No Words for Feelings

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Tree with no leaves

There is no word to describe how one feels — that is not depression nor grief — during a certain period after suffering exposure to death or threat to life. It is an emptiness that is not numb, yet is not really empty either. There is substance to this emotion that is calm, but it is not without negativity. Before reaching this state of mind, one may experience resignation. The thought process may go something like:

“Trauma happened. I am still here. I cannot change what is past. I experience no hope for the future. I am functioning yet I am not alive. I am calm, but I care for nothing.”

Yesterday, I learned how to use hypnosis. Classmates practiced on each other. I also experienced being the patient. But my practitioner did not bring me to peace. Rather, we ended simply with calm.

The place where I felt this calm under hypnosis was in my bedroom in Brooklyn several years after 9/11. I could see the blue paint that used to be on the walls. I did not know yet that I had PTSD and was in a state of oblivion. Oblivion is the only word I could think of later on to describe my state of mind. But the emotion has no word. It contains anhedonia, but it is not simply without the ability to feel pleasure. There is a void that is not felt, a disconnection that might associated with dissociation, yet there is a sense of presence that omits dissociated as a mental status. This void enables horrific acts and behaviors. It is a pathos only experienced with detrimentum, which anyone with properly-diagnosed PTSD may understand.

My practitioner brought me out of hypnosis while feeling calm and in this state of pathdetrimentum. I briefly felt resentment. And then this state did not change for the next 20 hours. I felt like I could kill someone. Homicidal ideation is serious. During this state of mind, I understood how others with PTSD are able to commit homicide, or suicide. This ability comes after becoming resigned to the circumstances and before regaining hope.

This morning, still feeling this pathdetrimentos (?), I paid attention to the sensations in my body associated with the feeling. The soft tissue in my face stiffened and softened all over. There were no sensations in the rest of my body, only in my head. It reminded me of having nightmares.

Though I have no PTSD symptoms, I still have sequelae. I have trouble finding words. Writing this post is taking a long time as I have trouble remembering vocabulary, such as ideation, a word I use often in my clinical work. While the emotion of yesterday has changed, and I no longer feel like I could kill a person, I still have nameless feelings. I decided to stay with these feelings and let them fuel writing.

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