MH@H Depression

A Heart of Ice – Apathy and Depression

A heart of ice; apathy and depression - graphic of a heart encased in ice

A few nights ago, there was an accident in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan involving a bus carrying members of a junior hockey team, the Humboldt Broncos, and their coaches.  Fifteen people died, with the majority of them between the ages of 18-20.  This tragedy has dominated the news since then. However, with my depressive apathy, I just can’t seem to make myself care.

I watch the news, because that’s part of my routine, and I think move on, you’ve talked about this enough already.  This evening, the news anchor’s voice broke as she read out the names of the deceased, and she was clearly fighting back tears.  Her job is to be cool as a cucumber and she struggles to maintain her composure, while I feel like an ice queen.

This isn’t new.  Depression does this.  It causes apathy that hardens my heart to anyone’s pain but my own.  I recognize that this isn’t who I am, but right now it’s how I experience the world.  I don’t exactly blame myself per se, but at the same time, I’m the only one accountable for my emotions.  There is no one outside of myself that I can blame; only the illness that’s turned my heart to ice.

Some moments we remember not so much because of the event itself but because of our own circumstances.  For me, the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting was one of those moments in time.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a terrible event, but sadly these types of events occur with disturbing regularity.  I remember Sandy Hook, though, because the memory is inextricably linked to where I was at the time.

I was in the small psychiatric emergency ward in a suburban hospital near the city where I lived.  It was a single large room with curtained off beds and a small seating area with a tv.  There was nothing else to do, so I watched tv and picked at the rat’s nest that my hair had become during the delirious days prior to my admission.  The tv was tuned to a 24-hour news channel.  

As I watched the story unfold, I felt a curious sense of indifference.  The only thing that really struck me was the wish that Adam Lanza had shot me rather than those kids.  Why did they get to escape this world while I was stuck rotting on the psych ward? Aside from that thought, I just kept mindlessly picking away at my hair.

I don’t like the heartlessness that depression brings about in me.  I’ve blogged before about my own non-reaction to the Las Vegas mass shooting; my lack of reaction disturbed me more than by the event itself.  Indifference was not a “normal” way to look at such a horrific tragedy.

I find it interesting that my life’s chronology has come to be defined largely by illness events.  Hospitalizations and relapses form the major milestones as I look back at my life over the past 10 years.  Everything else is situated in relation to those milestones; either that, or it just blurs into a fog of meaninglessness.  I regularly watch the news and, so I’m aware of major world events; however, unless things somehow relate to my depression journey, my brain relegates them to the discard bin.

Mental illness changes how we interact with the world around us, and that can be distressing and even frightening.  It can be hard to separate how much of our reactions are truly our own and how much are the illness.  Why are both 9/11 and Sandy Hook burned in my mind when so many other events have gone into the dusty filing cabinet of my apathy-drenched brain?  Why did 9/11 trigger stunned horror while Sandy Hook triggered nothing?

Jumping off on a bit of a tangent, my brother’s wedding is coming up this summer.  And I don’t care.  I have no interest in going to the wedding. I’ll go, though, because that’s what’s expected of me; it’s what I’m “supposed to” do.  I won’t feel happy for him, because my ice heart doesn’t do that.  Cognitively, I know that it’s a positive time for him, but there just isn’t any positive emotion to go along with that.

 It’s not something I try to beat myself up over, but I do find it curious.  As in so many other situations, I’m not really sure where I end and the illness begins.  On this journey of self-discovery, I don’t think I’ll ever find concrete answers, and maybe there will always just be more questions (and perhaps more apathy).  Still, it’s important to keep asking those questions – and maybe that’s what I really need to take away from all of this.

Maybe global warming will melt my heart of ice.  Or maybe the solid black of my apathy will sink the Titanic all over again.  But now I’m just rambling.

book cover: Managing the Depression Puzzle, Second Edition, by Ashley L. Peterson

Managing the Depression Puzzle takes a holistic look at the different potential pieces that might fit into your unique depression puzzle.

It’s published by MH@H Books and available on Amazon and Google Play.

15 thoughts on “A Heart of Ice – Apathy and Depression”

  1. Sorry things feels hard sometimes. I just want you to know that I don’t think it means you’re a bad person.

    I hope you feel better soon. <3

  2. This happens when we lack for human connection (according to some studies).
    It has something to do with empathy and not knowing how to nurture it to a healthy state.

    PS: On the other side, you are a better fit for the job of giving that kind of news on television.

  3. Your Not a bad Person, When Surviving Nail to tooth is Your main Objective other people and their problems and their pain start to pale so that you focus on your own survival, At least that is how I feel. I am the same with my Cousin’s wedding coming up, I dont really want to go and Im going to lose alot of money from my work by taking off that weekend ..Honest i hardly even know her that well i have been around her since childhood but we arent close and I have only met her boyfriend once which was last christmas…I will also go becuase its expected but yeah Im not to happy about it either…Maybe that is Icy but I feel like it sometimes Is human nature to focus on yourself when your in an Intense state of fight or flight all the time.

  4. I’m sorry you’re going through a tough time. I’ve never had depression but my mother dealt with it while I was growing up. I’m sure it’s not helpful to hear that things will get better…But they will.

  5. I wonder if the news presenter lost someone she knew in that accident. Not to be harsh, but terrible things like this happen every day, so I’m not sure why she would be tearing up on this one.

  6. Ashley
    You lovely bundle of wisdom and love!
    I deliberately avoid watching the news. If there is no news they create it to fill air time. Labouring the point of the tragedy is filling air time. It has nothing to do with the victims. Your reaction is normal, it’s called ‘news fatigue’ an over kill of the point desensitises people just like seeing too much violence.
    The news survives on giving bad news most of the time it is biased that way.
    So don’t compete with this systematic machine of doom or let it change who you are. 😊

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