The Importance of Vocabulary & Open Dialogue

There are so many experiences we all have in our very first year that most of us have no memory. We have stories we heard from parents and caregivers and sometimes those stories feel almost like a memory. When it comes down to it and you really push your brain for anything that feels even remotely like a true memory, you realize you simply visualized someone else’s memory.

Part of the reason we don’t have those memories is because at the time we had that new experience we had no way to describe it, no way to understand anything more than what we had already learned in our introduction to the world. In order for those experiences to be carried into our memory we need to understand what it was that happened and in most cases we need words for that.

I remember bad dreams from when I was very young but that is because I had an understanding at that point what fear was to me. I did not want to be without the essentials I needed to live, I didn’t understand death but I did understand being hurt and being taken away and I understood what it was to be left and when the night terrors came, they were filled with all of my worst fears. I did not know that night terrors feel exceptionally real so there were times when I had thought what happened in my dream was real. Because of the religious upbringing and training I believed that it was more than possible to be stolen in the night by demons or the devil himself.

These beliefs were of course reinforced in an attempt, I suppose, to solidify my belief in their god. I had no reason to doubt the people who taught me these things as there were no other conflicting ideas or views. I had been given no reason at that point to distrust what I was told and so I believed.

Language, open dialogue and being able to hear multiple points of view can drastically change the way we see the world and how we experience the world. It’s not so surprising then when others believe something different from ourselves that we rush to judgement. We don’t understand how given the information available they could view things as they do and we are outraged. We judge these people and their views and beliefs harshly and in turn they do the same. We are of course simply reacting based on the information we have.

So, imagine that things went differently for me and I was never given any reasons to question what I had been trained to believe. Imagine that I was never exposed to other ideas or points of view. I am sure that as an adult I would cling even more tightly to my beliefs when they were finally called into question. I would defend them with all of my energy and I wouldn’t be wrong.

This is why open dialogue matters. This is why allowing children to question everything around them matters because without all of the information there is no choice to believe something different. There is no different option.

When that conditioning continues into adulthood, when we are shielded from opposing ideas, when there is no diversity in our learning and our environment by the time these things come along we not only reject anything that opposes our beliefs but we fear anything and anyone that threatens their validity.

I think what is interesting is that not everyone that is exposed to these different ideas and ways of life leaves behind their childhood beliefs. For some they learn to incorporate the new concepts and ideas into their current belief system. It’s true that some would walk away but I think that is more about the people that taught them these things and the way they conducted themselves than the actual beliefs.

I don’t think that given the way my mind works and my love of the sciences that my current beliefs would be any different but maybe if I could have been accepted despite the fact I believed differently what would be different would be my family.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this discussion as I will discuss how dangerous life can get when you are never allowed to question what you have been taught and what the consequences are when there is no vocabulary to describe an experience and no way to know who is dangerous. You…..or something or someone else.

Peace and love peeps. I would love to hear what you think about what Ive started. As always you don’t have to agree, just do your best to be kind and respectful

Til next time.

My Broken…..Heart?

A weight in my chest.

The very center of my torso

Above the stomach where butterflies take flight

Close to the sternum

Below that place where anxiety quietly grasps. Heart pounding, breaths heaving, muscles tightened in preparation for fight or flight.

The weight pulls me

Just a little bit lower

Body and………..a soul?

There is an ache that I cannot quite place

It feels a bit like sadness but also like a memory

Of something broken?

Or lost?

Or both?

The ache is incessant

My eyes tear up while this jumble of feelings comes almost to the surface

Like an old heartbreak remembered late at night

A loss

A death

Grief

A depthless sorrow

The source of which remains…

Hidden

In quiet, dark, dusty spaces

In cracks in the wall or floor

The dark corner of a closet

I cannot face it nor can I escape it

I cannot identify it

A ghost

Or spirit

A shadow

Vanishing as soon as I glance it’s way

It is a curiosity of sorts

Even when I think it could consume me

Even when it seems the pain will eclipse the light

I wonder

Is this who I am

In whole or in part

Me and my broken heart.

The System Can Not Be Dismantled By The Hands it Keeps in Shackles

Systems have been put in place to benefit the few and keep the many supplicant. It’s true, what they say, everyone likes you better when you are on your knees. That statement is only as crude as you make it so I leave you to snicker.

