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Anhedonia, apathy, demotivation, emotional numbness

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Jenniferdiana

I can't cry...why can't I cry...the last time I cried was last week...i can't force myself to cry..what is this? Has anyone ever experience this?

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brassmonkey

It's the WDs playing games with your emotions Jen.  In a few weeks you probably won't be able to stop crying.  It's a variation on the window/wave pattern.  I had several stretches of several months where I couldn't cry.  Each followed by several months where I'd cry at the drop of a hat. Very challenging in the work environment.

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JS11
11 hours ago, brassmonkey said:

It's the WDs playing games with your emotions Jen.  In a few weeks you probably won't be able to stop crying.  It's a variation on the window/wave pattern.  I had several stretches of several months where I couldn't cry.  Each followed by several months where I'd cry at the drop of a hat. Very challenging in the work environment.

Hi Jenniferdiana, 

Thank you for the information Brassmonkey.

and Welcome to SA.  Jennieferdiana.  

take care,

JS

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brassmonkey

I recently posted this on several other threads, when it was suggested that I also post it here.  Anhedonia, or more correctly in the case of ADWD Emotional Blunting is a symptom that causes a large number of people a considerable amount of grief.  It doesn't have to be that way.

 

"When it comes to WD, anhedonia is natures way of protecting us from the excruciating experience of constant panic attacks, nonstop anxiety, adrenaline rushes, cortisol spikes, palpitations, suicidal ideation, intrusive thoughts and the like.  Your mind decides that it is better to feel nothing at all than to be put through the ringer 24/7 with emotions and sensations that wrack the body and soul, and the slow healing/recover process to a snails pace.  When the mind is allowed to feel nothing the body is then allowed to relax and direct it's energy to where it really needs to be used. This allows for faster more complete healing, less painful WD symptoms and a better quality of life.

 

Yes, anhedonia is no fun.  Primarily because we make it that way.  We all want to regain our feelings as fast as possible.  But we are in a healing situation where the body needs to be allowed to do what it needs to do, because it knows best how to put itself back together.  Once we understand this, accept it and stop fighting it we will start to heal at a faster rate and life will be much more pleasant as we do so.  Given a lifetime, the time spent in ADWD/recovery is insignificant.  We have all had our "life" cruelly taken from us and want it back now.  But to get it back fully we need to let the WD/recovery run its course, put on a brave face and accept what ever it throws at us, whether we can feel it or not.  With time, the healing will happen and when it knows we are ready our minds will allow us to feel our full range of emotions again and life will be even better."

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emmabee
On 9/16/2017 at 1:33 AM, brassmonkey said:

I recently posted this on several other threads, when it was suggested that I also post it here.  Anhedonia, or more correctly in the case of ADWD Emotional Blunting is a symptom that causes a large number of people a considerable amount of grief.  It doesn't have to be that way.

 

"When it comes to WD, anhedonia is natures way of protecting us from the excruciating experience of constant panic attacks, nonstop anxiety, adrenaline rushes, cortisol spikes, palpitations, suicidal ideation, intrusive thoughts and the like.  Your mind decides that it is better to feel nothing at all than to be put through the ringer 24/7 with emotions and sensations that wrack the body and soul, and the slow healing/recover process to a snails pace.  When the mind is allowed to feel nothing the body is then allowed to relax and direct it's energy to where it really needs to be used. This allows for faster more complete healing, less painful WD symptoms and a better quality of life.

 

Yes, anhedonia is no fun.  Primarily because we make it that way.  We all want to regain our feelings as fast as possible.  But we are in a healing situation where the body needs to be allowed to do what it needs to do, because it knows best how to put itself back together.  Once we understand this, accept it and stop fighting it we will start to heal at a faster rate and life will be much more pleasant as we do so.  Given a lifetime, the time spent in ADWD/recovery is insignificant.  We have all had our "life" cruelly taken from us and want it back now.  But to get it back fully we need to let the WD/recovery run its course, put on a brave face and accept what ever it throws at us, whether we can feel it or not.  With time, the healing will happen and when it knows we are ready our minds will allow us to feel our full range of emotions again and life will be even better."

