My Take On Dealing With Anhedonia- Just Do Stuff.

I'm posting this in the sincere hope this may help other people stricken with anhedonia.

My inability to enjoy things as I should makes me sad, but that sadness makes me motivated instead of depressed now, except on those (rarer and rarer) days where I don't catch myself, and let negativity overwhelm me.

Besides diet, most of my self-designed treatment (for now, as far as science has progressed I think) seems to be about.... Just Doing Stuff. Which is incredibly harder than it sounds. The basis for this is simple: I don't really like anything, and I don't want to stay like this for the rest of my life. The problem will not solve itself unless I manage to find places and things and people I COULD find interesting.

It doesn't matter if they are interesting at this moment or not. If I feel I can contribute in some way, that's awesome, even if I am not particularly interested in whatever I would be doing. (I figure I won't even care to post about my progress when I am not feeling anything.)

This probably sounds strange. Why force myself to do anything?
  • Because the other option is giving up. I would be dead by now if I really wanted to give up. I don't. I can kid myself most of the time, but I would rather hold out for a chance of change than extinguish it. I mean, everyone dies in their own time, why rush it?!?
  • Because if I don't, I won't be doing much with my life--that is a path to feeling sorry for myself, feeling worthless, and these will DESTROY any small, true motivation I could have found otherwise. I am no longer prepared to sabotage myself like that.

I have to actually get out there and meet people, and watch myself all the time. I have to be careful of the promises I make and projects I start on the days where I am Superwoman.... and figure out how to make myself socially acceptable on the days where I Couldn't Care Less.

I am perpetually alert to differentiate that elusive feeling of "Actual interest in something", a very different thing from the interest in "Ohhhh Shiny New Thing!!!" (which gives me a very false sense of hope, and lasts a day or two at most.)

Since I have almost nothing within me that clearly signals what I *actually* like, I focus on little things....
  • Repeat visits on pages about certain topics. So far I have data analysis, mandalas, Feng Shui /geometrical aesthetics, and architecture to ponder....
  • Sudden flashes of inspiration. They don't last long, but if I felt something there for a second, it's worth a longer look, even if the interest will probably have died out when I figure it out.

At some point, I will go back to school in a topic that actually interests me enough to consider the studies a joy instead of a useless bother. That's a long ways away I think.... one day at a time.

In the meantime I have to find employment that satisfies me and lets me learn new skills. I'll be OK with the latter if I can't find the former (for obvious reasons.)

Throughout this, I have to develop the capacity to figure out if I actually like specific people or not. I am really good at being encouraging, accepting, and tolerating (when I'm in a good mood), or I just... dislike everyone (the other half of the time). I have no radar to figure out if I actually like someone or not. I have a really good radar to figure out if I am behaving in a way they expect.... but none that tells me if this person is someone I'd like to hang out with. My opinion of everyone shifts largely and constantly. =/

Bottom line, it's hard to Just Do Stuff when you don't care about much. I started small (microscopically so by social standards--throw them standards out the window, you can't win with them anyways, and society is not you.)

I have a game server up and running, I tweak the map; it's creative and fun and the editor is complicated enough that I feel cool about using it.
I proofread public scans of uncopyrighted material. There's a bit of programming involved.
I want to make a dream house in Sketchup (a house I saw in a dream, literally).
I want to make a scrapbook with mandala pages.

I have more wants than "do"s because I can't be bothered most of the time. But these projects are in my face and accessible whenever I feel *something*, so that's a start. Also, I have chosen them already, so... I have felt something for these ideas at some point. That isn't negligible.