So, the title and why I’m being so damn dramatic. First, I like the way it sounds. Second, it’s true. When the system fails me I am in no position to dismantle or challenge it and likely, neither are you. If you have not been failed by the system then chances are pretty high that you are benefitting from the system. I don’t say this with judgement of any kind. We are born into positions we did not choose. I was born, female, white and I inherited all of the privilege that comes with that position. I did not choose to be poor, to have a chaotic dysfunctional family, and I’m sure I did not choose any of my diagnosis.

What is important and what is worth examining (not judging) is what we do with our position. When I learned what it meant to have privilege, to be privileged I started to understand a reaction many Neurotypical people have when faced with the same reality. That is not who I am! I am not a bad person! I’ve had hardships in my life as well. This is all true and while it feels like privilege invalidates your beliefs about yourself and the world it is only a fact.

The sky is blue – Fact (sorry science friends, keeping it simple)

The world is round – Fact

We will all die – Fact

Those facts by themselves to not assume anything and they do not take anything away. They just are what they are. CIS, White, Males have inherent privilege – Fact. This does not insinuate what they do with that privilege, only that it was given at birth.

I am offering this as a challenge to every human that exists with any type of privilege. As a person of privilege how are you dismantling the systems that gave you your privilege? How might you be benefitting from the system (knowingly or unknowingly)? Are you protecting a system that determines your worth based on skin color, gender, gender identity, social and economic standing, etc.?

You might really have to dig to get the answers to those questions because along with the privilege we inherit there is also the social conditioning we have experienced from birth. This conditioning serves to tell us who we are in relationship to the system and why it benefits us to stay in our place. Maybe you can see the big stuff or maybe you see many different ways you’ve participated in the system.

Please do not judge yourself. Please believe me when I say I am not judging you either. One of the many benefits (for me) of being Neurodivergent is that I approach most things with logic and then my brain analyzes the data to determine the meaning. The down side of this is that for a long time I did judge you and everyone else that did not recognize their privilege. I assumed it was obvious to everyone and they simply chose a different narrative. I know now there is much more going on and I do understand how it can feel like a judgement.

The last thing I will ask of you (today) is that you in turn, do not judge the voices that have been shouting about privilege. It was never their job to tell us. It is always our job to question the system, to question ourselves and our participation. Those voices are frustrated from waiting generations for us to realize that we have been blindly following as system that is harming those that do not benefit from it. Regardless of your place in the system, they are allowed the hurt, trauma, anger, frustration. They are right to ask us to dismantle this system.

Peace and love to all of you out in the world. Comments, arguments, different perspectives and opinions are always welcome.

If you have a very strong reaction to this and feel like you need to respond I will be happy to publish that response on my blog as long as it is not harmful to anyone else.

Asking for Help – Abilities vs. Disabilities

My history of neurodivergence is one that only surfaced in the last year. This is because the vocabulary for the way my brain works has only been around for the last several years. In addition to the words, their meanings have changed and sometimes words and meanings are thrown out.

Wanting to know about what Neurodivergency is and what it is not? Also, why any one of us can be Neurodivergent AND Disabled. Common misconceptions about Neurodiversity – Scientific American

I have always been “bookish” always with my nose in a book soaking up every bit of information I could get. I was vaguely aware that not everyone read every book they could get their hands on. I was pretty sure most kids did not finish 2 grade levels of math because it was fun or interesting. I knew with certainty that my teachers had never been challenged by my child self who determined she was not at the correct reading level and it would be a waste of everyone’s time to complete each level just for the sake of saying it was completed. She knew she didn’t stand a chance in contests of popularity or even able to avoid bullies. But she knew without a doubt that school was her place to be above and beyond all of the mysterious social existence that many of her classmates enjoyed. Feeling empowered in her standing in the educational arena, she went on strike in the 5th or 6th grade.

The teachers had no idea what to do with her but she didn’t really cause trouble, grades always good, more than attentive to every subject they presented they did the only thing they could. They caved and moved her up to the reading level she requested. This of course was the path of least resistance. There were plenty of trouble makers in her metropolitan public school for worn down, burned out teachers to concern themselves with.

