I’m putting my personal experiences out here along with some scientific facts and recent studies, in the hopes that this reaches other women who may be fighting an invisible illness.
About 7 years ago, I started feeling numb. A sort of flatline feeling. I looked normal on the outside but I didn’t particularly enjoy anything. Just 3 years before this, I had undergone surgery to remove extensive endometriosis tissue. However, the condition had come back. I did not realize immediately but I distinctly remember being in this zombie mode. I’ve experienced depression before and after this phase, but this particular period was not depression. I couldn’t feel highs or lows. I didn’t feel my emotions. I couldn’t remember what feeling good was. I was binge watching netflix and working 0n my PhD thesis back then, but I completely lacked passion. I felt like I had dissociated myself from my body. In a sense that, I didn’t appreciate or enjoy sensual pleasures.
Recently, I came across a scientific review article on anhedonia and it being a symptom of endometriosis.
I was initially shocked but this definition slowly started making sense to me. I thought endometriosis fxcked sexual life in general but this article became a revelation that motivation to even feel good can be taken away by this cruel, chronic condition.
Anhedonia means lacking hedonic functions. If you look up the meaning of hedonism, you will understand better. Its a pursuit of pleasure. Why shouldn’t one pursue pleasure and happiness? At one point, I couldn’t even understand hedonism but thanks to a lot of varied cultural exposure, lots of reading, positive community & friendships – my views have changed & my self-awareness expanded.
In general, a lack of sex drive or low libido, ability to feel sensual /social pleasures could be due to stress, depression or emotional disorders. Anhedonia can be associated with mental health conditions. We also know how chronic inflammatory conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis and adenomyosis can have an impact on various aspects of mental health & sexual life in women fighting these conditions. In fact, almost 86% women suffering from endometriosis have a higher risk of fighting depression, especially when they are in extreme levels of pain. While symptoms vary between individuals, endometriosis and adenomyosis pain can be constant or cyclical. Many women suffering from endometriosis also experience pain during intercourse resulting in an aversion towards physical intimacy. Almost 75% of women with PCOS experience some form of sexual dysfunction – low sex drive, arousal, lubrication and orgasm. Without exploring sexuality and feeling pleasure in ways personal to each individual, there is no way to move past this icky issue.
The latest article has been even more shocking because it says that chronic pain & chronic inflammatory conditions can directly result in anhedonia without even being associated with depression. Anhedonia – a state where one doesn’t feel motivated to feel pleasure – social and/or sensual. A sense of flatlining. Feeling numb.
It has taken me 7 years to even realize that I had experienced anhedonia back then. Things started changing in the last few years, especially when I started making changes towards better physical and emotional health. I now focus on being in my body. Being in the present moment. Taking it all in. Taking care of my body, mind and spirit through various rituals – some scientific, some spiritual and some sensual. All of them grounding in nature. I’ve been focusing on feeling good in my body and being on earth, instead of spacing out, ha! What is life without enjoying what’s here and now?
Only when I became aware that I could be experiencing pleasure instead of all these unpleasantness, my views have changed and my hope has been restored for myself and for other women.
If you have been experiencing anhedonia, sending love to you. Feel free to leave a comment or reach out to me here