I’ve been thinking that maybe my challenges in life stem largely from alexithymia — the inability to understand how I’m feeling. I get confused a lot about whether I’m feeling happy or sad, and I often mistake exhaustion for depression. I’m not depressed. I’m just wiped out. Beat. I feel depressed — temporarily — but I’m not actually depressed.
Same thing with success and failure. I have a terrible time figuring out whether I’ve done something well or not. When in doubt, I tend to err on the side of caution and pessimism — which is really an error. Because I’m feeling down on myself over a supposed failure, when I’ve really succeeded.
Long story short, I have NO idea, most of the time, if I’ve done well for myself or not.
It’s a problem. And it makes it extremely difficult to actually gauge my abilities.
So, I’ve been training myself, for the past several years, to just “act the part” of a successful person, in those situations where I honestly have no idea whether I’ve done well or not. It’s really uncomfortable for me, but I do it anyway. Because the alternative is to succumb to despair — and also look bad in front of people who punish people who are vulnerable or whom they see in an unfavorable light.
I don’t like faking it, but I’ve got to do it. The alternative just won’t work.
I’ve been reading up on alexithymia – inability to identify and describe emotions in the self. There appears to be a number of possible explanations for causes, which seems to be a bit of a mystery. Research suggests a brain-based source of the issue, with reduced connectivity and blood flow correlating with alexithymia. Additionally, the condition has been characterized as “an extremely arrested and infantile psychic structure”. Hm. Not sure how I feel about that.
I think we need a better way of understanding alexithymia — especially from the viewpoint of those affected. Just because we can’t think of ways to describe what we’re feeling in the moment, doesn’t mean we can’t put words to it later, when we’ve had a chance to think about it. This seems like a worthy exercise, since the neurotypical world deals widely in “emotional currency” — relying on emotion to orient individuals to one another…
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