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Shutdown Emotions? What does it mean?

answered 09:00 PM EST, Tue January 27, 2015
Maki Raghda Maki Raghda Abu Dhabi
I have a very close friend , this sounds strange, but it means a lot to me. It is about 6 months ago, she has shutdown her emotions,she is not sad nor happy, but do not care for that kind of sentiment. Sometimes we laugh a lot and eventually i realize that she was acting, she says she put a mask on her face in order to be able to deal with others. she hurts my feeling so many times because of that , and i don't let her know that i got hurt by her because she already know and can't help it . i dont want to lose her , she means the world to me. just tell me how i should deal with her ? should i turn off my feelings when i'm with her?

E W Says...

No, it doesn't sound strange at all. You can see that your dear friend's behavior seems to have changed, and right now, you feel hurt. It is a good question for many reasons! Let's explore a few:

First of all, being a good friend and caring for someone else also means being a good friend to yourself, and caring about yourself. As such, if you have not purposefully done any wrong or contributed purposefully to your friend's detriment, then her behavior, as most all behavior is, is a reflection of herself, not of you. It is understandable that you feel hurt, but try not to take it personally. There is usually not a component in a healthy relationship for "turning off one's feelings" when you are together. There should be healthy boundaries (ie - not having your feelings controlled by other people's behaviors) but certainly enjoying authentic sharing and communicating is a vital part of most relationships.

Second, your friend may be suffering from illness - physical and/or mental. Has she seen her family doctor or spoken with a counselor? Is she taking medications or abusing substances? Any change in life circumstances? The possibilities are countless, but If symptoms such as a lack of enjoyment, flat affect, pervasive sadness have come up recently and are not going away, she may need to seek help.

Third, you can't make her seek help. You can talk with her - is her feeling of "not happy" coloring her entire life? Or only certain close relationships? You can suggest that she seek help, or offer to go with her if she feels she needs support. However, you can only express your concern and caring. (The exception to this is that if she ever seems to be a threat to her own safety or that of others, call your local emergency number.)

And finally, I'll repeat, don't take it personally. If your friendship has reached an end, then that is just a normal part of relationships. If your friend is suffering from an illness, you can help, but still are not responsible and it is not your fault. It can only help if you, also, find support - seek your own support group, licensed counselor or other resources. Education about healthy relationships, healthy boundaries, physical and mental illness could all be of benefit. There isn't enough time to explore all the potential issues, but this should give you a start. Best wishes to you!

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Page last updated Jan 27, 2015

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