Also I guess I can say I am posting here now.
I will add more once I figure out any other wisdom to share!
Wonderatrix Wonderatrix
31-35, F
11 Responses Nov 13, 2011

Thank you so much. my partner has anhedonia and I would love some ways to deal with it. It's so hard knowing he can't feel anything anymore even towards me although he tries his hardest. My heart goes out to you

Thank you so much for this. I have struggled for years and at nearly 60 started therapy when ANHEDONIA was diagnosed. I really thought I was plain lazy but am able to see that I have achieved things (although never enjoying them). I guess I must push myself to do even little things but from what you all say, just not expect to enjoy them. Maybe some day that will come. I did rely on alcohol for many years (has anyone else done this?) and was REALLY able to "let go" and have fun. But I obviously had to stop that.......I like the idea of trying to smell things and will try that. I know I am lucky, I live in a beautiful place with a good climate, have two big dogs so I walk a lot for their sake but oh to appreciate what I have, if only briefly. I am so glad I have found you all. Thank you xxx

Thank you for your shared thoughts. You write very well - I can imagine you speaking these words. For years I thought that my issues with "lack of joy in living" were do to co-dependency from a childhood with alcoholic and mentally unstable parents. I am beginning to get that my "lack of feeling" may be deeper than circumstance. Sigh. Good news and bad news at the same time. Regardless, it is a stone unturned which leads to new discoveries. Thank you

good post. I know how hard it is to just MAKE yourself DO STUFF.I do it everyday. I might as well be useful rather than lay around in bed. Plus, laying in bed gets boring too, I don't even want to do that. But every night at bedtime, I'm disappointed that my efforts didn't even make a dent in my condition. At least you have wants. I don't even have any wants. I'm just a zombie, hoping to get struck by lightning or something. I've heard some amazing stories about people who got struck by lightning and it changed them in a good way.<br />
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So now I go for walks during lightning storms, although we don't get many where I live.

You saved my life. Thanks.

Something else helpful: Concentrate on my nose. Seriously. The sense of smell is the first thing lost to the anhedonic. If you can smell your surroundings, you are somewhat present to them. Next time you are walking in the street or just sittting somewhere - stop and smell what is around you (good and not so good)... see how it brings you back into the experience of the present moment. <br />
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One more thing (related to the above): stop thinking about being 'happy' or even of having 'pleasure', and think in terms of 'experiencing' and 'noticing'. What your skin is feeling, what your muscles are feeling, what you are smelling, seeing, tasting... just start experiencing.

I don't know if you'll see my reply as you posted this a while ago. But thank you for the comments on trying to smell things - it is a definite start

Hey I have suffered from this I want to say 75% of the time, so I'm not a true "anhedonic", but I would like to encourage ALL of YOU. If I can have pleasure in life 25% of the time then SO CAN YOU! The most important thing like you said SquishPerson is to KEEP CHUGGING. I rely mostly on God, but when I look at my part in all of it, it is so small and worthless, but I live in my life, nobody else. Nobody can live it for me. I can't give up and die (I have a family that depends on me). So I KEEP GOING. Just 1 foot in front of the other. I trully believe that HELPING others has sincerely helped me. I can't do much, kind of like the mouse helping the lion, but I can do SOMETHING! :0)

I also like the idea of just doing stuff, keeping in mind that, for me, 'stuff' has to be quite modest (usually don't feel like leaving the house unless I have to). One thing I FORCE myself to do most days is get out and go running for a half hour in the beginning of the day. The adrenaline keeps me from going into extremely dark places - but it only lasts for that day - need to repeat daily.

I really liked what you said about being careful of the things you take on or committ to on the days you are 'feeling like superwoman'. This has been a problem for me as well and hearing you put it that way is useful to me - and makes me feel less bad about what happens when I take something on (in a good moment) that I can't follow through with when that good moment passes.

You have to work at it... if you just "wonder", nothing'll change. You have to decide whether or not you like being anhedonic (strange question, but a valid one), or if you really dislike it enough to "just do stuff".<br />
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You'll get exactly the result of your efforts... either not much, or a slow change.

I have anhedonia and I hate it. Sometimes I am happy but it is fleeting. I try to cook and concentrate on my hobbies but it's hard. I wonder if I will ever get better