When I say I am neurodivergent I mean my brain doesn't work like most people's. And I am not talking about small-difference variety, I'm talking the kind of difference where people express shock, dismay, or even disbelief when I tell them things about the way my brain works. There are a lot of pieces to this. I have ADHD, CAPD, prosopagnosia, aphantasia, profound memory issues, social anxiety, intermittent depression, sensory sensitivity, and very mild dyslexia.
My ADHD manifests primarily as what they call 'inattentive type' but if you have ever been the subject of my interest you know I don't lack for attentiveness. I think a better name for ADD would be ACD, attention control disorder. Because I and most of the other ADD people I know have basically 2 settings: completely focused and completely scattered. Without medication, it can be impossible to decide which one is going to happen, but with medication, some of us can use hyperfocus to great effect.
Before I was medicated, I used panic to turn on hyperfocus, but eventually I used that 'last resort' so much that I burned it out. I had a 4.0 over 4 years but if I hadn't gotten medication I would have flunked out in my last year, because I simply couldn't control my attention enough to realize when stuff was due, to plan for time to do it, or to actually start when I sat down to do so. how I cope with my ADD-PI (other than meds): supplements, caffeine, music, water, book, food, sleep.
Nowadays I am medicated and I can start stuff when I need to, but context-switching is still so difficult for me that I will hold my pee for hours and hours rather than interrupt what I am doing, even if what I am doing is completely unimportant. If there isn't some external factor, I almost cannot change gears, even when medicated. This is why I use external factors like plans with other people to help me do what I want to do when I want to do it. I don't know if I would ever manage to go out on my off days otherwise, because the context switch between "at home" and "out" is so intense. I often think about where else I could go when I am on my way home even though I don't actually want to be "out" I just want to put off the context switch.
A majorly noticeable effect my ADHD has on me is in speech. Audible speech takes lots of effort to make, and this is very apparent when I am tired and/or my meds have worn off or I am out of meds. I will get so frustrated just trying to make a simple 5 word sentence come out, and if I am interrupted it throws me so far off track I don't even want to bother trying to get back on and say the thing. I'd really rather not communicate with sound at all most days, which is part of why I need a lot of alone time because most people want you to talk and listen to them when they're around.
Another major effect of my ADHD is distractability. I am very distracted in conversations by rhetorical questions which I take literally and only realize after answering them that no one wanted an answer. I'm very distracted by anything that is readable, and can easily lose hours and hours and hours on the internet just reading whatever comes up. I'm very distracted by videos and I dislike the sensation of my brain being suction-cupped to a video so I generally don't watch them.
Listening brings us to CAPD, central auditory processing disorder. I can't process sound like most people. CAPD tends to go hand in hand with ADHD, and I think that they both have to do with the brain lacking the ability to partially block out stimulus. I can block out all sound while walking down the street, for instance, and I do in order to be able to think. But if I do that I can't hear people calling my name unless they are loud and do it several times.
I literally can't figure out what someone is saying if someone else is talking or lyrics are playing at a similar volume. And I rely so heavily on context that when someone says something to me outside of a conversation, it almost always sounds like complete nonsense. How I hear with CAPD: everything is mondegreens and listening to words is constant translation work.
Prosopagnosia is an impairment of the ability to recognize faces no matter how familiar they are. stimming and prosopagnosia (difficulty recognising faces). I was married to a person for 8 years after knowing them for 8 years previous to that and even during the last year of our marriage, if I saw them out of context it would take a moment for me to recognize them: at first I would think they were a stranger. There is no level of familiarity that allows me to recognize a face without effort. BUT seeing photos and especially videos of people does help me, perhaps because my 2D vision is stored in a different place, not sure. Prosopagnosia and my memory as it relates to taking photos and believing in love.
Aphantasia is the inability to create mental pictures. I only recently learned that other people can actually picture things in their head and I had much the same shocked and cheated feeling that Blake Ross describes. If I try to visualize a beach, for instance, the only thing that I manage is to mentally flip through photos I have taken at a beach -- and I can't see those clearly either, it's more like an emotional impression.
I cannot create a scene in my head. When I try, it's like everything is constantly warping size and angle, like a live-action surrealist painting but not in a fun way. I can't bring people's faces to mind, though I can bring up blurry impressions of certain features if I have looked at those features a lot. This is tied to my lack of memory, I think, because when I do take photos and thus temporarily flatten my perspective, I can remember things at least 4 times as well, if not better. Weirdly though, I experience my dreams more visually memorably than my waking life; they stick like my waking memories only do if I photograph or video them and then view the photo or video.
