Recently I came across a thread on Twitter that taught me the word ‘alexithymia’. In broad strokes, alexithymia is a deficiency in understanding, processing, or describing emotions. It’s co-morbid with a bunch of things, including autism and ADHD.
I was diagnosed with autism back in 1998 (when the clinical term was a Nazi psychologist’s name), and back in 2012 I had another psych evaluation done. The psychologist who performed the evaluation put, I think, too much weight on my having had my deafness unaddressed until I was three, as she said when she performed her evaluation she considered each of the criteria for autism individually. The diagnosis she came up with was social anxiety, dysthymia, and personality disorder (not otherwise specified) with schizoid features. That last bit is the important part here, since she described it as being unable to form strong emotional bonds and instead forming relationships based on mutual interests.
She, uh, also said (to my face, if you can believe it) I didn’t have a work ethic and that she didn’t understand why OKDRS was bothering because I’d never hold a job. Fascinating.
The reality is, I can and do form strong emotional bonds. What I can’t do is understand, process, or describe my emotions, unless they’re particularly strong. Happiness, anger, sadness, and very occasionally guilt…those I can generally figure out, especially grief. (I suspect my anger motor’s getting a bit worn-down, though, since these days US politics is exhausting rather than particularly rage-inducing (this is actually bad, but I don’t know what to do about it).)
The best I can manage, without a strong anchor, is a general sense of upness or downness. I’ve noticed, however, that upness tends to be more prevalent since I started HRT. What constitutes a ‘strong anchor’ isn’t particularly predictable, anger or grief aside.