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Featured ADHD and Emotional Withdrawal

Discussion in 'Love, Relationships and Dating' started by Ella Spell, Nov 22, 2020.

  1. Ella Spell

    Ella Spell Something

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    ADHD, Women, and the Danger of Emotional Withdrawal

    I wasn't sure where to post this article, but I found it very interesting. It's about the correlation between ADHD and emotional distancing in relationships. The article is about women but I assume the same patterns happen for people of all genders.

    I'm diagnosed L2 ASD and Combined-Type ADHD. In all my relationships including friendships, I often reach a point where I "max out" emotionally and feel like I have to turn inward because I can't access or express my emotions beyond a certain point, without discomfort. It could be in part from Alexithymia and Dysthymia, which I have quite profoundly, but I believe my hyper mind also contributes because I ruminate and can't process emotions in real time.

    ADDitude is a good online resource for people with ADHD and I hope this article is helpful for some of you, as you venture through relationships which often seem to crash and burn.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2020
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  2. Ursus Chainus

    Ursus Chainus Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Although I am not a woman... I have the same issues. Since you are ADD/ADHD (which I refer to as understanding driven)... You are likely in something I call "the pattern". I do not feel what we are, are disorders but instead functionalities that are challenging within the context of the "modern world".

    The pattern is pervasive and I have met very few people who are understanding driven (many are not dx'd with ADD)... who are not in the pattern.

    ADD is not a thing as much as understanding driven is: understanding driven people feel loved when others know that they care.

    There is another type: respect driven. Respect driven people feel pleasure when other people look up to them or fear them. In dysfunction, they are diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality disorder (especially males)

    The pattern brings these two types together. Respect driven people are often energy and emotional vampires. Understanding driven people ask them "Do you know I care?" and they answer "Of course I know that!" (because the have egos that will not allow them to believe otherwise).

    Here is another thread on this:
    The Pattern: ASD or/and ADHD with "Narcissists"

    The pattern is a family thing with the parents being of either type:
    [​IMG]

    You are not the only reason that you are drained, you form relationships with people who drain you. The pattern is easier for us when we are younger but around the age of 35... we become even more drained.

    I am not sure if this is your experience since I find diagnosis to be problematic and they don't map exactly into my theories because disorders are only categories, not an understanding of why these things exist and how they work.

    Anyway... I have been diagnosed with ASD twice and ADD/ADHD twice.
     
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  3. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Interesting article, thanks for posting it. I think there are often other factors involved, too, like the person's background and personality, how they were brought up and how secure or insecure they felt as a child and adult. Plus as @Ursus Chainus has said, what the person theyre interacting with is like. But the specific area covered in the article is important and less commonly recognised.
     
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  4. Ella Spell

    Ella Spell Something

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    Thanks Thinx and Chainus.

    Certainly there are other factors involved. In my current situation the other person is not Respect-Driven. I think they are also Understanding-Driven if such a thing exists, and they are very open to expressing or sharing subtle emotions that I can't process, identify, or emulate. They are extremely kind, and not remotely driven by respect. I'd like to be more emotional, but my Alexithymia and difficulty with expression gets in the way. I hit a wall and I'm done. The other person understandably wants and deserves more, but my well runs dry. It's not that I stop loving, liking, or caring for them, but I can't keep up in terms of communication, demonstrative behaviours, or conflict resolution. It's happened with everyone I can remember all the way back to my young playmates as a child.
     
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  5. Ella Spell

    Ella Spell Something

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    Emotions are exhausting, not to mention confusing, and because of ASD / CPTSD I have trust issues plus a weaker theory of mind. Add in ADHD with my non-stop brain, and I'm a sitting duck for emotional overload. Then I withdraw and go numb for self-preservation. It's a cyclical but damning pattern.
     
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  6. Ursus Chainus

    Ursus Chainus Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    They deserve you as you are, not more. You have limitations as do we all. A healthy relationship is not based on expectation but simply doing the best that both people can. Do you feel pressured by them to give more? Or are you pressuring yourself to give what you cannot?

