Barometers

Common on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum is the occurrence of Alexithymia, or the difficulty with identifying and expressing emotions.  During the first steps of my journey of self-discovery through my freshly-realized autistic lens, I had no idea that I was among the Alexithymic.  

In the earliest stages of learning, you don’t know what you don’t know.

And I didn’t know.  I didn’t even think to question whether or not I was having trouble identifying and expressing my thoughts and emotions, because I assumed (there’s that word again) that I was successfully identifying everything that was there.  I knew if I was happy, sad, scared, angry, wistful, grieving, remorseful, euphoric, excited, and so on.

I really thought I had a bead on things.

Heh.

The second steps of learning often involve discovering aspects of oneself that one was not previously aware of.

The realization, for me, was gradual.  I slowly became aware that there were indeed Other Feelings, percolating under the surface.  It’s like standing on the surface of the earth; scientifically, we know that underneath that surface is a molten core.  But unless we’re standing on or near a volcano when it blows, our feet don’t get burned.

So, I’ve realized that I’ve come to rely on external cues, clues, and signals to mirror my inner core back to me.  It’s like having my own personal seismometer; external reflections give me data about what’s percolating under my surface.

I call them barometers.  Watching them, I can sense subtle changes in my weather patterns before a storm hits.  Usually.  Maybe.  They may not be perfect, but they’re better than flying in the dark without instruments, like I had been before.

(Analogies rule.)

For instance, I can measure the wellbeing of different aspects of my life by examining a few external bio markers.

I can tell if my headspace is healthy by what appears on my über-algorithmic Facebook feed.

I can tell how productive and constructive I’ve been by checking which of my iPhone Notes rank near the top (opened most recently) of my Notes file list.

I can tell what I’m feeling by my search strings and music playlists.

I’m sure that as life progresses, as it always does, more barometers will show themselves and install themselves in my collection of external signaling devices.

As I’ve said before, about many a topic: “it’s a process”.  🙂

(Image credit: Marco Stavric)

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20 Comments

  1. Wow, this is beautifully written and informative. Something we all should apply in our own lives. I learn so much from the wisdom you impart through your suffering (even though you never have complained about your condition.)

    Your words help me to deal with my PTSD, disability issues, and low self-esteem. Wise beyond your years and a real blessing to me. ❤

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Yes, a barometer. Very helpful description. ☺ As constant were and are my thoughts about feelings, I thought I had this area all sewn up. It’s only since being introduced to the idea of alexithymia that I truly realized I don’t always recognize my emotions, particularly the darker ones, which love to creep up on me. ( of course, I have long had habit of shoving those down. still working on rectifying that. 🙂)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Yeah, I have trouble with this. My therapist actually pointed it out to me. I also was assuming I could identify emotions until she gently indicated that I can’t, and that I especially can’t identify where they originate/focus in my body (I’m very much more a brain person than a body one. Tbh, I suspect that this is a cultural thing among Jews as much as an Asperger’s thing). I always assumed that it was because of my depression that I didn’t really notice anything other than depression, despair, loneliness and occasionally anxiety. Actually, it took me a while to notice the loneliness and anxiety. I think my mental health issues went unnoticed for a long time because I was miserable, but not aware that I was miserable if that makes sense. And my social anxiety was downplayed because it was drowned out by the depression.

    I need to find some barometers of my own, as unfortunately most of yours don’t work for me. I’m not on FB, I don’t even know what iPhone Notes are and the only playlist I really use is my “Cheer-Up Music” list which I do use when stressed or depressed, but also quite a lot when I just need lively music e.g. first thing in the morning. The search string one would identify when I’m very depressed or lonely, but probably not when moderately depressed or anything else.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I hear you, my friend 💜 The humanity within each of us is incredibly complex! So many elements that intersect with each other 💙 Sometimes it’s hard to figure out where each of our traits comes from. Is it a genetic factor? A cultural one? A philosophical one? One that has been acquired through experience? Through lessons learned from our guardians during our upbringing? A brain chemistry thing? You present very interesting food for thought! 👏🏼👍🏼🌺

      Liked by 1 person

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