This makes so much sense. I've been mostly anhedonic for about 5 years.  It's part of what led me to the decision to stop meds. 

Since WD, the anhedonia feels worse, but it's not constant.  I have periods of deep depression, high anxiety, and increasingly, windows of almost normalcy.  Maybe not normalcy, but brief periods ranging from hours to days where I start to feel like "I can..." 

Then back to anhedonic.  

 

I've been trying to read through most of this thread, and pages back someone talked about "paralysis of the will".  Yup.  I relate to that so much.

But looking at it as a rest period for my out of balance body and brain....makes me feel better.  

 

I know this is going to be a long journey, and have to remember that I need to stop fighting it and just let it happen in it's own time.  

 

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Offforgood

I think my anhedonia which I have had for the last few years while on meds.. Zoloft 200 mg, olanzipine 5mg and effexor X-rays 450 mg and continue unchanged since I stopped taking all meds in July... I guess I was taken off Zoloft and olanzipine too fast Zoloft in a month taper and olanzipine in a few days.. on psychiatric advice..did I thought slow taper of effexor X-rays over 6 months 50% decrease each month..now am experiencing withdrawals two months later but predominant lack of motivation still persists.  

I think this anhedonia is a result of taking antidepressants for 28 years.. I believe the meds created this symptom when I read this article....

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2989833/

 

 

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brassmonkey

Emotional Blunting is one of the major side effects of all of these drugs.  It's how they work.  They don't cure anything,  just make us not care about it any more.  I had Emotional Blunting from the time of my second updose (from 30 to 40mg) all the way through most of my taper.  That would be about 12 years.  It didn't come on all at once but rather crept in over many months.  I could feel the slow slide into total not caring.  It took a while before I associated it with the drugs.  Once I understood that I was able to accept it and work against it.  There wasn't much I could do to improve the feelings but once I started to taper and the lower doses kicked in I began to see some improvements. But it does take a long time.  I've been drug free for five months now and can still experience EB while in waves.

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Offforgood

i have been off meds for two months but don't see any improvements to my lack of motivation..I wish I could be more patient but the thought and prospect that this condition may last for years scares me because by then I will have lost my employment and everything I have worked over 40 yrs to achieve.. how did you cope with this daily lack of motivation? Any suggestions would b greatly appreciated.

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brassmonkey

"I will have lost my employment and everything I have worked over 40 yrs to achieve"

 

Because I didn't want this to happen, I did what ever was necessary, no matter how I felt. It didn't matter if I "felt" motivation, I frequently didn't, but there were  things that had to be done in order to maintain and not loose everything.  It became a great distraction to keep me from thinking about the symptoms and sensations I was experiencing.  I didn't let it become a desperation, just kept it as what had to be done to survive.  There were times it was very hard to push myself to function, but a person can find ways to accomplish almost any task.  They also find that there are reserves deep inside themselves that they never imagined existed. There's a phrase that I hate, because it's so frequently over used in trivial situations, that really applies here "Just Do It".  Make the commitment that WD will not be the sole purpose of your life and do what ever needs to be done to live around it.

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emmabee
3 hours ago, Offforgood said:

I think my anhedonia which I have had for the last few years while on meds.. Zoloft 200 mg, olanzipine 5mg and effexor X-rays 450 mg and continue unchanged since I stopped taking all meds in July... I guess I was taken off Zoloft and olanzipine too fast Zoloft in a month taper and olanzipine in a few days.. on psychiatric advice..did I thought slow taper of effexor X-rays over 6 months 50% decrease each month..now am experiencing withdrawals two months later but predominant lack of motivation still persists.  

I think this anhedonia is a result of taking antidepressants for 28 years.. I believe the meds created this symptom when I read this article....

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2989833/

 

 

I've never encountered anyone else on that high of a dose of Effexor.  I was on that dose for about 12 years.  And on ADs for about 28 years too.  

