I feel adrift in about a dozen different ways at the moment. On paper (laptop screen?) it looks like my life is going fairly well: I’ve passed my first year at college and started my placement (although not the client-seeing part of it yet, just induction stuff), I’ve been happily relationshiping with Audrey for six months, I’ve had two job interviews in the last few weeks after months of no interest, my tenancy has just been renewed and the money situation, although tight as hell, is not catastrophic – I’m pretty sure I will be able to keep a roof over my head for the foreseeable.

But I feel empty, which is probably quite evident in the fact that I’m barely updating this blog anymore. Not the sort of chaotic, intensely distressing emptiness I did everything I could to avoid as a teenager, just a sort of quiet general bleh. Quite like my emotions when I was anorexic: muted and numbed, with brief flares of panic. I don’t really know what’s wrong with me, or if there even IS anything wrong. Maybe this is just life. Maybe this is my grand prize for putting so much effort into sorting my shit out. To be honest I really wouldn’t know. I’ve never had an extended period of stability which I could claim as my emotional baseline.

I just feel all wrong. I could call this a warning sign of impending depression, or a leftover from the burnout I suffered at the start of the year, but I don’t seem to have any viable options left when it comes to getting help for that. I’ve been seeing a counsellor at a local charity for the last few months, but I don’t think that’s really going anywhere. She’s a pretty funny counsellor actually, trained as person-centred, vehemently anti-CBT, but every other sentence out of her mouth is something along the lines of “but think of all the progress you’ve made”, or “keep thinking of the positives” or some other stock CBT-lite platitude. Hell, I’m a humanistic-cross-cognitive therapy trainee, and I wouldn’t use lines like that on my clients. Plus I can’t get a sentence out without her interrupting and talking over me. At the very least it’s a crash course in what NOT to do, as if I hadn’t already seen enough not-to-do therapists in the past. She is nice and well meaning, but it’s not working out, as therapeutic relationships go. I’d rather have no therapy than bad therapy, because bad therapy has a record of getting my hopes up and making me feel worse in the long run, and at the moment the alternative really IS no therapy. I’m on a waiting list for help with some residual PTSD stuff – intrusive thoughts, hypervigilence, that sort of thing – but that’ll be targeted NHS stuff, not really equipped to deal with existential angst or whatever the hell I’m experiencing at the moment. My ennui and I are stuck with each other for now.



7 responses to “Ennui

  1. meh indeed but as you say, bad therapy is worse than no therapy and maybe, just maybe, bad, or inappropriate, intervention to try to deal with mehness is worse than meh.

    I have this in my caring situation. I feel a terrible guilt and shame that I should be DOING something, almost anything, to try to make the situation better, ideally to effect a total cure despite the rather inconvenient truth that in 10 years there hasn’t been an undisputed diagnosis of what we’re aiming TO cure. I get furious with NHS providers, and charitable self-help groups and myself that none of us are providing anything, but when inappropriate things have been tried, they have sometimes been actively harmful and occasionally positively dangerous.

    I hate it that you are stuck with your enui for the moment but guess it MIGHT just clear off of its own accord or actually be helped more than you expect with the targetted post-traumatic help.

  2. I think ‘ennui’ is the most appropriate word to describe my constant state of being – I’m not sure if it’s quite what you’re implying, but my version is a general feeling of seeing the sun rise every day and thinking ‘is this all there is?’ That sounds horribly ungrateful, but life constantly seems so empty. I never know if this is how people are ‘supposed’ to feel…I’m not sure if the breadth of human experiences allows anyone to feel totally fulfilled, but surely there shouldn’t be a constant sense of nothingness and apathy about general existence.

    You’ve been through some huge Stuff recently, experienced a lot of upheval and acquitted yourself so well, so that could perhaps inform your current state of mind now that there is a bit of a lull and things are, on the surface, more peaceful?

    It’s a shame that your therapist is like a living example of How Not To Do It – I hope you’re offered some more useful NHS therapy soon.

    Hang in there.


  3. Arggh, goodness me – me too! I can’t think of anything useful to add at this point, and I’m meant to be packing up the last few of my belongings, not interwebbing my day away… I’ll write you a proper catch-y-up-y email once I get internet sorted for my new place. I just wanted to say “I get it” and give you a hug. Search out some fun this weekend, yeah? 😉 Lots of love, x x x

  4. Ugh. I hate when I get into places like this. When things are not quite right but there’s no evident reason why. I’m sorry you’re feeling blah, but hang in there. Thinking of you (and glad you updated a little bit 🙂 )

  5. Just a thought: Do you think it has to do with spirituality? I met someone this week that was saying that the feeling of “ennui” was what led them to God.
    Thanks for sharing your blog. I had an eating disorder for 7 years and would say I’m recovered now. I recognize a lot of the thoughts in some of your past posts as thoughts I’ve had myself, and it always helps to see someone else put these things into words.

    • I’m an atheist. While I appreciate that many people find solace in religion or other spiritual beliefs, I’ve never found anything of that ilk that makes sense to me. Physics is the closest I come to spirituality – I feel most at peace when I’m looking at the stars and thinking about how vast the Universe is in relation to myself. Some people might think that it’s understandable that atheists would feel empty or lost, but I know enough who are content with their view on life to know that isn’t an explanation for how I feel. So personally I don’t think my current state has anything to do with spirituality. Other people going through the same thing might be able to fill that hole with religion, and if that makes sense to them, then fair play, but it’s not the way my brain operates.

      ETA: Good to hear you see yourself as recovered 🙂 I am recovered from my ED, more or less, but those co-morbid issues don’t give up so easily!

  6. *hugs* I’ve never heard of the word ‘Ennui’. But an apt word for something so hard to describe, I’m sorry you’re feeling it at the moment. Hope you keep going and things pick up for you. x

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