Posts Tagged ‘emotions’


you take away warmth
cloudless blue skies
fields of flowers
awash with animals
trees heavy with leaves
providing shelter for birds
you replace them
with browns, greys and reds
clouds filled with rain
mists obscuring moors
streams flowing fast
deep reams of mud
seasons bring and take
so many different feelings,
emotions and experiences
be grateful for all of them
and cherish the memories
they bring to you


Alexithymia. A new word for me. A new word to get my tongue round and to understand in different ways. Alexithymia is the name for a condition that means people affected by it are dysfunctional regarding emotional awareness, social attachment and interpersonal relating. It is a condition that co-occurs with autism but does not share the same symptoms. Researchers are constantly debating which symptoms are related to autism and which are related to alexithymia. More can be read about autism and alexithymia and how they co-exist with each other by following the link: https://sites.google.com/site/geoffbirdlab/home.

In layman’s terms you have no words for anything, no emotions, nothing to say and nothing to talk about. It can be as if you are a shell just existing and literally going through the motions until you die. You have no life and spend most of your time alone wondering why you are the way you are and why people shun you. It drains you constantly wondering why people avoid you, don’t talk to you, cross the road to avoid you. You have no energy left to deal with day to day life. All you do is exist for reasons unknown to you and to anyone around you. You have no purpose in life, no reason to exist. All you can do is wonder why…

Dr Rachel Moseley from the University of Bournemouth describes alexithymia as: difficulty identifying what you’re feeling, difficulty describing what you’re feeling, and an externally-orientated, ‘stimulus-driven’ thinking style (which means that people with alexithymia don’t tend to be introspective about their feelings and emotions or spend a lot of time thinking about how others might be feeling – because emotions are very confusing to them. They therefore tend to think more ‘concretely’ about things that are going on (i.e. EXTERNAL stimuli in the outside world rather than INTERNAL feelings). And adds that this is the most common view but not the only view. This is a view I can relate to from my own personal experiences.

In my personal experiences I have been shunned by people at work and in social situations. In relationships I just sit there at the most wondering what to say or do, usually just staring blankly at a wall ignoring the person I’m with. It’s no wonder I’m single. How am I supposed to respond to questions of how I feel when I cannot interpret any feelings I have? And what happens when you don’t feel anything? How do you answer someone who asks you how you’re feeling when you’re feeling nothing at all?

Conversation does not come easy to me. I struggle to keep up with what is being talked about and quickly lose interest preferring to do anything but converse. If someone has a baby it’s so what, people buy a new car and I’m wondering why they are so excited, they got a new job or a promotion and I’m wondering if they will be so excited in a year’s time. I’m not interested right now.
Even if people are ill, injured or dying there’s barely a flicker of an emotion. Life goes on and these things happen. At funerals there’s no tears. I go because I know it’s expected, a social norm and because I know it means something to my friends. This could be seen as pragmatism and stoicism at an extreme most people cannot comprehend.

And yes I’ve felt lonely, isolated, anxious, stressed, depressed and suicidal all because I did not understand why some people wouldn’t talk to me, why some people shunned me, why I found social situations difficult, why I didn’t behave and express myself the same way other people did naturally, why no-one wanted a relationship with me, why I felt different and not in step with the rest of society. This is when you’re at your lowest, everything is too much to cope with and ending it all seems the only way out.

Yet I’m still here. The suicide attempts failed and after years of trying to find a purpose in life I did, study and research. I started an access course at college and now I have just started a PhD the highest qualification you can get. I have found something I enjoy doing and something I feel that I am good at and is worthwhile.

I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of 41 in October 2008. This answered many questions, filled in gaps and helped me to move on and understand myself and others better. There still seemed to be something missing but I assumed it was my Asperger’s being unique to me and got on with life still wondering about some things and still making some mistakes the same.
Then in March this year I was diagnosed with dyspraxia and this helped move things on a little bit. A lot of it crosses over with Asperger’s but there was still something missing, one more gap to fill. Then the lead researcher on a study I had taken part in Dr Rachel Mosely emailed me the results of some research I had taken part in about autistics and self-harm and here was a new word alexithymia.

I read about it and I recognised myself in the description. All of a sudden it made sense why I was the way I perceive myself to be. Why I find social situations difficult, why I feel emotionally detached and why I find it difficult relating interpersonally. The final gap in my personal identity had been filled and I had a name, a label to attach to my feelings and identity. I could call them something, read about them and understand them. It’s how my mind works.

I felt that all the anxiety, stress and pressure had been lifted from my shoulders. No longer did I need to try to fit in and try and be someone else because I could not and cannot be that person. I can only be me. I don’t need to try anymore I can relax and let the things I cannot control go and concentrate on the things I can do.

I understand now why I struggle in relationships and social situations and why I don’t feel emotions the same way others do and I’m fine with that. I get why my supervisor at university says they want to see some enthusiasm from me and then stare at me wondering why I’m just sat there staring back at them blankly. I now understand so much more about myself, people and life and all because of one word.

