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31 May 2016, by Will Lunn

Joy Division

The average military Division is made up of between 10,000 and 20,000 troops. On average not much more than half would be front line troops likely to see action. With even less actually having experience of confronting the enemy face to face.

The Joy Division I belong to has many more battle hardened veterans than that. I and my fellow veterans have fought through waves of debilitating depression. Some have spent decades fighting against the constant inner negative narrative which whispers snidely in their ears to give up. To take that box of tablets or finally put that leather belt or rope around their necks. I was going to say this Joy Division has nothing to do with the Ian Curtis fronted band but actually Ian is another of our lost members.

Our Joy Division loses 100 good men in Britain every week to the inner demons, the black dogs, the savage unrelenting conditions which greedily eat up everything which previously made up who we were. Our shocking weekly death toll rarely makes the news. To those of us left behind we have to accept for now we are living in a society which thinks such savage attrition rates are viewed as acceptable collateral damage.
Survivors have fought against the temptations to give up. Giving up would be the easiest thing believe it or not. For many of us we have lost children, houses and careers to our struggles. We have watched almost helplessly as each of these tenants of who we were are stripped away by whatever psychiatric condition they have labelled us with.

Why the Joy Division? Simply because we have no Joy left. Do you really understand what that means? The vast majority of time we are unable to feel joy at anything. Weddings, birthday parties, nights with good friends. Any social events at all. The fundamental occasions when a body is expected to feel genuine joy are lost on us. Believe it or not there is an actual term for this complete loss of joy in everything… anhedonia. So strictly speaking this blog should be called Anhedonia Division. Here is a little definition of what we are talking about.

In psychology and psychiatry, anhedonia (/ˌænhiˈdoʊniə/ AN-hee-DOH-nee-ə; Greek: ἀν- an-, “without” and ἡδονή hēdonē, “pleasure”) is defined as the inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable, e.g. exercise, hobbies, music, sexual activities or social interactions. While earlier definitions of anhedonia emphasized pleasurable experience, more recent models have highlighted the need to consider different aspects of enjoyable behavior, such as motivation or desire to engage in an activity (“motivational anhedonia”), as compared to the level of enjoyment of the activity itself (“consummatory anhedonia”).[1]
According to William James the term was coined by Théodule-Armand Ribot.

Cold, anodyne and clinical descriptions such as this spectacularly fail to give the reader any idea of what it actually feels like.

How about this? You are at your Son’s birthday party. You obviously love him with that powerful feeling only a parent can have for a child and you will do what you can to make him happy but you are the one standing in the corner like an odd sock. You see family friends having a good time and the children all playing away. The logical part of your brain tells you this should be a time to feel joy, to be happy but the emotions just will not muster themselves in your dysfunctional mind. Instead you keep looking at your watch wanting to be home.

Perhaps the next time you are at a family or social gathering and you see someone standing in the corner awkwardly doing their best to be invisible you might go over and try to put them at their ease and put out a helping hand of friendship.

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