Has Therapy Worked for Anyone? I'm tired of faking.


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TiredOfFaking
Has Therapy Worked for Anyone? I'm tired of faking.
2015-06-18
I’ve gotten really good at faking. . . at reading a situation and responding correctly. I can fake a big laugh or a small laugh. I can fake mutual frustration. Outrage. I can nod sympathetically. Smile on cue. Fake an orgasm. But it’s EXHAUSTING. I’m exhausted. I want so badly to be in the moment and connect with my feelings. To be able to respond appropriately without having to analyze and evaluate.

So my question is: Has therapy really helped any Alexi who might be reading this connect with his or her feelings?

I’ve been to see a therapist twice (not specifically for alexithymia) and neither time was helpful. The first time I burst into tears after a few minutes – I can’t tell you why I was crying, I just cried uncontrollably – and walked out. The second time I shut down. I couldn’t answer any questions and left after a few minutes.

I’m not a robot. I can genuinely cry. I can genuinely laugh. I just can’t explain why I’m doing those things. Most of the time, though, I just shut down. Especially if I am asked what I'm thinking or feeling.

I desperately want to be able to express my feelings. For my sake. For my husband’s sake. For my baby’s sake. My husband has been patient and understanding, but he’s exhausted too.

I had no idea what Alexithymia was until about a year ago when out of desperation I Googled “inability to express emotions” and “Alexithymia” popped up. It has helped to know that my struggle has a name. It’s helped my husband understand, too. And reading through the posts on this site has also been helpful.

Any advice/strategies/books/etc is most welcome!
4rch0n4n6313
2015-07-31
01:08
Ive gotten faking to the point where I can derive the source of sensations and actions, through mthodical and logical analyzation. But then again my emotions are the result of six months of group therapy sessions, in-patient, where the therapist demanded I wasnt being honest when I told her I didnt feel anything. There was nothing to be happy or sad about...so there was nothing to feel. just..neutral. I guess some would say that is feeling "ok I guess" which is what I use now to describe that..but really Im just not feeling anything...

Im so bad, people dont even have to interact with me. As soon as I know another adult is around, I immediately begin to have body language that corresponds to some line of thinking that I have deduced would be normal for the situation.

I took the test today... Not sure what I think about it all, but I loved your question, and was a bit dismayed at the response, being that I have been in and out of therapy since childhood. I can manufacture emotions, I can describe the manufactured emotions just fine...but, like another poster put it, I am happy and sad and not a whole lot in-between (though I have experienced jealousy..as a bodily emotion..that was intense! The other one is when your becoming close friends with someone normal..its also very irritating to me...the bodily sensation...and I dont know how I am supposed to respond so I usually withdraw).

Anyway before I go on a tangent about how I hate my life, I just wanted to say yea..it would be nice if somehow I could make my feelings real..then again maybe it wouldnt...
DXS
2015-08-04
16:13
I’ve gotten really good at faking. . . at reading a situation and responding correctly.


You just described my entire life. Faking it is all I've ever done. I'm sick of it.

Although my mom is very emotional, I think she is an Alexi in disguise. She never seemed "real" to me. She "told" me how to feel because HER mom "told" her how to feel. My mom cannot even distinguish what is "real" she is so used to "programmed responses."
CV
2015-12-22
05:44
Darn, I didn't realise there was another topic on this.
I'm curious about the effectiveness of therapy too. Not specifically in relation to learning to express emotions as it's not high on my agenda, but finding a therapist who can actually work with an alexithymic (and an autistic in my case) to solve functioning life problems without relying on this highly emotional approach that I just don't understand. I need to access these things through information, knowledge, learning, testing and action. Not through feeling. I'm looking into a CBT approach for this, perhaps that may be helpful for you too.
FermiParadox
2016-01-24
19:43
I've been with the same therapist since 2011. She has only been able to impress a few new skills on me in all this time (working on things like awareness and concentrating on feeling present, this is so crucially important for us!!) I've had others over the years, but none have even held a candle to my current therapist. She's really something special. I truly believe you need to shop around for someone you feel an immediate connection with, even if its just a small one. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that either.

I've learned over the years to sort of "go with my gut" about some things. In certain situations, feelings will arise that, while I don't fully understand, I can mark them as "significant" or a red flag, if you will. If you don't immediately feel comfortable with someone, get the hell out of there. On the other hand, therapist is not something that will work overnight or even in a week, you do sort of have to give it the old college try. Make a commitment. Therapists aren't expecting the flood gates to open immediately either, by the way. They know right off the bat you may have trouble opening up, alexithymia or not.