Despite being a kid that was generally only noticed by bullies and teachers that shared her enthusiasm for learning she did cause trouble. Not what you would expect though and it’s possible the trouble was really more her parents than hers. She could not eat breakfast, so she was hungry well before her scheduled lunch time. When lunch did arrive she picked at what she brought or was given in the lunch line. She was always scratching skin and complaining of being itchy, she was often accused of being lost in daydreams and she once skipped class to hide under a table in the library and ready. I’m guessing she was overstimulated and needed to escape. Maybe. She just knew she had to get out.

She got on much better with her teachers than her classmates and when she had a friend it was normally just the one. She was fidgety and flighty and to quote her parents, “she’d lose her head if it wasn’t screwed on”. It was because, before the depression, anxiety and the events that lead to PTSD, she was autistic. Specifically ASD, Autism Spectrum Difference (it’s disorder in the DSM…that’s a whole other story). She battled with loud noises, bright lights, strange smells and textures of food and also clothing. She never slept well and was usually in trouble for staying up and listening to old radio shows. She rarely had friends, she was constantly bullied and she knew she was different. So she studied. Everyone. She learned to mimic things that people responded positively to and to hide or mask any behaviors that brought criticism or that people responded negatively to.

Unfortunately, these things only changed her life in minor ways. If anyone spent any real time with her they would see what she knew…she was different. Even if a vocabulary or diagnosis did not exist to explain it, everyone could see, she wasn’t like them. It wasn’t all terrible, she didn’t mind one bit being left alone. She did wish the bullies would follow along and leave her be too. The worst for her was never understanding why bothered her or what it was she was doing that they hated so much.

Now, I know. All the years of confusion from childhood, adolescence, young adult and full on grown up, her big question was finally answered. It’s because my brain works differently. It is divergent from the way a Neurotypical would work through things. Not worse, not better, different. There are far more Neurotypicals than there are Neurodivergents or if you like….the word most hated in all of psychology…normals. This means, everything about our daily lives is for different brains. I am not disordered. The world simply was designed for the majority with nothing in place to help our different brains.

Knowing this is more than half of my battle. I can learn better ways to speak to people, I can learn to show interest in what they say and feel. I can buy my own clothes and make sure they are all soft with no tags. I can cook my own food and with help from a nutritionist have a chance to sometimes put healthy things in my body. I have noise cancelling headphones and my groceries can be delivered.

There is no therapy for ASD, no treatments and no cure but if you ask around, you will find that most of us have no interest in being cured of who we are. Tools and support are great though.

I’m currently in DBT therapy and it has helped so much with controlling my own emotions, understanding my reactions and determining where they come from. I also know that if I am not hurting myself or anyone else than any “ASD behaviors” are my business. I don’t need to apologize, mask or make others feel more comfortable. That is their own responsibility and my comfort is mine.

So many words! If you read all of this let me know and I will happily email you a gold star 😉 I will be ecstatic if you leave a comment. I don’t need you to agree or disagree I just like to know you are out there.

Cheers and love to you all.

Who’s there?

Getting here

Trying find words that relate to other words to form a cohesive sentence

Trying to find me in words, sentences, in context

Where do I even start? Am I the sum of my trauma? The wealth of my knowledge or just a product discarded?

It’s unsettling to just be here and still not be able to find myself. Do I need to know? Can I defy definition?

I can’t wrap pieces of me into convenient packages to be carried and stored when not in use. All of me is all over. Spilling over, into the darkest depths and climbing the walls, hand over hand. Staring down mountains that dare me to fall. Apart.

Who am I when no one is watching, waiting, expecting. When the show is over was it all just a character study?

Maybe it’s ok to be a different me each day of the week, to change with the weather and cross the globe like the stars.

Warrior

I am a warrior

Strong, brave and proud.

I bare the scars of my battles with pride and in them I see my history, my foundation and my reason for fighting.

While some may look at my scars with disgust I see only the beauty, I am art, my body is strong and my scars are proof of my ability to stand strong in the most dire of circumstances.

Look away if you must, not everyone has the heart to go into battle when they are at their lowest, when it looks like there is no way to win.

