Meditation diaries: On Autism and Empathy overload.

Since being officially diagnosed with Autism it’s been a relief while also being hard to get my head around.

Funny how once you get something you suspected confirmed more doubts than previously come to the surface.

One thing that has often thrown me off course to seeing anything about my suspected autism for a while was the stereotype of autism and lack of empathy. Because I most certainly don’t lack empathy.

But recently it’s come to my attention that the idea of autism and lack of empathy may be a misleading concept.

And I can see how this arises from things I’ve experienced and it makes sense.

See there is a paradox (as with most things human and brain-related it seems!) between lack of empathy and too much empathy.

They can look the same.

Speaking in plain language it doesn’t appear to make much sense. How can too much of something also look like the exact opposite?

I don’t know the mechanisms as to why but what I do know is that when you’re overloaded with empathy it’s a burden, something I regret to say because having so much empathy makes it so that the idea of saying it’s a burden feels… ‘mean’
But for this post I’m thinking of myself, I’m being purely selfish.

I’m going to say it for exactly what it is. It is a burden.

I’ve recently read about different types of empathy and how you need a bit of all three (from my understanding) to actually be able to use that empathy to others and your own benefit.

These are the three types of empathy:

Cognitive empathy

Emotional empathy

Compassionate empathy

Click here to learn more about this

Really from what I can gather the idea is that they should come become one whole. Empathy.

But cognitive, emotional and compassionate are parts of the whole of that Empathy.

What happens when you have an overload of one, making it so that there is no fuel left for the other components to work?

It looks like a lack of empathy.

The person may appear angry rather than caring.

They may withdraw, the withdrawal looking like a person who couldn’t care less.

They may not just appear angry but actually act out in an angry way.

They may be silent and therefore not being able to comfort the person.

They may be abrupt in their sentences rather than being careful about what they say.
I know this because those things are me.

I seem to have an overload of the ’emotional’ component of empathy, leaving little room for the other two parts to make their move.

I become overwhelmed.
An example would be noticing even the slightest change to someone’s patterns of behaviour that may suggest something isn’t quite right. It may also not suggest that anything is wrong.

But once I notice that slight change I go into worry mode. It doesn’t help that actually I have all too often had accuracy in my noticing of a changed pattern and then hearing, seeing later that something wasn’t right!

I noticed someone wasn’t parking their car the same way. It was a subtle difference and when I mentioned it to people, they looked at me like I was crazy. “He’s parked in the same place as usual,” They’d say. Yes, but they were not parked as straight as usual and looked as if they’d very lazily parked.
Turned out the person in question was ill. That’s as little as I know about it, yet I noticed that. And just from that, I felt a wave of worry and care.

But mixed in with that was frustration. I wished I’d never noticed such a change. I wished I could block out those little tiny things that are so subtle no one else notices. Because what I don’t know won’t hurt me, and other people hurting, hurts me.
This leaves me vulnerable though. To people who can only be classified as ‘toxic’ whether it’s their fault or not.

I’m talking about people who seem to constantly need to push their problems out into the open for everyone to see always, who need an almost constant stream of empathy, day, night, months, years at a time.

When someone is bombarding you with signals you should be feeling empathy, when it’s constant I admit I become angry. Because I can’t handle it.

Again it makes me look careless. I may even say to the person “I don’t care,” in an argument but that is rarely if ever the case. Really “I don’t care,” Means “I care too much so shut your fucking mouth and give me some peace.”

When you have so much empathy yet you can’t quite figure out how, if, what needs to be done it just makes it all the more draining.

This tied into the fact that I have my own problems, emotions, thoughts that are also very intense and you have yourself a little Depression cocktail, mixed with chronic fatigue and the aches and pains that come with being exhausted. add more than a dash of anxiety over seemingly trivial things (to other people) and you have yourself a brain that feels like it’s the mint in a shook up coke bottle.

I post this purely to try to raise awareness that (for me at least) it’s not a lack of empathy, but too much.

Meditation Diaries: Random rambling about meditation

A post pinned to my blog says enlightenment is bullshit.

I still think the same thing today.

I don’t meditate for religious reasons or reasons to do with any enlightenment.

Something that often radiates from so-called ‘enlightened’ people I’ve come across through the years is….their absolutely massive egos. For people that often speak about ‘killing the ego’ they appear to have a lot of it themselves.

