Asperger’s / autism, alexithymia, and me

Hi all!  OK, first some quick updates…

  • I’ve fished some comments out of my spam folder (dang WordPress!) and replied to them.  I plan to catch up on replying to comments as I can, so please try not to feel ignored!  I totally don’t mean to ignore anyone.  ๐Ÿ™‚
  • I’ve been dealing with some heavy emotional stuff lately, some of which came to light on Friday and Saturday, and other of which came to a head on Sunday and yesterday.  I think I’m starting to climb out.  We shall see.
  • I’ve been saving links to various blog awards for the past year (yes, year) or so, and I plan to group them together and catch up on them in sort of a “blog award post series”, if that’s OK?  I’m embarrassed and ashamed that I haven’t gotten to them before now, because they’re such an honor to receive (!), and I have few “excuses”, other than the catastrophe that was my 2017 and the rebuilding process that has so far eclipsed my 2018.  But all I can say is, they’re coming.  I haven’t forgotten about any of you, I can assure you that ๐Ÿ™‚

OK, and now for the meat of the post… It’s not earth-shatteringly meaty, but I wanted to share with you something I wrote in my personal journal a little over a week ago.  It’s how I explain my experience of alexithymia…  The terminology is crude, but my intention is to communicate the message in a light manner that practically anybody can wrap their heads around.  So, here it is, the downside of alexithymia, from my perspective…. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Alexithymia kind of sucks.  Sure, it spares us the suffering of emotional pain, but letโ€™s face it: letโ€™s say your ass is numb and you sit down on a tack.  You donโ€™t feel the tack, because your ass is numb.

But just because your ass is numb and you feel fine, that doesnโ€™t mean that sitting on the tack is good for you, or even OK.  Your ass would be much better off without the tack stuck in it.  (I donโ€™t think sitting on a tack is on anybodyโ€™s Bucket List.)

But you donโ€™t even know you should get up out of the chair and pluck the tack out of your ass, because you donโ€™t feel the pain.  Pain is a big motivator to take action; if you donโ€™t feel pain, thereโ€™s no motivation to take the action needed to improve the situation.

So, if youโ€™re numb to the tack, you stay seated, with a tack up your ass.  Even if youโ€™re vaguely aware that there might be a tack in your assโ€™s midst, removing it may not be as high a priority as it might otherwise ideally be.  And thatโ€™s where I am right now…

โค

โค

โค 

 

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69 Comments

    1. Thank you bunches, my lovely ๐Ÿ™‚ Yep, indeed there is. Blech lol. I mean, a lot of it is good, but there is also some pretty heavy stuff. Yeah, I didn’t know about alexithymia, either, until sometime early last year. A friend found an Alexithymia quiz online (I apologize that I don’t have the link just now, but it’s out there โค ), and I took it and was surprised to see that I scored pretty alexithymia-prone; I'd had no idea at all ๐Ÿ˜‰ โค โค

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think that if we search we find lot of things we are โ€œprone toโ€… I gave up trying to โ€œunderstand too muchโ€ about myself ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

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  1. Interesting. My experience of alexithymia (not that I’ve been ‘officially’ diagnosed with it) is that I experience pain, but it’s hard to know why or what sort of pain: angry, anxious, despairing etc.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes! I totally understand what you’re saying. And sometimes it extends into my physical feeling, too. Does “dull” pain mean “mild”? Or diffuse? Or something else? Sometimes I can tell, but other times I can’t ๐Ÿ˜Š. And yes, amen on the emotions, too. Sometimes I don’t even know if I’m depressed or not! Because I have had times when I’ve had depression and felt it, while at other times, I’ve exhibited some pretty specific signs of depression and haven’t had a clue ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ’–

      Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s in your Dashboard ๐Ÿ˜Š. Just go to the My Sites tab in the far left (on a tablet, laptop, or desktop), and click on that; it’ll bring up a menu. In the menu, you’ll see a Comments item; just click on that, and then across the top, you’ll see stuff like All Comments – Approved – Pending – Spam – Trash, or something like that (I’m not sure of the exact order, since I’m now using the WP app on my mobile, which is laid out differently). ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ’–

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! Poignant, funny, and of course, โ€œtackyโ€ (har har).

    Also, interesting. This alexithymia issue is one of those very common ASD traits that either I donโ€™t have, or if I do have it, then itโ€™s hard to detect.

    Your tack-in-the-ass analogy is wonderful!

    ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much! ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ’Ÿ. It’s really weird–I had no idea that it even applied to me until relatively recently. I thought I was in touch with my emotions; I knew if I was happy, sad, angry, anxious, even wistful. At least, most of the time. Except for those times when I was feeling something and had no clue that I was feeling it. It was incredibly hard to figure out, yes ๐Ÿ’–. I’ve only known about it for a little more than a year or so? Most of the time, my emotions are at ready reach. But there are times when they’re not ๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ’ž๐ŸŒบ

      Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you! That’s definitely been a goal at the forefront ๐Ÿ˜. The only downside is that it has involved my being more unplugged ๐Ÿ˜ณ and I’ve missed everybody lol ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ’—. But yes, self-care – sooooo important! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’œ

      Liked by 2 people

  3. That is a really good (and quite hilarious) way of putting it. I’m at the state where I know that my butt hurts, but I may not understand that it’s the tack that’s causing it. And if I do, I don’t realize that removing the tack is what’s going to solve the problem.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Hey, little sister. I’m glad you’re making progress in processing. Sending lots of just right hugs. Mwah! ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ˜˜ I just added to your award backlog before reading this. Heh. I would tell you not to bother, but I know you will anyway, so here we are. ๐Ÿ˜‚ Keep being adorable.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Ha! I know the feeling. Sometimes the revelations come years later. And I’m like, “Hey! No fair!” But then I have to laugh at the situation, because – to be honest – it’s pretty funny, sometimes. And after all, I survived. The trick is to keep going. Apply the scientific method and keep observing, tweaking, observing, measuring, tweaking… and repeat. You’ll feel better eventually. It’s no fun, and it’s not easy, but it’s grist for the mill.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hell yeah! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ. What a fantastic way to put it ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ. I like that scientific method approach! Keeps everything cerebral, which keeps that limbic system in check ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ

      “The trick is to keep breathing” – Garbage (band) ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ’“

      Liked by 1 person

  6. First, I’m so sorry you had a hard weekend.
    Second, your tack analogy is awesome. Or is that a metaphor? Whatever the hell it is it is perfect it can be applied to so many different situations. Ignore something or don’t feel it whether intentional or not and it will affect your life somehow someway. Hugs and kisses to you in hopes you have a better week!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hiya Dear Sister! ๐Ÿ˜˜. Thank you so much, to all of your points ๐Ÿ˜. You’re spot-on! I think the tack is probably a metaphor, yes ๐Ÿ˜‚. Hugs and kisses to you too, my lovely! ๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ’–

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  7. Interesting. The key phrase seems to me to be “as it might otherwise ideally be”. This is a key aspect. One of the meanings of “high functioning” for me is “painfully aware”, and it seems you’re facing the same issue (if you weren’t, you wouldn’t have written this post). In this phase (recently diagnosed at 58) I cut myself some slack. But I’m also starting to question what “ideally” means, for me as well as for others. Because ideally is exactly that: something rarely achieved. And who are we to say that very emotional is ideally better than otherwise? In many ways it makes me a more efficient companion to persons going through strong emotions: I seem to know what to say, precisely because my emotional response is muted, and I can think things through.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! Excellent ones at that ๐Ÿ’Ÿ. I agree; personally, to encounter emotion levels that are beyond what I can handle can be incredibly distressing, overwhelming, and/or annoying to me, and my threshold is probably a little lower than most (just given my observation of different emotion intensity that I see displayed in general). There’s definitely something to be said for comparatively-lower levels of emotion ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ. When the limbic system (which has a huge role in certain emotions) is subdued, then the cerebral centers of higher logic can shine ๐Ÿ˜Š๐ŸŒบ

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I wanted to thank you for sharing this post. It was a very interesting post! I also wanted to thank you for liking my Guest Post on Grace’s blog. I really hope you will enjoy more of my posts! I really look forward to reading many more of yours! Take care!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, my lovely! Your words are very kind ๐Ÿ’“๐Ÿ’“. I’m bumping along (lol), doing ok, mostly. I think I’ll be in better shape once I start my latest round of counseling next week ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ. I hope you’re doing well, friend! ๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ’œ

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  9. This might be a little wierd, But I have a feeling you have a similar problem to the one I’ve been having. You’ve got very little energy and very little sense of feeling. Can you relax and enjoy youself?
    Or are you always on edge? I dunno.
    Anyway, I would be willing to be those problems are linked. Emotions are like a life-blood. Without passions we can’t function properly.
    No suggestions on how though, I’m afraid. Not without being wierd and quacky.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hehe I’m open to weird and quacky ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ. I’m a little from Column A and a little from Column B–I think I can relax and enjoy myself and yet, I think I’m also a little on edge–if that makes sense ๐Ÿ˜‰. It’s good to know I’m not alone, but I’m also sorry that that means that someone else out there is going through the same thing; it can be tricky ๐Ÿ’ž. Thank you so much for reading and commenting! Your words are reassuring ๐ŸŒบ๐ŸŒบ

      Liked by 1 person

  10. A big problem my whole life is that everything related to trauma and psychology I ever read in the past, I ended up setting aside because it didn’t apply to me. And each of my few attempts at therapy (one of which was less than fully voluntary) hit the same brick wall. Nothing really fit me.

    The deeper issue, of course, was that I didn’t simply have the experience of childhood and early adulthood trauma (e.g. a 9 on the ACEs quiz), I was also autistic. The latter diagnosis has been the key toward making progress with the former.