I can be broken and rebuilt into more. More strength, more beauty more confidence in my abilities.

There are days I am nearly broken but I have the heart of a warrior and a warrior does not give up.

I drag myself away from my creature comforts. Don my armor and ready my weapons. 1, 2, 3 deep breaths and I am ready to fight another day.

I am a hero. I am the hero of me.

When all seemed hopeless and the world against me I picked up my sword, slayed my demons and lived to fight another day.

There is nothing that can stop me and nothing that will cause me to give up. I am fierce. I am my own hero so don’t get in my way or try to stop me. I am a force of nature. I cannot be contained or controlled.

I am a warrior.

The Blink of An Eye

That’s how it starts, isn’t it?

You are going about your day, work, chores, eat, read/watch TV and off to bed just like all the previous days.

In the back of my mind there are those haunting thoughts of what if but they seem to be more sedated these days.

Then a knock on the door and suddenly the walls are falling, taking me with them into an abyss of pain, betrayal, anger. More than all that is the sinking feeling that what seems like a modest but moderately satisfactory life was an illusion.

The fact that I have no control and perhaps no say in my own outcome seems to drown out all of my senses while I sink into the the gray fog that now surrounds my every thought.

The injustice of my place in this world is a knife to my chest and a heaviness that never seems to allow more than a shallow breath before I am sucked under again. The pain is so overwhelming that I have retreated into the the darkest corners. Like a child, my breaths come quickly but quiet so as not to give my location.

Times like this I could you a mother, sister, aunt, partner that could soothe the part of me that seems to have lost the strength to nurse my wounds. I imagine being held by a protector, whispering words that acknowledge and validate the excruciating wound I carry. I imagine strong arms that rock me and give me a place to feel safe, even if it’s only for a moment.

But there is no knight, kind and caring mother, wise father or a sister to commiserate with. It is just me, know that even in my worst moments where I am barely hanging on…there is still an adult child that will require comforting and reassurance. I can’t say I am successful in my attempts. But I don’t stop trying because the thought of passing this all on and just leaving someone else alone with this unrelenting pain is simply not an option.

Hijacked

The uneasiness builds, creating the foundation for the next level.

The brain tries to analyze this feeling, trying to discover the source but it’s been hijacked and all that comes are the building blocks that create the walls for fear.

My internal monologue seems to have split into warring factions. On one side is the spiral, burrowing into the core. The other, tries to bring some sort of logic to the situation.

In this room the uneasiness, built into fear, grows. Panic has taken the reigns and the tension is palpable. Inside my mind the warring factions try to determine what response is needed.

Helpless to lend anything to help, muscles tighten, eyes wide and the parasympathetic nervous system is leading the charge.

Heart rate goes up and a spinning sensation begins to set in. Breath held until lungs burn and darkness creeps in at the edges. There is no fight or flight, just an endless playlist of possible outcomes.

Frozen and waiting. Waiting for the hammer to swing or the other shoe to drop, for the monster to jump out of the darkness and wreak havoc on my already strained psyche.

Breath held and let go, held and nothing but unable to stop the vicious cycle of waiting.

Agitation, resignation, nothing feels right, nothing soothes the raw nerve endings.

The dream is over but the damage has already devastated and despite the exhaustion of it all it still plays on a loop. It’s just another version of my reality, not really so far from the truth.

It would be better if it were just a delusion made up by a brain trained to fear everyone and everything. Primed for suspicious activity. It’s not though, my reality is that someone is actively trying to tear down everything I thought I had built for myself.

So I took the day off from the fight because some days will just be like this but it doesn’t mean I have to engage. Sometimes its completely reasonable to stay at home in bed, distracting myself with a novel, some ice cream and falling off the wagon by indulging in a pack of cigarettes I can’t afford.

Some days, the only thing that makes sense is waiting for it to pass, only using my energy sparingly so when the real fight arrives I have the strength to make the next move.

My Take on “Mental Health”, Trauma, Grief and all the slippery feels.