My memory is profoundly messed up. I can't recall things unless I have a visible memory tag like a photo or a written entry, and often I can't remember even then. I find this extremely upsetting, particularly when I have a profound experience that I fail to photograph or write about and it is then lost forever. Usually I realize this has happened when someone else refers happily to the memory, and then I can recall just enough to know that the memory is missing. What is more scary but less painful is when I literally have no memory at all of an event to the point where they could be talking about something that happened to someone else.
This is part of the reason I absolutely must only invest in people who loathe lies, because I can't tell if someone is lying to me about my own life. I usually will get a feeling that says yes or no, but the only thing I can know for sure is when I have a strong negative reaction. I will remember that if someone tells me the series of events. I wish it worked for positive events but it doesn't. It doesn't work for all negative events either.
I cry a lot about memory. I feel an intense loss of self due to my memory. If I ever forget something important to you, please know it is not by choice or carelessness. Remembering is important to me but I have very little power over what I can remember.
As to why my memory is fracked all to shit, I would guess that it is due to childhood trauma creating an automatic program of forgetting, plus an overload of stress for years on end and inadequate choline for the first four years of being vegetarian (PLEASE DON'T GO VEGETARIAN WITHOUT SUPPLEMENTATION).
I'm hoping that reduced stress and adequate food will eventually have a positive effect, but if they make the dementia ultrasound therapy somehow available to me I will do it so fast. (there are 2 kinds of dementia and one is caused by plaque on the brain which can be removed via ultrasound. I know what I have isn't dementia but I'm convinced it is caused by many of the same things).
I have social anxiety, which manifests mostly physically. I get sweaty and heart-poundy over talking in front of people, despite never being afraid to do it. As a kid, I always wanted the main role in every play and performance I was in, and I daydreamed about talking to huge auditoriums full of people. I like when people pay attention to me and I am not the least bit shy or worried that I will not perform well. It is so frustrating and it feels like a betrayal, because I am not nervous. But my body worries (probably thanks to a ridiculously constant flood of cortisol in my brain for 6 years).
In unstructured social events I also tend to get overwhelmed with how much I don't belong and then I get sad and then it all spirals with body worries into the worst experience. This stuff started only a few years ago and it doesn't feel like me at all and I very much hope it will eventually go away. Right now I am medicated for it and when I have my meds, it is manageable. When I don't, I can get stuck in a panic worry that I can't logic myself out of and sometimes can't even distract myself from.
[intermittent depression, seasonal affective depression]
I have intermittent depression -- sometimes it is deathly awful and other times it is mild. Depression for me manifests as an inability to motivate for anything but escape and absolute necessities. It has gone into remission twice and I really hope it will again. Right now it is fairly mild as long as I stay careful. I have SAD, seasonal affective depression, and the dark season can crush my spirit. I have to make sure to go outside EVERY day even if it is only a walk to the car to go through a fastfood drive through. A day that is 100% indoors is very bad for me in the dark season but also cold makes me want to stay inside and hibernate. A bad combination!
Sensory sensitivity is what I call my sensory issues. Similar to how children get overwhelmed by loud noises or can't stand how shoes feel or cry when you wash their hands, I feel extreme reactions to sensations that a lot of people wouldn't notice or would enjoy. I'm hypersensitive physically & energetically: takes work & time for me to enjoy touch. I sometimes hate my breasts because my nipples are at exactly the worst spot for brushing up against things and that feels SO infuriating, like nails on a chalkboard but worse because it lingers and there is no way to block out the feeling. Like nails on a chalkboard that creates an itch on your nose that you can't scratch.
I get really incredibly frustrated when I am pushed or bumped into: it makes me want to scream and punch, even more so when it is happening accidentally like when someone presses hard on the brakes and it pushes me forward. When I write this stuff down it sounds like nothing but it stops me from cuddling as much as I want to because it is so easy for it to juat feel awful.
I say I have very mild dyslexia because I transpose numbers in any series unless I am extremely careful, and I transpose letters in any unfamiliar word. I also find acronyms extremely difficult, and I can't spell out loud because unless I can look at the word I don't know what goes where. Fortunately I have a massive vocabulary and was trained on greek and latin roots so I rarely come across a truly unfamiliar word. Mostly this affects me in that it increases my cognitive load by a huge amount when I'm reading long blocks of text that are not broken into paragraphs, which is why I ask that if people are willing, they give more spaces between paragraphs.