Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Land of Anhedonia

Despite never having been out of the USA except for Canada, I still consider myself a seasoned traveller inside this country. I have spent the last two days watching home movies covering trips to Colorado, Washington, DC, New York City, Florida, Illinois, and everything in between.

There's one area I try to keep out of, though. It's not fun and not exciting. The entrance is free, but you end up paying a big price. I'm talking about the Land of Anhedonia, and it's where I've been for the last three days.

The word anhedonia stems originally from the Greek, and means literally "without pleasure." I have come across many patients in my medical transcription career who lived in this land for some time. Medically, it usually refers to a clinical scenario where the patient finds no pleasure in life, especially in doing things that ordinarily would bring her great pleasure. It is a kind of dark apathy, where "I don't care" is thought more often than not (along with "Why bother?") and where depression is probably involved in a moderate or heavy manner.

I think it becomes easy to slide into the Land of Anhedonia when several life events collide until something has to give. Be they financial, obligational, familial, situational (such as trying to sell a house, maybe?), the brain just cannot continue to function on a normal level and just tries to shut itself down.

Mozart was once accused of using "too many notes" for the brain to appreciate. Anhedonia is kind of like the response of the brain to "too many notes." It considers its only alternative to be a nearly total shutdown. It's just a coping mechanism.

This past Sunday, I was at work when I felt illness coming on, vis-a-vis a sore throat and malaise, and by Monday morning I approached my supervisor with a request to take the rest of the week off. I initially thought I was becoming physically ill, but I soon realized I was taking a visit to the Land of Anhedonia, and I just prayed it would be a short one.

I stayed in bed for hours at a time, went 24 hours without eating anything, and vacillated between anxiety and apathy. Ed finally made me get out of bed and get dressed. I spent the rest of the time watching the aforementioned home movies. My silly son's impressions got me to laughing again, and soon I could feel I was packing up to leave Anhedonia and get back into life.

I was grateful to friends and family, who tried to convince me that I had stayed away long enough and it was safe to come "home." The best antidote to the Land of Anhedonia, though, is grandchildren. Yep, I firmly believe it. You can't hold them in your arms and not have love envelop you and warm your entire soul.

I was rocking Charlotte today, and instead of anxiety, I had a peaceful calm come over me, and I started softly singing one of my favorite hymns:

For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.


Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour,
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon, and stars of light.


For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind’s delight,
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight.


For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild.


For Thy Church, that evermore
Lifteth holy hands above,
Offering up on every shore
Her pure sacrifice of love.

It's good to be back.


RJB said...

We're glad to have you back. Welcome home.

Anonymous said...

Carol, having spent the last several days discovering your writings from the beginning, I just want to send you a hug! Glad you're back from that dark land. Looking forward to more of your journey.

okmt from MTPA

Sarah said...

Glad you are feeling better!

Tif said...

Me, too.

I'm glad you got me to pull out the home movies today. Just seeing you dancing around in that ballerina costume made me smile!