October 25th, 2015


how I manage my neuro-atypicality in relation to others

icon: "ADD-PI (two electromicroscope photos of crystallized acetylcholine, overlaid & warped in several ways)"

I've been thinking about this for a while and today I had a breakdown that brought it very sharply to mind. I'm worried that I won't be able to express this in a way that makes sense and is clear but I'm gonna try. Please read with the understanding that I may phrase things badly and need questions so that I can clarify.

As a person who has dealt with severe memory issues and attention issues and depression, I know that I am not reliable. I can be draining. I can get stuck in an old trauma and pull others in. I can get blamey. I can't help these things. They're part of my brain. But I can try to temper the effects.

There are a number of ways I do this. Number one is using whatever support resources I have. When I have access to the right medication, I take it. This isn't just for me, but to allow myself to be fully present and at my most capable to deal with my own volatile emotions so that I don't hurt others. If I had a therapist who actually matched me (asked me meaningful questions and prodded me to greater self-understanding, while not applying false rubrics to my life), I would also be in therapy.

A close second is practicing self-awareness as much as possible.  I want to be able to tell people what I want and need, so that they can decide if that is something they are willing and able to give; if I am not self-aware, I am literally incapable of doing that. I also want to be able to talk myself down if that is possible - note my feelings and check where they are coming from. Many times this is all I need to do to resolve a feeling. One aspect of self-awareness is when I have an emotional breakdown (like I did today) I analyse where the feelings are coming from and don't apply them to the wrong person. I will often explain why I'm feeling these things to the person who has sparked the feelings, and if I have no issue with their behavior I will assure them that I do not think they did anything wrong.

A backup for self-awareness that I use is willingness to be checked by the people I trust to know, respect, and love me. In practice this is mostly just Topaz, but there are many others who have known me for a long time who I would also value checking me. If they notice that I am going down a path that seems bad for me, or they feel like I am overreacting to something, or that in any other way I am lacking awareness of myself or my behavior in a potentially damaging way, they have my permission and encouragement to call me on it. My ability to notice things is vastly increased by adding more observers.

Last is self-care. This is vital. I know that all of my worst issues are exacerbated when I am not practicing enough self-care, so I do. I spend at least one evening per week alone (usually a day: I know this is a huge privilege). I have on my daily goals list to read, write, share openly with someone, take a photo or make visual art, connect with my body through movement and/or connect with nature, and sing aloud and/or do a spiritual practice. I have weekly goals of cleaning, crafting, accomplishing something scary, spending time with 2 or more friends, and a few other things. I don't ever manage to do all of these, but keeping them in mind as a goal means that I do far better than I otherwise would.

I need these practices in people close to me. I can handle people blowing up as long as they are willing to be told "I think you're blowing this out of proportion" or "please go take some time and calm down before talking to me about this." I can handle people taking my words in a way I didn't mean and getting very upset at me as long as when I say no, that isn't what I meant, they take it in and choose to believe me.

I can handle people making choices for their own life that disappoint or disturb me as long as I am not expected to react any way other than honestly. I can handle people crying and wilding out around me if they explain to me what is happening and don't blame me for their reactions. I can handle people sometimes treating me badly as long as when I point it out and ask for change, they check within themselves and do their best to make that change to keep from hurting me again.

And it's so important that I be able to get very upset or sad without the person taking it personally, because only then can I feel safe sharing all my feelings with them. These needs I have from others are also very important practices of mine, so that I can offer a balance.