Empathy

Is it possible to have depression and be an empath? Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another because you’ve experienced what they have or you can put yourself in their shoes. It is not the same as sympathy which is more like acknowledging someone’s emotional hardships and comforting them. Depression is often defined as emptiness and a loss of interest in life. How can someone who has trouble feeling their own emotions experience the emotions of others so acutely? Several studies show that people with mental illness are unable to experience empathy. This makes sense to me.

What doesn’t make sense to me is the way I react to other people’s situations. Sad movies are just not an option. They are just too upsetting. There was an election here recently and the party I didn’t want to gain power was crushed. It was brutal, the party leader even lost her seat. Instead of being relieved and happy that the people I voted for won, I was busy feeling bad for the woman who lost. The devastation she must have been feeling seemed unbearable. Something happened to an online friend recently, that really affected me too. I’ve never even met these people and probably never will. Why does how they are feeling matter so much? Why does it affect me? Home come I can’t feel my own feelings, but I can imagine and experience someone else’s?

The worst case recently has been my husband. He didn’t get a job that he applied for. He didn’t even get into the second round of interviews. This job was a really good opportunity for him to leave teaching and get back into wildlife. He is really not happy teaching. He has to be someone he doesn’t like just to keep his students under control. This year alone, he has been sworn at, shoved and seriously threatened. This wildlife job opportunity had really lifted him up. He had volunteered at this place in his teen years and has plenty of experience working with animals. I thought he was going to get it for sure, but to not even be called for the second round of interviews? Ouch. I was shocked, still am. I feel absolutely sick over it. It’s like all the hope has been sucked out of me and I feel worthless and unappreciated. I should be comforting him and I am trying, but I also feel like I need a big piece of cake. Why do I feel this way? I can understand the shock and feeling bad for him, but feeling hopeless? That’s not my emotion to feel, it’s his.

Does anyone else experience this?

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. NotAPunkRocker
    Jun 09, 2014 @ 12:46:24

    Big giant YES to that question. Which can be a bad thing after a while, because you have to deal with their emotion’s effect on you on top of your own personal issues.

    Reply

  2. christy barongan
    Jun 09, 2014 @ 16:13:40

    This probably won’t come as a surprise, but I have the same problem. http://normalintraining.blogspot.com/2013/12/empathy.html

    Reply

    • somberscribbler
      Jun 09, 2014 @ 16:20:07

      Haha, of course! We are so alike, lol. I like what you said about the radio waves, I feel that too. I really have to pay attention to who is around me and what I am watching. Avoiding some things/people would probably do me good.

      Reply

  3. #BlackDogRunner
    Jun 09, 2014 @ 17:46:59

    Yes, this is always a bit of a paradox to me. To be honest, I’d say I have an overly developed sense of empathy, I completely melt if I see someone else in distress. And equally, sad films can be very very triggering, I just can’t see someone in distress. I really care about other people, but it can be very tiring. The challenge for me been learning to try to be empathetic towards myself.

    Reply

    • somberscribbler
      Jun 11, 2014 @ 08:09:44

      I have the same problem. It’s so much more natural to care about other people than to worry about myself. I didn’t know so many other people felt the same way. Maybe it’s a characteristic of those with depression…

      Reply

  4. Matt Fried
    Jun 10, 2014 @ 21:11:18

    I say ‘yes’. A good perception of what other people were feeling has always been one of my strength – even though I used it for bad reasons while I was depressed. I may not have been able to / allowed myself to feel my own emotions, but I sure was always able to empathize everyone else’s.

    Reply

  5. somberscribbler
    Jun 11, 2014 @ 08:11:06

    I wish I was better at controlling it. It can be overwhelming to feel what everyone else is feeling and not understand yourself.

    Reply

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