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bee33
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05 Dec 2023, 8:32 am

Is it an ASD thing to be stuck and unable to get over bad emotional pain? My therapist seems to think so, but that may be because she doesn't have another explanation, so she ascribes it to my inflexible thinking. It's been almost two years for me of despair and sobbing.



IsabellaLinton
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05 Dec 2023, 8:46 am

I don't know if it's an autistic thing or not, but I can relate.
I can't heal from any setbacks in my life.
I don't have the emotional intelligence or coping skills.
Maybe it's the "developmental delay" part of my ASD.
Maybe it's my PTSD.
Maybe it's because I have a lot of support needs.


Have you been assessed for trauma or tried a trauma therapist?
What kind of therapy are you receiving?


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MatchboxVagabond
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05 Dec 2023, 8:55 am

bee33 wrote:
Is it an ASD thing to be stuck and unable to get over bad emotional pain? My therapist seems to think so, but that may be because she doesn't have another explanation, so she ascribes it to my inflexible thinking. It's been almost two years for me of despair and sobbing.

It probably depends a lot. Emotional pain is pretty much the only memories that I get that involve any sort of emotion and aren't just me remembering that I did a thing or was otherwise involved.

And even there, it's hard to maintain that for very long in most cases. I'm not sure that that's because of autism, it might just be an sdam thing.



IsabellaLinton
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05 Dec 2023, 8:59 am

I'm thinking a PTSD OT might be helpful.
That's an Occupational Therapist who specialises in PTSD.

They can help you to use your time and emotional energy more productively.
It's hard though, I know.


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05 Dec 2023, 10:58 pm

I also feel a lot of emotional pain brought on my my life experiences. I have a very soft heart that is often broken. I'm a very sensitive person and I cry easily.


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06 Dec 2023, 7:59 am

I found that it's very hard for me to process emotions. I'm naturally an act first, feel later kind. Sometimes it causes a lot of stress and affect my physical health. It's important to find ways to relax yourself and let the emotions out. For me music helps, also warm showers and meditation. During those times I can get incredibly moved or sad or angry but also feel empowered. It's like I could understand normal people's feelings temporarily. Apparently feeling bad can feel good. 8O Anyway you need to figure out what works for you. I don't think you can get over emotional pain without processing it properly first.


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bee33
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06 Dec 2023, 8:21 am

My therapist seems to think that the normal and helpful thing to do is to reason through one's emotions to be able to put them in perspective, and make them feel more manageable by doing that, but I can't do that. To me they are how they are. Like if I'm thinking, and saying, "This is the most terrible thing that has ever happened to me and it will never get better," she considers that to be an unreasonable belief. So to her if I could think it through and look at it another way, it wouldn't seem that way anymore. Not that it would be all better, but it would be less overwhelming. But I can't do that. She ascribes it to my inflexible and black-and-white thinking, that has me stuck on one perspective and doesn't let me look at the situation from another perspective.

I don't think she's wrong, but I can't change how I see it. That's the part that I think (and she thinks) is ASD-related.



IsabellaLinton
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06 Dec 2023, 9:08 am

That sounds like CBT. ^
Personally, I find CBT feels like gaslighting.
It's someone telling me what I should and shouldn't be able to think.
If I could control my thoughts I wouldn't need a therapist.
Nor would I be autistic with trauma and ADHD.


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bee33
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06 Dec 2023, 9:49 am

I don't think it's CBT. I loathe CBT and would never accept a therapist who engaged in it, even if she was stealthy and didn't say that's what she was using.

This a paraphrase of something she wrote me:

Quote:
Processing it by talking about it might help to some extent. If we are talking about it to ourselves, we tend to make it seem even bigger than it is, but by talking about it with another person, we can look at it from a slightly different place. Not that it changes anything, but it can settle it somewhat.


I'm not exactly sure what she meant by "settle it," whether she means sort of calm it down and not make it seem quite as big and overwhelming.



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06 Dec 2023, 10:00 am

I think that's dependent on how the other person reacts. My mother, for instance, would start crying and having her own trauma triggers activated if I told her some of the bad things that have happened to me. That would make me more upset because I'd worry about the impact it would have on her mental health. Other people I know might coddle or comfort me too much and make me feel even more sorry for myself. Plus I could develop an usual dependence on them for my own validation.

