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Poverty of Verbal Thought and Brain Blockage

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by The Q, Jul 12, 2020.

  1. The Q

    The Q Quinn

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    As someone with a history documented more in the realm of mental illness, it's sometimes hard for me to dissect the point where symptoms of mood disorder (among others) end and neurodivergence potentially begins.

    Some background: I've stated before that I don't have an official diagnosis for autism. My former therapist didn't believe I have it as I have high functioning social skills; as draining as it is I am overly alert and empathetic to other people and this is useful in "matching" people's wavelengths and verbal rhythms. I can see how this would be dissonant to the usual factors in autism.

    I want to save general sensory issues for another time because my biggest issue lately is this overwhelming disconnect from conversation and verbalizing thought. This happens when I'm socially exhausted or don't have time to "put on the mask" for communicating. If I don't know hours in advance about a social or work obligation I freak out into meltdown mode because it feels impossible to summon up that version of myself on short notice.

    The exhausted alternative I end up with is feeling like I'm literally trying to translate alien code with every verbal auditory communication. Trying to understand people speaking to me feels like a confusing chore; I've taken second language classes before and I think the feeling is close to hearing audio of the target language that you're supposed to keep up with but can't quite understand. It's scrambled and foreign. And more unnerving is when I feel like my thoughts are blocked or paralyzed, wanting to communicate something but feeling stuck not just in my head, but in a bubble that can't even internally process what is happening. It's especially painful when I want very badly to spend time with my boyfriend at the end of the day, but can't seem to muster up any words other than scripted replies.

    I want to stress this isn't a constant for me. I really enjoy and resonate with written language, and it's very easy for me to process compared to audio of any kind. And when I'm primed for conversation, I think I manage ok, and although it is weirdly uncomfortable that discomfort is outweighed by the benefit of sharing ideas, so it's easier to cope with.

    However it's easy to see a connection between processing issues in autism and processing issues as a result of depression or other problems. Then again I am a believer in holistic thinking and many problems are not just comorbid but fluidly linked.
    Always welcome to thoughts if you care to do so.
     
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  2. Progster

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

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    Slow thinking/procession can be the result of depression, but that's not the only cause of it; if it's happening at the end of a busy day and not at other times, it's likely to be the result of mental tiredness and overload, leading to a shutdown. Social interaction is very tiring for us and sucks out all of our energy, we can only do so much.

    I also find it hard to transition from being on my own to being with people, and if it's sudden, it completely throws me. This has nothing to do with depression IMO. Quite often if I go out of my house and I meet my neighbour unexpectedly, and she greets me, I freeze and don't reply. I need time to mentally prepare for social interaction, or I fail miserably!
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2020
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  3. Fino

    Fino Alex V.I.P Member

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    As I read, I was thinking about how good your writing is and was not at all surprised to then read that you "really enjoy and resonate with written language." I like how you express yourself.
     
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  4. Raggamuffin

    Raggamuffin Well-Known Member

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    I suppose you have to weigh up the pros and cons of trying to dissect what issues fall within the realms of a mood disorder, and what could be behavioural traits or issues associated with the spectrum. Many people who are on the spectrum; whether self-diagnosed or not, will often have comorbidities which often include issues with depression and anxiety.

    I have had similar issues with therapists being rather dismissive of my desire to find out more about the spectrum, and where I may reside within it. It feels frustrating to know you can mask so well in social situations that people assume what you project is the real you. In the past, when doing online assessments for mood disorders and autism - I often approached questions from what the social mask would do, as opposed to responding in a way that was true to myself. With practice you can adjust and accomodate any amount of discomfort to a certain degree.

    It reminds me somewhat of Mithridatism - to slowly take non-lethal amounts of poison in a bid to develop an immunity to it. This is how I feel in social situations and other scenarios where I used to crumble under the weight of my anxiety or talk myself out of attending. I find it interesting you need time to prepare for a social event - I'm the opposite. I usually flake and avoid going to a pre-planned event, the best way to get me to be social is to spring something upon me: that way I don't have enough time to talk myself out of it. If I know about a planned social event I run it over time and again in my head until I get to a point where I'm anxious and displeased about having to attend such an event.