Of course, If I say to them, “You seem egotistical to me,” they have a ready answer.
Something like, “Of course I appear more egotistical to you, it’s your ego that is lying to you because you’re intimidated by the idea of enlightenment.”
Because my ego is in the way of such personal growth.
My ego is trying to sabotage my own personal growth by calling out enlightened people in an attempt to bring them back down to my level. Etc… Etc.

Which of course in those answers reveals a lot of modesty….. Right? Because that also comes from enlightenment doesn’t it, modesty?

So the more modest you are the better than everyone else you are… Right?

Why am I rambling on this topic?

Because I was doing some research into the more negative aspects of meditation.
Some people claim mediation made their anxiety worse. Which someone else will reply to with, “You’re doing it wrong.”

Or worse someone talks about mediation possibly causing hallucinations or some other weird experiences some of which include seizures! And one reply to this may be, “This is good! This is a sign of progress. These negative things are just you releasing that negative energy!” Always back to the new age bullshit about energy and cleansing oneself.

While I don’t deny the existence of ‘energy’ existing within a feeling, this idea of cleansing oneself always manages to irritate me.

The truth about meditation is that there can be negative side effects.

The truth about meditation is that if you’re looking for enlightenment you’re probably going to end up putting more pressure on yourself than you should. And perhaps more likely to have negative side effects.

The truth is (And I’m learning this the hard way), people seem to have a default disposition towards certain perceptions and moods. My default is typically quite moody and grumpy. My humour is moody, my humour is also grumpy.
To some people, this grates on them, “Why you so grumpy?”
They sometimes misunderstand that while I am grumpy I’m not grumpy in a hostile, necessarily unhappy way. Though unhappiness sometimes plays it’s part.

But what I’m trying to say is, be wary of your expectations with mediation. It probably won’t change your default, if that is something you’re trying to change. Though it may change your temperance towards yourself and your default which in of itself can be a big enough change that I guess it could feel like you’re more ‘enlightened’ than before.

Be wary of bros and sisters who keep misspelling entitled as ‘enlightened’ because I swear it, anyone who says they’re enlightened with no irony is full of bullshit.  You know the type I’m talking about, those that talk in riddles all the time and always talk as if they’re doing a perfume ad. Or think they’re talking straight because “They know the truth muh red pills, muh society is full of sheeple and I’m not a sheeple” type.
People who listen to Alan Watts and nod along and think everything he says is profound. God, I hate listening to his talks when I’ve come across them on youtube, he sounded so pompous to me.

I’ll never forget that one video I saw with him sat in some field with a teacup talking in his boring way while making some special herbal tea no doubt, pouring it ever so carefully. I know, I’m supposed to think he comes out with some wonderful ideas but I’m just a Gorilla and I’d rather sit in silence than listen to him. I’m not saying he was always wrong, just that I prefer to not hear his voice.

Anyway on the note about perfume ads making no sense..

Meditation diaries: Resistance really is futile

I have a lot of niggling anxieties echoing away inside my skull. I can quieten them for a bit, but they inevitably come back.

What I’m anxious about I can’t really do anything to change. It either will be or it won’t be what I want.
I’ve had this same anxiety before, in fact, it’s common for me every three months or so when I have to have blood checked and then repeated till they’re at a level the doctors are happy with. It’s the same game each time, yet the anxieties won’t go away. Each time I find myself thinking, “What if they don’t go back down?” Without going into too much detail, basically, I often get ‘high’ results for some bloodwork and then have to wait for it to lower before I can commence with further treatment for a health problem.

A more logical side of me counters that thought with, “It’s gone down all the other times.”
But of course, my anxious side answers that with, “But what if this is the time it doesn’t? Where does that leave me then?”

And I’ll attempt to resist that thought, that anxiety.

But something I keep learning and re-learning like I’m stuck in a cycle of knowing it, but yet not quite catching up to the knowledge, is that resistance often makes the thing you’re trying to resist worse.

Another familiar feeling I often find myself trying to resist is anger. I’m all too aware of the possible reasons someone may be ‘off’ or be behaving in a way that may be anti-social. I’m all too aware because sometimes I’m one of those people.
And for little irritating things someone has done that knowledge usually prevents much anger in the first place.

