"I Don't Care About Anything" - Anhedonia is the Answer
Something strange is happening.
The things you used to love no longer seem that interesting.
The people you typically hang out with are no longer appealing.
In fact, you might be telling yourself...
"I don't care about anything."
This can be a serious problem, and it can feel futile to even attempt to address it.
But all is not lost.
Not at all.
In fact, a certain realization and action plan might be exactly what you need.
Is It Depression? Maybe Not...
It's so easy to slap on the "depressed" label.
You're depressed, man. You need to chill out. Why can't you just feel better?
When you start to lose interest in life, and your friends and family begin to notice, "words of wisdom" come from everywhere.
That's nice and all, but do they actually apply to your life? Are these people walking in your shoes, feeling what you're feeling?
Friends tell you one thing. Parents tell you another. Sometimes the words hit home, but other times they fall flat on the ground and begin to stink up the place like a dead fish.
And it's not always depression.
Because depression is a label.
It's a term like anything else.
And, of course, depression is serious. There is a reason that it's in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (The DSM-5). The collection of depression symptoms that have been categorized and thoroughly fleshed out describe a phenomenon that many, many people in this world have.
But does clinical depression describe the feeling that you're having right now?
The feeling that you don't care about anything?
Let's dig into that particular feeling a little bit.
What is Anhedonia? (A Weird Word to Describe a Foreign Feeling)
When you don't care about anything, it can feel like the sound is turned down in the world.
That's what it felt like for me. For years, from 2013 to 2015, I went through long periods of time when I didn't care about anything.
I felt it in my mind, and I felt it in my body.
And it turns out, anhedonia addresses both of these aspects of not carrying about anything.
Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure. It's a common symptom of depression as well as other mental health disorders.
And anhedonia can be broken down into two main types--physical anhedonia and social anhedonia.
But why am I telling you this?
Why am I belaboring the point about apathy that you already feel?
To point out that this is common.
To prove to you that it's well documented.
Physical anhedonia could be:
- Not having energy to do anything
- Wanting to sleep all day
- Not wanting to leave the couch
- Not even having energy to change the channel on the TV
- Going through the motions at work or at family gatherings
Physical anhedonia is a body-state.
Yes, it's your body responding to how you're feeling, but it's also your body sending signals back to your mind, which affects your next set of actions.
Which brings me to social anhedonia.
Social anhedonia could be:
- Turning down invite after invite to hang out
- Not wanting to participate in activities that you used to find interesting
- No longer wanting to exercise
- Being drained by every social gathering
- No longer having motivation to reach out to family or friends
Both types of anhedonia can take over your life, and both types can play off one another to make it so you just don't care about anything.
But knowing what's going on--and having the words to describe what's going on--is only the first step.
Next up is learning what to do about it.
How to Start Caring About Life Again
Now, let me start with a warning.
There are no simple answers to deeply entrenched issues.
If you've been feeling this way for a long time, it's likely going to take some time to get you out of the rut.
But let me tell you--it is possible. It absolutely is.
I'm living proof of that, and I've worked and talked with many people who've done the same thing.
Like anything in life, following what I'm about to share is not a guarantee, but it's rooted in timeless principles, in wisdom that is freely available to all.
When you're drowning in stress and apathy, it's often enough to just have some kind of game plan.
If you want, this can be your care-about-life-again game plan:
1. Take stock of your symptoms
When you first realize you don't care about anything, it can be hard to even pinpoint what exactly is going on.
So you need to take stock of what you're experiencing.
Use the above anhedonia categories as your guide. What are you feeling physically? What are you feeling socially? Say it out loud. Write it down. Tell a friend. Just getting the symptoms down often provides ideas that you couldn't see when you were just going through the motions.
2. Highlight major stressors
Sometimes, it's not about outward symptoms. Sometimes it's about the inward pressure of major stressors.
Have you been dealing with something major lately? Is there, I don't know, a worldwide pandemic going on?
Major stressors are a big deal, and they can have a big impact on your life.
And I'm not just talking about current stressors. If you've survived trauma, such as emotional or physical abuse in your past, then that's something that you need to consider. Even if you think you've moved on and processed everything, the body keeps the score.
3. Choose one thing to do
This is the part that can be tough.
After all, you know your life. You know what you've been through. But you may not know what to do next.
So simple is always better.
What's one thing you can do next? What is one activity you can try to get yourself feeling better? It doesn't have to be a grandiose vision quest or a cross-country move. It can be starting a garden. It can be walking around the block twice a week.
What we're going for here is try something new. Doing what you've been doing has not erased what you're feeling. It's only new action that will put you on a new path. You have to take new action to get new feelings.
So what will it be?
What are you going to choose first?
Only you can decide that.
No More "I Don't Care About Anything"
Anhedonia is a crushing blow to the body and mind. But it's not permanent. It's really not.
As long as you hold in your mind the seed of the idea that it is possible to feel better, you're on the right track.
Reaching the point where you no longer care about anything is a whole-body, all-consuming type of thing. And so it's only natural to feel like you need to combat that feeling with an all-hands-on-deck game plan.
But I beg you to reconsider.
The only way I've ever changed my life is by doing one thing at a time, and it's true for almost everyone I've studied or talked to.
Document your symptoms.
Highlight your major stressors.
And then choose one thing.
It sounds almost too simple to work.
But a dirt path carries you in the same direction as a gold-paved road.