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Water in the Desert. Saturday November 5, 2016

Anhedonia (an inability to feel pleasure in normally pleasurable activities) is often a symptom of depression and schizophrenia. I have both diagnoses and find that loss of positive feelings very hard to live with. Emotional flatness is no fun at all and it often means that I have no emotional response, such as to music or events in relationships when I would expect to. The prospect of it continuing - possibly forever can make me feel completely despondent at times. Unfortunately the negative emotions are much more accessible to me.

I had thought that I only feel satisfaction rather than pleasure such as when I've done the washing up. However, I woke up one morning and asked myself what if I can turn that idea of Anhedonia around somehow? I don't have a total absence of feelings, all the time and maybe I'm not acknowledging and appreciating the little emotional life that I do have. So I set out to identify if and when I experienced pleasure.

It was a work-day so I had to get up early, accompanied by my usual grumblings to myself but as I drew back the living room curtains I was greeted by a luminescent disk in the early morning sky. It shone so brightly I thought it was the sun at first. Then I saw the moonscape on the surface of the perfectly full moon. I can't deny I experienced a sense of wonder and some delight. What a lovely way to start the day! The moon was soon covered by pink streaky clouds, which were almost as beautiful.

My first cup of tea, a hot shower, my new jeans (stretch velvet – a great invention!), a sunny bike ride, a compliment from a colleague, tiny bright yellow leaves on the ground, a packet of chocolate ginger biscuits and getting a library book I wanted all brought me pleasure and more than I expected. I actually felt cheerful.

These are all small things in themselves but they helped build my day. True I don't experience much intensity of emotion but maybe I can't handle that right now. If I can enjoy small pleasures and accompanying feelings like satisfaction and pride maybe I can extend my comfort zone to greater things. It may seem petty but much of life is made up of little moments so the more I can get out of them the better.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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LP Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 6:53am

Hi Meggle,
I loved your beautiful and atmospheric description of the moon at sunrise that started your pleasurable morning. That's mindfulness at it's best! I felt your pleasure too.
Diagnoses and definitions have their purposes, but you have not allowed yourself to be defined by them which is so inspiring. Thank you! After a night of worrying about work, I'll be taking in all the small pleasures along my day. Sending good wishes to you and all moodscopers. LP xx

the room above the garage Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 7:46am

G'morning LP, I hope you managed some sleep last night, maybe a little day nap today? You can always write about it and we will reply, sometimes the answer even becomes clear from the process of writing. Love ratg x.

Claire Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 8:05am

Thank you LP for your lovely comment - it is hard sometimes not to be trammelled by a diagnosis which is constantly present but it's certainly not what life's about. Life is in the detail as someone said. This is my first blog so I'm very glad that you liked it. I hope you get some rest today and experience many small pleasures along the way. Meggle x

LP Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 8:22am

Morning ratg, Yes a siesta is defo on the cards for today! I didnt think it was worrh writing about until I started this reply and realised there's more to why it was on my mind. Thanks hun I feel a blog coming on! :) Love P xxx

LP Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 8:30am

I thought I hadn't seen your name before, it's always nice to see a first blog moodscoper, so welcome! I will get some rest and focus on little pleasures, switing of from work thoughts till Monday, it's the weekend! LPXx

the room above the garage Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 7:43am

This! Exactly this! Fantastic blog Meggle, thank you much, love ratg x.

Claire Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 8:06am

Thank you! I'm inspired to write another blog having had such a positive response. Meggle x

Sally Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 7:45am

Thank you, Meggle and LP. Food for thought again. It's good to start the day this way. I agree with LP about not letting the diagnoses & definitions define you. That was a helluva description, Meggle, an absolutely fabulous read. So lovely to have all those little reminders of what makes up life, the little things which are often the big things. You painted a beautiful picture which I'm now going to draw on. ;-)

Meggle Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 8:11am

Hi Sally thank you so much for your comment. I'm not normally big on "positive psychology" but a little bit goes a long way and you don't have to deny the difficulties in life as well. I'm glad you found the blog helpful - reading it again this morning is a good reminder to me too! Meggle x

Sally Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 9:27am

Hi again Meggle. I'm sorry if you interpreted it as "positive psychology" , it certainly wasn't meant to be preachy...I'm just a bit of an enthusiastic person.....when I'm not down in the dumps!! Best wishes. Sally

