Bipolar Disorder Community
Trouble Expressing Emotions?
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Bipolar Disorder is also known as "Manic Depressive Disorder". This forum is for questions and support for people with, or for loved ones of people with Bipolar Disorder. The forum covers topics ranging from Aggressive Behavior, Affect on friends and Family, Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Appetite Changes, Chronic Pain, Denial, Depression, Difficulty Concentrating, Euphoria, Guilt, Manic Depression, Medications, Mood Swings, Poor Judgment, and Sleep Disorders

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Trouble Expressing Emotions?

I posted this here because I knew I'd get more answers than in the schizophrenia forum where there are not that many people so far. I know I have schizoaffective but some people have bipolar with psychotic features so that's similar. It still is hard for me to give direct emotional support. It always was but since recovery its better but not quite that good. I care about people but can express it best in a practical way. If someone needs emotional support I will come up with a list of practical ideas and it usually works out. But I was always that way. If I got technical I'd say it was the "negative symptoms of schizoaffective" but is it part of bipolar as well? Or just a coping strategy that's healthy. If something is wrong in someone's list I'll try to narrow it down to some easy practical coping strategies and solutions. And perhaps that's a good solution but its very hard for me to be emotional and I try to avoid unncessary emotions. I find it works for me. But is this normal? And do other people experience it or know someone who does?
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Avatar_f_tn
Hmmm, I'm pretty logical in my approach when asked for advice from friends.  Alas not everyone is the same. I'm practical like you, but some folks, can think of it as being disassociative or just cold. I"m not very good at the huggy," it'll be better approach". I just took it as being my upbringing of having two very cold, emotionally distant parents. Though, I am a darned good friend, I'm going through that right now with a friend who can see the trees through the forest. (or the other way around) I've listened to what she's said, acknowledged her pain, but when I went down the list of things and logical solutions, she said I wasn't understanding her, but I did! I only want to help, but it's not taken that way, but sorta bossy.

Does that make sense, that I understand your thinking?
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607502_tn?1288251140
I have trouble expressing emotions as well, I cannot cry no matter how much I want to and I tend to put up the wall whenever im faced with emotion - if my wife is crying I cannot take it.  I am emotionless a lot of the time however I seem to have no problem with anger right now.

Im not always the best counsellor face to face, I guess I lack some patience of something.
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Avatar_f_tn
There are times that I am emotionally numb, but I generally think of that as an unhealthy state. It usually means bad things are happening in my mind. I have trouble expressing my own emotions appropriately sometimes. That is to say that sometimes I use words I shouldn't, scream, etc. However, I tend to express my emotions some way, subtle or exaggerated a lot of the time. I hide them or at least try to hide them when I am in a situation where it would make other people comfortable. That is not to say I haven't had completely public meltdowns of one kind or another, but I make a helluva try not to do that. monkeyc mentions crying - I sometimes go for months without being able to cry. When depression is at its worst, I usually can't cry. Lately, I have been having various difficulties and have cried daily. In mixed states, I will cry a lot and over anything. No trouble expressing that something is wrong, but again, I may not express the feelings appropriately or even be able to identify what they are.

I try to be patient and supportive, especially with family but also with acquaintances. I'll hug or touch someone's arm, etc. if they need it and are the type who would welcome it. It took a long time to become more physically affectionate with people, but I am better now than I used to be. My mom was not cuddly with me, but she did go one to become that way with my sister. I think it ended up being a positive thing for all of us. I no longer flinch when someone I know initiates physical contact, but there was a time that I would literally step back from it. I still have big, big issues with personal space. I really detest having strangers get close to me or touch me. That is part of why crowded places cause so much anxiety.

I have read that the more analytical approach to problem-solving is something that is very, very common in males. I have a few female acquaintances who do it, but I don't know why. They both control freaks, so I don't know if it's just their natural tendency to tell people what to do or a genuine desire to come up with a helpful solution. Personally, I rarely find it helpful. Most often, I am simply venting about something. If someone wants a solution, they will ask for it directly. And, some problems don't really have a solution. If I am upset about my grandparents' ill health, for example, there is nothing anyone can do - unless they can cure cancer, COPD and Alzheimer's. As far as I know, no one on the planet can do that. I think it's situational. Nine times out of ten, I will simply listen and nine times out of ten, I mostly want someone else to listen to me.

Any of that relevant?
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647754_tn?1270040511
I have trouble expressing emotions. I tend to put up a wall between me and other people esp. when I am facing people. Sometimes, I am emotionally numb. Most of the time when depression is at its worst I have a hard time letting it come out by crying. I just shut myself off from the world, which is what I did when I was a child.
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Avatar_f_tn
Lord Yes!!!  I have complaints from my "family" all of the time - especially my exhusband.  My kids - not so much - I can show that emotion and big time!  It's the others that I have a hard time with most of the time.  

Yes, I can be a good friend, but those don't require daily attention and interaction with a person's heartfelt emotional issues like a person you are involved with in a relationship.

I feel emotion, but don't express it for total strangers, but close ones to me - it's hard for me.  Like LCC, my parents were cold and distant, but I think it goes farther than that...

My therapist is trying to help me with it, but I have accepted that, most likely, I am going to be this way.  

I can say that the only time I have truly cried in the last 10+ years is when my best friend died from suicide.  I was un-consolable...  I cried a little when my father died, but not much.  I still cry at times for Darryl, but that's about it.

The only REAL emotion I can feel beyond friendship is for my boys - I love them to pieces and they know it every single day.  

