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Autism from the inside


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Autism, Alexithymia, Body Disconnection, Mental Health & Loss

Tulips

 

Note – This is from a personal perspective

In short space of time two people dear to me had sadly passed away my Gramp Gilbert Harpwood and my friend Donna Williams (Polly Samuel).

I knew that because of alexithymia I would find this process lag and that I wouldn’t be “emotionally connected” straight away this led me to going day to day with no sort of emotional context at all despite showing on the surface seemingly “connective” emotions they were not connecting with me on the inside.

Alexithymia /ˌlɛksəˈθmiə/ is a personality construct characterized by the subclinical inability to identify and describe emotions in the self.[1] The core characteristics of alexithymia are marked dysfunction in emotional awareness, social attachment, and interpersonal relating.[2

Expression Of Grief

After the month and half since my Gramp’s loss and not long after Polly’s I started getting pains in my arm, stabbing and throbbing like a vice was clamped on my left arm. I quickly ruled out tetanus (which is serious bacterial infection) this then progressed into neuropathic – like  pain which was shooting from my neck, jaw, arms, legs, feet and groin “settling” in places for minutes and hours with a “warm”, “tingling” feeling as it moved.

I know this based on having a family history of mood, compulsive and anxiety disorders many things came into place as well as somatisation disorder which is a pseudo pain diversion.

Anxiety and Somatic Disorder

Somatic symptom disorder occurs when a person feels extreme anxiety about physical symptoms such as pain or fatigue. The person has intense thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to the symptoms that interfere with daily life.

Anxiety Neuropathic-like Symptoms

Anxiety doesn’t actually create peripheral neuropathy. While anxiety and stress have been thrown around as possible issues that lead to neuropathy, peripheral neuropathy is about nerve damage, not nerve symptoms, and since anxiety is unlikely to cause nerve damage, it can’t technically be peripheral neuropathy.

Dermatillomania (skin picking disorder)

Dermatillomania may be a reflection of a mental health problem. Psychological and behavioural theories suggest that skin picking may be a way of relieving stress or anxiety.

A Dolly Mixture Of Mental Health Conditions

I  know that I have mixture of differing overlapping co-conditions going with my mood disorder being an understandable and normal reaction to grief, skin picking and impulse control disorder which has resulted in my hair being riddled with scabs which is my sub-concious at work, to having excess adrenaline  that is being “stuck” in my body from time to time.

Externalising To Process My Own Emotional States

The alexithymia and associated problems that go with such as body disconnectivty (body agnosias and hemiplegia)  leaving me detached from my own emotional states leaves me also waiting for the emotions to come at a frantic, unprocessed rate leaving me to pick up the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. I have created my own strategies such as writing, poetry and art which help me externalise and thus connect with my own emotional states, thoughts and feelings.

Visual Perceptual Disorders and Mentalising

Another aspect is the visual perceptual disorders which includes simultagnosia (object blindness) assoicated with prosopagnosia (face blindness) and semantic agnosia (meaning blindness) which I have that means my memory isn’t “visual-assoicative ” and I have no “pictures” of “emotional association” so my “meta-reality” (which all people have) has to be externalised.

Remembering

I know that with the slow realisation of my internal states will aid me in the this journey which is a normal journey for human beings, remembering people fondly, the good times, the laughs, the smiles and interactions.

Paul Isaacs 2017

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Autism, Emotions, Attachment and Borderline Personality Disorder

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Borderline Personality Disorder can be a difficult condition to live you may struggle to be “in your own skin”, have issues with “identity” and purpose in life, with other people and may flip-flop between different aspects of what you perceive your identity to be. Your emotional input-output may well disruptive and hindered.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) can cause a wide range of symptoms, which can be broadly grouped into four main areas.

The four areas are:

  • emotional instability – the psychological term for this is ‘affective dysregulation’
  • disturbed patterns of thinking or perception – ‘cognitive distortions’ or ‘perceptual distortions’
  • impulsive behaviour
  • intense but unstable relationships with others

Emotional Dysregulation 

These four main areas may well vary from person to person and emotional instability and modulation may make you vulnerable to teasing and bullying in your early years as the reactions may well be more extreme and unpredictable in nature, you may push people away without realising or cling on to friendships that aren’t there. This can lead to internal problems with modulating one’s own emotions.

Cognitive Distortions, Dissociation & Psychosis

Cognitive distortions can come in many forms and affect how you deal with in particular negative emotions you may “lock them away”, project them through self-harming, other aspects that can distort reasoning are episodes of psychosis and a breakdown of internal and external reality this may be accompanied by episodes of dissociation.

Impulsivity & Challenges In Friendships & Relationships 

The person may want these aspects of life but maintenance for both you and the person you are friends with could be hindered by the symptoms above the changing winds of emotions, a lack of grounded identity and purpose, disruptive and sometimes paranoid thinking and firm and often “black and white” sense of what relationships and friends “should and shouldn’t be”, fear and loss and may have issues with attachment with people around them.