I think your therapist is making some big assumptions that we all have neutral third parties who want to hear our anguish, that they will be available as needed, and that they will respond in the ways we want. It also assumes those people won't have their own troubles for us to hear. That means we'd be depleting spoons or emotional energy to help them with their problem, when in reality we're hyperfocused on our own, and we're already depleted.

I don't know if she was referring to talking to friends and family, or talking to therapists. While her point might sound logical, I think it's quite ableist. We don't all have willing and able friends to burden, and we can't all afford the assistance of a therapist. Even when we find therapists, they don't always help. Some do, of course, but not all.

I tend to look for specific instructions on how to handle meltdown moments, and I don't want the instructions to involve anything cognitive.


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IsabellaLinton
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06 Dec 2023, 10:06 am

Have you tried grief counselling?

I know he didn't die, but unfortunately the emotional impact of what you're experiencing is no different.
There are strategies for people whose lives have been destroyed, who have no hope of reconciliation.

I hope it doesn't upset you if I say that, but it seems to be the reality as horrible as that is.


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06 Dec 2023, 1:07 pm

I get disproportionately stuck on emotional pain, but one is not a representative sample.

Autism comorbid with clinical depression and obsessive compulsive disorder



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06 Dec 2023, 3:57 pm

Look up autistic perseveration, emotional rumination, and responses to trauma. Those things could explain a lot. I was trapped in re living emotional trauma and pain for most of my life time. Once I got diagnosed at age 68, I was able to see that my re living these experiences was frantic attempt at processing the event looking for a way to change the ending... trying to find something that I could have done to change it all. Once I learned I was processing the pain over and over trying to sort it all out and get a "handle" on it, trying to be ready for the next painful event and trying to figure out how to handle it, I was able to set up a mental file in my mind. I labeled it "finished business" . When a painful memory would present itself again, I let it play and looked closely at it from all the angles I could see, now understanding how my autism might have been working in there without anybody knowing. If there were things I could do such as apologize, make amends, reach out to another, etc. I determined to do that. For almost all of those painful events, there was no way to do those things. the event was over. It was "finished business" and I was able to file it away in that mental file. sometimes a memory would start to play again and as soon as I caught it, I told myself/the memory, that it was "finished business" and that I did not have to go back there again. Over time many painful feelings have been settled and given a safe place to rest. I don't need them, and I can safely leave them in the file. It has given me a lot of peace. Part of my constant replay was hypervigilance from trauma and the wanting to try to figure out how to be prepared to prevent the event from happening again. In truth, there was no way to do that. It has taken time, but it does seem to be helping. If we can't do anything about it, and it is in the past, it is safe to let go and stop working it around in the mind, causing fresh pain and sorrow each time. It is OK to have sad feelings , everybody has events like these in their lives. We are never prepared for them, but we can find new ways to deal with them as life goes on. I hope this mental filing system might work for you too.


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06 Dec 2023, 8:04 pm

Strangely, I seem to bounce back quite well, at least superficially, once the source of the pain has been removed. But I'm not so sure I get over things well at a deeper level. Recently a cat I loved died. I was heartbroken while he was dying and when he died, but seemed OK again after a day or so. But what I did notice was that I'd become very critical of everybody and everything that came to my attention, making harsh remarks. I suspect I was manifesting a certain hatred towards the world for my loss - very unfair of me, but emotions aren't reknowned for being fair. It took me a few days to get back to normal, though now and then I miss him terribly.

Some decades ago my (now ex-) wife betrayed me and then tried to severely reduce my access to our son. Then my landlord tried to evict me. I fought back and got most of what I wanted. I continued to function pretty normally, but I developed a strong sense of suspicion and cynicism about everybody except my son. It took a few years before it got much better.

I sometimes think I'm too stoical and "strong" for my own good. But I think I do escape a lot of conscious anguish, so there's an upside to it.



