my escape
I want the world
To leave me alone
Feels like I feel too much
I’ve seen too much
For a little while
I want to forget

I wanna be numb
I don’t wanna feel this pain no more
Wanna lose touch
I just wanna go and lock the door
I don’t wanna think
I don’t wanna feel nothing
I wanna be numb
I just wanna be
Wanna be numb

Can’t find no space to breathe
World’s closing in
Right on me now
Well that’s how it feels
That’s how it feels
Too much light
There’s too much sound
Wanna turn it off
Wanna shut it out
I need some relief
Think that like I think too much
I’ve seen too much
There is just too much
Thought in my head

I wanna be numb
I don’t wanna feel this pain no more
Wanna lose touch
I just wanna go and lock the door
I don’t wanna think
I don’t wanna feel nothing
I wanna be numb
I just wanna be
Wanna be
Taken away from all the madness
Need to escape
Escape from the pain
I’m out on the edge
About to lose my mind
For a little while
For a little while
I wanna be numb

I don’t wanna think
I don’t wanna feel nothing
I wanna be numb
I don’t wanna feel this pain no more
Wanna lose touch
I just wanna go and lock the door
I don’t wanna think
I don’t wanna feel nothing
I wanna be numb
I just wanna be
Wanna be numb
I just wanna be
Wanna be numb

In fact reading through them again now they are so perfectly spot on. The word pain is used and this is so correct. It is hard to explain to somebody who has never been on this particular journey that it is actual and very real pain. And, for me, much harder to deal with than physical pain. The references to shutting oneself away, avoiding the news etc, are also accurate from my perspective. So many things were sparking flashbacks. If I was not experiencing flashbacks I was having frequent panic attacks or prolonged gut churning anxiety.

It is difficult to achieve a state of being emotionally numb. Frequently I would drink myself to a point as close to oblivion as possible (self-medication as my OH called it). But often the logical progression of wanting to be completely numb was serious suicidal thoughts. It becomes the only viable way to achieve complete numbness. Another way to counter the unbearable emotional pain was to try to flood it out with physical pain; something I will talk about another time.

Of course the obvious flip side of being numb is that you can not feel pleasure or happiness either.

I can now listen to this song and recall how it mirrors where I was but, importantly, where I no longer am. It is quite cathartic.

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