Friday, 1 January 2016

Anhedonia



Yesterday I had a bit of a New Year clearout and bunged a load of old gear either in the trash, or down to the charity shop. I even gave a tramp my old duvet and a pair of jeans. Of the many items that went into the great recyc of life, one was a huge soft toy of Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. I got it when I moved in here just over 4 years ago as it was only 50p and the flat was unfurnished. Having no real use for it I gave it to my friend Stephanie as a gift for her niece. When I got home I wondered about the origins of a toy that's sat in my room virtually ignored for years and on Wikipedia an article states that Eeyore suffers from a thing called Anhedonia. This is defined as "The inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable, e.g. exercise, hobbies, music, sexual activities or social interactions".

Last night I went out for New Year's Eve and while I had an enjoyable time, the 8 pints of Guinness that I sank have today made me feel worse for wear. Nothing new there but something I noted as the evening wore on was that my thoughts were a whirlwind of self analysis, paranoia, insecurity and fear. At least once I had strangers drunkenly say to me at the bar "You alright mate, you're looking a bit aggressive?" when I was feeling in no way angry. My thoughts and stout-induced melancholy were obviously showing on my face.

I missed the New Year fireworks as I hit the metaphorical wall at around 11pm and staggered off home to bed. While the evening was fun, today I've been battling the requisite cobwebs of negative emotions that always seem to accompany having more than two pints of beer the day before.

To set the scene...

The pub was packed out and my mate, who owns the bar, was wearing a very silly suit with comic sound effect captions all over it (plus a tie). There was a free game of bingo with beer as the prizes, everyone was in a chilled out mood and there was absolutely no trouble or sense of any percolating danger. Overall it was an enjoyable time. BUT...I still spent the 5 or so hours I was out feeling way too analytical and negative to really kick back and just go with the flow.

If we break down what Anhedonia actually covers.

Exercise. Well I exercise regularly and after I've finished typing this will be in front of the TV to do some Yoga. Then I just might treat myself to 50 inclined push ups, a two minute "plank" and then 30 arm curls. Thing is, I don't really enjoy this the way some of my friends do. I like the way I feel after but the whole thing smacks of that adage about suffering provided the reward is greater.

Hobbies. Hmmm....I like to write but sometimes I have to force myself (like now) and will get distracted by anything from Facebook to porn surfing. I like cycling but the effort of getting the folding bike down the stairs and doing an Optimus Prime in the alleyway always feels like too much effort. The helmet itches and gives me a headache, the rain is cold and kills the mood. The list goes on.

Music. Well, I tell myself I like music but being (until the very near future) a postman means I have listened to my favourite songs over and over AND OVER again and am now bored of them. Walking around shoving mail through people's letter boxes isn't spiritually uplifting work and an MP3 player is a godsend. I told myself I liked the band Keane, but today realised that I listen to "Sovereign Light Cafe" over and over and don't really listen to their other tracks.

Sexual activities. Well...wanking was until recently a treat I looked forward to nearly every night. Living alone, not being flush for cash and therefore having limited social options means that I tend to regress inside my head a lot. Problem is that masturbation is intrinsically boring and shouldn't be used as a substitute for actual sex. Now I try to limit that side of release and, like cumming off heroin, it's proving a tad difficult.

The bottom line is that I've realised just how little pleasure I did really take from the activities I filled my life with. Be it work, movies, reading a book or eating a meal...there has always been a sheen of tolerance to all this. Part of me thought that if I didn't do these things then I'd go insane from lack of external stimuli. Truth is that I was simply wasting time. I always looked down on the people who watch soap operas (and to this day I FUCKING HATE both Eastenders and Coronation Street) and waste their time following football games. But at the end of the day, my distractions were no more admirable. The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and Banshee seem to me to be better pursuits....but are as incomprehensible to some hardened soccer fans as their choice of entertainment is to me.

Anhedonia could possibly also be described as getting stuck in a rut and not doing enough to get out of it. Or maybe as "being a miserable cunt when there was really no need."


Nuff said.

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