    But it’s been immensely difficult and slow, not least because I am so alexithymic I often don’t even feel when I’m tired, sick, hungry, or in pain. Feelings are rooted in the limbic system of the brain which is deeply connected to physical sensation and reaction. So if you are alexithymic, you necessarily are less in touch with your body. In people who aren’t autistic, trauma is the primary cause of alexithymia. I’ve shared things like the Scientific Article that notes the differences between autistic people with alexithymia and those who aren’t autistic. I definitely fit the autistic model, but I can’t say how much of my alexithymia is part of my coping mechanism for overwhelming autistic experience and how much is due to trauma. While some things are clearly one or the other, this is one of the ones that is deeply intertwined and entangled.

    It took me well over a year in therapy to even find my underlying emotions, much less identify them. I still only have intermittent access to them, especially the ones associated with trauma, but they tend to encroach unexpectedly at time. I’ve studied quite a bit at this juncture and there’s no way to integrate and heal from trauma without at least some integration of the experience, which necessarily involves the associated emotions. I find I’m determined with the same intensity and drive I attack anything that’s hard, but it’s also extremely unpleasant. In some ways it’s easier to be distanced from the emotions. I’ve always still felt them, of course. But alexithymia kept them a bit removed and mostly manageable.

    So yeah. Alexithymia pretty much sucks. But it also is part of what allowed me to survive. I don’t think it will ever go away completely, but I want to be more emotionally present in my relationships and that’s really hard if I can’t even identify those emotions half the time. This is the hardest part of everything I’m working on, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ. I always love reading your comments, Scott ๐Ÿ˜Š. Such food for thought here! You raise a particularly interesting question: how much of my own alexithymia is part of my coping mechanisms? Deeply intertwined and entangled are excellent descriptive terms.

      I had always thought that I had a good bead on my emotions, knowing when I’m happy, sad, angry, wistful, euphoric, hopeful, hopeless, and so on. I even thought I had a handle on the emotions beyond the basic “happy, sad, mad, glad” categories. But apparently I don’t always. It cuts in and out, like a radio station near the boundary of its reach or a microphone with a flaky cord ๐Ÿ˜Š. Alexithymia is indeed a double-edged sword, isn’t it? Like many AS traits, I’ve found that it can be both an advantage and a disadvantage ๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! ๐ŸŒท๐ŸŒบ๐ŸŒท

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This is so good!!! I was thinking about this lately as I’ve been processing past unhealthy dynamics in friendships: one in particular, that my best friend/roommate at the time did not understand. Just because I was able to “be” in an unhealthy place without feeling “hurt”, didn’t mean that I wasn’t hurt. I had a sort of invincibility complex… but really, I am actually quite sensitive and it comes back to bite me in the end (pun intended).

    One day, I actually sat down on a chair for around 20 minutes or so before I suddenly realized there was a bit of an uncomfortable feeling. I had been sitting- not on a tack- but on a THIMBLE! (why on earth a thimble was on the bus, I have no idea). It was a rather large object to not notice! I am the opposite of the Princess and the Pea, apparently!

    I have a bit of a theory that a problems with connection to the body and to emotions actually go hand in hand- so your metaphor hits on something deeper! (whether or not this is a coorelation or causality… who knows)

    I’ve had to work more specifically on awareness of the extremities of my body. I’ve always been very clumsy and often get bruises I don’t remember the source of (not sketchy things, more like I must have bumped into a chair!)

    One of the reasons I got terrible tendinitis in my arms was because I was using them unhealthily a lot, especially while playing piano. I was actually pretty good at ignoring the physical pain, but then it suddenly grew to an unbearable volume- and it came to my attention that muscles had actually atrophied! I became physically unable to do a lot of tasks. I had to stop playing piano, go through physical therapy, and then relearn to play in a healthy way (with special lessons). I also had to even figure out how to turn a doorknob, hold a pencil, do basically everything in a healthier way- and be more aware of that warning twinge of pain or even that feeling of being out of alignment which would certainly lead to pain later.

    Anyways, that was only somewhat tangentially related, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hiya! It’s so nice to see you! ๐Ÿค—. WordPress has definitely been quirky lately lol. Truthfully, I haven’t been writing much, so I don’t know if that’s a contributing factor ๐Ÿ˜‰. Yeah I hadn’t heard of alexithymia before, either, and when I first came across the term, I had no idea that it applied to me for a long time! Then finally I realized it did after all lol. I’m so glad to have helped ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ’“

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Laina, I’m sure you will slowly get better, I will pray for you if you wish? If you need someone to talk to then just look in my contact tab for my details and a silly application form for my phone number etc. I know that finding out what is wrong and treating it is needed but be careful not to spend too much time analyzing your problems, sometimes it’s best to take a step back from it all. Not sure if that relates to you but just trying to help. Take care and get in contact if you wish.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, dear friend! ๐Ÿ˜Š. I really appreciate your offers! Yes, I would be very humbled and honored for you to pray for us, and I’ll do the same if you wish! ๐Ÿ’—. Thank you again, my friend โค๏ธ

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