Have you ever sat back and thought "Wow! If they (insert name here) actually could see the mess inside of my brain...I feel so crazy most days and I can't keep focused. I am so scatterbrained. I totally forget to get back to them, and when I do it usually isn't for days, unless they happen to catch me at just the right moment. I am such a lazy mess. Why do they even want to be associated with me?"
These are, and I admit this very rarely, the inner monologue that runs through my brain far too often.
Up until recently, ADHD has been associated with the child who can't sit still. Can't focus. Is always a disruption. And even as I look more into the traits in adult women I think, is this really me? I don't think I am a total mess. I am always the one who knows where things are, and I don't have issues focusing on what are often tedious tasks. I don't think I have all the symptoms listed on the mental heath websites...or do I?
Then I learned about neurodiversity in regards to ADHD and how most women mask traits in order to function in the day to day world.
(Dammit, as I look up facts for this blog, I prove my point. I am jumping from one topic to the next, stopping to check FB as my notifications I forgot to turn off distract me, and am grinding my teeth as my anxiety comes forth, thinking about why I even am bothering to write this in the first place.... cause it the same thing you all have heard, and probably groaned over thinking "they are just bitching and finding excuses for being lazy or ignoring me" all the while I hear every single noise in the house, which totally distracts me from the task at hand. Yet I know if I just put on a TV show I have watched a thousand times, I should be able to focus, as I focus MUCH better when I am multi-tasking. Oh, crap, I totally forgot to call _____ back and send off the email....I need a glass of wine.............yes, this is my brain...and I know I forgot something else today too, as I am sure my list didn't have everything on it....FAK!)
Reigning this back in, let's first ask, what is neurodivergence? The term first used in 1997 now encompasses ranges of behaviors "not of the social norm" as a result of conditions such as ADHD, Autism, Tourette's Syndrome and the like. Examples of such are :
Social communication difficulties, such as trouble making eye contact while talking or not reading body language
Speech and language challenges, such as stuttering and repetition
Learning challenges that may be related to difficulties with focus, reading, calculation, ability to follow spoken language, and/or problems with executive functioning (important skills, including working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control)
Unusual responses to sensory input (sensitivity or unusual insensitivity to light, sound, heat, cold, pressure, crowds, and other stimuli)
Unusual physical behaviors, such as rocking, expressing tics, blurting things out, and shouting at unexpected times
Inflexibility (inability to adapt or to change interests based on age or situation)*
(* courtesy of What Does Neurodivergent Mean)
Of course this is just a basic list. The realities are far more complex, but I hope you get the idea. But...I also mentioned masking...what it THAT???
Masking is our camouflage. It is the way we, especially women, hide our non-socially acceptable behaviors in order to blend in, be accepted, keep a job, etc.
Although masking has allowed those of us "weirdos" to sneak by mostly undetected in a world full of judgement, it is linked various detrimental effects such as:
Extreme exhaustion (mentally, physically, and emotionally) and anxiety
Anxiety, depression, loss of identity, lack of self-worth
Suicidal thoughts and behavior
Increasing a delay in diagnosis and barriers to support
It wasn’t until I stepped back from the societal day to day (not by my own choice) and allowed myself to indulge in quiet, as well as learning skills regression (yes this is a TikTok link, but if you can sift through the junk, there is admittedly some great resources) that is a big part of unmasking, that I realised how many of my behaviors were masking behaviors. Evaluating who I am alone, or with those closest to me, vs the rest of society, and taking a hard look at my behaviors, especially when dealing with my anxiety, did I have that proverbial epiphany moment...Hellooooooo 200 watt bulb!
What does it all mean? Well here goes...I am not crazy. I AM WEIRD and now totally embrace it, just like when I was a little kid and didn't know any different. My 6 year old self would be so proud of me, as she would be standing there in her black satin cloak all trimmed with blue sequins and little witches hat (which I wore religiously along with my mom's old dance costumes). It also means that there are more of us unmasking and understanding why our brains function differently.
Would I change it for the world? Hell No! The little things that and "normal" person would find annoying allow me, as a witch, and medium, to do what I do so much better. I see so much more. I feel so much more. And yes it gets me down on occasion and my constantly overthinking brain looks at every scenario possible every minute of the day. But when it come to looking at knowledge well researched from a million different perspectives, I have it covered! Yes, this is why I always have a million rabbit holes and no two classes are evet the same.
So...this is me, not all wrapped up in a tidy little bow, but black with blue sequins, slightly battered by life, but always getting up and starting again, ready to take on an challenge life throws at me, as my pretty little brain will always find a way through.
Blessed be my pretties!