I Cannot Cry

I sometimes feel as though I want to cry and all the normal emotional and physical triggers suggest that I am about to cry, but I don’t. I am told it is a side effect of one of my medications, and most of the time I am fine with that. Sometimes, though, I really need to cry.

For a while I thought that my tear ducts simply stopped working, but whenever I walk outdoors into the sunlight the tears run immediately. So, it’s not that.

When I watch true crime documentaries on television, I often see suspects and witnesses judged by their emotional response to whatever crime has been committed. If, for example, a suspect fails to cry at the loss of a loved one, that is seen as an indication of guilt. No question. If there are no visible, believable, emotional responses, that person must be lying.

At times like that, my sympathy is with the suspect. Maybe they are on the same medication as me. They just don’t cry. Ever.

There have been times when I thought my heart might burst, and normally I would have cried, but tears just did not come. It might have been a seriously impactful personal event, a death in the family, an interpersonal conflict, or a public embarrassment, but I didn’t cry. Once upon a time, I would have, but now I don’t.

Image via amimagazine.com

I think the last time I produced tears (aside from walking out into sunshine) was years ago when watching Sister Act II. Yes, I know what you are thinking; that is not a tear-jerker. I know, but I cried anyway. The point is that there was a time when I could be emotionally moved to a physically observable reaction, but that is no longer the case.

Several years ago I mentioned this to my doctor, and she reduced the dosage of the medication to its lowest possible level, but the problem persists.

Now I am weighing the benefit of the medication against the loss of tears. I trust my doctor to give me good advice, but I also miss the flawed me I used to be. Fortunately, now there are very few occasions in my life that would normally make me cry, so the issue is rare and sporadic. Most of the time I don’t think about it, but sometimes it matters.

The problem is not the lack of tears, as such. The problem for me is that along with the tears come a host of emotions, feelings, and reactions that other people usually respond to. Now, none of feelings are easily observable, and thus don’t exist in the eyes of those nearest and dearest to me and I don’t want them to think I don’t care.

I miss the release that comes with crying. If I could cry, I would like to do it privately, but that isn’t how emotional reactions work. They happen when the moment dictates, not according to my will.

So, for now at least, I will continue to take my meds and fail to cry. If you see me, or anyone else, not crying at an emotional event, please don’t assume we don’t care. Assume instead that we are on medications. Our hearts may be about to burst out of our chests; you just cannot see it.


  1. Ironic or kismet or whatever the term is as last night I watched The Holiday, a soppy romcom where one of the characters, Cameron Diaz, also could not cry.
    Of course, if you remember the film she eventually falls in love and on the brink of leaving breaks down and sheds a few tears. All say awwww!
    Can’t help you with any advice, Anne, as I am like the male character in the film (Jude Law) who blubbs at the drop of a hat.
    It used to be when Liverpool lost but thank the gods this does not happen much these days!
    I can’t imagine what it would be like not to cry but the feeling must be a bit odd.

  2. I have tears “at the drop of a hat”. Sometimes people think they have burdened me when I tear up about what they’re sharing. I don’t feel burdened at all; just feel like I’m empathisizng with their expereince. One of my sisters says her antidepressant keeps her from crying. I would miss the tears, but understand the trade-off.

  3. I am so sorry. I can imagine how difficult this would be for anyone. I have never heard of it being a medication side effects but nothing surprises me now days. I am just stunned by pharmacy commercials and the side effects they rattle off for a prescription that is supposed to improve the quality of one’s life. 😞

    • Most of the time, it’s ok. But there are some times when it’s really frustrating. Whenever I watch a murder mystery on TV and the police suspect that one person who isn’t crying, I often want to shout out “They could be on the same meds as me!” 🙂

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