Empathy – Part 1

The last week has been torturous for me. After coming so far with fighting depression and trying to lead a happier stable life, I have found myself falling behind. It’s odd because I can now read myself a lot easier and can see the tell tale signs of depression trying to get in the way. I now know the reason I have been feeling like a complete mess and it’s down to a side effect of a pill I take. So I will be making changes now rather than shy away from seeing my doctor I will get to the bottom of it.

I used to find that in these dark depressive times my creative buzz but, lately it’s been the opposite. Today’s post is based on the subject of Empathy which pops up a lot when discussing Autism. Many believe that people with Autism are unable to feel empathy at all. I personally have found that we are all so different within the spectrum. Some of us can empathise with people and some really are unable to.

I have never really been open with people about empathy and how it bothers me. It was only the other day whilst in deep conversation with a close friend that I told her how I actually struggle with empathy and always have. So today I will be very open with you all and talk you through my experiences with empathy and how it effects me.

When I was a toddler I was obsessed with animals. I always wanted to be a vet just so I could be around them all the time. I remember feeling genuine heartache over a dying animal on the TV, but when it was a human I just couldn’t feel anything. I didn’t even realise it wasn’t classed as not normal until my teenage years.

It was only when I reached junior and secondary school I really picked up the ‘rules’ and what was acceptable and what was not. I never really cared about anyone around me, only my dog which sounds selfish but as many know Aspies can be very self centred. I remember hearing about friends relatives passing away and not feeling a thing. I would sit and comfort them but never really felt any different.

It was in secondary school when I really had to pretend. I had friends cry to me with their problems and I still couldn’t empathise. If a friend was upset and felt really low I couldn’t feel that way. I was still bouncy and hyper on the inside. If anything I felt annoyed that I had to pretend to understand or care as it is very draining wearing a mask all the time. Now, this all sounds very harsh but this is the harsh reality of how Aspies can be. Even after hearing my grandfather had passed away and seeing my own mother in tears everyday was hard for me. I would hug her and tell her I was there for her but I couldn’t feel upset or sad. Within hours I would be my normal loud self, repeatedly belting out some echolalia whilst my mother was still feeling sad.

On the TV you see a child go missing…. I am unable to think of that family or the poor child but, if it’s a missing dog, I find myself feeling very sad and wanting to find that dog. OneΒ thing I do find myself empathising with is poverty and disability. It’s always made me very sad to see people suffer this way.Β It’s very hard to explain to people without Autism that I struggle to care sometimes. Over the years of pretending I noticed a lot of my depression is from acting over the years. Trying so hard to be normal and accepted.

Just because I find it hard to empathise with people it does not mean I do not care about those close to me. If anything over the years I have found myself opening up to those I feel accept me as I am and genuinely caring about them and their life. It’s been tough trying to explain to some people the empathy issue as many don’t take too well to it, hearing it’s something I lack. I mean is it ‘normal’ to care more about an animal than a human?

This post is very to the point, just how I intend it to be. Just because I lack empathy in ways does not mean every Aspie does. We are all different even though we have similarities in other ways. I will probably do a second part to this post as there is quite a lot of stuff I haven’t covered yet but I will get round to it eventually! If there is anything you would like to ask, please feel free to comment below.

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14 thoughts on “Empathy – Part 1

  1. Nice post. I enjoy reading these because it helps me discover things about myself as well. It really does. At the age of 15, my first true love (I’m just talking about first kiss kind of love), got leukemia. For a year, she withered away like a dying flower. She was strong. She fought. Every weekend, I looked forward to seeing her and hanging out with her. After school, I wanted to go see my dark haired Angel that was sent to me on this Earth. Then, she was gone. It was not right seeing something so beautiful get destroyed the way it did. But, hey, that’s life, I thought. I became introverted. I became depressed. Didn’t care for people, much less anything. High school started, and I guess I just swept the whole issue underneath the rug. For a while, all I did was think about her. She was everywhere. I’d catch glimpses of her face. The smell of her hair. Her giggle. Her parents would even let me go to her room every now and then and just sit. Absorb whatever “light” she left behind. Then one night, I had a dream. We were riding a roller coaster and she grabbed my hand and smiled and kissed me one last time. That’s when I finally realized she was ok. I let her go. Not forgetting her, by no means, but by finding peace of mind. High School passed by. Everything seemed to be fine. Life was good. I go to college, meet the girl of my dreams, married her after six years of dating, dedicate my entire twenties to her, all to find out that she was having an affair. Before and after we were married. We seperate. Divorce. It’s like everything came crashing down. All at once. I felt like there was no way out. What do I do? I’ve tried controlling my life for so long, I thought an answer had to be somewhere. It was not until I sat still, a bright sun warming my face, did my answers come to me. My soul started awakening. It had been in a box for twelve years. I had let other people change me into what they wanted me to be instead of me just being me. It took time. It did. To re establish my own identity after so many years. But my transformation did not happen until I went to the beach before sunset, I put on my sunglasses, I faced the sun, and just sat still. And listened. To the world. To my soul. To that little stir you get every now and then. The light started chasing out the dark. I felt free. Full of energy. Full of life. My heart started beating like it should. Answers to all my questions started popping in my head. I called my friend Robb, my drummer, and he honestly saved my life. He knows this. He saved my life with music. It has been my destiny all along. It has. But I ignored her. And because I did, she came back and tickled my ear, with one stipulation. I would have to sacrifice finding true love in order to produce music that some people crave. So I accepted my path and just took off from there.
    Your soul. The light. Being around positive people. Smiling. These things help. They really do. I hope everything balances out in your life. I send prayers and positive thoughts your way. On a personal note, I’m glad to have met you (online only haha) in this lifetime. Keep your head up. Stay positive. Never, ever give up. Get a good support system. And smile. If not for the world to see, at least for yourself. Because like I tell most people, “you need to smile. That face is too pretty not to be wearing one”.
    I look forward to your next post.
    Thank you so much for including me in this journey.
    Much love.
    One love.

