Alex and Alexithymia

May 15, 2011
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You can’t hear criticism about made up disorders without the accompanying criticism of their respective proposed prescription solutions. I wish that there was some solution to my condition, that it was as easy as taking a pill, or that my diagnosis had been faked: a condition that a quack doctor made up and used to sell pills. But alas my all too real condition comes with the all too real truth that there is no real cure. I have Alexithymia, a condition that affected every part of my life. The emotional information from the right hemisphere of my brain is not being properly transferred to the language region in the left. Basically Alexithymia is a condition where your brain literally is not able to connect your feelings with the words to describe them.

I know all the words that can be used, or at least I understand the feelings behind them and what they all mean. But the frustration comes from my literal inability to connect the meaning of the word with the way I feel. It is a condition as difficult to describe to myself in my head as it is to describe here now, even with the countless hours of time I have spent researching the topic. Very few people are aware it exists and even fewer recognize it as a legitimate diagnosis, but most professionals define it an altered personality trait that makes expressing the sensations of emotional stimulation difficult. Professionals that do believe it exists can agree however that it makes diagnosing other psychiatric disorders that I may have more difficult, as well as increasing the likeliness that I won’t respond to the conventional treatment of those conditions.

I understand that I should be counting my blessings because you couldn’t throw a rock into the air in Africa without hitting someone worse off than me. But to me, the next symptom is so much worse. The largest detriment to me that I’ve found since I was diagnosed with this is that it makes dreaming more difficult because it has an extreme effect on the section of the brain that controls imagination. I was never close with my family because I didn’t know how to show them how I felt. I wasn’t ever programmed with whatever makes someone able to show what they feel and how they feel it. But I couldn’t even describe to myself what I should be feeling, so I had to assign myself a set of emotional avatars if you will. By categorizing what normal reactions were to everyday stimuli I was able to give the illusion of normality. But it was like living half a life without being able to mourn the loss of the other half I never knew existed. Later down the road, more recently, I’ve been able to look back and see all the way my life was different than what I consider normal people. I had to live my adolescence with the same problems normal kids go through with the added weight of a burden I didn’t know I was carrying.

The first day of my new life would be the day I met my friend Alex. Alex has the opposite condition I do and it could not have been a more perfect fit. His vivid, intense imagination but lack of organization and rational was the perfect foil to me for my methodical mental categorization kept his head out of the clouds and his feet on the ground. The most inspirational aspect out of everything that I have gained is that we have gotten to know each other so well that he can recognize my feelings and respond to them without me having to say a word. After spending my life with a condition that could make me feel completely and utterly alone in a room chalked full of people, Alex became my brains avatar for every good feeling, honest sensation or positive emotion that needed expressing. When I felt happiness, joy, or excitement, but I couldn’t show it, I would think “Alex” and imagine his face. That became all my left brain needed to know that my right brain was experiencing a positive emotion. Before Alex I could be desolately alone in a stadium full of my closest family members, now there isn’t a dictionary in the world that can give me the ability to articulate my feelings the way he can.





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