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07 Dec 2023, 5:26 am

autisticelders wrote:
Look up autistic perseveration, emotional rumination, and responses to trauma. Those things could explain a lot. I was trapped in re living emotional trauma and pain for most of my life time. Once I got diagnosed at age 68, I was able to see that my re living these experiences was frantic attempt at processing the event looking for a way to change the ending... trying to find something that I could have done to change it all. Once I learned I was processing the pain over and over trying to sort it all out and get a "handle" on it, trying to be ready for the next painful event and trying to figure out how to handle it, I was able to set up a mental file in my mind. I labeled it "finished business" . When a painful memory would present itself again, I let it play and looked closely at it from all the angles I could see, now understanding how my autism might have been working in there without anybody knowing. If there were things I could do such as apologize, make amends, reach out to another, etc. I determined to do that. For almost all of those painful events, there was no way to do those things. the event was over. It was "finished business" and I was able to file it away in that mental file. sometimes a memory would start to play again and as soon as I caught it, I told myself/the memory, that it was "finished business" and that I did not have to go back there again. Over time many painful feelings have been settled and given a safe place to rest. I don't need them, and I can safely leave them in the file. It has given me a lot of peace. Part of my constant replay was hypervigilance from trauma and the wanting to try to figure out how to be prepared to prevent the event from happening again. In truth, there was no way to do that. It has taken time, but it does seem to be helping. If we can't do anything about it, and it is in the past, it is safe to let go and stop working it around in the mind, causing fresh pain and sorrow each time. It is OK to have sad feelings , everybody has events like these in their lives. We are never prepared for them, but we can find new ways to deal with them as life goes on. I hope this mental filing system might work for you too.


Amazing, I need to give this a try. I am stuck in the same endless loop of trying to resolve past problems that are truely finished business.


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bee33
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07 Dec 2023, 8:35 am

autisticelders wrote:
Look up autistic perseveration, emotional rumination, and responses to trauma. Those things could explain a lot. I was trapped in re living emotional trauma and pain for most of my life time. Once I got diagnosed at age 68, I was able to see that my re living these experiences was frantic attempt at processing the event looking for a way to change the ending... trying to find something that I could have done to change it all. Once I learned I was processing the pain over and over trying to sort it all out and get a "handle" on it, trying to be ready for the next painful event and trying to figure out how to handle it, I was able to set up a mental file in my mind. I labeled it "finished business" . When a painful memory would present itself again, I let it play and looked closely at it from all the angles I could see, now understanding how my autism might have been working in there without anybody knowing. If there were things I could do such as apologize, make amends, reach out to another, etc. I determined to do that. For almost all of those painful events, there was no way to do those things. the event was over. It was "finished business" and I was able to file it away in that mental file. sometimes a memory would start to play again and as soon as I caught it, I told myself/the memory, that it was "finished business" and that I did not have to go back there again. Over time many painful feelings have been settled and given a safe place to rest. I don't need them, and I can safely leave them in the file. It has given me a lot of peace. Part of my constant replay was hypervigilance from trauma and the wanting to try to figure out how to be prepared to prevent the event from happening again. In truth, there was no way to do that. It has taken time, but it does seem to be helping. If we can't do anything about it, and it is in the past, it is safe to let go and stop working it around in the mind, causing fresh pain and sorrow each time. It is OK to have sad feelings , everybody has events like these in their lives. We are never prepared for them, but we can find new ways to deal with them as life goes on. I hope this mental filing system might work for you too.
This is very helpful, and I've also been reading your blog, which is excellent. Thank you.

I have to work on it. Part of my problem is that my pain is not finished business but an emotional pain that is being inflicted on me every day, by someone I love dearly and who could just stop hurting me, but he doesn't seem to know how, or understand how terrible it is for me, or is just so troubled and confused himself that he can't do it. Taking the step of accepting that he will never understand and he will never stop hurting me is like stepping off a cliff into an abyss. It's so painful I'm just not able to do it, at least not yet.

It would mean giving up on the notion that my anchor and best friend of 41 years who has been there for me my whole life will ever be there again, and that he is just gone. That's too much for me.

And he keeps sending me nice messages telling me everything is okay. But then I think he's going to make it okay, based on the message, and it doesn't happen. But removing him from my life is such an unimaginable pain that I don't think I can do it, or even that I should do it, given that the little shreds of comfort I have that keep me going are from him.