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Flat affect?

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by Caelix3, Feb 10, 2017.

  1. Caelix3

    Caelix3 Well-Known Member

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    I don't know if it is a autism thing or more of a depression thing. But I constantly get told I have a flat affect. Today in a meeting at Adult prep program, one of the teachers said I tend to have a flat affect. Which makes me hard to read. That I need to show a face reflecting how I'm feeling.

    The thing is I can't do that. I've always basically had a poker face. If I try to make a face reflecting my emotions, it would be forced. The only one that wouldn't be forced is if I'm feeling happy, I'd probably be able to laugh or smile a small smile.

    I don't want to have to force my face to do a certain expression. That would be exhausting.

    I don't understand how actors can constantly change their face. Or even other people.

    It is frustrating.
     
  2. xudo

    xudo something and nothing

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    I don't think anyone has ever pointed this out to me, but I'm the same. Like you said, apart from if I was happy, my face is pretty much emotionless.

    I have literally no idea how to play poker, but it turns out that having a flat affect means (among friends at least) that I can bluff well :cool:
     
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  3. Full Steam

    Full Steam The renegade master V.I.P Member

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    There's a sales technique called mirroring where you adopt the sitting position and expressions of the other person.

    They then get the feeling that you are on the same wavelength and I actually think it may put you on the same if you are not already.

    Whatever, it works very well.

    Check out this Ted talk which shows how your own body language shapes your mind.

    Your body language shapes who you are
     
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  4. DogwoodTree

    DogwoodTree Still here...

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    I fake facial expressions for work or when talking to people who I need to keep happy and can't trust to accept me for who I am. But it's not authentic. It might be kinda linked to how I feel, but it's still a performance to try to get that kind of information to show up on my face.

    Basically I've come to the conclusion that I don't have any native means of expressing my emotions, other than anxiety or surprise/shock. Everything else requires some translation of inner experience to outward expression, and yes, it's exhausting.

    Since it's the natural expression of emotions that bonds human beings, I'm forever locked behind a mask of nothingness. I told my therapist yesterday that I'm giving up on even trying anymore. I've tried all my life to find a way to genuinely express emotions in a way that helps me feel connected to others, and it doesn't work. I'm going to fake it as best I can where necessary, and try to find a way to survive as a hermit in my head. My therapist is about to move away, and he's the only one who would know the difference anyway.
     
  5. Southern Discomfort

    Southern Discomfort Smarter than the Average Bear V.I.P Member

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    Well actually the best actors are the ones you don't force their expressions, that's left mainly to the editing.

     
  6. Nitro

    Nitro Admin/Immoral Turpitude Staff Member Admin V.I.P Member

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    I was not always an alpha person. A desire to interact with my surroundings drove me to "fake it,just to make it" After doing it for some time,it became a form of mimicry that drove me to success in business and to a rather quick climb up the corporate ladder.

    After moulding myself into the people I was trying to emulate,I did take on the mannerisms of those in power without ever realizing it. Yes,I did fake it at first,then became the person I wanted to be in the end.


    Was it exhausting you might ask? It was at first,then it became natural as time went on. Confidence is a human trait that lets others feel that you belong where you want to be by how you project yourself. That in turn boosts your own confidence that you can do anything that you put your mind to.

    To end my contribution to this discussion,ALL humans have to fake it to make it or get left behind wondering why they never do.
     
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  7. toothless

    toothless this is mr shadow,my support cat

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    i have always had flat affect,the only time i show emotion is when i get a feeling of strong happy or strong anger.
     
  8. Marshmallow_Dust

    Marshmallow_Dust New Member

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    Anyone else when under stress, or times of increased autism symptoms become kind of flat?

    My mother in law asked me this morning if my meds have changed or if I've been taking my anxiety meds more often because she's noticed how flat I've been and at times feels uncomfortable like she's trying to drag around a zombie.

    My anxiety has been on the rise, so I have been taking my meds slightly more, I've also been under a lot of stress and feel my depression acting up. I have felt like I've been stifling a melt down for awhile.