I wish I figured out what it was doing to me sooner.  I read a similar study that led me to my decision to stop.  

 

1 hour ago, brassmonkey said:

"I will have lost my employment and everything I have worked over 40 yrs to achieve"

 

Because I didn't want this to happen, I did what ever was necessary, no matter how I felt. It didn't matter if I "felt" motivation, I frequently didn't, but there were  things that had to be done in order to maintain and not loose everything.  It became a great distraction to keep me from thinking about the symptoms and sensations I was experiencing.  I didn't let it become a desperation, just kept it as what had to be done to survive.  There were times it was very hard to push myself to function, but a person can find ways to accomplish almost any task.  They also find that there are reserves deep inside themselves that they never imagined existed. There's a phrase that I hate, because it's so frequently over used in trivial situations, that really applies here "Just Do It".  Make the commitment that WD will not be the sole purpose of your life and do what ever needs to be done to live around it.

I hear this, and I get it.  Trouble for me is I pretty much let everything go before I got off the meds.  Now trying to get back out there, to have a social life and a find a new career (because I can't, or won't ever go back to what I used to do) it all feels like too much.

 

But yes, I have to start thinking of myself as capable of being more than just a person suffering in WD.  

 

 

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Julz82
1 hour ago, brassmonkey said:

"I will have lost my employment and everything I have worked over 40 yrs to achieve"

 

Because I didn't want this to happen, I did what ever was necessary, no matter how I felt. It didn't matter if I "felt" motivation, I frequently didn't, but there were  things that had to be done in order to maintain and not loose everything.  It became a great distraction to keep me from thinking about the symptoms and sensations I was experiencing.  I didn't let it become a desperation, just kept it as what had to be done to survive.  There were times it was very hard to push myself to function, but a person can find ways to accomplish almost any task.  They also find that there are reserves deep inside themselves that they never imagined existed. There's a phrase that I hate, because it's so frequently over used in trivial situations, that really applies here "Just Do It".  Make the commitment that WD will not be the sole purpose of your life and do what ever needs to be done to live around it.

 

I could have highlighted your entire post, BM.

 

My anhedonia came early while on drugs and my brain seems to have found that obsessing about food was a way to cope. Like many, I never linked drugs with this horrible way I was feeling. Or not feeling. Now off drugs, I am no longer "obsessed" and anhedonia feels like intense boredom. The best way to survive it is to keep busy, keep active... I volunteer, I workout... I get things done. After a long time unable to work, I really think that a job would be the best thing for me. 

Our bodies and brains are healing, we are recovering from "drug-induced madness". Trust that it is all happening as we speak or type. 

Would I wish this state upon my worst enemy? I don't think so. But right now we have no choice but to survive this, so we just as well have to try to make the best of it...

 

Best wishes to All,

Julz

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Julz82
2 minutes ago, emmabee said:

I hear this, and I get it.  Trouble for me is I pretty much let everything go before I got off the meds.  Now trying to get back out there, to have a social life and a find a new career (because I can't, or won't ever go back to what I used to do) it all feels like too much.

 

But yes, I have to start thinking of myself as capable of being more than just a person suffering in WD.  

 

 

 

..I hear you Emmabee. I first found strength in thinking of myself as someone coming off drugs and I guess that helped... until it didn't. I too am trying to get back out there, it is not easy but I know it is worth it.

I guess it is better to build up slowly, give yourself time as those are early days still... and give yourself credit for everything that you have done and are doing!!

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emmabee
2 minutes ago, Julz82 said:

 

..I hear you Emmabee. I first found strength in thinking of myself as someone coming off drugs and I guess that helped... until it didn't. I too am trying to get back out there, it is not easy but I know it is worth it.

I guess it is better to build up slowly, give yourself time as those are early days still... and give yourself credit for everything that you have done and are doing!!

Thanks Julz.  

The waiting is the hard part.  I keep feeling like I should be better and more capable, and just need to accept that this is a LOOOONG process.

