Need help determining if I'm an Alexi or just anhedonic
I am hoping to find a little help so that I may better determine the best treatment route.
I have the emtional acuity of a rock, for a long time i always thought that was because i was a guy, my wife certainly had emotions and when she would get frustrated she too attributed that to being of the opposite sex. I think im a good. My wife helped me discover alexithymia (inadvertently) when she asked me to describe embarrassment. I replied with "shame" and she said no, how did feel? And i felt like a walking thesaurs for every word i knew that was related to embarrassment. She then popped the golden question, "how did it make you physically feel?" My only thought was, "thats a thing?" Emotions somehow invoke a physical response? She explained that embarrassment for her involves feeling waves of heat over her body, getting read in the face and ears and the urge to cry begins to cone forward. I can only think of one real physical attribute that, at least the best I can tell, is emotionally linked. Anxiety, does seem to coexist with a small pressure just above my abdomen but below my chest. Aside from that nothing outside of things like physical pain. I've never even felt good after a massage ( to me they seem pointless).
I've come to a recent crossroads where I find myself second guessing if the life I live is the right one or not. This all started when someone asked me if I was happy, my normal response to this was "Well, I'm not Unhappy" and 99% of the time most people chuckle and move on. In this case though, they did not, they probed deeper and deeper, ultimately revealing that I can't really identify happiness, and if I'm honest, I can't recall ever experiencing it to help reference and define it.
I often think I'm a fraud in this since, I watch a lot of movies and television and believe that my social interactions, whether personal or professional are best served with an upbeat persona. I believe I can fake it really well. I believe the I know what emotions are supposed to be but can't tell you what they "feel" like. My wife, who is a saint, is trying to understand me. I've spent the past few years seeing therapists, and psychiatrists to help me find "what makes me happy." I'm not sure if I am an Alexi or not, I scored a 147 on the test. But I do see similarities between anhedonia and alexithymia. I find my current difficulty is that, everyone describes happiness as the meaning of life, as though it should be life's goal, well it logically makes me think that I'm somehow broken or that I'm missing out and so I find myself at my current dilemma.
...increasing emotional awareness. It doesn't have to be done by focusing on the body but just try to focus closely on what you experience and find the feelings and elaborate on them by trying to perceive them more closely. This could take a few attempts for each type of feeling. Days, weeks, months. After that you can try the step of identification... Again, days, weeks, months or even years if you don't have good help. After that, you can try and see how the feeling/emotion relates to situations. Try to integrate it that way. Oh and good help would be reading books about feelings, emotions, related topics and someone (therapist, etc) who can talk very easily about feelings and who can empathize with you in a way that you do (eventually) respond to that at least a bit.
... is a new term to me.
Having looked it up, it's definitely one I suffer from.
But am I anhedonic because I'm alexithymic?
Is it possible to be alexithymic and NOT anhedonic?
My first reason for investigating the concept of alexithymia was because of not experiencing pleasure, so I suppose anhedonia was my way in to all of this, but I do struggle to experience other emotions too - until they're too strong, and come out in a big whoosh, which isn't good for anybody in the vicinity.
I’m new around here so the concepts of both alexithymia and anhedonia are new to me, and both I find interesting and illuminating.
Having read the definitions and general descriptive material about them, although there is a distinction between them they could be difficult to tell apart both the person who has the condition and for those observing.
As I understand it with alexithymia the person experiences emotions but only subconsciously. As a result if asked how they feel they will answer nothing, but unconsciously both their body and mind is in fact experiencing the emotion. So they may blush, heart rate may go up, they may suddenly get tears in the eyes, while all the time saying that they don’t feel anything. Also they may get short tempered, forget things, fidgety, yet still saying that they don’t feel anything. So the condition is one of not being aware of the emotions rather than not having them.
On the other hand anhedonia is about not getting any emotional excitement, particularly no pleasure, from things that most people would be expected to enjoy, or at least be affected by.
But, if you are someone who lacks awareness of emotional feelings that they do actually get subconsciously, how would you tell the difference?
I guess that all there is to go on is the physical and mood changes that would force their way through if the emotion is actually there. So for an observer, if they see no blushing, tears, change in tone of voice, no change in heart rate and so forth, then perhaps it must be a case of anhedonia.
Self-diagnosing, in me I think that I see signs of a blend of both traits.
So, yes, I do get physical reactions to situations that most people would find would affect emotions, so the emotion must be there, but it usually takes me some minutes before I realise that I am happy, sad or whatever it is, it doesn’t come through right away. So that would be alexithymia.
At the same time, even allowing for my obliviousness to what I am feeling, I estimate that the emotional hit that I get from a situation tends to be much more muted than it typically is for most people, as if the volume knob is turned right down. So the hit is there, just muted. So I am not entirely anhedonic, but there is a tendency in that direction.
There is a parallel with bi-polar disorder, which as I see it must be a case of the emotional volume knob swinging wildly from one extreme to the other. Thus when they are in an up phase they experience wild leaps of excitement from just about anything, then in the down phase immobilised by an almost total lack of feeling except general despair.
I’m the total opposite of that in that my volume knob is on a constant low setting that I have got used to, so, I guess a constant state of mild depression, but fortunately not so bad that I want to top myself and anyway I am accustomed to it so it just feels normal to me.
This alexithymia thing is a revelation to me. It explains a lot and I am going to find it useful, enabling the conscious thought, how should I feel about this? to be combined with an awareness that, actually, I might be really feeling it but it’s not quite worked its way into my consciousness yet.
Does it matter what it's called? Whatever it is it is part of who you are. Ultimately all you can really do is to simply live with it.