Topic: Looking for insight into alexithymia

English Alexithymia Forum > Questions and Answers

Looking for insight into alexithymia
27.03.2021 by User80141A52

Hey everyone, I'm a novelist working on my second book. One of my characters has some alexithymic traits, so I'd like to find out more about what it's like to have alexithymia. Would anyone be interested in talking to me about their experiences (probably via email questionnaire)?

These are the sorts of questions I would ask:

1) Are you good at reading other people's emotions?

2) Do you think that having alexithymia means you can be manipulated more or less easily?

3) What sort of hobbies/interests do you have and why do you enjoy doing them?

My character already has her own distinct personality, so I wouldn't be modelling her on anyone; I just want to make sure that I'm providing good representation.

Thanks so much!

03.04.2021 _T('by') Milkbad

1) I am not good at reading peoples emotions. I respond better to touch or physical contact in my scenario than anything else.

2) Having Alexi makes it difficult to interpret the intent of actions or conversation, though it doesn't change the logical process of determining if something is right or wrong by societal standards. So if the conversation itself sounds seems like it would get me in trouble, I may not understand the intent, but I know the result will be negative by logically understanding the outcome of the event.

There are exceptions, such as things like sarcasm. I have always struggles with sarcasm because generally facial expressions do not match the intent of the conversation or event. So in that regard it can be used manipulatively on me in small ways.

3) I enjoy hobbies that are straight forward and do not require interpretation of people or emotions.

I like gaming, hiking and camping, web development (sometimes), building things or working on my business equipment, I enjoy looking at complex systems and figuring them out (things like video game skill trees), landscaping/mowing and other stuff too. Typically things that don't require a human element, such as going to bars or clubs or hanging out with people that don't understand me.

07.04.2021 _T('by') User80141A52

Thank you!

I'm also interested to know from people about the process of getting diagnosed with alexithymia. Did your GP know immediately what it was, or did it take much longer?

And also...

What strategies do you use to help manage alexithymia? Does therapy help?

07.04.2021 _T('by') User41112C50

I would be interested in completing a questionnaire. I have tried to answer the questions you posed, as best as I could.

1) Are you good at reading other people's emotions? No, not always. But depending on how old your character or who they are "reading" is might change this. I am almost 40 now, and much better at picking up cues that I was when I was younger. I have also been with the same partner for 14 years, and I can recognize certain things he does when he is upset or something is bothering him, but only because I've learned this over several years. I still do get it wrong though. It also helps that he knows he needs to tell me how he's feeling.

2) Do you think that having alexithymia means you can be manipulated more or less easily? For me. I think I am manipulated less easily, I make decisions based on facts, logic, rules etc. I also generally don't trust people, and try to see the motive for the conversation, if that makes sense? for example, if I know someone works for a MLM company that sells products, I am skeptical of their conversation and assume it may be leading to a sales pitch. Or when coworkers are asking about my weekend plans, my first thought is "why? What do they need this information for? what is the purpose of this conversation". I try not to say that out loud though lol, because it makes me seem pretty rude, when they were probably just making small talk, or the purpose of the question was to start conversation so that they could share what they are doing. I have to remind myself that people like to talk about themselves ;)

3) What sort of hobbies/interests do you have and why do you enjoy doing them? I really enjoy painting. I have gotten into painting miniatures lately, and it is very enjoyable to sit and just paint a tiny plastic figure for hours. pretty much anything I can do alone in my own space is a good hobby. I have a friend who is similar in her hobbies, we used to sit and paint together for hours, and not say anything much (our Covid restrictions are strict now, so we don't see each other anymore)
Covid has brought about some new ways to socialize that I do enjoy. Twitch has live DJ streams with an online dance-zoom party. I don't participate in the zoom, but I do like dancing at home and being able to see other people doing the same. It's almost perfect, you're part of a group event online, you can see other people enjoying the same music you are, you can read the chat, but you don't have to interact with anyone. I think a lot of the people who join in on twitch are like-minded in the sense that they probably wouldn't be out in the club either, so it's a very different and accepting atmosphere.

07.04.2021 _T('by') User41112C50

I am currently in the process of being assessed for and likely diagnosed with ASD. I found this alexithymia site from completing readings and pre-testing on a site called Embrace ASD. I completed the quiz, and scored 145. I am not "self-diagnosing" but it does seem logical to me.
So to answer the second posted question, I have not been diagnosed by my GP. I work in health care in a very small rural town, and I am worried about it affecting how i am treated at work (My GP is a co-worker).
I am doing this for myself and my own understanding, and if/when I do have a diagnosis of ASD, I'm not sure if I will disclosed it with my GP.