The issue arises when a therapist fails to connect with you on a personal level. This is something they are traditionally taught NOT to do, but when working with someone with alexithymia, I feel its rather critical to establish some connection. My therapist became my friend. Some sessions we had all we did was talk about politics or whats on Netflix. This in itself taught me that going to therapy doesn't always have to be a chore, it takes the pressure off me to purge something or try to give her something to work with. Some days all I did was cry and blubber on incoherently with her sitting there trying to fit some of the pieces together... (it can't be easy for them either.)

I suppose my point is that therapy can work, but you have to find the right therapist. I've been with mine for almost 5 yrs now and its the most fulfilling relationship I've ever had.
DXS
2016-01-25
17:12
I have told my Mom over and over that in the US, therapists are NOT trained in Alexithymia. The other side of this web site is in German so I'm guessing more is known in Germany. So, my mom is like... "Well, why don't you travel to Germany and see what you can get?"

The "message" (gut feeling, which I have learned to DEPEND on....., but as always, it's a "delayed" reaction, where I have to sort it out like someone said in another post...) that I get is.... "Go get cured so we don't have to deal with this in you because it's a real inconvenience."

FermiParadox
2016-01-25
18:17
I have issues with my mother. She has her own striking personality disorder(s) and what she says to me has a huge impact. She's my mother. I've been listening to her words my entire life, she demands respect, she's had her own experience, she's raised me... but does that mean we should be ingesting their words as gospel? No, it really doesn't.

We each have our own reality to contend with, our own set of lenses we view life and experience through. You wouldn't wear the eye glasses of another person would you? No, you'd get headaches because their prescription is different. The same thing goes for "wisdom" and advice doled out by the people around us. They mean well, they may even feel frustrated yet obligated to help, but this usually results in damaging words, as opposed to productive ones. You don't need to listen to them. You can let them pass over you without having them affect you. They are just words after all.

I don't know if I'm allowed to post links here so I'll just suggest a google search of: "The Four Agreements" by don Miguel Ruiz. Its a very short booklet of advice that completely shook up my reality. There is one "agreement" in particular that goes like this:

Don't take anything personally.
-Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to these opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

This realization had a huge impact on my relationship with my mother. Nearly everything she said (and sometimes still says to me,) is judgmental and hurtful, but realizing this had nothing to do with ME, that this was due to HER personality, was a huge weight off my shoulders. I apologize if I'm being presumptuous that you have the same sort of frustrating relationship with your mother, but The Four Agreements helped me tremendously so I thought I would suggest it.
DXS
2016-01-25
23:33
That was a good post! I have issues with my Mom, too. When I don't "see" the "reality" she sees, it's a big problem. I do NOT see the reality she sees.

My mom speaks with "alternate" agenda. She tries to convince you it's a duck when it's really a goose. Or she will try to convince me something is "for my own good" but it's really about "her convenience." this has been a bone of contention my entire life.

I think my Mom is a "closet Alexi." The profile fits. She fakes it so well she fools herself into believing herself.
CV
2016-02-04
15:43
@fermioaradox - it's interesting your perceptions, but I find that kind of thing confusing. If you're on the spectrum too perhaps you can relate - if a therapist was to shoot the breeze with me about politics or Netflix I would be confused as to the purpose of the discussion. I am very utilitarian. I must have a clear understanding of what is going on, a structure. For me, it would suit me better if a therapist followed a clearly delineated linear progression of identifying a problem or area of exploration and continued to follow on with that subject. This open plan, stream of consciousness approach seems disorganised and pointless. I don't need to just talk. I need more instruction, I need HELP. The therapist I see has tried to explain to me that when people engage in this behaviour, they are attempting to connect with me. I just have to sigh - there is no point to this, I will not feel "connected" or anything else by pointless small talk. Indeed, if someone was to connect to me, it would be much more likely to be via an intellectual route. I just wish therapists could understand that some people respond to ideas more than emotions. Think in concepts, not feelings. I get the distinct impression they treat everyone the same, regardless of base neurodiversity.
DXS
2016-02-04
17:25
I can relate to what you said. That's why I despise the trite "how are you" when you call people. If I call technical support, I WANT ACTION. I want to get to the point, not waste time engaging in "connection" behavior especially when the person I talk to is someone I will never meet...... POINTLESS!
FermiParadox
2016-02-04
18:59
Ah, I see how you have interpreted my experience and it makes complete sense, within the scope of autism. Yes, I agree "small talk" is often quit annoying and useless to me. It is completely unnatural for me to participate in "shooting the breeze". However, my therapist and I have cultured a relationship over roughly 5 years. The past four or so years were incredibly awkward. :) The only way in my head I can think to explain it adequately is, well after all these years with this woman, she is now in the family category.

