Alexithymia can really come in handy when you’re #autistic

street lights blurred by a rainy window
Sometimes it helps to not see everything clearly.

So, there’s a medical emergency in my family.

The CT scan “found something”, and additional tests and a biopsy are pending.

Some members of my family want to do the biopsy and further care at a local medical center, where another family member went through years (years!) of mismanaged care, and it cost her dearly. She’s not even 30 years old, yet, and she has no colon. It could have been avoided, I’m positive. Because the medical center where she went has a reputation for screwing up.

On the other hand, there’s a top-line medical facility that’s one of the best in the nation just 1.5 hours away by car. They have the equipment and the personnel and the expertise to handle this new emergency. They don’t have a reputation for screwing up.

It’s been a multi-day struggle to get people to see that it makes more sense to go to the better facility, even though it’s a little farther away, and it’s in a city (versus the countryside). But after days of calling back and forth, checking facts and figures, trying all sorts of different angles… success. The biopsy will be performed at the excellent hospital, not the sh*tty one.

And here’s where alexithymia comes in handy.  Because for days, I haven’t had a clue what I’m feeling. I’m not sure I’ve felt much of anything. There have been stretches where I’ve broken down and cried (of course), but for the most part, my judgment has not been clouded by a lot of emotional reaction.

Some would say, I’m stunted. That I’m “not in touch” with my feelings. They would call it unhealthy, pent-up, repressed.

I’ve got news for them — it’s only a matter of time, till it all comes clear to me. And it shall. But for now, I’m able to think clearly, reason through different criteria, make logical arguments, and keep a level head in the midst of some very challenging conditions.

And that’s not a bad thing.

It helps that I don’t realize how confused and terrified I am.

It helps that I’m “not in touch” with how angry I am with some of my family.

It helps that I haven’t yet processed my frustration and irritation and sense of helplessness from afar.

All this helps me keep my head clear and “work the problem” with logic and fact-finding, which is exactly what needs to happen, right now. Not a lot of folks in my family can do that. But I can.

Eventually, it will all catch up with me. I will probably feel the brunt of this, a few weeks or months after things have resolved (in one way or another). And then I will shutdown… or meltdown. But it will all come crashing in on me. There’s no doubt about that. That’s when I’ll deal with all of this.

Just not yet.

So, maybe people need to loosen up about what the “healthy” way to handle emotions is. Maybe people need to realize that alexithymia serves a purpose — a very valuable purpose — that actually serves the greater good. Some of us need to keep our heads on straight, while everything is falling apart.

After everything has settled out, and we have some distance, we can figure out what we’re feeling.

And we do.

I certainly will.

Just not yet.

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12 thoughts on “Alexithymia can really come in handy when you’re #autistic

    1. VisualVox

      I do think it does protect us, but I’m not sure we do it intentionally. For me, it is a question of having so much other input to process, that the emotional stuff takes longer to get sorted out. But also, there could just be a different way we experience our emotions — or don’t experience them.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. This field was intentionally left blank

    Oh wow, girl. I’m so sorry to hear about this. My heart aches for you. I hope you’re ok, and if not, I hope you will be soon. ❤️

    Thank you for so much for writing this post. I think I can relate….maybe a lot?

    I’ll share my story, briefly… 😊 (In case it helps any, even if only to not feel so alone) ❤️

    Before I realized I was autistic/an Aspie, a family medical emergency struck. Hard. I traveled 24 hours to see the people involved (my parents) and survey the damage, of which there was plenty.

    During that time, I kept it together. On the way up, all I could think of was getting up there, and seeing them. While up there, all I could think of was focusing on their needs, making sure they were stabilizing. And of course, keeping in contact with the lovely friend taking care of the kitties at home. All I could do was put one foot in front of the other, and keep going. Doing what had to be done.

    I felt very much alone.

    When the immediate ordeal was over, and we’d returned home, it was on a Thursday and I thought “great! I’ve got the weekend to relax and process and gear up to resume semi-regular life.”

    Unexpectedly, that’s when everything hit. I felt like I was being rear ended emotionally. Everything I couldn’t afford to stop and feel before was catching up with/on me, piling up on top of me, in a dreadful mess.

    I felt even more alone.

    I fell apart. I entered into a very dark time and entertained some very dark thoughts. This took a long time to lift and dissipate. And it did so on its own sweet (actually, bitter) time.

    Do you experience this rear-ending, too? Is it a traumatic thing for you as well?

    Again, I really hope you’re ok. I hope you get to take the time you need for yourself and your wellbeing.

    Please know that I’ve been there in my own way, and I’m always, always, always here for you in ways that are much less cliche and much more genuine than regular words can convey.

    Virtual hugs offered, for whenever you need or want them ❤️
    ~The Silent Wave/Laina

    Liked by 2 people

    1. VisualVox

      Thanks Laina – I appreciate it. Oh, yeah – I find myself totally rear-ended / blindsided by the crash afterwards. When everything is sorted, and it’s safe to collapse, I do — and then some.

      Well, we’ll see how this all plays out. I have a feeling it’s going to be an ordeal. Then again, maybe not. No… I think it’ll be an ordeal.

      But then, what else is new? I’ve had a 15-year respite from parental medical dramas, so I’m all rested up for the next “round”.

      Thanks again for your support.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I handled my beloved stepfather’s funeral, dealing with his warring children and reducing the possibility of regrets; helping them write things, organising back up readers, helping organise/buy momentoes for loved ones and things to be placed on or near the body; which I did for those that couldn’t. Everyone else was either withdrawn or fighting. Just the fighting over complete misunderstandings with the actually really good funeral director was completely over the top. Fortunately mainly it was left to me, because I found I was hyper focused and able to understand (intellectually) everyone. I have only received positive feedback from my relations, including a lot of expressions that they are glad I made them do something because in hindsight it became important. Basically I’m trying to say yes Alexithymia can be great.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. VisualVox

      Oh, that’s so true. My extended family have benefited from my own level-headed approaches, and now and then they “get it”. But I can’t “hang my hat” on their cluefulness. They’re just too caught up in their own stuff, so I keep on my own path. Wishing it were different … well, that’s not the best use of time. But now and then, I can’t help hoping it might change. Maybe it will. You get older, you grow up (maybe), and you get a different perspective.

      Like your family.

      Well-done on that! Nice work.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Thanks for writing this – I’d never heard of Alexithymia before reading this – so I’ve learned something new. I think having someone in the family who is able to take a logical and systematic approach to solving problems in times of high crisis is so valuable. I’m not that person but thankfully I married someone who is! Best wishes to you and your relative. #SpectrumSunday

    Liked by 1 person

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