I know, I know…this is one of those super annoying “3 steps to make yourself a better communicator” or “ten steps to change your studying habits” or “five steps to change the world” type of posts. They’re overrated, I know.
Actually, I guarantee that this post won’t change the world or make you get As in trigonometry. It probably won’t change your life either.
Still want to keep reading? Yes you do, because you’re curious…
Numbness. It’s what I’d like to call the “after-shock” of trauma, disaster, a major life change (the BAD kind), or just a mess with no get-out-of-jail-free-card. After the days or weeks of crying, rehearsing the gory details of whatever you lost, and spilling your feelings all over the place, you’d think that it would be better. You’d think you could see light again. Feel happy. Maybe even just feel BETTER. Wrong! Alot of times, you just stop feeling anything. Apparently, the low roller coaster of emotions that resulted from the tragedy doesn’t lead to the thrilling climb we all expect. Instead it leads to a plateau. A steady ride. A lack of ambition, motivation, caring about anything or anyone, easily distracted, isolated, introverted, tired, lethargic. No feelings. Lots of sleep. It’s worse than pain, worse than anger, because those emotions make people DO things. Numbness just makes people stagnant. Every sense dulls. Imagine living in Dorothy’s black-and-white land in the Wizard of Oz without the hope of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and you’ve got it about right.
Some people might call this the “recovery period.” And it can be the path back to the light. But it can also be a permanent condition. Psychologists and researchers talk about people committing suicide or being violent after an extremely traumatic experience. I wonder how many of these cases don’t happen during the immediate aftermath, but during the numbness.
That being said, I’ve found some things that help during periods of numbness in my life. DISCLAIMER: this will not cure your condition, but it might help you face it until your roller coaster car starts chugging up the hill again.
A. I’m sure you’ve heard this before.
B. I’m sure you’re sick (like hunched over the toilet about to puke kind of sick) from hearing it.
C. It actually helps!
My mom, who is a nurse, told me that the hormones released during physical exertion help people to feel at peace. Calm. Satisfied. I looked at her and laughed like, “yeah, right!” All I’d felt after the half-hearted work-outs I’d done was sweaty, exhausted, and miserable.
But then I started going to Tae Kwon Do again. Out of the blue. Just because I didn’t care anymore and had nothing else to do. I punched, worked on forms, sparred, kicked, stretched, did push-ups. The whole package.
People, it worked.
I won’t go into specifics because if you haven’t exercised for awhile, I hope you find it for yourself. Run. Bike. Go kayaking. Go to the gym for some other reason than to get abs. Lift weights. Play volleyball. Or baseball. Or flag football. Or lacross. You won’t be sorry you did.
Hang in there.
Just like exercise stimulates your muscles, singing stimulates your vocal chords (can you tell I’m not a medical professional right now? 😉 ) Beside that, belting out songs that have lyrics that inspire you, energize you, or motivate you….how can it go wrong? So do it. And don’t you dare just sit there and mumble One Republic or Three Doors Down under your breath. Get in the car, turn up the speakers. Go outside and sit on the swing. Start cleaning your kitchen. And SING! Even if your voice is terrible, or squeaky, or flat. Belt it out, bro. Scream it! Go high, go low. Use your hairbrush as a microphone. Get into it.
And something will happen.
Closely related to number 2. Grab your keys, check your gas guage, and hit the highway. If you don’t have a car, borrow a friend’s. Roll the windows down. Turn the stereo up. Put the sun-roof down, even when it’s raining. Dance in the car. Tap the steering wheel to a beat. Go down a road you’ve never been to before. Stop in a drivethrough and grab a Cheerwine or Strawberry Banana smoothie. Stop at a pond. Then just keep driving, somewhere where you can go fast and change lanes. Be free. Don’t get a ticket. But just go.
If it doesn’t help…you’re not human. Or young.
I’ve heard alot of friends mention scribbling in journals when they were kids. The funny thing is everyone admits it helped so deal with crushes, prom disappointments, bullying, and friend mishaps, but no one thinks it still helps with adult issues. Same story, people.
If you are a particularly private person, get a spiral notebook from Walmart and take it with you, wherever you go. Write everything you think down. Read over it again and again. Wear that pencil to a stub. If you like to be more open and public, start a blog. Or a vlog, if you’re a camera person. Write whatever comes to your mind and don’t worry about making a big splash in the pond. Or about being criticized.
If you’re feeling really ambitious, write poetry. Or a book. That might help and get you started on a career.
#5. Be Around People.
I know how it feels. I know you want to shut yourself in your room, or lock your eyes to a screen, and just have everyone stop talking, stop asking how you are, stop hugging you and saying everything will be ok.
Don’t give in to it. Be around people. Go do a project, go hang out with your friends, go on a trip, go sit in a coffee shop. Go to work and stay late to chat with your co-workers. One of the things that helped me alot was going on a week-long trip to Alabama with my friend, and forcing myself to talk to people at a wedding reception. Maybe that’s not your thing. It also helped me to chill at my friend’s apartment and crochet and make homemade pizza and drink espresso at 11 at night. I don’t know how that helped, but it did.
And it’s gonna be awkward and weird. You’ll probably feel like you are stepping out of your skin, or that people are staring at you like you’re naked, or that if you open your mouth, nothing will come out. Do it anyway. You’re not going to WANT to, but afterward, you’ll be glad you did. Eventually, your senses will open up again. You WILL feel something again.
Work toward that day.
If this helps anyone, and I pray it does, I will be ecstatic!!! After all, the title does say “overrated.”