 

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nicolantana

Hey guys...nine months drug free. Largely anhedonjc. I have had A few small windows and one major month long window...is this a good sign in the grand scheme?

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Newbeginning
On 10/2/2017 at 1:13 PM, nicolantana said:

Hey guys...nine months drug free. Largely anhedonjc. I have had A few small windows and one major month long window...is this a good sign in the grand scheme?

 

I think so. Sounds like you're getting windows that are longer and/or more frequent with time. It's very slow though. I had a 6 week window 1 year. Then a 3 month one the next year. It is that slow.

 

You also have to push yourself to live as normally as you can, no matter how you feel (or not feel). That helps rewire the brain faster.  Also, minimizing stress and not obsessing with the anhedonia or resisting it seems to help improve recovery. 

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nicolantana

I'm dreaming alot the past few weeks. are more dreams indicative of recovery?

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emmabee
6 hours ago, nicolantana said:

I'm dreaming alot the past few weeks. are more dreams indicative of recovery?

I don't know the answer to that question, but I can say that when did my quick taper from Effexor and then started Lexapro, I had crazy vivid dreams for months.  Then when I started to taper the Lexapro, I couldn't remember any dreams at all.  It's been about a year since then, and only recently, say in the past two weeks, have I started to have any awareness of dreams.  They aren't vivid like they used to be, but they are coming back a little bit.

 

Maybe it means something?  

 

 

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nicolantana

interesting. yes I've heard and read a few times that it is significant, especially in relation to anhedonia. Anhedonia is caused by lack of dopamine, dreams are fueled by dopamine apparently so more dreams is a good sign. Again, this is what I've heard, but I'd like to hear it from more people before attributing any significance to it....

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Julz82

That is interesting! 

I started dreaming again while tapering, I have yet to experience a window or begin regaining the emotions I lost to prescribed drugs, nearing now 5 months off...

I think my dreams are somewhat "normalising" - definitely a sign of healing for me...! 

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Terry4949

How do we live with this severe apathy , the feeling of emptiness so strong that it feels like you are a walking shell , I try and do anything I can to motivate myself but I feel so dead inside no enjoyment no laughter no smile , I tell my family that I love them and in my heart I know I do , but I don’t feel love , nothing just deadness , how can anyone live like this I feel I have no soul , i am 9 months of all meds now but I have never felt like this , how do you survive, is it down to low dopamine , has anyone found anything to relieve this awfull feeling , it is probably worse than the depression and that’s saying something , 

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Newbeginning

Hi Terry,

 

I have it strongly with motivation and less strongly with emotional anesthesia. What helps the most is time, not stressing about it and behaving in ways that help very very slowly rewire the pleasure/motivation centers in the brain. Basically doing things in spite of no emotion/motivation. Gratefulness journaling has helped me too, as it trains my brain to focus on small achievements/improvements/anything that produces even the tiniest sense of achievement/joy/emotion. 

 

Make sure to check the huge topic on anhedonia in this forum too. Very detailed information on all this.

 

This does pass. I promise.

 

Hugs. Be gentle with yourself. We're struggling!

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wantrelief

Apathy is something I struggle with in a major way whenever my nervous system is destabilized.  I don't care about anything.  It isn't so much my feelings about people as doing things.  I have absolutely no motivation or will, it is as if a part of my brain just completely shuts down.  I literally can't think of anything I would like to do which is so not like me.  I could spend all day on the couch if I didn't force myself to do things.  Sometimes I will get restless from not doing anything but then I don't know what to do. It is such an awful feeling, like you aren't alive.  I have a lot of different interests and curiosity normally but all of that just goes away, like a huge part of my soul is gone. :( 

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Staz

Wantrelief,

You describe my state of mind perfectly. I'm over medicated and sedated as well as being on two serotonin boosting drugs that both cause sedation.

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wantrelief

So sorry you are feeling this way too, Staz.  Are you currently tapering?  Hopefully as you decrease, you will start to feel better.

