My brain can be an epic asshole with my mental health. I can take it out in the sun (with the proper amount of protection), give it veggies, hydrate, exercise and it still likes to fuck with me.
I have had depression since I was about twelve. It was like someone flipped a switch (likely the puberty switch) and my mostly happy self went into feeling generally hopeless. I know I’ve always been a shy and very anxious person, as long as I can remember.
I wasn’t diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – Primarily Inattentive (ADHD-PI from here on out) until my (now) husband looked at me after I described that I wanted to do well in my education, but I felt like I was a lazy, crazy, stupid loser, and said that, to him, it sounded like I might have ADHD. I was nineteen.
I didn’t seek treatment for my depression until I was almost 30. I, foolishly, thought that I could handle it by myself. I had been studying to go into clinical psychology (vast, grand plans that have, sadly, never come to fruition), so the basics of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) are something I was well aware of. Finally, I sought treatment.
That journey is still ongoing. In my decade of seeing my mental health professional, we have uncovered things that allowed us to narrow treatment and help make my life a bit easier to live.
We have talked about whether my diagnosis should be ADHD-PI or what is still generally known as Asperger’s (ASD-1 in the DSM-V). They share a lot of overlap. For me, I fall on the ADHD side of the equation despite the large number of boxes that I tick on the other side. Why? Because despite being a very introverted and shy individual I have either learned or know innately how to read body language and non-verbal communication. At this point in my life, it’s too late to say if that’s nature or nurture. And I’m okay with that.
I’m a firm believer/supporter of neurodiversity.
Why did I decide to post about this? Well, it’s Autism Awareness Month. I am surrounded by neurodiverse people. I am pissed off that people still view the Autism Spectrum as something that death is better than. Autism is more than a “symptom”. It’s not just “sensory overload”. Sensory overload can occur in people with sensory processing dysfunction, anxiety, and ADHD, among many other diagnoses.
To claim otherwise feels like a slap to people who are actually autistic. It’s a broad and diverse range of intertwined neurological, developmental and communication conditions. That’s why it’s a spectrum. It’s not something to be erased. To thrive, we need to embrace diversity. If everyone was the same, life would be very damn boring.
So, let’s celebrate our diversity. Let’s destigmatize mental health. To paraphrase Bill and Ted – let’s be awesome to each other.
Until next week!