Coming Out The Other End?

I have documented my mental health issues over the years which includes having Borderline Personality Disorder and how that interacts with  the overall package within my “autism” and this is how of have dealt with these negative and sometimes behaviours.

  • People have their own thoughts, feelings and identities and one must respect a person’s autonomy.
  • Grounded sense of “self” I am a whole person with the ability to change.
  • Emotions are human and therefore not “abnormal” and are part of the human existence and managing them is crucial for healthy relationships.
  • All friendships and relationships are unique in their creation some last a lifetime others don’t and one must accept this.
  • I can help and empower people but not overbear them or smother them.
  • Seeking balance has a positive impact in your overall life and existence.

 

Darth Vader shows the key features of BPD 

  • He fears loss of people he is closest too. The Death of his Mother and not having a Father figure
  • He has intense and unstable relationships with the people he loves. His love for Padme and his and Father-figure friend Obi-Wan
  • He suffers from emotional dysregulation and has feelings of intense fear, rage, sadness and sorrow.  “I Hate You!”,  “Where is Padme? Is she safe is she alright?” 
  • He displays impulsivity and cognitive distortions through manipulation of Chancellor Palpatine. “In your Anger you Killed her (Padme)”
  • He has problems with self identity switching from “Anakin” to “Vader”. 

 

I have documented that when dealing with autism you must look at the rounded view that personality types and thus personality disorders can be a part of the package and if this is the case maybe we should looking a little deeper into what that means when managing a person on the autism spectrum who is in emotional crisis and the services that can be provided in the future.

Paul Isaacs 2017


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Autism: A Very Sensory Christmas

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Note: This is from a personal perspective

One of the amusing observations from my parents was my indifference to Christmas in the my early infant years, this would be noted as they would wait eagerly excited on the day while I would still be fast asleep in my bedroom coming down later in the day.

OBSERVATIONS

Another observation was my facial indifference to the event at hand the lack of excitement as each present was opened. My Mum can remember one year they bought me a bike which was perched on the fireplace (not lit of course) she seemed bemused that I didn’t go to the biggest first opening the presents scattered around the tree, when it came to the bike being opened she can remember me staring indifferently at the bike with no seemingly no acknowledgement of what it was or the significance of what it meant.

Looking a back at these two observations I can see many different aspects of what was going on from the inside and how observationally they caused confusion with my parents.

WHAT COULD BEEN  SEEN MAY NOT REFLECT “INSIDE”

One of the conditions I have noted about is simultagnosia and seeing things in bits along side aphasia and language processing issues these hidden blockages no doubt would have an impact on how I physically expressed my emotions to the outside world, be it in this case contextually joy, excitement and love.

All these things I feel and felt but because of visual perceptual issues, language processing, alexithymia and information processing delays these were not seen by my parents however other aspects of Christmas did excite me such as the colourful wrapping paper, glittered tree decorations and the twinkling lights but it was much more instant for me to access how I felt about a present would take longer so time would be needed. As the years progressed so did my level of understanding of what was going on.

I was happy at Christmas. 🙂

Paul Isaacs 2016


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Mental Health: Reflections Of Moving On From Negative Environments

ShortsNote: This is from a personal perspective

Negative environments

Negative environments can leave “hidden difficulties” that become about to the mix of things that may not of been there when the person entered them. Mental health is tempestuous subject in itself but looking after one’s own mental health and being aware of the “warning signs” of mental health issues can be a very difficult one to acknowledge and accept that is happening.

Slow escalation of events

Sometimes events can slowly build up from behaviours of others, this may have a slow gradient like effect that initially may seem quite “mild” in the sense that the overall impact is small and may well be just secluded to the event which happened and the person is able to get on with their day with no trouble at all.

Sometimes “resolve” doesn’t come in the form you expect

What if that situation lacks resolve but you yourself want a resolve? What is the situation is being mishandled? And you yourself want it to be handled correctly?

With a moral compass for feelings to not only be acknowledged but to withhold a balanced and healthy level of objectivity.

If those basic foundations aren’t in place for whatever reason and you feel trapped and/or obliged to keep going, there is going to be a tipping point and decision making that needs to be addressed, surely for the benefit of the parties involved.

Let go of the situation and the people within it

My reflections are only from a personal perspective on whence they happened but I believe that one of the primary mistakes that were made by me was to keep staying for the long term – I know why I did. It was primary because I didn’t want to leave; it made me feel uncomfortable for the future and what that meant in the long term.

Positivity and new experiences are valued

When I left the situation my mental health improved gradually to a point where my mental health was on an even keel and was not impacted by mood disorders, emotional regulation problems, clinical depression, and personality disorders. The “invisible chains” that had shackled me where gone I had gained a level of control, autonomy, roundedness with the ability to look back not in shame, self-pity but that a lesson was learned.

