Well try having someone ELSE'S feelings too.
Finally, a mystical thingie I can actually speak with first-hand authority on. For I am, indeed, empathic.
From what I can determine, there are two kinds of empathy. Partial empathy and true empathy. Partial empathy is actually probably closer to being Anceint Memory than true empathy. By examining the way a person talks, moves and looks and whatever else, often unconciously, a partial empath can accurately deduce what the person is feeling. Or if the person is faking a feeling. As normal as it sounds, it's incredibly remarkable to watch. These people can deduce your mood after just being around you a few seconds, even if you're trying to hide what you're feeling. I say this is closer to Ancient Memory because unconciously the person looks for clues to determine another's mood. Instinctively. Without really realizing it. The person just KNOWS what each clue means.
Now, true empathy is a different story. True empaths don't look for clues to tell how someone else is feeling. We FEEL what they are feeling. Exactly. If I'm around a sad person, even if they're trying to pretend to be happy, I will feel sad and not know why.
True empathy is almost as much a curse as a blessing. For instance, it's almost impossible for me to tell between my own emotions and someone else's. Example (that's actually happened many times): I can log into my favorite chat room and suddenly feel incredibly depressed. Without knowing why. Unless someone comes out and says "I'm depressed..." I will never know for sure if it was empathy or just a random mood swing. And yes, before you ask, true empaths can feel other people's emotions even across the internet. Hell, we can even read a book and feel the main character's emotions! Writing leaves an imprint of an emotion. If the writer of a book is good, he's conveying the emotions of the main character by feeling them. When he feels them as he's writing, he leaves the feelings in the words. Of course, there are crummy authors who don't do that; empaths can tell. "Geeze, this guy just lost his mother and wife in a vicious caribou raid on his farm but he doesn't seem to be feeling bad..."
Across the internet is actually different from a book in how emotions are read. I've never quite understood it, but I'll explain it to you the way it was explained to me. The chat room actually exists on the astral plane, and all our astral forms are there. Therefore, it's just like being in the middle of a party for an empath. It's just as good as standing right next to a depressed person, even if they're in Japan.
There are ways for a true empath to protect him/herself, which brings me to my next topic: Shielding.
I'm no good at it.
Let me clarify. Unless I know the source of the emotion I can't protect myself from it, I feel it just as if it were mine. Compare it to trying to fend off medieval arrows with a medieval shield. In the dark. If I don't know which direction the arrows are coming from, I can't block them with the shield. This gets confusing, especially when people close to me try to hide their emotions to avoid making me feel bad. I still feel their emotions, but because they SEEM happy I can't tell if they're my own emotions or not. If they come out and say "Firedrake, I'm depressed," things work much better. I now know which way the arrows are coming from, I can shield from them (and hopefully help the depressed person).
I didn't realize how much I relied on my empathy until the day someone told me how to shield from ALL outside emotions. I kept that up for one day before dropping the shield forever (if I have any say about it). I was completely clueless. It's like suddenly not having depth perception of any kind. If you want to know what I mean, go a full day wearing an eyepatch. It's only fun if you're a college student. Or drunk. Or both.
Of course, us un-shielded people need to be careful around lots of different emotions, or an extreme surplus of a single emotion. Which leads me to my next topic: overload.
This in itself is little more than annoying. It only becomes overload if (A) There are LOTS of people (and I mean in the high double didgits and beyond) in a confined area all feeling different emotions (like a dance club, for instance), (B) about a dozen people feeling the SAME emotions (at a funeral, for instance), or (C) A person feeling EXTREME emotions (such as during a suicide attempt).
(A) and (B) cause overload almost instantly. (C) I'll get to later.
Overload has a different effect depending on the person. For me, after a brief span of emotional agony (just before the overload) all my emotions shut off like faucet. I can feel no emotion of my own except for the very strongest (such as love for my soulmate), and I feel other people's emotions as if hearing a far-away sound. I basically become a vulcan for a while. I know some people that WISH they could do that. I hate it. I end up pissing people off and alienating close friends simply because my emotions aren't working. After the danger has passed, the emotions take turns running through me until they're all gone. Just TALKING about it is exhausting. And I'm not kidding. Overload of this type can be avoided by shielding or just not being caught by surprise.
Now for (C). The only time I've encountered (C) is when someone is suicidal. The overload is very different in that situation, and also neigh unavoidable.
SOMEHOW, I don't have a clue how, my mind begins to filter the emotions instead of blocking them, allowing me to function (at my peak no less) until the danger of suicide has passed. It's only after I breathe my sigh of relief and the person has left the room that the overload kicks in. First, the fliter vanishes, leaving me feeling the full brunt of the emotion that was kept at bay. THEN those emotions are blocked off for a fairly short time. After that, the emotions flow through me in chunks at unpredictable times. It lasts for about a week on top of the other psychological disruptions that occur after talking someone out of suicide.
I'm sorry, but I refuse to talk about the overload that comes from witnessing an actual attempt. If you need to know because you're going through it, e-mail me and I'll help you out. Otherwise, no.
Blast it, there's simply no segue to feedback loops from there....oh, well. My next topic is: the feedback loop.
A feedback loop happens when two (or more) true empaths begin picking up an emotion from each other. Say, sadness. I feel sad. So X, who is also a true empath, also feels sad. I feel her feeling sad, which adds to my sadness. She feels me feeling sadder, etc. etc. etc. until, in less time than it takes to tell it, we're both sobbing on the floor in each other's arms.
This can be blocked by shielding, but sometimes it happens so fast that you don't realize what's happening. And then there are times you wouldn't WANT to shield from it.
My soulmate is also a true empath. When we're together (as much as we can be together), I feel love for her. She feels love for me. We feel each others' love which adds to our own love over and over and over again. It's better than any drug, I'll tell you that now. Floating on pink clouds is for wimps. We're floating on pink STARS somewhere beyond the Hubble telescope's range. Makes me feel warm and fuzzy just talking about it.
Another good example is my soul sister. She's a true empath as well. If she feels happy, I feel her feeling happy. Which she feels, etc etc until we're both laughing our asses off and making utter fools of ourselves. It's like being drunk without the hangover in the morning. Now imagine me, my soulmate, and my soul sister in the same room. In good moods.
.....on second thought, DON'T.
-Aug. 19, 1998