the problem with alexithymia

Alexithymia is the inability to identify and describe your own emotions. It can be a good thing, but it can also be a burden. I will explain both.

I have had many stressful situations in my life already. In my 30 year lifespan I had to endure my parents divorcing 2 times, enduring fights that my parents had with my sisters. Also, as an undiagnosed autistic, I have survived the regular school system.

Why not identifying your emotions can be a good thing?

I can have many things happen to me and almost never get angry, and when I feel I get angry, it’s at such a high level that I know, if I would act on it, it would be disastrous. I only feel the extremes: I only feel extremely happy, extremely angry, extremely sad, all those, but nothing else. When I feel really happy, I am really happy, and I want to share it with anyone. When I am angry, I know I must be really angry, otherwise I wouldn’t feel it, and must not act on it. When I am sad, I know I must be really sad and know that I shouldn’t take decisions that day, or they will be influenced by me being sad, for whatever reason.

Why not identifying your emotions can be a bad thing?

I don’t know when I’m stressed, ever. Except when my bowels start to act up, and that’s when it’s to late already. I have to do deep breathing exercises to get everything back to normal again then. The same with frustration. Some things might frustrate me or make me anxious, but I don’t know, so I only know certain things about my emotions and such when I look back at the situation. I have learned now recently, that when something is overwhelming for me, I have to get out of there. I have to leave. This is an automatic indicator that something has overwhelmed me or overstimulated me and I have to leave. Most of the things now, are automatic. Like I don’t like to go outside when it’s sunny, because the bright light and the heat are two of my no-no’s. I can go outside, but for short periods of time, and I am always glad to be back again, but I have learned these only recently (I have been enduring these for 30 years almost and never knew this until my autism diagnose. And all this, I think, because I can’t identify my emotions, otherwise I would have learned it much sooner).

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