Paul Isaacs' Blog

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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Not All People With Autism Are Logical Or Literal In Thought Or Presentation

20160730_102005 (2)Note This is from a personal perspective 

What Autism IS and ISN’T

Looking at the broaden the aspects of presentation in autism it is about understanding what autism is and just as importantly what it isn’t.

It isn’t is a generic stacking of black and white linear symptoms that present in every person in the same way, what it is is a stacking of conditions that are specific and personal to the individual.

The Hidden Strands Of Information

I can of course be logical that is natural human variant of thought and has nothing to do with autism (and also various personality types will overlap with overall presentation), however  I struggle with intense over a analytical  logical decoding of a situation as it is happening that leaves many things up in the air for me.

Such as emotional perception, (not knowing my bodies own reactions to the the incoming information) receptive and expressive language (word formation, extraction, relevance, understanding), lack of visual association (no pictures for words), information processing delays (incoming information not being “sorted” quickly enough to be “understood”).

Taking Things To Heart? 

As a child more prominently and now as adult the residual issues are still there such as not seeing the significance of what is being said this is before the literal. 

That means I am less likely to take things on a personal level even if I am being spoken too in a personal way.

I was asked what I thought the main different feature was between Autism and Asperger’s. I think you’ll maybe find in reading through the site on brain hemisphere specialisation that there are many Aspies who may be better at left brain stuff and many Auties who may be more right brain but not nearly recognised for the abilities they do have as much as they are recognised for the left-brain abilities they don’t have.

© Donna Williams

Introspection & External Mentalisation

I use my senses and introspection to “decode” things and sort them out from there, I don’t have pictures in my head sorting things out I have to do the reverse I have to get everything out FIRST by doing, gesture, tone, inference, movement and then go from there.

I struggle to mentalise plans so I just “do” this means that on a unconscious level I sort things out with no conscious thought at the time. When I wrote my first book I just typed and typed and typed with the basic premise being it is a book about my life.

However I am sure there are people in the world who are not on the autism spectrum who can relate this. I have of course  “non-autistic” moments of clarity for me just as there will be “autistic” moments for people off the spectrum.

Paul Isaacs 2016