Hands in a heart shape holding an infinity rainbox. Underneath the words Sandra Bell ND Coach
#18 Don’t ask me how I feel…I don’t know

·        Alexithymia is more common for those who are neurodivergent

·        Alexithymia literally means not being able to put your feelings into words

·       Knowing about alexithymia allows for better understanding

Alexithymia is more common for those who are neurodivergent


While alexithymia is common for those who are neurodivergent, it isn’t universal and therefore it is a co-occuring condition rather than an inherent part of being neurodivergent.

It is important to make this distinction, because like a lot of things if it just gets lumped under being neurodivergent (autistic, ADHD), it can be dismissed or overlooked and the insights that it brings can be missed.

Alexithymia literally means not being able to put your feelings into words


I think it is important to understand that alexithymia doesn’t mean you don’t feel or you lack emotions, it means it can be difficult to articulate or understand what it is you are feeling. For me, who is alexithymic, I feel stress, but I don’t always know that’s what it is until after what I’m stressed about has happened – like a giving a presentation - and then I feel the absence of stress and have a lightbulb moment – oh that is why I was feeling tense, I was stressed about that. Or my fuse might become really short, but I haven’t figured out I’m stressed just yet. 

It means those of us who are alexithymic might not react on the surface like you expect us to. Just because we don’t “look” happy, doesn’t mean we aren’t feeling joy inside even if we aren’t completely aware in that moment that we are happy. As in my example above, it can be when the next emotion comes through that we realise – oh I was happy then.

Knowing about alexithymia allows for better understanding


Knowing you are alexithymic helps you understand yourself better, for me sometimes I can know I am tense and feel agitated but I have to really think through, what is coming up and what has happened recently before I can figure out what is causing it. If I didn’t know I had alexithymia I wouldn’t know that sometimes I need to work that through, and instead I would latch on to whatever is happening in that moment and blame that – the house is cluttered – it must be that. Then go into a big cleaning spree which doesn’t actually alleviate my stress because it wasn’t that causing my feelings to begin with.

It also helps you better understand others, such as your kids or partner, if you know they have alexithymia. Sometimes they will be dysregulated and won’t know why, because they haven’t been able to do that process of figuring out just what they are feeling and what is behind it.

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