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Staz

Yes I am Wantrelief. I'm trying to get rid of seroquel first. It's no wonder I'm apathetic, get no joy or pleasure or have any sort of motivation being on 4 sedating drugs. The logic for going for seroquel first is it's an antipsychotic  and was only given to me for sleep due to lofepramine causing me insomnia  and the chance of getting TD and other complications is just not worth it especially as it's done nothing bar make me sleep. That was useful during my Lyrica taper this year but comes at too high a price side effect wise.  Lofepramine didn't work but my shrink kept on with seroquel and increased it in the summer from 75mg to 150mg. I've managed to get it back down to 30mg now and plan to be off it come spring.

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wantrelief

It sounds like you've been through a lot, Staz,.....that is great you've been able to reduce Seroquel by so much.  Have you seen any change with apathy as you've gotten lower?  

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Barbarannamated

,I hesitate to comment on this because my history is complex and I'm still on several drugs. I was initially given Zoloft for mild fatigue only, so I really have no baseline of depression or anxiety for comparison. 

Zoloft neuromuscular / movement disorder action led to approximately 30-40 different drugs since 1993. 

 

This apathy and lack of "volition" is unique since tapering Pristiq in 2010-11.  I am not trying to correlate it with any disorder aside from withdrawal.  

 

There seems to be a strong disconnect or loss of signalling between interest / intention to do something and initiating the physical movement necessary (getting out of bed, showering).  It's especially difficult when I'm doing things alone, which is most of the time.  Once I do get out, I'm USUALLY ok on my own.  I don't like to be with just one person because I have nothing to say anymore.  I used to be a good conversationalist, but everything triggers me now. Being with strangers seems a bit easier. It stimulates my curiosity and gets me out of my own head a bit, but there's less jealousy. 

 

 I haven't been able to work for 17 years due to Zoloft and the cascade of damage (55 now). 

 

I'm trying to get moved to Florida where I've rented a place with friends, but the idea of packing (mostly clothes and small items) is completely overwhelming.  I just shut down.  I really need help with this problem because I have to get out of where I'm living.  

 

I don't think it's sedation.  There's something that's not connecting in my mind.  Initiating movement is nearly impossible.  I just lay in bed all day, have zero appetite. There IS alot of long-term severe stress and now my only sibling is dying of lung cancer and my dad is 90 and going downhill fast.  I have no other family.  

 

Sorry this post is so disjointed.  I'm really afraid that I'm going to end up in a care home if I can't find a solution.  

 

 

 

 

 

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wantrelief

Thanks for commenting, B.  I am sorry this horrible symptom has not abated for you since tapering Pristiq as it doesn't sound like you had this problem until that time period?   Are you able to think of things you want to do but then physically can't get yourself to do those things?  I am having trouble even thinking of what I would like to do. I am wondering if your move to Florida will be helpful as you'll be around friends?  Maybe that could be motivating, seeing a better future there for yourself?  I completely understand though - i don't know how I would accomplish such an enormous task in this state of mind.  I do feel like there is something not connecting in my mind too, I keep describing it as if something has been shut down or disconnected in my brain.  I also find it almost impossible to initiate movement. I do make it out of bed because I become restless otherwise and eventually shower at some point in the day but mostly am lying on the couch - I have this need to lie down a lot.  I do force myself out once a day (well, haven't done well with that goal over the last two days but usually) just so I am out in the world a bit.  I am so sorry you have experienced so much stress and now even more with ill family members.  I am really sorry.  I just quit my job/career and am unsure what I'll do next. At the moment, I am too unstable to even think about it but wonder if I'll be able to work again as I keep having problems with the medications I am on when under stress...I just crash.  Not a good combo for work.  But maybe if I could find a low-stress type of position, I just question if there is such a thing in our world anymore. I do hope you can make it to Florida as it sounds potentially like this could be a good move for you, being around friends in what is hopefully a supportive environment.