    In the first case, they must lower their expectations. In the second case, You might need to find a way to be ok with who you are and what you have to offer. I am married to a woman who is asexual... the worst part for me is not the "not having a sex life part"... the worst is seeing her beat herself up for not feeling she can "meet my needs". I fully accept her asexuality and love her no less. Why would I ever want her to do something that she can't or feels uncomfortable with.

    A truly loving and kind partner wants you to be you, limitations and all. To see someone they love suffer because they do not have the ability to process emotions easily would be truly horrifying to them! There is a point where you just have to say... "I need to withdraw"... or "I need the emotional stuff to be low key".

    It sounds like you know yourself pretty well :)

    And... I have trouble with this too. I need to withdraw a lot. I need tons of alone time to regenerate. My wife is totally cool with that (unless she wants attention, lol!).

    The issue I have with the article is that there is always a burden placed on people like us to conform to the cultural expectations of a world not made for us. Withdrawing is a valid strategy for keeping from being totally overwhelmed.

    In some cultures, this is actually ok... So what we have here is cultural expectation placed on people who do not understand culture. Why should I feel bad for not doing what is EXPECTED of me in a relationship if it is simply not a capability that I have? I choose to only have people in my life with reasonable "expectations". There is a saying, "The expectations of today are the resentments of tomorrow". I especially get upset seeing how much of this is pushed off on women who already deal with a crap ton of cultural expectation that is challenging for even the most "normal" woman.

    Whether or not you are in what I call "the pattern"... it simply does not matter. Be gentle with yourself, please :)
     
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  7. Ursus Chainus

    Ursus Chainus Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Haha... non-stop brain... man am I with you there! My brain is a thunderstorm in a tornado in the middle of a hurricane. My brain is overwhelming to begin with. I do all of the things that you do! But I am a dude... we get to withdraw. This is a sexist expectation that women have to "not withdraw". Stupid male privilege.

    Oh... and PTSD... man. I got that too. I was abused severely as a child. You are not alone in these things.

    Positive energy your way!
     
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  8. Ella Spell

    Ella Spell Something

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    Merci, M Chain!

    I don't do gender expectations, but yes ... I hear you. In my case my bf doesn't withdraw but I do. It's a learning curve for us both.
     
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  9. Ursus Chainus

    Ursus Chainus Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    You are two different people with different needs. Yours is a need to withdraw, and that is ok :) It took my wife some time to get used to that... and the horrible nightmares I have from my childhood that wake me up at night... yikes!
     
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  10. Ella Spell

    Ella Spell Something

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    What happens when I max out, and can't go farther?

    That's my issue.
    I seem to have a finite emotional capacity and then I burn out, or go into perpetual shutdown / withdrawal.
     
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  11. Ursus Chainus

    Ursus Chainus Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I use mindfulness and meditation. Part of what exhausts me emotionally is the whirlwind brain and the over analyzing of pretty much everything. It is worst in relationships. I make it a habit to meditate at least 10 minutes a day (that is better than 2 hours every other day). In meditation, you are not trying to "not think" but trying to catch yourself thinking then tell yourself "I am thinking" then go back to your breath. This increased the amount of time between needing to withdraw for me. I still withdraw... but end up doing long meditations during that time... and hang out with my many animal friends (We have a rural place that has lots of birds, deer, bunnies... and skunks. I won't hang out with the skunks anymore after an unfortunate incident this summer) :(

    I highly recommend meditation. The only constant in your life is your breath. It is an excellent anchor to steady your mind in the storms that people like us have.

    The worst thing is the tail-spin... when thoughts become obsessive. After a while... you start catching yourself... then you pay attention to your breath.

    It pulls me out of the dive and brings calm. Meditation is mind training... just like exercise or weight training :)

    Oh... and I cry. Nothing like a good cry to purge bad energy!
     
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  12. Wolfsage

    Wolfsage In training to be Wolf King.

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    Sounds like what I call "the madness"
    Literally emotional overload that cannot be stopped. You hold on until it subsides. Then slowly crawl back up. Making certain nothing triggers more emotional overload. I get this with fear and depression. Though rage used to do it too.
     