In general, I don’t have anything against the term Mental Health. In practice, in real life, in therapy, in the doctors office I see things differently. No one wants to go to the doctor and be told that they are sick and certainly not with something that will hang on every day for all of your days. When you look at the science of Mental Health, psychology, psychiatry and research you don’t find much that supports current thinking on mental health, disorders or illnesses. In fact, current research has been able to find distinct differences in brains that are non-typical or neuro-divergent versus those that are considered typical or neurotypical. First, please note the terminology being used here “typical”, not normal, ordinary or even majority, just typical. What they have discovered is that it is not that we are sick, disordered or broken. Our brains simply work different than what is considered typical (for now).

So, maybe I’m not sick? I don’t feel sick. Right now I feel better than I have in years both physically and mentally. I acknowledge that both of those things can change at any moment. But it feels…right? Better? I’m not sure on those but it fits with what I have been feeling since my very first memories. I. AM. DIFFERENT. I don’t have to apologize for that because it isn’t wrong or right, bad or good, it is me. I like the idea that I am not damaged or broken and that the way I see and experience the world does not warrant anything more than acceptance. Think about the gravity of that on the community of people that have different brains. We are ok, we can live our lives on our own terms in our own way. I don’t have to get better, I don’t have to make excuses and I can move forward with the knowledge, the tools, the acceptance of who I am and that I am different. I don’t feel bad, I feel like someone finally recognized what I have been trying to say my entire life. I am valid, my voice matters, I matter, I am legitimate, I can be strong, powerful, healthy, successful.

You see, this issue, the road blocks or obstacles are not because of who I am. They are because the world was created for different brains, neuro-typical brains. So, I don’t have to pretend to like going to grocery store where the lights are blindingly bright, it is too loud, it smells odd, there are too many choices and there are people in every direction I look. My brain feels completely overwhelmed, I am terrified because now I feel like I might be trapped or I cannot control the anger, the fear, the agitation that comes with all of this. So I only go every other week. I try to go during hours it will not be crowded and I usually wear my headphones with the noise cancelling on. You might see me dance or hear me sing along as I am blissfully unaware of you and even better, I am not worried in the least how you feel about my singing, dancing or the brand of milk I prefer.

Ive learned that I need to be in charge of my care, my therapy and my providers need to be aware that I am very well read, I am a research junkie and if you can’t show me with facts and research that your plan is better, you probably should not bring it up. I don’t believe that a doctorate makes you the authority of anyone or anything. I will treat you with the same care and respect that you treat me with. I will remind you that I pay the insurance premiums, the high deductibles and the coinsurance and that, makes me a customer not just a patient. I am a grown woman and no longer to I have to do what I am told because you said so. The providers that I respect the most are the ones that are not afraid to say I don’t know, or ask for alternatives, those that are willing to take a look at what I found, why I think it might help and be brave enough to say yes or no, because x, y, z.

A very, very special thank you to a thoughtful blogger that has been listening and responding for a very, very long time. Thank you, I cannot tell you what it means to me to be heard and acknowledged. I also would like to add that your view on all of this is just as valid as mine, as long as your are not my therapist 🙂

Take care bloggers, be good, be kind, make waves and make change.

Tootles

Time Warp…Again Anyone Singing that them song?

Wow, so 3 years, a marriage, a pandemic, a few jobs changes and my daughter graduated HS and is halfway through college. So, I’ve been a little busy lately.

I’m not going to bore you with all the gory details, there was trauma, therapy, very, very bad times and..well things are pretty good right now.

So good in fact, that I am finally writing again. Soooo, if you are into deep, sometimes dark poetry, social justice and a whole lot of feminism (inclusive-of course) Then you my friend are in the right place.

Get ready for some crazy stories all real, some killer poetry and sometimes my unadulterated opinion about whatever is on my mind. Oh, before I go, Mental Health is HUUUUUGE here. It’s cool if it’s not your thing but here is probably not the best place for you.

So question for anyone that might have come across this dusty, poor neglected blog.

What do you thing of the following terms, why and what would you use in their place?

Mental Health, Mentally Ill, crazy, nuts, therapy, counseling, disorder, deficit, sick

If anyone is out there I would love to hear what you think. Stay tuned, I’ll give my thoughts on them tomorrow and tell you why I feel the way I do.

Take care, choose kindness, be inclusive, be empathetic….STAND UP FOR YOURSELF YOU ARE WORTH PROTECTING!!

Tootles…