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firemonkey
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07 Dec 2022, 12:19 am

I've been trying to find a word for why I feel so out of sync with many other autistic people. The word that's just sprung to my mind is intensity. There's an intensity re being autistic, and the symptoms that go with it, that I struggle to identify with. Maybe that can be explained by the comorbid sz/sz-a that I have, or maybe not.



auntblabby
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07 Dec 2022, 12:53 am

i was intense as a young adult then as i aged i mellowed out of it.



IsabellaLinton
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07 Dec 2022, 1:04 am

My daughter just explained autism to my mother the other day.

She said "It means that everything is really intense -- all your thoughts, all your emotions and meltdowns, all your sensory experiences, all your likes and routines and preferences ... "

I thought it was a perfect word to describe autism.
There's not much in my life that isn't intense.



auntblabby
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07 Dec 2022, 1:07 am

when my emotions get the better of me [Stendhal's Syndrome] that is intensity squared.



IsabellaLinton
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07 Dec 2022, 1:10 am

I don't mean that I'm an intense person (assertive, pushy, etc.)
The intensity is on the inside, mostly as a reaction to sensory input.
Everything feels TOO in my life: Too hot, too cold, too tight, too itchy, too bright.
I feel like I should be called Goldilocks because of her porridge.



autisticelders
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07 Dec 2022, 7:14 am

I suspect people find me overwhelming . I believe my intensity comes from anxiety and how hard I have to work to understand things "in real time" with a lot of lag in my visual and audio processing times... The anxiety wears me out, I have "outbursts" in attempts to participate in conversations, I suspect I wear others out too. I went to a small book club gathering (6 people) for an hour yesterday and came home completely exhausted and shaking. That was put on video, so I will be able to check on the appropriateness of my behavior... I have done very few social things since my diagnosis 3 years ago, I am convinced from previous experience that most social activities will be failures because I can't change my neurology even if I am newly aware of my own behavior and trying to monitor it more closely. Work in progress. I still prefer exchanges like we all have right here.


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auntblabby
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07 Dec 2022, 9:02 am

it would be better if you could just be around people that get you as you are and dig you just the same, that would relieve about all of the performance anxiety. my former square pegs aspie group was like that, the only place on earth that i could just be me, uncensored, warts and all.



firemonkey
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07 Dec 2022, 9:15 am

I used to have a blunted response to positive things and a very strong one to negative things. That was pre being on the antipsychotic depot. I've tended to put that down to the SMI , mainly because I'm not sure the average autistic person reacts like I do when very stressed- i.e increased paranoia, thinking ability dips, emotionally very heated and excitable, impossible to stop when I'm like it. Afterwards, when I eventually calm down, I feel drained and washed out.



kraftiekortie
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07 Dec 2022, 9:24 am

My mother finds that I'm too intense. Most people don't find me too intense, though.

I'm a maelstrom inside sometimes---that causes me to make mistakes and to do foolish things. Outwardly, though, I seem pretty nonchalant to most people.



IsabellaLinton
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07 Dec 2022, 9:38 am

firemonkey wrote:
I used to have a blunted response to positive things and a very strong one to negative things. That was pre being on the antipsychotic depot. I've tended to put that down to the SMI , mainly because I'm not sure the average autistic person reacts like I do when very stressed- i.e increased paranoia, thinking ability dips, emotionally very heated and excitable, impossible to stop when I'm like it. Afterwards, when I eventually calm down, I feel drained and washed out.


I have a blunted response to positive things. I feel them and enjoy them, but they make me anxious because I know they won't last and I'm afraid of getting too attached to anyone / anything in case it leads to heartache. My reaction to negative things is very strong like yours, because of trauma. When bad things happen I get "flooded" with too many emotions to sort, and I cycle in trauma meltdowns which can last up to a week. During that time I'll feel paranoid to an extent ("Why does this keep happening to me?!", "What did I do to deserve this?!"), I don't think clearly because I'm ruled by my limbic system, I'm emotionally fragile, impulsive, self-destructive, and my body literally feels heated. I tell myself I'm fine and acting normally and that these feelings are all justified, but when I snap out of it I can see it was trauma talking. Then I feel drained and washed out. It's almost exactly what you describe. Are you sure you don't have CPTSD and not psychosis? I've been screened for psychosis many times but it's always ruled out because of my trauma.



firemonkey
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07 Dec 2022, 10:37 am

I've been seeing a pdoc since autumn 1973. First dxed with an SMI in 1975. I've never considered it could be CPTSD . I just know my life has been significantly restricted by it and the lack of appropriate help and support. Nearly 50 years later , and to some degree it still affects me. I think some may regard me as weak, for that being the case . I've often chastised myself for not getting over it. I've never got anywhere near fulfilling the potential I had . Never had a paid job. Went into avoidant mode re pursuing further education. Psychologically I'm too scared 99% of the to venture out of my comfort zone. On the surface I'll vehemently reject criticism while inside it gnaws away at me and makes me feel like crap. I feel useless and worthless a lot of the time. If I don't do something well it's a case of 'I can't do this therefore I'm stupid'. If I do something well-' If I can solve this then everyone can'.



kraftiekortie
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07 Dec 2022, 10:38 am

That's a rough way to live. There are times when I live like that, too.