    Today even though very anxious I decided not to take the meds too see if there was a difference, yet I still feel rather flat and overwhelmed. I can tell that my facial expression is blank.


    What do you guys do about this? It's not an all the time thing for me but I feel bad that it's at the point of making someone I live with uncomfortable
     
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  9. Bolletje

    Bolletje Potato chip wizard V.I.P Member

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    Yeah, it happens to me too. Anxiety, depression and stress all make my affect go flat. My boyfriend tells me I seem cold sometimes.
     
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  10. shysnail

    shysnail Well-Known Member

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    You seem very self-aware. Do you feel like you could tell your mother-in-law what you've said in your post? Perhaps that could help her understand a bit better what's going on with you.

    I definitely know I become very "flat" when I'm very anxious, and I can feel like I'm being a deadweight around people. It can make it hard on them, but however much I try, I can't be different until the anxiety has lifted a bit. I think it's just a coping mechanism.

    Telling people in straightforward terms what is happening can at least lessen that concern a little.

    Hope things improve for you soon!
     
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  11. Bolletje

    Bolletje Potato chip wizard V.I.P Member

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    I don’t do much about it, but I try to explain to those nearest to me that it’s just the stress working its magic on me that makes me seem so flat and distant.
     
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  12. Jojo_LB

    Jojo_LB Brilliant Enigma V.I.P Member

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    Absolutely.

    When I'm going through sensory overload, I usually have a blank, or sometimes slightly confused expression on my face and I can barely register what I look at, or what anyone says to me. If I do register what is being said to me, I have a hard time speaking, as if I'm trying hard to find the words to string together to form a sentence, even the most simple words for simple sentences. My voice also sounds really flat-toned, and I have more trouble controlling the volume of it. If I don't get away from what is making me feel overstimulated, just one little thing can make me go from blank, spacey and distant to explosive, saying things impulsively out of anger and severe anxiety in 0.5 seconds.

    So getting that flat affect is actually a good indicator for those close to me that I'm having trouble with something, and that they need to either give me space, or help me out in the ways that I need.

    I also get like this when overwhelmed about something (non-sensory related), or very tired, or if some event triggers a strong emotion but I can't quite understand what that emotion is and why I am feeling it (a trait of alexithymia, which I do have).
     
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  13. George Newman

    George Newman Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    .... for me, I liken my response to “stress” similar to shifting an auto to neutral ...
     
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  14. Marshmallow_Dust

    Marshmallow_Dust New Member

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    I think I might just show her this thread. I've been super super stressed over being in a wedding and now that it's over I'm hoping some of the flatness goes away.
     
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  15. TinyTownFamily

    TinyTownFamily Member

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    Perhaps off-topic, but my young son has a flat affect most of the time. He gets happy on a swing sometimes, or when the wind hits his face, but mostly playing his tablet. When he is presented with things that typical children get excited about, his face is expressionless.
     
  16. inkfingers

    inkfingers 19 year old Aspie artist and Jesus follower

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    I don't know if I look "flat" when stressed out. I know that when I was little I was quite medicated (they didn't know I had autism, and I'm guessing they medicated me to help with my meltdowns, but I'm not sure). My mom said that I wasn't myself during that time, maybe like a zombie? But I'm not on any strong doses right now. If I'm anxious today I don't think I look flat. I'd say I probably look anxious.
     
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  17. tducey

    tducey Well-Known Member

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    Happens to me as well. Anxiety has really been a deterrent for me in the past.
     
  18. tlc

    tlc The Mackinac Bridge and U.P. is my happy place.

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    Yes, for me it's being overwhelmed to the point I start shutting down, stop taking things in, letting everything just pass by.
     
  19. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    Yes, I tend to withdraw and go flat when stressed, anxious or low mood/depressed. I don't have the energy. I'm quite flat anyway, without these additional factors.
     
  20. H-Kath

    H-Kath Active Member

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    When my partner's too upset to mask she can't modulate her voice at all. If she's scared she'll shout and sound angry. If it goes on for too long she'll go completely flat. When she's masking normal conversation is somewhat flat but her intonation is exaggerated in emotional speech.