Anhedonia. Defined as the inability to feel pleasure. Personally, a more precise definition is the inability to stop thinking that everything I do is boring and stupid. It’s a pervasive lack of motivation, knowing that even accomplishing a goal won’t be rewarding or fulfilling in the slightest.
I took up knitting, baking, coloring and jewelry-making a few months ago. I got halfway through a scarf, made some lovely drop earrings, completed a couple of pictures and made (and ate) more cookies than is healthy. I was so proud of myself. When I attempt to pick up my needles now I am repulsed by how bored I am almost immediately. I hate them and don’t want to do it. I immediately want to throw the needles down because I’m so angry at them for not making me happy anymore.
Losing motivation is devastating. You don’t know what is wrong with you. Why nothing seems worth doing. Nothing is fulfilling and you hate others for asking you to do stupid, pointless things and not understanding how stupid and pointless those things are. When I get like this I become terrified of what will become of me. I was always a good student, curious and hardworking, unbelievably responsible, a teen with myriad passions and dreams and when I was “on” I was one of the most organized, neat, planned, forward-thinking people I knew. I’m the person people always picked to be the coordinator and plan events in college and law school. I was thorough. I took care of my entire family when my mom was sick. Details? I had ’em covered.
Lately, the anhedonia has taken over with a vengeance. Funny that something that deprives me of the ability to give a damn or feel passion is such a strong, pulsing, growing force. I work up the will to start the laundry, but that’s all the steam I’ve got so I lay down and leave it sitting in the washer. I used to be a neat freak. Now I vacuum once a month. Who am I?
So my new experiment is to completely forget about doing things for pleasure, or waiting for motivation. It’s a fake it ’til you make it game. I’m going to make a list of things that I have to do everyday regardless of whether I feel like it. And just do them. I imagine worst case is that I become even more angry and bored, but at least my life keeps moving forward.
But maybe best case, is it helps me get better. Some achievement sparks something — however small — in me and gives me what I need to keep moving forward.
What do you think? Have you struggled with anhedonia? What have you done to overcome it? Exercise? Medication? Therapy? Just waiting it out? Can I fake it ’til I make it?