Comfortably Numb

“There is no pain you are receding

A distant ship, smoke on the horizon

You are only coming through in waves

Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying

When I was a child

I caught a fleeting glimpse

Out of the corner of my eye

I turned to look but it was gone

I cannot put my finger on it now

The child is grown

The dream is gone

I have become comfortably numb”

Pink Floyd (David Jon Gilmour/Roger Waters) 1979

In the album and film adaptation of the epic Pink Floyd production, The Wall, the lead character descends into a state of psychosis after being injected with a medication so he can perform in a show (and based on an experience that Waters had after being administered a muscle relaxant during the band’s “In the Flesh” tour). And while this is a purely fictional account from the perspective of lyricist Waters, there are elements of the album I can relate to.

In particular, the song Comfortably Numb, kind of describes how I’ve felt recently. The clinical term is anhedonia which is defined by either a reduced ability to experience pleasure, or a diminished interest in engaging in pleasurable activities. It’s not as if I haven’t been completely unmotivated but more like I’ve been feeling flat. This is exacerbated by my day-to-day responsibilities and innate feeling that I need to be “on top” of everything mentally, emotionally, and otherwise.

There are also other contributing factors: Covid fatigue, the ongoing war in Ukraine, the overall state of world affairs, and the ending of another long winter season. And while I am privileged to have a life that is far beyond what I ever could imagine even 10 years ago, I still have my moments.

The one advantage I have is that I have a longitudinal view of my life; where I have been and how I was able to overcome the particular problems I was facing. There’s something to be said for perseverance in the face of adversity.

Another thing I learned was that “this too shall pass.” This is a profound axiom and perfectly fits my current mindset. Despite being in an emotional lull, I realize that, like all other feelings, it is fleeting. This is a crucial piece of knowledge and one that is overlooked by some people who feel that their life is beyond repair. Unfortunately, some individuals cannot see beyond their current circumstances and see suicide as their only option. Now, I haven’t been in that place for nearly 40 years, but I can still remember the sense of pain and desperation I felt. It can get better.

Another benefit of being in long-term recovery from co-occurring bipolar disorder and addiction is that I have developed a number of self-care tools that I can utilize at any time. This “toolbox” is invaluable and consists of such things as daily meditation, prayer, exercise (which has been a struggle recently), utilizing my support system of family, friends and mental health professionals, writing this blog, and of course, music.

I started writing about 45 minutes ago (it’s about 9:30 pm) and I feel a little bit better. And that is enough to give me the hope that tomorrow will be a better day.

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