    Still, it wasn't always this way. I performed my own form of exposure therapy to the situations which would trigger panic attacks. Such as going on long drives, going to new places, crowded places etc. The early months were unbearably uncomfortable - but eventually the panic attacks and overbearing physical symptoms of stress and anxiety at these events gradually subsided. I'm now at a point where I can go to most places with very little anxiety. Sure, I might go somewhere and be overcome with symptoms - but I grit my teeth and get through it. It does distract from, and put a downer on my enjoyment of an event, but I try to remind myself not to let anxiety get the best me. So, whislt I've seen improvements; I don't think I'd ever consider it being "cured."

    I find written language to be energising - both reading and expressing myself through writing. For me, I find focus on conversations comes in waves. Constantly feeling distracted, or finding that words go in one ear and out the other. Awkwardly asking people to repeat themselves as I haven't taken in a word of what they said because my mind was somewhere else. Socialising in general though tends to be draining - whether I'm having a good time feeling highly energised and extrovert, or if I'm in a foul mood because I can't relate and feel frustrated about what people are talking about.

    Scripted replies can be challenging, as well as feeling like you're trapped in a bubble. I know these only too well. It feels like the script is autopilot - even if you want a deeper and more meaningful conversation, it feels like the mind is holding you back somewhat. Often I find myself spending more time in a conversation thinking about what I want to say, than ever actually vocalising these thoughts.

    I suppose to people who know me, they accept that my mood will either be larger than life and extrovert - or very quiet, shy and seemingly cold. I'm not sure if your mood and emotions change rapidly as mine do. Going from energised and hyperactive to the depths of depression within a moments notice.

    Whilst I've had formal diagnoses for depression and anxiety, I'm on a waiting list for an autism and ADHD assessment. Do you feel like you would want a formal diagnosis? I felt that reading about these disorders provided a real sense of closure which had me curious to find out if it was "official." Still, I know that whatever may come of it - we are far more than the sum of our diagnosis.

    Ed
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2020
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  5. The Q

    The Q Quinn

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    I appreciate it, thank you! I enjoy writing both fiction and not.
     
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  6. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

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    Agree with @Fino here at how nicely your composition explained a difficult concept yet didn't make me yawn.

    These days l approach the social skill set as okay- this is a blank canvas and how am l going to contribute today? So when involved in delicately talking to clients, try to narrow in on what their thought process is and stay on topic. If they are relaxed and throw me a bone, l will take it and make them laugh. Afterwhile, people count on that and expect humor from me. So then the pressure of "social interaction" and it's constraints and anxiety is over-written with hey, we can just laugh today.
     
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  7. The Q

    The Q Quinn

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    I'm evasive of social meetings if I can help it! But for things like work obligations--one example being getting called into a shift unexpectedly; I work front-of-house in a restaurant, where that gregarious, scripted mask we have comes very much in handy--I used to end up physically shaking from the prospect of suddenly going from off-day mode to work mode. I think this was also the first time my family took seriously the amount of emotional strain work gives me (though they tend to forget).

    Agreed. Running a line of internal code that only allows for specific outcomes,usually tonally "off" in a way that is immediately obvious but we still can't seem to stop except to fall silent! While this feels like it's gotten worse over time for me rather than more manageable as I've grown up, which is why I've considered alternatives to the spectrum since "getting worse with age" doesn't come up a lot in discussions of autism.

    I have very severe mood swings! I think I was most resilient when I was on a mood stabilizer, didn't have great luck with SSRI by itself. It's also a familial thing for me; my dad has similarly hot-and-cold moods from being friendly and extremely talkative to despondent and withdrawn within the span of hours or minutes. Not the typical bipolar cycles that take months or weeks.

    I was lucky to have a symptom-focused therapist. In spite of her reluctance to address spectrum concerns, she was very good about addressing specific problems that hurt me. While we speculated specific disorders, we were both in agreement that DSM guidelines are hardly the final word, with its own fair share of biases and socially constructed divisions between different problems. I'm mostly atisfied with the idea that a lot of what I deal with is based in childhood trauma, a lot of carry over of my parents' own issues.
    However, this doesn't cover some of the more specific symptom, e.g. sensory processing and psychosis. At that point official diagnosis is about closure like you say, and can provide useful communication of the space and patience I need from those close to me. I know that discussing the issues of how I care for myself or have trouble "starting my adult life" would be made easier if I had something concrete to offer my parents about why it is difficult for me.
    But you're absolutely right, diagnosis is used by so many people as a limiter rather than a point of exploration and growth. Definitely something to be mindful of.