But what if I’m aware of the myriad of possible reasons someone is behaving ‘anti-social’, but it’s happening every month, week, every day? Eventually, I reach a threshold where knowledge of any possible reasons for the person behaving in such a way no longer matter.
Once I get there, I find it hard to filter any anger out through the knowledge, because damn it he/she has trodden on me just too many times now.
But because of that knowledge and actually despite appearing like I don’t have much empathy with others, I’m often overwhelmed by other peoples grievances. This makes me wish my anger away, becoming frustrated by my anger and soon rather than it being a case of “How dare he treat me this way,” It becomes, “How dare I be angry.”
But of course, this doesn’t stop me being angry if anything it builds it up even more until I end up frothing at the mouth in rage.

Another thing I try to resist is physical aches and pains only to find they somewhat ease themselves when I just lay down and let them ache and let the pain be there. I don’t usually just lay there with it till I’ve tired myself out from a frenzy and simply don’t have the energy to fight it.

So this week I’ve been trying not to resist things as much. Sometimes I find I’m actually resisting the idea of not resisting…

But once I’ve managed to get to that space where I’m not resistance, it’s like I feel a weight off my shoulders.
Sure the thoughts come back at some pain, the resistance comes back as it’s so automatic to resist, but once I recognise I’m resisting and let it go I do find I just kind of relax into the pain so that the pain no longer feels as much of a big deal.

I’m still struggling to apply to this anger though, and I find myself still beating myself up about any anger and then becoming more frustrated and angry as a result.

But I am more used to physical pain than anger, so I guess the anger and anxiety stuff will take longer to get used to. One thing I do know, from times I have managed to allow myself the anger or any other negative feeling for that matter, it eases it so I don’t feel as much of a need to act on it.

Which sounded counterintuitive to me when I first realised this idea of resistance making it worse. I always thought, and still struggle with this though, that if I don’t resist it, surely I’ll just act violently to the person I’m angry at?

But the opposite seems to be true, the more I resist, the more I oddly react. Like the act of resisting just causes a snowball effect till I can no longer control my impulse to scream, “YOU FUCKING TWAT!”

In not resisting the feeling, In telling myself I’m allowed to feel angry I find there is less of an impulse to act, therefore less need to resist acting out the feeling. That isn’t to say there isn’t a momentary impulse of shouting, “You fucking twat!” that you have to resist. But there seems to be a big difference between feeling angry and then thinking, “I’m so fucking pissed off right now! Damn it, don’t be so pissed off!” and feeling angry and then thinking, “I’m so fucking pissed off right now, and I’m allowed to be pissed off!”

Meditation Diaries: What does living in the moment really mean?

Something I still don’t understand about living in the moment. Say you’re Angry at someone and your knee jerk reaction (a knee jerk reaction by definition requires no thinking)! is to slam that fucker in the face, aren’t you technically living in the moment, isn’t this a moment when smashing him in the face is the ultimate act of living in the moment?

I mean you aren’t thinking about it, you aren’t considering the consequences whether they be positive or negative, you’re literally living in the moment and letting your body react without thinking, your Fist is at his face before you even consider anything. Surely nothing quite encapsulates living in the moment than that? Yet obviously this is not the good thing to do, and so we teach ourselves not to.

So all this living in the moment stuff, isn’t it actually not living in the moment?

Meditation diaries: What Meditation is teaching me about my depression

I’ve tried talking therapies, just plain counselling none of which really worked on me. I was taught that the problem is thought patterns and thought loops that I get stuck into.

Meditation allows me to back away from the thought loops that can make depression harder to live with.

However, with meditation what it has taught me is that there is something much more to my despair than my thinking patterns. It’s worse than that. I feel despair without a thought, I can get to that mind space that is often called ‘the gap’ and all I feel within me is absaloute full to the brim of despair while simultaneously feeling empty. No thoughts to keep me there, just this feeling beyond words, beyond thoughts.

What i’m learning is that this is all hopeless.

I’m hopeless.

Anti-depressants don’t work much, therapy doesn’t work for me either and while meditation helps me to the degree that I can sit with the despair for longer rather than pacing, rather than ruminating I can sit with the despair with a sense of calm. Like i’m sat on a boat in the middle of a storm and there are surges of waves that are strong but I can just sit there as the wave cascade over me. But that has its limits, which I expect. Eventually it becomes more than I can take and all I can think is that I wish I could lay down and go to sleep and never wake up again.

I’m tired.

I don’t know why i’m Posting this other than to share my despair.

Which is ironic because I know how pointless everything is, including sharing this. Yet in this immediate moment this is what I feel like doing