On a daily basis this means I struggle to understand why some people seem to get on with others and make progress effortlessly , talking to others, making friends, making contacts whereas I struggle to do these natural, normal interactions and are quite often left at the edges of discussions and meetings looking on, wondering what I need to do to get my voice heard and feel involved in society. This includes my autistic friends too. Many of them have social skills that I am envious of and I can only stand and wonder at their ability to start and hold a conversation with others.

One skill I do have is that I can write. I can write about how I feel and what I see going on in society far more effectively than I can talk about it. I don’t know why this is, it’s just the way I am and I’ve long got past the point where I would lay awake all night worrying about it. I can read theories, apply them to autism and write about them. Once I’ve written about them I can talk about them all day long, until the topic changes and then I’m lost.

I am lucky too in that I have a good and varied circle of friends and I look at them differently now. I see them in a new light and realise how lucky I am to have them in my life. I am also very lucky in that I am studying for a PhD and if I’m having an off day I can stay at home and do nothing or go for a run over the moors and get back to being myself.

I understand and appreciate that not everyone would feel the same way I do. I know people who don’t like labels and are always trying to fit into society in as unobtrusive a way as possible and all they want to do is to feel accepted and that they belong. And I have been there too fighting a constant battle to be accepted and understood but it was a battle that drained me of everything and nearly destroyed me.

Now I’m just myself and if people like me they do, if they don’t they don’t. I understand myself now and understand why some people like me and some don’t. I feel so much better now and I’m sure people are noticing because more people are saying hello to me and smiling at me. It’s amazing how one word can change everything in your world.


when i am inside

you are my comfort

my warmth, my softness

changing shape as i move

moulding yourself to my every mood

 

but when i go outside

you come with me in my mind

the thought of you keeps me safe

how you turn cold into warmth

hardness into soft, sad to happy

 

you encompass all my joy

you soak up all my emotions

you bring my dreams to life

you are my best friend

you are my mobile pillow

 


from the first light of the flickering filament
to the soiling of that clean white nappy
playing with toys, learning the rules of life
that scary first day with other frightened kids
and the years of listening and learning that follow
to end up cast into a world of love and hate
hunting for jobs to help me build a life
drinking in haunts to help me forget i live
meeting my first and only true love
repopulating the planet with my seed
watching them grow into miniature versions of me
as they repeat the process of life that i have been through
we grow old together and head towards
the unavoidable fate that besets all humanity
leaving behind all that we know and love
these are the memories of life i have accumulated
refuse festering in the dustbin of my mind


I had a really good run today. Not fast nor a long distance but good just for the sake of running and getting out into the countryside away from civilisation and this world we live in that seemingly never stops and just goes on and on constantly. And this got me thinking about why I run. The inspiration for this line of thought came from a blog I read from Helen Mort who also wrote about why she runs.

There are many, many reasons why different people run and all of them are valid. Some people run to lose weight and get fit, others to race and be seen as a winner and for some it will be the chance to show they are the fastest in a race, over a distance or if they are on Strava over a particular segment.

But for me and I hope for many others it is the sure pleasure running gives you in getting away from the seemingly endless and constant barrage of images, noises, words and much more that bombard so many people every hour of every day. Running for me provides a means of escapism from a world in which the avenues of escape seem to be reducing all the time.

For myself too living with the condition Asperger’s Syndrome a form of autism, running gives me a chance to clear my mind of all the thoughts and ideas that conspire to overwhelm my mind all the time in addition to everything else the world throws at me. Running enables me to start afresh with a clear mind free from clutter.

Today was a very good example of this. I am lucky to live where I do on the doorstep so to speak of the countryside. The opportunities for me to go on a run and get away from it all are endless. The only limit is my imagination for thinking up routes and my body which is getting on a bit now!

So today I set off with a route in mind and for once followed it. along the main road then left down a long road, one half houses the other half fields. At the bottom of this road I turned right down a short road and then right again past a farmhouse and onto some nice single track trail heading down into the woods.

And it’s going down into the woods that my mind begins to clear, thoughts disappear as I concentrate on where I’m going looking out for loose stones, tree stumps and wet mud picking the best path down the trail, running as natural as can be, running for pleasure and no other reason.

For me it’s a very uplifting feeling running along paths made by nature under a canopy of green leaves and brown branches through which a strong sun tries to shine rays of light. This is where I feel at one with the world and with myself. No computers, no television, no radio and certainly no mobile phone. Nothing to distract me from the pleasure of running.

My mind is clear and free not overwhelmed by thoughts of what I should and should not be doing, who I should talk to and who I should not, who I should have in life and who I should not and so much more that occupies my mind in this every increasingly complex world I sometimes struggle with.

The Japanese have a phrase for this Shinrin-yoku which translates as forest bathing. This is the practice of wandering the trails of the forest, taking in the natural beauty and feeling at one with nature. This has a calming and relaxing effect on your whole wellbeing and this is why I run and why I ran today through the woods. To find peace with the world and myself until the next time I am overwhelmed and go for another calming and relaxing run through the woods.