Meggle Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 9:36am

Hi Sally What I meant was my blog was a bit of "positive psychology - it wasn't a criticism of anything you said. I hope you have a lovely day

Jul Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 8:30am

Good morning Meggie. What an interesting blog. It has made me think about my inability to feel emotion or any positive feelings at things and life events where most people would show emotion. There are though some events and experiences where I can show emotions and enthusiasm so all is not lost. I like the sound of your stretchy velvet jeans. Julxxx

Meggle Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 11:15am

Thank you Jul I'm glad to hear that you feel all is not lost. I guess we just have to honour and appreciate the emotions we do have. Maybe they come at more important times? All best wishes Meggle x

S Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 8:31am

Thank you so much Meggle! This was exactly what I needed to read this morning. I understand flatness while still accessing negative emotions and like you working towards seeing the good things as well. Lovely descriptions, thanks, Sx

Meggle Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 9:44am

Thanks S - I'm finding it very helpful to hear that others experience similar things with regard to emotional flatness - it is quite an isolating condition in "normal life". Moodscope really helps to diminish that isolation. Have a good day! Meggle x

Sophie Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 9:14am

Hello, im 100% all for noticing and appreciating the small things, they get me through each and every day, I'm sure of it! Well done on taking a leap of faith in your ability to view things differently, hope you have lots of small things that make you happy today too :)

Meggle Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 9:46am

Thank you Sophie I will try to keep practicing! I hope you have a happy day too Meggle x

Peter Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 9:30am

Hi Meggie
I agree "Emotional flatness is no fun at all" My absence of vitality is a very challenging for me. Although I am experiencing a very low mood right now your blog has reminded me of the potential wonders to be found where I am right now.
A heart felt thanks.

Meggle Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 9:51am

Hi Peter I'm glad my blog was helpful. I often find I have to force myself to do things as I lack motivation and that can be dispiriting at times but it does at least get me to a different place. I hope your low mood shifts and you can enjoy a beautiful autumn. Meggle x

Ruth Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 11:21am

Hi Meggle I'm finding it hard to find things to make me happy. The only views of myself are negative.
But, I loved your post. So encouraging. Thank you for sharing. Ruth x

Meggle Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 9:51pm

Hi Ruth sorry to hear you're in a difficult place. Happy seems like a big word to me - if something brings me a slightly pleasurable reaction that seems like quite an achievement! I'm glad you liked my post - thank you for your warm response. Meggle x

Tutti Frutti Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 12:01pm

I too recognize the emotional flatness. Thankfully not all the time. It's all been said in the comments already really but great blog, thanks for writing for us. Hope continued focus on the little things will bring more times of contentment. Love TF x

Tutti Frutti Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 12:02pm

I too recognize the emotional flatness. Thankfully not all the time. It's all been said in the comments already really but great blog, thanks for writing for us. Hope continued focus on the little things will bring more times of contentment. Love TF x

Tutti Frutti Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 12:28pm

Oops apologies for posting this twice. While I am here (and sorry for hijacking the wrong day's blog) can I just say to Mary that I have now replied to her book title question in yesterday's blog.
Thanks all for bearing with me. TF x

Meggle Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 9:53pm

Thanks TF - I shall work towards contentment. I found myself thinking how lucky I am in my life today which is surely a step towards it. Meggle x

Cielle Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 12:37pm

Thank you Meggle! Your post was a nice reminder that the little things are really important. It's so easy to toss those aside while waiting for the "big thing" that I think will really make me happy. It has helped me so much to see that other people struggling with similar problems. I feel that it takes a lot of bravery to do what you're doing - congrats and keep up the good work!

Meggle Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 9:55pm

Thanks Cielle - I often used to think how I wanted to be happy but had no idea what it consisted of. Now I think it may be made up of all those little things. Meggle x

Lifelong Learner Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 2:48pm

Beautiful writing Maggie! You have really captured the idea that a change of perspective can be so helpful. I have to admit to being an advocate of 'positive psychology', which I think can sometimes be interpreted (unfairly in my opinion) as ignoring the negative aspects of life. I think the 'trick' is the try and acknowledge the negative aspects of our lives whilst at the same time appreciating the positive aspects, however small and ordinary they may seem. Your blog post captured this philosophy so well. Inspirational and uplifting, thank you!