To elaborate: my immediate family (my mother, my siblings, etc) are the people I care about. Without even thinking about it, I'm connected to them (whether I like it or not, lol). Its not a particularly strong connection. I'm not bubbling with emotion to speak of or wanting to run out and have coffee with them. I'm not sure I'd be able to explain the connection without days of pondering, but its there and it feels different from the rest of the world. I guess I'm comfortable within my own home and don't feel social pressure to perform and follow scripts. I trust them and they know me and don't expect me to act any other way than I have for the past 35 years.

I feel I have, suddenly over the past year become very comfortable with my therapist, almost as if she were part of my family. Having discovered Aspergers and Alexithymia, my life has come into focus. Realizing that I have the ability to recognize patterns (in this case relationship patterns,) and apply those patterns to others (I guess I see my therapist as a surrogate mother?) I came to realize I actually trust and enjoy speaking to my therapist as freely as I do with my own mother (despite my general personality clashes with the latter.) I have the ability to feel social freedom with SOME people, so why can't I do it with others? I made this happen. Its within a clinical setting and took a very long time, but it was ultimately my choice to turn this relationship in this direction and I was successful, I think.

Furthermore, in therapy, we don't talk about anything I don't want to talk about. If I'm not interested in the topic, I become very uncomfortable, stubborn, less responsive, and she picks up on this right away and changes tack because that's her job. This style of therapy has evolved between us over 5 years... the first four were painful and awkward, and mostly about changing my thought patterns that were keeping me in unhealthy cycles and hammering certain things into my head to cause me to become more self aware... and it was worth it.
Hippy
2016-03-24
21:30
I have been having Therapy for 6 months. I have discovered the best way to even connect a little is be finding my 'inner child' very odd and crazy sounding but it has and is at the moment helping. My score was 154.

I think I mostly am really good at identifying the earliest sights of a emotion (unconsciously) and I shut it down. Working on finding that moment and stopping everything to focus on my inner child and seeing if she can find the emotion, it is very difficult and distressing but I think may be helping.
DXS
2016-03-28
17:19
Where are you getting therapy?

My mom keeps saying "Get therapy" and I tell her no one in the US is trained in this.

I find spending time alone trying to focus on my inner self and what I am feeling helps, but when I'm with a person or group, it's back to the same old thing of not knowing what I feel for about 48 hours to a week.

FermiParadox
2016-03-30
00:53
There is no specific training for dealing with alexithymia. Its just something you will have to warn the clinician about so they can act accordingly. Any therapist should be able to navigate this personality construct, but you both will have to adjust and put aside your expectations. It took 4-5 years for my therapist to even figure out what actually was going on. If I had known about alexithymia in the beginning, I wonder how different our path would be.
DXS
2016-03-30
16:56
I read that one of the colleges in Oregon (It's in Eugene, forgot whether that was Oregon State or University of....) has done research and published papers on alexithymia.

I think any therapists located close to that university would be knowledgable.

Dave
2016-08-27
08:16
I'm with CV on this; I have no desire to become "normal", but I could use practical advice from a psychologist.
Dave
2016-09-06
07:50
Fermi, has the therapist you've been seeing given you any practical advice on getting along with other people? Since you have autism, I'm assuming you have no way of telling how you come across to other people. Has your therapist discussed how to get along with others when you don't get any emotional feedback?
Dave
2016-09-06
07:51
Fermi, has the therapist you've been seeing given you any practical advice on getting along with other people? Since you have autism, I'm assuming you have no way of telling how you come across to other people. Has your therapist discussed how to get along with others when you don't get any emotional feedback?
Dave
2016-09-06
07:51
Fermi, has the therapist you've been seeing given you any practical advice on getting along with other people? Since you have autism, I'm assuming you have no way of telling how you come across to other people. Has your therapist discussed how to get along with others when you don't get any emotional feedback?
Dave
2016-09-06
07:51
Fermi, has the therapist you've been seeing given you any practical advice on getting along with other people? Since you have autism, I'm assuming you have no way of telling how you come across to other people. Has your therapist discussed how to get along with others when you don't get any emotional feedback?
TranscientNight
2016-11-15
05:28
To read your posts is a bit like looking in a mirror and finally get the chance to see myself a bit.
My partner has known about my alexithymia for most of our relationship, I think. They're actually the one who sent me the test. They're aspie, but with no alexithymic traits (they have a very high emotional quotient actually). So there's them who are very subtle about feelings, and me with a score of 139.

I'm feeling more and more distressed. I fake too, to the point that I no longer know who I am. What is me.
You know when they say "Be natural," and you have no idea what it would be like? I've relied on playing roles for pretty much all my life but I'm still an extremely bad actor.