 

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wantrelief

I wanted to add that I don't know if my problem is related to the medications I am on per se but rather something is very wrong with my nervous system and how it responds to stress.  Perhaps this is from being on medication for so long now or just me or both....I really don't know but have had this pattern occur over and over again and it is quite distressing.  When i am stable, I don't have the motivation problems so much other than some procrastination.  But when I become destabilized it is one of the core symptoms i experience.  

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Staz

Unfortunately not as yet but I don't expect to until I'm off of seroquel as it's so sedating. The one change that has been noticeable is some clarity of thought returning but until I'm off seroquel completely it will be difficult to judge and I'm still on a few other sedating drugs.

 

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Barbarannamated

Wantrelief, 

 

I think there are many factors involved in my case.  

 

I did have loss of motivation on the serotonergic drugs, but since withdrawal, it seems like an entirely different beast, not an increase of the same loss of motivation.  For awhile shorty after my sloppy taper, I felt great!  I remember really tasting and appreciating food for the first time.  Music resonated with me more than ever.  I had more of a sex drive than ever (always minimal, can't blame the drugs).  I actually got in my car one morning (packed as much as possible) and drove away, across the country for about 4 months.  I wasn't fearful and had traveled alone quite a bit.  Now, I can barely drive across town.  Like you, I have a difficult time being upright.

 

At night, I have fleeting thoughts of things to do the next day, but by morning, I'm back in the black hole.  I can't connect with the feelings of pleasure or accomplishment that used to drive the process of doing things.  Horseback riding was a huge part of my life before withdrawal.  I occasionally see a video and feel a desire to get back on the horse, so to speak, but it hasn't happened. 

 

Being very isolated in a bad (empty) marriage has been a big factor and one I can't seem to get myself away from.  He's also been very drugged.  

 

I don't know if I'll get to Florida.  If I go, it would likely be a one-way trip and probably not seeing my dad again (never a good relationship, but still difficult to leave).  

 

I have a very complex drug regimen due to pain from neuromuscular and movement disorders courtesy of Zoloft and 20+ years of serotonergic drugs.  To find a doctor to continue that, if only to avoid withdrawal, is daunting.  A few Rxs can only be written for 30 days, no refills.  (Trying to put current meds in signature).  

 

I do think that a different environment with friends and more things to do would help me. I need to be around people.  I haven't shelved the idea altogether.  

 

 

 

 

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wantrelief

Your post deserves a much more eloquent response than I am able to write but I wanted to say that I am so sorry for everything you have been through - both in the past and what sounds like a really difficult present as well.  It must be so very frustrating not to have experienced any improvement with motivation since your withdrawal - except for that brief period right afterwards.  It sounds like there are a lot of factors/barriers in terms of your decision regarding Florida.   However, the last sentence of your post sounded hopeful, that being in Florida would be helpful to your well-being and maybe to your motivation as well.  I am glad you are thinking about it despite it being a difficult decision.  

 

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Downbutnotout

this is absolutely the worst thing that has happened to me. I have no excitement about anything at all. It’s been 6 months. But I sure can feel sad. And upset. I’m not taking a lot now, but am going through a horrible withdrawal. I’m currently taking 3 effexor beads as of today (after doct pulled me off 75 in 3 weeks) and trazadone 5 mg. My mornings are like a horror movie. I just started the 3 beads today. I just hope I recover from this, and once again have feelings for my family. Which has totally left me. It’s hard to bear. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to get off this poison. 

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Staz

Downbutnotout,

My feelings are exactly the same. No enjoyment, energy, peace of mind or motivation and it's been this way for 19 months now. I can't laugh but just cry with frustration and depression. Waking in the morning is the absolute pits of hell. It's as you describe 'like being in a horror movie'.

I'm on so many drugs I wish I knew which drug to target first. Which is the main culprit. My suspicion is it's the V but I'm going to try and ease off of Seroquel first I think.

Staz

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Downbutnotout

Seroquel was my doctors next suggestion. I canceled my appointment with her Friday. I have to keep telling myself anything she prescribed fir me is not going to help me but make me feel worse. I have no faith in the drugs. What did seoquel do to you? 

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