Anhedonia (an inability to feel pleasure in normally pleasurable activities) is often a symptom of depression and schizophrenia. I have both diagnoses and find that loss of positive feelings very hard to live with. Emotional flatness is no fun at all and it often means that I have no emotional response, such as to music or events in relationships when I would expect to. The prospect of it continuing - possibly forever can make me feel completely despondent at times. Unfortunately the negative emotions are much more accessible to me.
I had thought that I only feel satisfaction rather than pleasure such as when I've done the washing up. However, I woke up one morning and asked myself what if I can turn that idea of Anhedonia around somehow? I don't have a total absence of feelings, all the time and maybe I'm not acknowledging and appreciating the little emotional life that I do have. So I set out to identify if and when I experienced pleasure.
It was a work-day so I had to get up early, accompanied by my usual grumblings to myself but as I drew back the living room curtains I was greeted by a luminescent disk in the early morning sky. It shone so brightly I thought it was the sun at first. Then I saw the moonscape on the surface of the perfectly full moon. I can't deny I experienced a sense of wonder and some delight. What a lovely way to start the day! The moon was soon covered by pink streaky clouds, which were almost as beautiful.
My first cup of tea, a hot shower, my new jeans (stretch velvet – a great invention!), a sunny bike ride, a compliment from a colleague, tiny bright yellow leaves on the ground, a packet of chocolate ginger biscuits and getting a library book I wanted all brought me pleasure and more than I expected. I actually felt cheerful.
These are all small things in themselves but they helped build my day. True I don't experience much intensity of emotion but maybe I can't handle that right now. If I can enjoy small pleasures and accompanying feelings like satisfaction and pride maybe I can extend my comfort zone to greater things. It may seem petty but much of life is made up of little moments so the more I can get out of them the better.
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