IsabellaLinton
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07 Dec 2022, 5:53 pm

firemonkey wrote:
I've been seeing a pdoc since autumn 1973. First dxed with an SMI in 1975. I've never considered it could be CPTSD . I just know my life has been significantly restricted by it and the lack of appropriate help and support. Nearly 50 years later , and to some degree it still affects me. I think some may regard me as weak, for that being the case . I've often chastised myself for not getting over it. I've never got anywhere near fulfilling the potential I had . Never had a paid job. Went into avoidant mode re pursuing further education. Psychologically I'm too scared 99% of the to venture out of my comfort zone. On the surface I'll vehemently reject criticism while inside it gnaws away at me and makes me feel like crap. I feel useless and worthless a lot of the time. If I don't do something well it's a case of 'I can't do this therefore I'm stupid'. If I do something well-' If I can solve this then everyone can'.


CPTSD is characterised by feelings of guilt, shame, and inadequacy.
It's not so much "fear", but a perpetually damaged self-concept (for which you blame yourself.)
It's usually caused by ongoing childhood trauma but can also happen in adulthood.
The key feature is that the person can't escape what's going on.
That's why children are so vulnerable, because they normally can't escape their parents / schools.

It happens because we get victimised repeatedly and we internalise the message "I deserve this."
We know we don't really deserve it, but our brains become so accustomed to mistreatment it's hardwired.
Many autistic people have CPTSD just because of their autism:
They felt "different" and were ostracised most of their formative years for not fitting in.
We know deep down that it's our authentic self being rejected so we think we "deserved it."
This damages our self-concept and leads to the cycles of guilt / shame that we couldn't help ourselves.

I've seen you mention tremendous bullying about your pronation and your manner.
You were at a boarding school and couldn't escape.
You couldn't correct the problems in yourself, and you couldn't stop the other kids.
No one helped or rescued you, and reassured you that you are a good person.

I hear guilt / shame from you in many posts.
You think you aren't smart enough to be accepted by your IQ groups.
You blame yourself and your mental illnesses.
You apologise to us on WP for not being "good enough" or even "autistic enough" to be here.

I'm no psychologist but your description of those intense feelings sounds like my trauma meltdowns.
Trauma meltdowns in CPTSD aren't from visual flashbacks as much as emotional flashbacks.
When emotion X gets triggered (you feeling less than others), you cycle into emotional flashbacks.

It all sounds so familiar to me, I just thought I'd mention it.



firemonkey
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07 Dec 2022, 6:39 pm

IsabellaLinton wrote:

I'm no psychologist but your description of those intense feelings sounds like my trauma meltdowns.
Trauma meltdowns in CPTSD aren't from visual flashbacks as much as emotional flashbacks.
When emotion X gets triggered (you feeling less than others), you cycle into emotional flashbacks.

It all sounds so familiar to me, I just thought I'd mention it.



'No problem' as my daughter would say. It's good to hear from someone with 'lived experience'. I'm not sure what I'm going to describe would be regarded as an 'emotional flashback'. For long stretches of time I can be emotionally flat like subconsciously I've put defensive barriers up,but then a certain song or reading an article/forum post can induce overwhelming feelings of anguish and despair . I become tearful and distressed. I haven't done it for a while and have no alcohol in my flat, but one thing I used to do was to drink a lot of alcohol very fast so I could crash out and escape those overwhelming feelings.

When the stress gets too high it gets like this- written a good number of years ago-
Quote:
Ever get this strange feeling when you are in a room that is usually
familiar to you?
As if you and the room are out of synch with each other and the room is
different somehow.
It is as if what is in the room is slightly unreal.

Tim



Quote:
iF IAM F***ing lucky i 'll get to have the mental fever breaking bit was
what happened real or wasit a dream disconnected everythingh is
unaturally calm bit with the room looking
slighly weird insome way smaller bigger clearer just basically somehow
out of sync like everything is veing seen through the lwens of a an
avant garde camera man stoned on on lsd.


The latter one was when struggling to look after my wife, who'd developed vascular dementia, and cope with my SMI. Sometimes I'll get flu like symptoms with or without the derealisation.



IsabellaLinton
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07 Dec 2022, 7:13 pm

Emotional Flashback:
Encountering an emotion that you felt during a traumatic time in your life, or in the aftermath of that trauma.


CPTSD is the result of emotional trauma, so there are lots of trigger emotions we can encounter.
Hopelessness, helplessness, guilt, shame, embarrassment, inadequacy, jealousy or envy, resentment, etc. are very common.

