ME/CFS and emotional blunting, apathy, anhedonia, depersonalization, derealization

Do you experience emotional blunting with me/cfs

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Senior Member
Mostly- all my emotional stuff often feels intensified. I cry readily, and more often due to Joy.

I don't cry when the ME is bad- that type of thing causes my sypmtoms to worsen rapidly-I have to squelch it.

Yesterday I watched an old clip of Congressman John Lewis entering the Colbert audience..and getting passed around- this caused a giant emotional upwelling and I burst into tears, it was a beautiful thing to see.
Like Ruf, I've become way more emotional with crying. I was never one to cry over TV shows at all previously -- husband was the one who did. (I tease him because when he was a kid he cried during Dumbo.)
Now, yes, that John Lewis scene described would get me.
I sobbed a thousand tears when Hillary Clinton was nominated and Bill came onto the stage and hugged her and whispered into her ears, "I'm so proud of you." (I'm crying now thinking about it....)

I also cried watching the Bachelorette the other night when the Bachelorette let the #2 guy go and I don't even like the #2 guy!

Nord Wolf

Senior Member
New England
Interesting conversation. I too agree the terms thrown around by the psych field are very difficult to define. To think we can really define, with any real definitive word description, the reality of what we truly feel and can express is a bit fantastical. They are emotional states of being meant to be felt, not worded.

Nevertheless, for me I’d have to say it is very difficult to say if ME/CFS has toned down, numbed or in other ways altered my emotional capacity; feeling or expressing. When I went through years of spec ops training, 30 years ago, the normal human emotional states of being were suppressed on severe levels. It took me years (and only after two near death experiences from on the job injuries), to realize I was no longer as emotionally capable as I was prior to the training years. Some emotional states became less emotional and more the logical knowing of HOW I was supposed to feel or act. To do the work we were trained to do, emotional context had to be removed in order to preserve the humanity buried within. But that process had a price. Now living with ME/CFS, and years after retiring from that field, I do notice that some emotional feelings have returned, though muted. Others are here but I’m unable to “normally” express, like grief and sadness. It is almost impossible for me to cry, even if I want to.

When going through an intense EMDR session two years ago, that was dealing with a severe trauma, I dissociated in the session. I recall nothing from that space of time. However, when I returned into my dominant consciousness, I broke down in uncontrollable crying. It was the first time I cried in probably 18 years, and the last time. Interestingly, today I still am unable to cry while awake and conscious, but on rare occasions I’ll find myself crying in a dream and wake up with a wet face. This only started happening after that EMDR session. It is like a dam inside broke, but only an inner level and the fissure hasn’t reached the exterior yet.

Emotions are a strange world that I think none of us can ever hope to truly explain through dialog.

All the best-


Senior Member
Nord Wolf:
You are so right. Feelings can only be expressed in words, when we can compare them to previous experience (right left brain connection).

Emotional numbness has in many cases server trauma as a foundation. Becoming conscious about it means the gate way to the lower brain (amygdala), the seat of trauma, needs to be reopen.
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Senior Member
This is a very interesting thread. For me, absolutely I almost never cry since I developed ME/CFS. I really miss that release, but I'm just too numb to cry. (The exception is if I use cannabis). What is awful is that I cannot truly empathize with others' suffering because of this numbness. So even if I know someone is in pain I cannot really "feel it" in my bones. Or if someone dies, again I cannot really feel it, and will not cry. Such an insidious effect of this horrible illness.

On the brighter side, I think that because I'm so focused on survival rather than sentiment, this has helped me become very successful in the work that I do. I'm in survival mode all the time, and this forces me to keep my eye on the ball at all times, and not get distracted by emotions (which are blunted).

But I'm tired of being a robot, a zombie. I want to feel life in my marrow. This illness has taken that away.
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Senior Member
Well, then begin the work of trying to feel again. If a situation is sad, even though you may not be able to cry, put yourself in the main character's seat and try to feel the feelings of being alone and different that he must have. Everything can be lost or gained, but it does take practice

In my case sadness has been such a topic throughout my life that I can no longer cry. Nothing makes me that sad, and yet I still feel upset, happy, joyous and love the gift of laughter. It's a different way of releasing my feelings, but it works for me.

I don't like that I can't cry in a sad situation, but then I didn't like crying buckets of tears years ago when that wasn't called for either. What is normal for us in any situation? Perhaps a certain situation, sentence in a book, anything can turn the water works on/off for us. I don't believe it's always depression either....some people are just more easily moved to tears than others, others carry deep sadness within themselves and it can change with situations and different ages.

Do you really want to feel life in your marrow? Think about it....especially if it's a bad situation. Maybe it's nature that's keeping us from feeling too much. I'm accepting of myself as I I'm old enough to know that the feelings can change. As can the tears. Just different thoughts on the same subject. Yours, Lenora.


Senior Member
Do you really want to feel life in your marrow? Think about it....especially if it's a bad situation. Maybe it's nature that's keeping us from feeling too much.
I would like to feel life in my marrow, but I do think it's nature's defense mechanism that prevents that. Things that make me really happy or sad or upset take too much out of me. Even enjoyable things can put me in bed for several days, so I have to be pretty careful.