Just coping

In the research into emotional regulation associated with this condition — extremely limited though it is — studies identify an increased tendency for passive coping amongst men with that extra chromosome.

By passive coping, they mean behaviour such as isolating oneself from others, worrying about the past, taking refuge in fantasies, avoiding social interactions and engaging in self-blame.

Other strategies include the expression of emotions, resulting in emotional outbursts or explosions of anger; avoidance, meaning denying, minimising or avoiding dealing directly with causes of stress; and seeking distraction to deescalate heightened stress.

I am sure some longterm readers of my blog had already identified many of these traits in me, long before I opened up about life with this condition. Indeed, my blog could serve as a treasure-trove for the clinician concerned with studying its psychological impact.

Isolating myself? Check. I’ve worked from home for a decade, after all. If I socialise, it’s with a small circle of friends, and most likely one-to-one. Worrying about the past? Check. I dwell on the past an awful lot, it’s true. Taking refuge in fantasies? The elephant in the room perhaps. I wrote my first novel at nineteen in an effort to overcome my morass, giving birth to a lifetime of writing.

The reality is that prior to the past year, when I began mining research papers to better understand the effect of this condition on me, prompted by a conversation with a friend, I hadn’t really linked this disorder to my life experience at all. Many of the posts I have penned over the past fifteen years I would have to reinterpret today in light of my increased understanding of self.

In truth, I imbibed everyone else’s narrative about my life to such an extent that I wasn’t able to link this disorder to my experiences at all. As family we were too busy dealing with the impact of my journey of faith to explore the emotional distress I carried with me as a result of growing up with the condition. Actually, I’ve never discussed this diagnosis with my wider family.

The same applies to my sudden and rushed marriage, once opposed. That too was framed as religious fanaticism, and not as a troubled young man seeking a soulmate and life-partner. As for my search for employment: it seems many with this chromosome disorder struggle with poor educational attainment and low socioeconomic status as a consequence.

Although the worst effects of this condition are behind me — marriage really was my redemption — I continue to struggle with aspects of emotional regulation. I still avoid social gatherings, unless in the company of trusted friends. I still fail at idle chit-chat, falling back either to silence or to reprise my role as jester.

I still consider it a burden to carry. My mind frequently feels numb. My intellect feels stunted. I often feel empty. I wish this wasn’t what I am, or what I had been assigned — although I accept it as my qadar and rizq. I wish I could overcome it. As it is, I’m just coping. Just about, anyway.

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