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505907_tn?1258372940
  Well, this is not my problem at all. I am bundle of emotion. I do monitor how I express anxieties and despair as I come from a family full of hysterical women and I never wanted to add to the mix. I'm touchy feely, I'm afraid. I give compliments as I see them and often get sort of suspicious reactions! I cry at movies (probably not the same movies that most others would cry at) and I suffer for my children - their hurt feelings and disappointments.
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Avatar_f_tn
I do that for my children too.  They are really the only ones that get that emotion.  If I think they are hurting, I hurt all over.  

Basically, I don't think I am able to have a long term relationship that involves are non-friend based relationship (you know the day to day - emotional attachment - romantic) - I just don't know how to do it.

Now my boys ----that's another story - I eat them up!
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Avatar_f_tn
I have problems too
If my emotions are towards a partner at first i get very clingy and want to spend everyday with them i think about them all the time and be completely loved up with them i can be very romantic.
Then that feeling can just leave and i dont want them anymore, i dont want them touching me or kissing me they become a stranger to me that i have no interest in.
I have been like this with my boyfriend in the past and the love does come back and im just lucky that he understands and waits for these feelings or lack of to pass.
When it does pass im back to normal.
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585414_tn?1288944902
Well its strange. My girlfriend just stopped by. I was able to hug her and wish her happy holidays. And ask how she was (she's coping with some physical health issues, need not post). I didn't have any uncomfortability with that. But on the other hand, I could see a reaction of distress from her (although less and less over time as I explain it and have obtained some physical recovery) towards my advanced tardive dystonia. I seem like a person with Parkinson's and with the dystonic motions its hard for me not to stop talking as my jaw is always moving. I could see the fact that she was somewhat unnerved so I explained that "the way I talk is not how I think" and "I'm still mentally rational" but also emotionally "I know its hard for you to see this happen to me" but I was concerned for her. I wasn't upset about my physical disability. I live with it. But I don't think before my mental recovery I could have coped with it and certainly getting back on a mood stabilizer has strenghtened this and with it controlling my dystonic spasms as well that's the most important thing.
   I know I first started experiencing schizoaffective disorder by having auditory hallucinations ("hearing voices") at the age of 13. But when I look back I was not normal in certain behavior patterns before that as a child. But I couldn't explain why until recently. I certainly am not going to make a grandiose statement that the glycine has "cured" me but if I stated I am the closest to normal I've been in my life, my psychopharmocologist would not disagree. Its harder to see because I physically can't get out much. And I needed a mood stabilizer to tone down things. I know so many people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective find a time in the past and say "I wish I could go back to.." and its a certain year when their symptoms were in relative remmission. I was like that too before (for me the year was 1996, Lithium is of course a highly effective mood stabilizer, I was on that then) but now I only look ahead. I enjoy what I had in the past but I don't feel my life stopped at a certain point.
   But working on emotional interactions was essential step. And perhaps I'm closer than I think. Thanks for everyone's responses as those are things I have experienced and still do at times and after all we are all human not just a collection of symptoms and have varied lives and our own coping issues and strategiess.
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627145_tn?1230309226
Sounds like we have the same parents, except mine are not from the West Coast (or did you move out there to get away from family?)  

Right now I'm going through separation from my husband of 22 years, and with him and our families I am very emotionless.  My mom tries to get all emotional with me, but she just can't do it convincingly, and my affect stays flat as I explain what I'm going through.  Everybody thinks the whole thing is tragic, but I'm a little excited about the thought of moving out and renting a room with another divorced woman and making changes.  They tell me I can't manage on my own and that I'm sick, but my psychiatrist says I just have depression, and most of it is situational.  For the first time in 22 years, I don't have to go with my husband to visit his family (as well as mine) at Christmas.  I feel free instead of sad.  I wish I didn't have to see my family, either!  
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Avatar_f_tn
I DIDN"T see my family!  It was wonderful to avoid the drama.  My family as in my siblings and mother.  I haven't talked to my Mom since my diagnosis and she left half of a message for me about "didn't realize she had my phone number"....?????? but it hung up during the message and she didn't call back.

Got an email from my sister this morning and wanted to know if I was ok.  I think they were relieved to not deal with my issues, too.  

My therapist told me that it's totally ok to not be close to my family if they contribute to my illness.  

As far as being able to take care of yourself - I think that's your decision.  I know financially it's hard, but emotionally, that's your decision.  I live alone with my youngest son and we do ok.  I have joint custody with my ex and it works out ok.  You are strong, whatever you decide will be right for you.

Rach
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720272_tn?1230483429
I just learned about myself that I don't talk about emotions becuase then people, in particular my family, will see the real me and that's scary to me. But I venturing out there and doing the thing that scares me.
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647754_tn?1270040511
I am glad to see I am not the only one with family problems
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585414_tn?1288944902
Well I could say for myself other family members (including in the extended family) learned it as well. It just look them longer to come to terms with it than I did. The important thing people have to remember is its highly unlikely if you have bipolar that you are the only person with it in the family and sometimes the family member who gets worked up and can't understand what you are going through is experiencing the moodswings typical of bipolar and over reacting emotionally for the same reasons you do and take medication for, although they are unaware of it and untreated. I would say cyclothymia runs throughout my family and some people had bipolar that was very strong but I was the first to realize it. Its not a given of course but sometimes if you have a family member that you get angry at and say "you have no idea what I'm going through" in their overinflated emotional reaction to you, are going through the exact same thing. My family can't be unique.
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