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Thread about living with alexithymia #ActuallyAutistic #Neurodiversity #autism

I experience alexithymia. It's one of those anecdotal conditions that autists know we experience, but it's not formally dxed or researched.

It's like colour blindness for feelings. /1
I can tell light from dark, or in this case, positive from negative. I know I'm feeling good or bad feelings.

But it's hard to give them a name. I feel good, but do I feel happy? Proud? Serene? I feel bad, but am I feeling shame? stress? sadness? /2
My psychologist asked me how it made me feel to reflect on the experiences I'd had as an undxed girl.

I was stumped. I tried, but couldn't pinpoint a feeling. I said, "I wish I hadn't spent so much time being so hard on myself." The feeling I couldn't name then was REGRET. /3
Part of alexithymia & autism is also delayed emotional processing. It's not just missing social cues that someone likes you or doesn't like you.

It's getting good or bad news and not having an emotional reaction. It's just not there. You don't have one yet. /4
My feelings show up like a stray cat at my door. I don't know where they came from or what their story is. I have to consciously think back to what I experienced that day, and guess what feelings I should have had about that; I reverse-engineer the names for my feelings. /5
There are pluses to alexithymia. Common ways people describe me are "steady" or "laidback". Most people's moods go up and down. But I mostly give off the same energy, day in & day out. It's not my personality; it's just that my emotions are muted and/or delayed. /6
It means I have hours or days to digest before the emotional pain of an event hits me. Like going into shock after getting injured; I can keep functioning because I don't feel the pain yet. It's not masking; I truly don't always know what I'm feeling. I figure it out later. /7
I KNOW that I experience this but it still weirds me out that it isn't dxed or researched. Shouldn't this be looked into? Understood? People who experience alexithymia need help; tools & support to access our feelings.

Does any of this resonate with anyone? #AskingAutistics
I also notice that I struggle with simple questions people ask each other all the time. Not just "How do you feel?" as others have said, but also, "What do you want to do?" This has come up recently at work. When someone asks this, all I can say is what I think I NEED to do.
Alexithymia is alleviated by activities like reading novels, writing creatively, and expressive arts like dance or music - all media for feelings. Because I grew up around reading, writing and music, I gained a lot of exposure to how people express emotions. It's helped. #autism
But much like my autistic coping strategies, everything I taught myself was for understanding other people's feelings, because that was what I needed the most. I still lack vocabulary and processing skills for my own emotions and have to infer them from the situation.
I also think this is related to my working memory deficit. When I don't have vivid emotional reactions, I forget events. It took me 2 years to stop asking about my parents' cat after she died. Events don't get added to my inner narrative as well, without emotions to colour them.
Examples of stray cats (aka emotions) I meet:

Oh hey, sneaking sense of impending doom. Where did you come from? Are you at all related to that thing my coworker said that I didn't understand so I shrugged it off?
Hey look, it's shame! have you been following me for 3 days ever since I got that bad news about my job application, and I thought I was handling it well?
Hey a new cat! Who are you? Umm... are you...sadness? From a thought I had a few hours ago? Maybe just some random emotion that's not related to anything? Maybe guilt or shame over something I was supposed to do but didn't and then forgot about?
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