For as long as I can remember, I’ve always felt empty and vacant. It’s not that empty feeling one gets when they feel like they lost all purpose in life. It’s almost like being numb in the mind. I am not sad or depressed. Depersonalisation happens to people who suffer from an anxiety disorder. I don’t think that’s my case, however I have never been tested for it.
People have been telling me that I come off as emotionless. I find that weird because I am not the quiet type, I have a strong need to be the center of attention. Regardless of me having or not having emotions, there shouldn’t’ be any outside indicators that I don’t, but then people might see that as an act.
I have emotions. One strong emotion I do experience is when I am not fully in control (not being the center of attention, not being the loudest). I’;ve had this feeling maybe 5 times in my lifetime so far and it’;s probably the strongest emotion I have ever felt. The closest I could compare it to is being choked.
I tend to develop a strong disgust and hatred for people that seem inferior. This makes me sounds insecure, but it’s mostly people that I really don’t envy. When I try to ignore this hatred and disgust, I see clearly for a moment, but it comes back. I don’t make it known that I hate these people, but when I have a chance to make their lives worse, I take it.
There might be the obvious question if I have been abused or have experienced any traumatic events as a child, but I haven’t. I used to get in trouble a lot when I was younger, the teachers complained about me making the environment toxic and being manipulative. I always had a natural disgust for fat kids and the “slower” kids. I’ve always been the top of my class regarding grades, but being sent to the principal’s office was a regular thing.
Is this autism? Autistic people tend to be good at logical puzzles. Despite having good grades, I don’t think being a logical planner or a problem solver is something I would present myself with.
I never gave it too much thought really, I always thought that it was normal.
A. It is impossible to provide a diagnosis over the internet. Certainly, there are many things about yourself not included in this letter. That significantly limits my ability to determine a diagnosis. Thus, my response will be less specific that you might prefer it to be.
Let’s begin with the first element of your question, which involves your lacking purpose in life. You stated that you’re not sad or depressed but lacking a life’s purpose is, in the view of many clinicians, the foundational basis for depression. Alternately, because you are still so young, perhaps you haven’t yet determined what makes you happy or gives you purpose. Most people in their 20s have yet to determine their life’s purpose and that is normal. Clarity about one’s life purpose often comes with time and maturity.
You mentioned depersonalization. That is defined as feeling disconnected or detached from one’s mind or body. That’s different than lacking a purpose. That symptom is not necessarily common with anxiety disorders; it’s more characteristic of depression. It is, however, a common side effect of people who use certain drugs, particularly marijuana.
You wrote that people often perceive you as emotionless. It’s possible that they’re wrong in their characterization of you. It could also be that they are detecting your lack of interest in them. Since you prefer to be the center attention, could it be that when you are not, you lose interest and appear bored? Perhaps that is what they are detecting.
It may also be that you’re not good at sharing your emotions. If you’re overly self-focused, then you might be less interested in the experience of others and thus appear uninterested and emotionless. Without more information, it is difficult to know what may be happening.
You wrote that you have a strong disdain for people whom you perceive as inferior. It would logically follow that if you consider certain people inferior, then you must consider yourself to be superior. Furthermore, when presented with the opportunity to “make their lives worse,” you take it. I interpreted that to mean you are choosing to harm them. That’s like choosing evil over goodness. You can make a different choice. Those are not admirable traits and they will certainly negatively affect the quality of your relationships. Many people won’t tolerate abuse and will choose not to have relationships with you. They are also not traits associated with autism.
In fact, nothing that you have written would suggest a diagnosis of autism, but only an in-person evaluation could make that determination.
You could consult a therapist to ask about autism. I would also recommend counseling to examine why you feel superior to others and why you are inclined to bring misery to the lives of certain people instead of helping them. Whenever possible, kindness and love should prevail. One good rule to follow is the “Golden Rule” — “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In other words, treat others how you would want to be treated. Thanks for your question.
Dr. Kristina Randle