Meggle Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 9:58pm

Thank you Lifelong Learner - perhaps "positive psychology" is portrayed in an unbalanced way sometimes. I certainly like to thing of it in the way you have described. Meggle x

Laura RB Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 4:47pm

What a beautiful, inspiring post. You're definitely onto something. Thank you for sharing!

Meggle Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 9:59pm

Thank you Laura RB! Meggle x

The Gardener Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 5:53pm

Thanks to RATG yesterday suggesting if here we could put on glad rags and go out to dinner. Had an exciting evening planned at a bonfire night (in France! Brits planned it) but I've done my back in with too much work, and it's bitter. Back to Meggie - that's a real affliction! But turning negative to positive is like litmus paper. I'm suffering from inertia today - always do when Mr G in respite - have huge plans for those days then find the first day is adjustment - and, to paraphrase Meggie, negative, as in doing nothing, is positive in that I CAN do nothing if I want and enjoy what is actually freedom. Lessons from 'life long learner' above. I think the last three years have knocked some philosophy into me. Things which I might not have positively enjoyed when I could go anywhere at anytime have now come into prominence - choice of radio - really listening to music - organising a siesta when I get a chance so it's a sybaritic experience - making sure each room is perfect, as designed (not as in a fussy housewife, but that 'every prospect pleases', e.g if a rose dies, hoof it out, don't leave an empty vase, go and find some seed heads, a fading hydrangea. I do have to put up with passers-by examining all my blue pots, jugs and flowers on the low window-sill - Dutch people do this all the time. Blethering again, nobody wants to answer the phone tonight, and I feel like chatting. The cat is sitting on the printer - as she's a long-haired persian she'll probably get hair in the works.

The Gardener Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 6:01pm

All a bit inconsequential above - cat now on keyboard. Don't know why, made me think of the song 'We're busy doing nothing, working the whole day through, trying to think of lots of things not to do'. Was Bing Crosby one of the singers? Also 'Gone fishing', instead of just a ?? wishing', I think. Are fishermen deep thinkers, out there on the cold river bank all day? Or just misogynists? Apologies to all fishermen.

The Gardener Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 6:06pm

We were on favourite books yesterday - and when my speech/writing goes into this mode I think of Galsworthy's Aunt Em in the later Forsyte Saga books - you needed a GPS to follow her conversations. And my posts, a prize to anybody who can sort the threads out.

Meggle Sat, Nov 5th 2016 @ 10:05pm

Hi The Gardener - I don't quite know how to respond to your posts but your day busy doing nothing sounds good. I'm learning to appreciate things for themselves too such as listening to music and not just having it on in the background. I hope your printer still works! Meggle x

Nicco Sun, Nov 6th 2016 @ 1:07pm

Thanks, Meggle. Thank you for your blog. You made me realise I can be more attentive to the small pleasures each day that actually do lift the heart and spirits. I sometimes find it v.hard to be positive and my emotions seem to consist only of fear, anger, depression & joy - no midways, no nice balance, not even any flatness. I was never allowed to show any emotion when small or growing up so they often seem out of control or over the top one way or an other, so it's nice to be reminded that the little things can bring not a wildly over the top whooping joy, or a joy that disappears with a sinking feeling as soon as it emerges, but a nice gentle, appreciative, softly smiling joy. Thank you again. Nicco.

Lesley Sat, Nov 12th 2016 @ 11:27pm

Thanks, Meggie. Anhedonia features in my life. It strikes me though that I am perhaps conditioned to highs and lows and being in the middle, where I am supposed to be according to the medics, feels awfully flat and sterile. Tonight I walked home alone from the cinema, where I had gone myself, and felt the horrible emptiness and lack of pleasure in life kick in big time. I chose to pick some autumn leaves on stalks to bring home for a vase. I chose to marvel at the autumn trees bathed in moonlight and the pervasive smell of autumn after a day of rain. These choices helped until I got home. Here I am at 11.25pm in bed with my laptop. Writing this has prevented me writing an email to me ex-husb. without whom my life feels empty and meaningless. After 5 years apart the pain doesn't go away - I just have to manage it enough to stop it from completely controlling my life and forcing the anhedonia to dominate.

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