09.04.2021 _T('by') Milkbad

@User80141A52

Actually at first, I had a therapist that focuses on helping people find, maintain and strategize meeting their goals. That was his strategy in helping people help themselves, but when we started talking he realized that I didn't really respond to normal emotional motivation or ques and started asking some questions. He then consulted a pool of therapists in my city who all talk about patients (not personally), different therapy techniques etc.

Following his questions and consultations he told me that he was not the best fit for me and referred me to a colleague of his that specialized in emotional and autistic issues. It took about two weeks or so of talking and trying different things until she finally realized what I was having issues with.

Alexi is not a common "diagnosis" (its a descriptor not a diagnosable mental disorder) without having an autistic factor already involved in the mix so it did not come to her mind until I broke up with my girlfriend of the time and about 3 weeks after had an emotional nervous breakdown and had no clue why I was experiencing the blast of emotions and anger because mentally, I didn't feel emotional, but was going through the emotional motions.

So basically I have Alexi tied to some Autistic disorder, but that hasn't been officially diagnosed- mainly because I'm very high functioning only only struggle with Emotional Blindness/Delayed Emotions.

----------

Therapy helped me find the "diagnosis", but in my case it doesn't really help the process of going through life with the issue at all. If you think about it, there isn't much a therapist can really do when (for example in my case), I experience the emotional backlash of an event days or weeks later.

This particular therapist is very good to me and charges me a very small amount just to have me available since having someone like me with no Autism diagnosis but heavy Alexi issues to consult with and talk with other about (like on this forum or in person sometimes) in order to get info or a shared experience for herself/other patients.

I have mentioned this in other posts, but I did meet another guy who had strong Alexi symptoms who had immediate experiences without knowing he was being immediately emotional. He would frequently yell and be red in the face without knowing he was even doing it. We would ask if he was okay and he was confused why we would even ask. In his mind, he was having a normal conversation.

If you have other questions, I try to talk about Alexi as much as possible, so ask away.

15.04.2021 _T('by') User80141A52

@User41112C50 - thanks so much for your answers. I have social anxiety disorder and very similar views on hobbies to you - anything I can do alone at home is normally good fun!

I'd love to chat more/do a questionnaire with you over email. I don't think I can private message you on here, so feel free to email me: dani.redd@gmail.com.

Thanks Milkbad! I think that my character is similar to you in terms of what you describe - "I'm very high functioning only only struggle with Emotional Blindness/Delayed Emotions."

This leads me to my next question - how would your emotions/body respond if something traumatic or scary happened to you, but you managed to escape/avoid the situation? This is how my book begins, so I'm interested to know your thoughts! I've read on this forum that when people with alexithymia are stressed they might experience bodily aches and pains?





21.04.2021 _T('by') Milkbad

@User80141A52

Alexi presents in different ways. I am lucky in my case that with delayed emotions I don't experience the emotional impact of large scale life events in the moment. Different events can cause different issues for me personally. I dont have an example of escaping or avoiding, but Ill give a true story from my past as an example of how my Alexi functioned:

The most "traumatic" event in my life (though didn't seem to affect me at all mentally only physically) happened when I was 17. We had a country property at the time and our neighbor (His name was Al) cut our field for hay so he could use it for his horses. We lived just over a hill and it was notorious for people speeding (it was 30mph but people went 60+ regularly). I was in the field with Al down by the driveway giving him a hand with navigating around our big front ditch and then it happened. Al backed up his brush hog to start cutting the rest of the front ditch area and a guy came over the hill on a motorcycle doing over 80 and slammed right into the running brush hog not even 6 feet away from me. Needless to say it was bad. After that, Al who was 86 at the time, stepped wrong off the tractor and broke his leg in that same event so I'm sitting there trying to help him stabilize his leg, covered in the remains of the guy who hit the blades and I wasn't shaken up or anything during the event minus the visual shock. I wasn't disgusted or nervous or anything. Al always said it was the weirdest thing he had ever see a person do so calmly.

About 3-4 days from that event I had some of the worst muscle tension I can ever remember. I would get back and leg craps about every 10 minutes and pretty bad headaches that went on for a solid 6 or 7 hours straight. It was just delayed so much. At one point my parents thought I had maybe been hit or something during the accident and didn't realize from everything going on.

In regards to aches and pains, I have bad muscle tension all the time (I take meds for it), its just how my Alexi works, but it gets worse when Im stressed, even though I don't realize why im stressed. Its hard to say how people experience pain because people experience Alexi so differently sometimes.

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