I said goodbye to this tall, slender, memory

From my past that had from nowhere

Come back into my life, rekindling teenage desires

Unexpected but welcome, a distraction from daily life

 

And now this vessel of pure white skin, topped with

Fair, blonde hair, cascading down towards mother earth

Covering pure, delicate bone. So light yet so strong

Stood before me, so close, I could smell her lipstick

On my tongue as we stood burning each others image

 

Into the deepness of our memories, ready to be

Recalled when we awoke in the early hours of a

Summers morning, the sun peering over the horizon

Getting ready to wake up unsuspecting men and women.

 

Her fingers left mine, hanging nowhere, just there

As we said goodbye forever, knowing this would be the

Last time we saw each other, touched each other, tasted each other…

 

I turned and touched a single, lonely bead of sweat

Resting on the pillow before it melted into soft fabric

Gone forever, never coming back

The smell of lavender hanging in the air

Reminding me of the night before…

 

I gather the bead of sweat, so soft, so light, so clear

On the tip of my forefinger, look at it taking in

The colours of the world bouncing away in all directions

Before I place it gently on the tip of my tongue

And take a last taste of you, my last memory of you

As I say goodbye to you, forever


Today is not a good day. I feel down, depressed torn between two different me’s both fighting to be in control of me. I don’t know who I am or what I am doing here. I’m operating on auto pilot for the sake of survival.

All I want to do is curl up in a ball and go to sleep. Wake up? Who knows? Maybe, maybe not. But not wake up like this. In a land of nothing, going nowhere, floating in space with no direction.

I ran 11 miles yesterday. People were congratulating me telling me how inspirational I was. But who inspires me? Who is there for me to look up to when I need a lift? Who indeed.

All alone in a vast universe slowly being suffocated by the hand of life. No energy, just want to go to sleep and wake up somewhere different. But not on this place, not here…


This came from my writing workshop last night

I carry my wallet, new, still smelling of fresh leather

Inside it carries my money, crumpled and torn, pulling faces at each other

Cards, lots of cards, nearly enough for a pack

I carry coins, £1’s and 50p’s

Some are shiny and new, others dull with age

Some are heavy and strong, others strangely light and dainty…

I carry three stones, all blue speckled with gold

Two look like a mathematical triangle, ready for their angles to be calculated

The other is dull and square and sits there

Watching, listening, smelling, taking it all in…

I carry a vest on my back, unwashed for weeks

Smelling of me in various stages of life

It fits perfectly, moulded to the shape of my sweaty body

I carry images in my mind, from places I’ve been too, people I’ve seen

Ready to be recollected to test how accurate my memory is…

Smells carry up my nose and enter my mind

So that I close my eyes and imagine I’m somewhere, anywhere but here

The sound of birds vibrates in my ear

A sound I have carried from childhood and will carry till the day I die…

I kneel and touch the ground, it is cold and hard

Like someone I knew a long time ago…

But I don’t carry you anymore like I use to

A stone weight around my neck, dragging me to the floor

Nor do I carry the rain that pours from my eyes

Drowning out my memories of you…forever!

I don’t carry a penknife, my heart was hollowed out years ago…

My mind, still sharp from the memories…

I don’t carry pictures of anyone, all my pictures are stored deep in mymind

Nor do I have a map, I’ve walked these moors many times before

And they know me well now and show me the way home

I don’t carry a book with words and pictures in of places I’ll never see…

I don’t carry a watch, I watch time past by as it soars down the moors from on high

Flowing into the swiftly moving stream, getting its breath back

Before it starts again, taking me on its currents

To wherever it desires…


If I could speak to you like the

Heather speaks to my bare feet as

I run to reach you, be near you

Avoiding stones the way you avoid me

 

If I could connect with you like an

Eagle connects with the currents of air

High above the cold mountain

Where your emotions lay breathing

 

If I could leap into your arms like a

Salmon returning home to the

Place it was born to die

As I die every day without you

 

If I could see you just one more time

Before I became extinct in your eyes

Flesh dripping into the earth, bones

Crumbling to dust, feeding the worms

 

The answers to my questions would be

Fulfilled the wise old owl told me

And I would know where I stand

Instead of feeling lost in your web of silk


The first blog of the year from the wonderful John Foggin. A very thoughtful and reflective blog about the writing process and a great poem from Gaia Holmes to boot!

The Great Fogginzo's Cobweb

2014-11-05 13.56.19

I’ve always been attracted by the notion of embracing irresponsiblity and eccentricity, but fight shy of their corollaries of physical and emotional and spiritual risk. But in last week’s post I think I was nailing my colours to the mast of those who take those kinds of risks in poetry, of declaring a preference for poems and poets that are courageous and unflinching.

For various reasons, I’m advised against eating processed meats, so sausages are out, and I’ve never been keen on wearing purple or rattling sticks along railings. Extravert behaviour has always come fairly easily, but  real risk-taking is something I’ve basically tried to keep at arms’ length, and without that, I see no way towards achieving the edge that I respond to so readily in other people’s poems.

I’m going to see if I can articulate better what I was trying to get at this time last week…

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