If a person felt those during the traumatic events, their body will remember and freak out any time they happen in present time. It doesn't have to be a conscious awareness. Most of us can't even name our emotions because of Alexithymia from ASD, but we don't need to know the names. Most of the time people don't even realise an emotional trigger has happened and they don't stop to figure out what started it. We just react.

For example my CPTSD probably started in childhood from feeling like a freak, and being ostracised by many people in my family. It intensified because of SA as a child, when I couldn't speak up and tell my family what happened and when I was punished / teased / humiliated for avoiding the person who assaulted me. That caused me to feel guilt about "letting it happen" in the first place (Surely it must have been my fault? Adults don't make mistakes ...), and shame for what happened, for being mocked, and for my inability to seek help. It was even worse after I flipped out and beat up my mother one night because I had a nightmare about the perpetrator. My family treated me horribly for hitting my mother, and insinuated I was a bad and terrible child. My mother told her friends I was useless, right in front of me. This all caused me to feel helpless and hopeless. I felt guilty, embarrassed, and ashamed for hitting my mother. My self-concept didn't develop properly because of all these mixed messages about my worth and the fact I was useless.

There was another period of intense trauma in my adulthood, related to SA. I couldn't get away from it or escape. I'd spent years trying to reconcile the feelings from childhood which convinced me I was a bad person, but this new exploitation as an adult confirmed all the negative feelings. Once again I was helpless, hopeless, vulnerable, and ashamed.

I've been in trauma therapy for years but even now, any time I feel remotely helpless, hopeless, ashamed, or guilty, I spiral into trauma attacks. It could be something as simple as going to the store without my payment card. If I go to the till and realise I can't pay, I feel embarrassed or ashamed. I blame myself for forgetting my card. Those emotions trigger all the times I felt embarrassed or ashamed in my past even though they are on a totally different level. It's an exaggerated or unreasonable comparison but my body remembers the feelings of embarrassment, shame, and self-blame, so I'll implode. Most of the time I have no idea what's going on or why I'm so triggered until I chill out and ask myself if I might have felt helpless, hopeless, ashamed, etc. 99% of the time I did.

It's interesting you said that songs or forum posts can trigger you. I was triggered to hell and back by a post I read on WP today, which brought back feelings of shame and vulnerability. These flashbacks can happen anywhere / everywhere. I avoid TV and movies so I'll avoid unexpected emotions because it's so easy to encounter characters who feel helpless / hopeless, and because of my empathy I'll feel it like it's happening to me. Result: Catastrophe. The movie GET OUT was referenced today and that set me off too. That's a movie about someone who is vulnerable and captive to psychos, and he's being manipulated and humiliated for exploitation. Those are all trauma trigger emotions for me. They all cause me to have spontaneous flashbacks of helplessness.

The only way I can counter these attacks is to identify the flashback emotion and the reasons why it's upsetting. Then I have to focus on all the ways I'm actually safe today, and the trigger thing can't hurt me. That movie can't hurt me, and it's not about me. On top of that, it was an actor and it's a fictitious story. I have to remind myself that in the end, I was strong and capable enough to escape my trauma. In the end, I did do the right things and I got a person incarcerated. I have to tell myself I'm not helpless after all. It's like reconditioning your memories.

In your case you used to drink to avoid flashback emotions. That's really common. I'm grateful I didn't get into that pattern but we all react differently, and it's great that you aren't drinking anymore.

Dissociation and derealisation are very common coping mechanisms in CPTSD. We can't escape the trauma / pain when it's happening, and it's ongoing. Our mind tries to escape on our behalf. I'm sure taking care of your wife was gruelling and terrifying. You couldn't escape the responsibility and nor did you want to.

I can relate to your derealisation examples and about the room seeming odd. I hallucinate every night now before going to bed. It's likely from exhaustion / insomnia but everything starts looking unfamiliar. I also experience that after I've been out of my house for a while and I go home. The rooms seem bigger / smaller, or a different proportion than I thought. It's like I'm seeing my home for the first time through someone else's eyes.



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08 Dec 2022, 2:26 am

I don't know if I'm "intense" or not. There seem to be quite a few different definitions out there. I'm not pushy. Physically I'm not particularly active, I just move quickly when I want to, e.g. when I'm doing routine stuff and when I see a need to rush. Mentally I'm very active, though a slow thinker when the subject matter is new. If I'm talking to somebody I have a tendency to say a lot, often rather quickly, and to keep springing lots of ideas on them, which risks overloading them, but I often fight the tendency, for obvious reasons. Paradoxically I have a fairly laid-back interpersonal style. I seem to feel most things more intensely than other people but I nearly always have my emotions in strong control. It doesn't take much to put me in a moderately bad mood but it doesn't take much to pull me out of it either, so my moods rapidly fluctuate but I don't often have extreme good or bad moods. I'm usually flickering around somewhere between slightly low and moderately high.