Song Dedication: Where is my Mind? by Pixies
It has been sometime since my last blog post because I needed this time to sort out wtaf is going on in my nervous system. That statement sounds like I have it all figured out now. I don’t and likely won’t ever be fully figured out. But this process of fuck-around-find-out is in need of some writing therapy.
Since September 22nd of last year (last post) I have grown exponentially in self-acceptance, self-compassion and self-advocacy. I think those things are one and the same now. To be frank, it’s hard AF to align personal values and beliefs and live authentically, when I am not completely aware of WHO I actually am! Well no shit. But here we are anyway.
Through a series of twists and turns, that left off with me trialing an SSRI to treat my anxiety disorder, I went careening into a ditch due to impulsivity, hyper fixation, and inattention. You see, that anxiety I have asked gently to get into the backseat or even forcefully recommended she get in the trunk, if she didn’t pipe down and let go of the holy-shit-handle lest I leave her by the roadside? Ya that one…turns out that bitch was my fuel. Which in turn meant, if I left her stranded on some backroad to say, completing my Masters program for counselling, the car I thought I could drive without her, ran out of gas and hit the ditch not far away because I was no longer paying attention to the vital signs of keeping my shit in my lane. I know, I am beating yet another metaphor to a bloody pulp but there are reasons…
I didn’t careen off the road into a fiery death (yay me because burnout was old me), I think part of me was so busy checking my rearview mirrors, that I just slowly sputtered and came to a lame ass rolling stop. In all my wisdom to leave my life-long wingwoman, Anxiety, stranded, something else crept in to take her place. When she got out, a new passenger materialized called ADHD. Likely there the whole time but after a lifetime of being in the shadow of my anxiety had gone unnoticed by well, everyone, especially me. Without anxiety constantly controlling and keeping her thumb on the variables and using perfectionism as the motivator to get shit done, I went from hyper stressed when completing school work and life tasks to hyper stressed because I just couldn’t focus my brain.
The odds were in my favour as the first course of my masters was Biopsychosocial Psychology which is my jam. I read about that shit for fun. I worked at it but competed the course with an A. But when the next course knocked at my door to gain access to my brain, it was like Death showed up to tell me game over. Research Methodology. I had been forewarned. It was one of the hardest courses in the program. But I play the long game, so my motivation (and anxiety…oh wait) would get me through. I will not go on at length about how much this course didn’t fit for me even though I did learn some important aspects in counsellor competency. Also during that time, I learned more about accessing student services for my disabilities so that I could use time extensions on assignments as well as peer support and hiring a tutor for the first time in my life.
Meanwhile, as the weeks went by and we approached November, our son began to display concerning behaviours with what was happening at school. There we were, me and my 11-year-old, both struggling with rigid academic expectations and trying to figure out how to preserve our mental health. I was going to be okay because I am an adult who is a decent self-advocate. It was touch and go for our kid though, especially because he was fighting so hard to be seen and heard for who he is and being told that wasn’t okay in a setting that didn’t meet his needs.
We all got through to December honouring our needs as they arose. I was able to complete the Research Methodology course with an A (I had a VERY good tutor) using accommodations to meet my needs. I looked around and felt the unsustainable erosion happening to our family foundation and requested a leave of absence from the program to better attend to our son’s health concerns. My request was granted. I would take another leave the following semester as well.
Being with, instead of bracing against what is, I asked for a referral to the Psychiatrist to query ADHD. My doctor was even skeptical, looking at me sideways, well meaning, saying, “I think you are just too smart for your own good. What is the rush? Maybe you need more time to adjust to the anxiety medication?” I respectfully repeated my need to be assessed for ADHD. And so she submitted my referral.
I continued my work as a parent support worker in the community and discovered many secondary gains working within the new career path I had begun on a very casual basis in October. What was meant to be a job that would provide me greater insight into my academic studies in becoming a counsellor, became this safe space of others committed to improving mental health in our community while simultaneously supporting each other as the team we were. When you are well, we all function well.
At the end of March I had completed my assessments and my ADHD suspicions were confirmed. I began trialing a medication that would help activate an area of my brain’s executive function that was dark. It was like flicking a light switch. Within a short amount of time I was functioning differently, I wasn’t exhausted because my brain and body needed to overcompensate for me to get life done. I was calmer. I was in less chronic pain. My moods were more stable. I gave less fucks to the things that deserved less fucks. I was me, but free.
I hadn’t realized that a lifetime of masking and forcing myself to present in this idealistic, neurotypical way had been so detrimental to the deepest parts of me. I had been performing all my life, levelling up, hoping no one would see beneath my mask of normalcy. All this time I was trying so hard to be. Be thoughtful, be intelligent, be compassionate, be in my body. All that beingness was me doing things that were still not fully aware of who I was.
So who am I today? I am a neurodiverse woman with anxiety, ADHD and likely on the autism spectrum. I am a disabled advocate for people with disabilities. I am passionate about my special interests and am aware of when I am going on-and-on and can’t help myself; grateful to the people who have come into my life who lean in, accept and love me for these awkward traits I often present with. I am curious to continue learning about my neurodiversity and how to support others, especially my son, who will continue to learn who he is, what his needs are and that my only wish in life for him is to be able to love and accept himself as much as I do and have the voice to self-advocate when or if I am not there to help him communicate his right to be.
I guess this whole time I have been striving to be something I wasn’t and so today, I acknowledge the process of my unbeing; to allow the spirit of who I have always been shine through without apology, instead with joy and relief.
In my unbeingness, some very unexpected revelations came to light. With deeper understanding of my neuroception (how my brain makes sense of the world based on past experiences and my neurodiverse wiring), my current work, on-going navigation for advocacy and assessment of our son and a major perspective shift to accepting my limitations as healthy boundaries in sustainability, I have decided to withdraw from the Masters program. In better understanding my diagnosis and treatment choices, I was able to zoom out and gain perspective enough to ask why. Why did I feel I needed to do more schooling, why did I need to be a counsellor? My answers rang clear… I don’t. Where I am in life is so fulfilling as I continue to grow and feel accepted and the circumstances I am in all say, you are enough just as you are. So here I am and this is me.
I adore you
LikeLiked by 1 person
You ARE enough just the way you are and so very much more. You make my heart swell with love.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you anonymous. I probably feel the same about you