    1. Hey Vernon,

      Always refreshing to see the light in your words. I feel very privileged to hear your story and I honestly have never met anyone so peaceful!

      I believe that everything happens in life for whatever reason, it’s meant to happen. Whether it’s saving someone from something worse in the future or bringing good people together etc..

      I can’t even begin to imagine how much this has impacted your life now. I never have been able to understand affairs and why people live a lie and cause more heartache on their partner but maybe it’s what you needed to see the light and be 100% yourself…

      The beach is also my favourite place in the world. There is nothing more natural than all your senses relaxing and feeling every vibration.

      I am so happy that you have now found yourself. Sometimes we have to go through real dark times to see the light.

      Always here if you need me πŸ™‚ You have my email so whenever you need a friend I am here πŸ™‚

      Peace & Light my friend..

  2. “Just because I find it hard to empathise with people it does not mean I do not care about those close to me.”

    So true. People tend to equate empathy with caring, but it is possible to have one without the other. You can care very deeply about someone without always feeling what they are feeling.

    I know what you mean about feeling strong empathy for animals. Whenever I’d see a battle scene in a movie and a horse and soldier would get injured, I’d always feel so much worse for the horse! I do consider myself fairly empathic when it’s something I can relate to, but I always feel more strongly for children and the elderly and other people who are vulnerable in some way.

    Hope things start looking up and I want to thank you again for the award!

    1. That’s it! I genuinely care for people that have constantly given me love and support and in return I naturally give it back with care. I’m just unable to feel sad when others feel sad around me, but that doesn’t mean I won’t comfort them even if I can’t understand.

      Haha that’s the same for me! I would cry or panic over the horse laying there helpless.

      Yes that’s what I find odd with me, I feel empathy towards those who really suffer in the world but other than that it’s mainly animals or those closest to me.

      You are very welcome! πŸ˜€

  3. You raise interesting points. You have deep empathy of a different kind, and it is beautiful and meaningful not wrong or bad. I struggle to have empathy with people that I know sometimes but deeply understand those I hear about from far away. Strange, isn’t it?

    1. Hey Anna πŸ™‚

      I can totally understand that! Yes it may be strange to some but I definitely understand πŸ™‚ I also saw your post on Facebook about how far you have come with the help and support of family. You really are a special lady with many talents and a big heart! That’s why they love you no matter what and WANT to support you girl πŸ˜€

      Love always x

  4. Oh Maria, I’m so sorry that you have had such a tough week and I do hope that you can get things sorted out with the medication. It is so good that you can recognise the signs now and that you are able to get the proper help, hopefully.

    Again, and I know I sound like a broken record, you and my daughter could be twins. This post, and your honesty and openess is not to be taken for granted here, you are such a brave and open young woman and you are helping many others in this way, don’t forget that, describes so well this sticky issue of empathy, or lack or, in Aspies. My daughter got in trouble at school many times because she didn’t react the correct way in class when something sad or shocking happened to someone else. This made her retreat even more.

    I look forward to reading more but take care of yourself first!
    Much love to you lovely one… πŸ™‚ xxx

    1. I am feeling a lot better today (lets hope it stays this way). It’s very strange how aware I am now of myself, maybe it’s the depression wearing off lol 😦

      Thank you Sherri! Get your daughter involved in the blogging world! She will love it?! It could help her out interacting online with others dealing with Aspergers?

      Ahh I can imagine that being very tough for her! School isn’t always the best place for an Aspie to be sometimes 😦 You really can’t win in this world, people slate normality and try to be unique but, when they see someone that’s different or unique they don’t know how to handle them? So strange lol!

      Thanking you and I will try very hard! I am sure with all of the support from you guys and those in my life I can take good care of myself *touch wood* lol!

      Love always! xxx

      P.S So happy to see your Facebook page! x

      1. So glad you feel better and thank so much for all you share here. We are all here for you , always dear Maria πŸ™‚
        Yes, thanks so much for being my first ever Facebook page follower! I did a little ‘woop’ when I saw your like come up! I’ve been wanting to get one up for ages and I finally did it, yay!!!
        Have a lovely day, be in touch soon… πŸ™‚ xxxxxxx

  5. i have gone through the same thing you have. Still do. My wife died with cancer in my arms due to a legal euthanasia. I cleaned her body and prepared it for burial, then went to sleep. Slept well. To me this is an advantage not a disadvantage. I’d never hurt anyone, never did willingly knowingly, and rationally i can understand other people suffering and act accordingly. But i won’t suffer for them.

    I fail to see what is bad about that.

    1. Having never been in a situation like yours I can’t say how I would act and there is definitely nothing bad about that.

      You’re right, you have to do what makes you feel comfortable and living a lie would be suffering for them..

      Thank you for being so open, and I genuinely can’t even imagine how that could feel having your wife die in your arms…How do you cope now?

      1. Fine. I had several relations since and now in a more stable one. Point is, Empathy is a NT thing, their thing. Easily replaced with ratio. It’s not the golden standard of all that is good. Every mammal and many other species have empathy. If you don’t have well functioning ratio you need it. If you do have a good working ratio empathy is irrelevant.

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