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Mental Health: Is Numb the Same as Fine?

Posted by on Dec 9, 2013 in Addiction, Mental Health, Psychotherapy | 0 comments

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ID-10067232Here’s some self disclosure. I am a huge Scandal fan and one of my favorite characters is Mellie, the emotionally starved first lady. On a recent episode, Mellie was giving some advice to a colleague on how to deal with the pain of infidelity. The one little gem that stayed with me was “Numb is the same as fine.” Is it really? Well let’s dig into this a little more.

When you’re getting your wisdom teeth pulled, or any dental work involving a drill, numb is fine. Actually, it’s preferred. Most surgeries involve some form of anesthesia. Doctors tend to work better when the patient is not screaming and writhing around in pain. That’s fine. Numbness is induced in those situations. But what about those times when it’s not induced? Such as when you suddenly can’t feel your arm? Or when you can’t feel your legs after an accident. Numb is not so fine in those situations. Numbness is often a sign that something is wrong and you should probably seek some help.

Now that we’ve talked about physical numbness, let’s go a little bit deeper. Is emotional numbness the same as fine? Emotional pain can be very debilitating when not handled properly. Numbness can be a defense mechanism, especially after a traumatic event. Have you ever seen someone seem to move on autopilot after the death of a loved one? After the initial shock, it’s almost as if they are doing everything possible to not feel just to get through the day. Have you ever known someone who struggles with addiction? When you really get to the core of why they are using, it’s usually to avoid some sort of emotional pain, a desire to feel nothing. To them, it is the same as feeling fine. But is that any way to live?

Numbness has it’s purpose. It is meant to be a temporary state to encourage healing. It’s meant to keep you functional to get through the trauma. The problem comes when that numbness is a permanent fixture. It’s ok to experience joy, sadness, love, loss, anger, grief or any other emotions in between. Having feelings and dealing with them tends to make for a richer life. Being numb feels like everything is a haze. It’s like the world around you is painted in various shades of grey. But truly feeling and acknowledging those feelings is like living in a world full of bright, bold colors. I don’t know about you, but I like bright, bold colors.

Now it’s your turn. Is numb the same as fine? Can you truly live and be numb at the same time? Drop your comments below

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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