Emotional Flatlining

Postby NoMoreWeed86 » Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:24 am

When I first started experiencing paws, the thing that devastated me and still devastates me the most is my inability to feel love or anything good. While searching the internet I came across the name Jackie Kelm. She has a couple different websites. You can google 'Jackie Kelm' as this website will not allow me to post the link.I read through any free material on her website and signed up for her email newsletter in search for some explanation. Here is one of the emails I found interesting and relevant. I find comfort in having somewhat of an understanding of what is going on chemically and knowing I am not alone(although I wish no one ever had to experience this). For me knowing I am not alone is knowing i am not doomed. This may sound cheesy but i feel where there is a community there is hope.

"This is probably the most common question I get asked: How come I can feel bad feelings like anger and frustration with emotional flatlining but not the good ones?

Let me explain a little about the brain to help answer this question. The brain is still a mystery in many ways, but there are two different systems that help explain what's going on.

One is the threat response in your brain which constantly scans for danger and possible threats and motivates you to move away from them. The other is the reward center which constantly looks for things that are good for survival such as food and mates and motivates you to go towards them.

These two systems evolved over time to help promote our survival, and they function differently and produce different neurochemicals which cause different feelings.

Cortisol is one of the primary neurochemicals involved in the threat response which causes the bad feelings we think of as fear and anxiety. With emotional flatlining this circuit is still working, so you can still experience these bad feelings.

The most common good-feeling neurochemicals mentioned in the reward center are dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. With emotional flatlining this entire circuit is completely cut off, so none of these neurochemicals can flow.

Dopamine is most commonly associated with flatlining due to the obvious way it impacts you when it’s missing. It is thought to be the neurochemical that helps motivate you to go towards things you want. It’s what creates interest in doing things or learning something new, or getting up off the couch to get some lunch. Without it, you don’t have any desire or interest in doing anything, and achieving goals or accomplishing something does not bring any joy or pleasure.

Serotonin is thought to be involved in status and pride. It makes you feel good about yourself, or that you’re important or that that you matter relative to others. When you don’t have it, you don’t care about yourself or what others think of you, or what they do or don’t do.

Oxytocin is the bonding neurochemical. It’s what makes you feel close and connected to others. Without it, you don’t care about anyone or anything, even your own children. New mothers with flatlining have told me they look at their baby with absolutely no feelings of love or connection at all. This can be the most devastating part of flatlining.

The lack of oxytocin also causes the painful experience of not being able to grieve. You have to care about people in order to grieve their loss, and without oxytocin you can’t. I’ve had people describe the very painful experience of losing someone close and wanting to grieve so bad and they just couldn’t. They’ve told me they would give anything to just be able to grieve.

To make matters worse, the threat system is still functioning, so you get the bad feelings without the good. But even the bad feelings can be muted in situations that would also produce some of the good feelings.

Hopefully you can see now why you can feel bad but not good, and to understand yet again that this is a physical condition. It is a literal block in your brain, and once you remove the block, all the neurochemicals begin to slowly start flowing again. It takes time, but they do.

So when people ask me things like, "Will I be able to love my child again? Will the pleasure of music ever come back? Will I ever be able to enjoy my hobbies again? I tell them, “Yes it all comes back!”

And hopefully now you understand why this is, as it’s the whole reward system that is not working. And when it starts working again, all the good-feeling neurochemicals start to flow, and everything comes back." Jackie Kelm
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Postby thegreatdane » Wed Sep 12, 2018 8:54 pm

Such a good post! I truly think that this is all chemical. Of course there is some old past emotions that we are cleansing off. But as for me im almost 8 months in and i feel a lack of all the things you mentioned. A truly lack of emotions. I believe that my dopamine and serotonin receptors is still healing a lot. I also had a porn addiction which affects dopamine receptors greatly. Sometimes i just question myself if i just am depressed, but i know that this PAWS thing is chemical. Thanks for reminding me lol :)
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