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  13. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

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    Thank you for taking the time to explain this.
     
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  14. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I can't process emotions in real time either, I think it's part of a wider issue of slow processing, however I would agree with @Ursus Chainus that we need to challenge the negative terms used for differences. We are slow compared to neurotypical processing. Ask rather, what may be advantages of slower processing? More time to consider? More time to meditate and relax? If you didn't feel negative about it, what would it feel like? A relaxing space? Time to digest things? Just, quietness? My own experience is that I emerge with ideas or better understanding of issues, and/or feeling less stressed.

    Answering in the moment very often doesn't have a good or useful outcome for neurotypical people. Emotions are in any case not always the most helpful guide in responding to others, they change and pass. Maybe consider what it would be like to take the negative connotations from all this away, we are different, not lesser. Every way of doing things has it's disadvantages and advantages. People who express and share their emotions in the moment do not always have good outcomes from that.
     
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  15. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

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    People who express their emotions in the moment are what we call human. Certain past experiences can bring instant emotions flooding to the surface from out subconscious. l find it perfectly acceptable to embrace this but l don't need to make important decisions until l acknowledge this wave of feelings and then let it go. Maybe this is the slower processing @Thinx spoke of. Then l switch over to the logical thinking and proceed with choices. This is truly how l operate. If people don't like that about me, l am okay with this, and l now accept me. Feelings are nothing to be afraid of. Yes, sometimes they catch me off guard. Sometimes l can't explain what just left my mouth, but l am not perfect. But that's okay too. It's okay to be imperfect, it's okay to be human. These are some of the best authors to read in my view, the writers that succinctly bring feelings to life so vividly for us that our ND mind can feel it.
     
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  16. Ursus Chainus

    Ursus Chainus Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Hugs Aspychata... I totally agree and get it :)
     
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  17. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I'm a bit different from @Aspychata , in that I don't usually know what I am feeling until a while after. It's not instant at all, it's not a wave washing over me, I would often feel confused, and if in an interaction, want to withdraw and take time out. I would know what I was feeling mostly a day or two later, after thinking and resting and doing other stuff unrelated. That's what I meant, but it's different for everyone, some Aspies and some neurotypicals have instant and strong emotions that can be overwhelming I know, but I wouldn't say it applies to all humans. We are all different.
     
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  18. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

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    Thanks for explaining this. Sometimes l process later but l seem to be quicker at this since l have come to this site.
     
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  19. Ella Spell

    Ella Spell Something

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    Is anyone else selective mute? If I get to a point where I can feel an emotion and identify it, and get to another point where I have the confidence to express it, my words often fail me. I can have all the best intentions but a block happens involuntarily. I can neither speak nor write / text when I'm in that state. It's part of my emotional withdrawal.

    My bf can feel a wider range of emotions that I can. Say his list is A - T. For each of those emotions there are also levels of subtlety and intensity depending on the situation, and he's emotionally literate enough to communicate all of those feelings. My bandwidth is perhaps A - F, with each feeling having a fairly static presentation. I have a smaller selection of emotions available at the best of times, and at the worst of times I can't even express those because of mutism.

    He expects the normal progression of a relationship where emotions progress on a continuum or advance and evolve over time. I'm capable of the basics such as "I like you", and "I love you", or "I'm enjoying this", but then I run out of steam. If things could stay just as they are that would be great, but he wants to explore new emotions and set goals, which would involve living together or getting married. I can't do those emotions so I can't and won't make those promises.

    It's very frustrating. Then I feel inadequate, and I withdraw.
     
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  20. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I don't have mutism but I think you just expressed my entire range of emotions. What else is there? I've never actually met anyone for whom those aren't enough, with respect maybe it's the boyf who's untypical?

    I get the bit about him wanting to live together and get married as steps on from acknowledging love for each other, and I have found that ok in relationships, quite nice even, but it's not for everyone. People don't always choose to do that, maybe have a discussion about this and see where he goes with it?

    Just also, the way you feel inadequate, that's your low self esteem coming in, because you have come to feel lesser or not entitled to be how you are. You are not inadequate, just different.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2020
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