Paul Isaacs 2016


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Alexithymia, Somatisation Disorder, Emotional Regulation & the Loss of a Dog

Sometimes words cannot express in times the grief those thoughts, feelings and wants that you had for a loved one once they have passed on. This is from a personal perspective.

Emotions within “the self”

Being aware that such an emotion exists within at all can be difficult to decode and grasp in the end interpret within the context of its own reality and within its own significance one can witness and event that was seen to happening and not “connect” with it in a way which feels that is “correct” , “just” and “suitable” to me that is fine I understand why this happens within my “internal” self this is a road that I cross with not being able to “filter” or “interpret” my emotional states in “real time” or course one would expect a level of delay in such circumstances – but over many years I have noticed patterns my own behaviour that manifest during these times of grief.

Alexithymia and “emotional perception”

In my first book I document times of emotional perceptual difficulty either displaying an emotion and not connecting its own context or significance (such as crying from an emotive reason for example but not “naming” the reason or reasons behind it) or having delayed emotional perception which means a situation could be happening on a constant basis and it could take me years to filter how “I” felt about it like a wave of raw emotion hitting me all at once, in my teenager years I feel as if being “attacked” by my own emotions hitting my arms and legs, tensing my face and knuckling the temples of my head.

Emotional regulation

Regulating ones mood I have found to be difficult because the “origin” or “starting point “may take to time to be seen, understood and processed within the significance of the “self” and then the “other” (if other specific parties are involved) this loop once stared may well be overwhelming so the filtering starts on a difficult level now understanding and significance come into play.

Somatisation disorder

DSM-IV-TR
The DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria are:
• A history of somatic complaints over several years, starting prior to the age of 30.
• Such symptoms cannot be fully explained by a general medical condition or substance use OR, when there is an associated medical condition, the impairments due to the somatic symptoms are more severe than generally expected.
• Complaints are not feigned as in malingering or factitious disorder.

This has manifested itself in many different forms over the years it could be a headache, stomach ache, back pain, limb tenderness the list goes on but it seems to have running theme within my “decoding of emotions” with the death of my dog recently I started to have what I perceived as a toothache this pain last for well over three months (have problems with perceiving pain and trauma) I recently went to the dentist for a check-up and low and behold the wisdom tooth which I thought was “decayed” was healthy and no problems persisted.

Days after the dentist appointment the “pain” disappeared – I believe there is a connection between personality types, my emotional perception, and mood management and somatisation disorder and how I deal with grief and deep emotional states.

Emotions are human

Human beings are emotional beings and there are many different ways in which a person shall decode, evaluate, self-reference, and acknowledge and ultimately “deal” with their own emotional states is seems there are many emotional roads to Rome.

Paul Isaacs 2016


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Supermarkets – Autism, Sensory Perception, Impulse Control & Alexithymia

Note this is going to be from a personal perspective of how this affects me.

For me supermarkets are very much I love/hate relationship they are full of things to do primarily shopping for goods that you need for your home or otherwise however the way in which my autism profile works there are issues related to sensory integration, sensory perception, impulse control and emotional recognition.

Sensory Perceptional Issues

In previous posts I have documented how my fragmented vision affects the way in which I “see” and “process” the world around me this includes of course environments in which I am being bombarded by stimuli but one of the things I have to put one hold is the want to touch and experience everything I can within the store – this is not relate to the literal aspect of the what the object is but how it may sound, smell, feel etc, plus getting visual information for me alone is redundant so the irony here is that touch gives me far more “meaning.” than just looking.

Impulse Control Disorder (related to sensory perception)

This impulsivity can include getting “chemical highs” from objects, shimmers, shines, textures, noises, sounds and smells these in some contexts can be very distressing for me but in other contexts they can be alluring and very much a “want” of course a “need” is very different from a “want”.

Alexithymia – Could that be another factor?

Processing incoming emotions (and naming them) for me takes about 24 hours in general and longer depending on the situation. I wonder because I am getting a “bodily high” that is enough for me to get a “feeling” that comes from the outside in spurring on the impulsive want that then relates to impulse control?

Getting grounded

What I have done over the years has been able to self-regulate on a level where even though those a initial bursts may happen I am able to keep on task and do what I have to do.
My tinted lenses help not only with piecing the world together but filtering the lights and giving me clarity.

Headphones and music also help me as this keeps me on topic.
By sorting out what the relevant factors are (and just as importantly what aren’t) it gives and foundation not only of empowerment and ownership for th person but a confidence can challenge themselves in otherwise difficult situations.

Paul Isaacs 2015


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In The End We Are ALL Human Beings & That Is Fine

To stay grounded and not get whipped up be the construct of “other” through “fame” – to be seen as a “being” that is on an equal plane is far more rewarding, beneficial socially, emotional binding empowering. People are after all are people and one is no better nor worse than anybody else be yourself.

Then maybe we would live in more selfless (rather than selfish) society.

Paul Isaacs 2015