I'm emotionally-driven, but following my gut feelings is usually a bad idea. Sometimes I do have a little voice telling me "you shouldn't do that," but then I do it anyway, and it usually ends in drama. It's just that I usually feel like I have to do it because it's important, but then I don't know how to handle the situation. I want to be honest, but I'm immature, irresponsible and little capable.

Today I told my partner that I'm getting sick of not having a job, not making money, not contributing to society, and that I was thinking of . I burst in tears when saying "I don't want to make you unhappy, to be a burden. I don't want people to be worried for me." It's like I have to say things until my body reacts to them so I can know "that one was correct." I felt better after that conversation, but it was exhausting for both of us.

I've been delaying trying to find a psych because I'm not living in the country where I have my health care for now, and I'm worried it might end up being very costly. Each time my partner reminds me that I should get therapy, it feels like they're nagging me with this thing I need but can't have. I'm too defensive. I take things personally. I have a need for control even though I'm obviously not suited to be in control, considering I have a very inaccurate vision of reality and myself (tendency to be way too pessimist or optimist about my capabilities).
I'm starting to think that maybe I'm defensive because I'm afraid others might know myself more than I do if I let them see what's inside, and I have an inkling that it would be painful and ugly. Maybe I'll be too exhausted or coward to do something about it. And afraid that I would become a different person and know even less who I am.
CV
2017-01-17
01:35
Perhaps I had an incorrect idea about the purpose of therapy.
I had assumed a) the patient has a problem. b) they go to see a therapist to find out what causes the problem, and formulate a strategy about how to fix that problem and c) therapy continues as the patient implements the strategy and tests whether or not this solves their problem, with input from the therapist. If not, they can move on to another strategy.
I also assumed therapeutic techniques - of which I am ignorant having not studied the subject for at least four years, or able to perceive my own issues objectively or obviously, understand emotions involved - would be applied and explained to me, to then allow me to apply to my own problem in practice. Reconvene to asses the success or failure.
But last time I asked for input - there is no point me repeating the same old issues (which I can do obsessively, due autism) and the therapist simply listening. I reiterated the problem that brought me into this unnatural arrangement, and asked for the therapist's impression of the problem and opinions on its possible solution, now they have spoken to me several times. I was simply told what I had just told them, then asked what I thought was the problem.
I don't know - that is why I am there. If I knew what my problem was and how to fix it myself, I would certainly not be there applying an unprecedented amount of verbal speech (also difficult in an autistic sense).
It's a confusing arrangement. It seems the patient is just required to talk about whatever enters their mind, and all the therapist does is listen. How is this helpful to anyone?
BeckyTyler
2017-01-25
19:08
Hi everyone,

I am a final year Psychology student at the University of East London, in Stratford. My dissertation is a research project on alexithymia and language ability. If anyone is interested in taking part in paid research during February 2017 at the UEL Stratford campus in East London then please email beckytyler08@live.co.uk for further information.

Thank you,

Becky
jeffl
2017-02-20
04:37
Maybe I should start a new topic but this audience ought to be able to help me. Of those of you who know why they are alexithymic how many of you (like me) came by it as the result of developmental trauma (and probably did NOT inherit it)? See what I'm looking to "unravel" is whatever might be the "odds" if you will that the therapy I'm getting (infra-low neurofeedback, which of course does NOT get crippled by having to stop every few minutes and ask "and how does that make you feel?" like conventional therapies) can to some extent "unravel" alexithymia, but thing is I'm seeing posted on various websites all these 3D images (they're probably qEEG or LORETA, something like that) of brains that did not grow "normally" as the general result of extreme abuse, and thinking that's probably me too. My abuse was pretty severe (I have to take seroquel every night just to sleep at all, at least so far, I believe the severe strabismus I just got rid of by surgery was stress-induced as well, I won some SSA disability from the fatigue from the insomnia etc.) so I'm trying to kind of figure out if I'll ever get better or how long to give it, see I'm on fixed income/Medicare and of course there's no Medicare coverage for neurofeedback sessions so it's kind of eating a hole in my wallet. The only other people I've contacted to talk to who have developmental trauma, I guess their alexithymia wasn't as severe as mine because they were at least able to get attachment therapy which has a somatic component which worked for them and as far as I can tell I never seem to feel anything. Or does someone know whether in some way I'm not in as much of a "box" as it seems, is there "some way out" I haven't thought of yet?


ALEXITHYMIA .us .org .com .info Terms/Impressum [19:12:26]:UID:
english | deutsch


Alexithymia - emotional blindness - is a personal trait which affects roughly 10% of the population.

Alexithymia describes the difficulty of people to perceive and describe emotions of others and themselves. Most persons concerned are not aware about this deficit and usually they are just recognizing it in contact with others, especially close friends, within their family or their partner.

These pages should deliver additional information about Alexithymia and offer information for affected persons, relatives and generally interested people.