So, what’s it really like being NeuroDivergent?

I have written 2 similar blogs around this topic, but they mostly looked at how I am coping or have felt about a journey to accepting at a minimum being neurodivergent. Both lightly touched on how I see and feel the world briefly but only to a degree.

Living on a day to day with being Neurodivergent was written yesterday as a means of explaining the overwhelming fear that maybe I made this up – maybe I am wrong. A friend responded to it to tell me how it resonated with them and their view of the world, telling me if both of us feel/ see things that way so we can’t both be wrong. This friend is right, both of us have been set on the path we are on by professionals, so it isn’t like we found a term we liked and thought yeah let’s be that. However, that voice still it still says you lie, you exaggerate, everyone feels this way, you are just over complicating things, so I know how to deal with that voice – I know by putting this down by writing this I can hopefully see the voice is wrong. More importantly if you are stilling out there fighting that voice too maybe my story will help you, maybe my words will resonate and together maybe we are right, and that voice isn’t.

I have no idea how long this will be only I am going to try and cover auditory, visual, thought process, confusion the overwhelming gap that stretches between me and people.

So how do I see the world, I wasn’t joking when I say my eyes feel like they see too much, for years this was how I explained my confusion when I struggled to identify one thing among a mass of things (never throw a map at me while the car is moving and say hurry find us a new, better route because there is too much in a map when you brain is processing it all at once.) Also, my eyes always felt tired, but I have perfect 20/20 vision, healthy eyes, but they hurt. I think I honestly just take in too much, colour, light, texture, pattern all of it at once in an overwhelming visual cacophony.

I struggle to focus on one thing at a time to process one thing at a time. Genuinely feel like I have a million thoughts at once as everything fires off. At any given time, I am probably composing a response to an email, figuring out a process or problem, writing my d&d campaign and planning the weekend to do list all while we are having a conversation. This sometimes makes me spacy and more importantly I come across rude or distant, I am not, and you are very interesting, and I WANT to talk to you, I WANT to listen to you, but my brain also needs to do the other 4 things at once.

Without realising it I developed coping mechanisms at work to help me concentrate and listen, if you ever sit in a meeting with me I am not ignoring you while I draw – it’s the only way I can listen. Sounds odd doesn’t it, but if I am in a meeting and trying to listen intently to your words that to do list pops up, or a shopping list, my brain runs through that problem or row that happened recently and your words meld into the cacophony in my head. Drawing quietens the noise and helps me pinpoint one sound in many – it helps me listen to you. If I can’t draw I will trace patterns with my hands or eyes again I NEED to if you want me to listen. Watching movies and TV for date night become tricking because yep you guessed it I can’t shut down the thoughts and pay attention. I tend to play games on my phone my boyfriend for years got frustrated because in fairness to him date night shouldn’t be cuddled up watching a movie while one of you plays on a phone. However, if I just watch TV often I am not watching it I am once again running through the 100 thoughts and ideas my brain decides to throw at me and I don’t really follow the story line.

Those 1000s of thoughts I have – I have probably written in my head 4 or 5 times the blogs than I ever published often in a stream of overlapping thoughts, same with stories and D&D encounters. Some stay some are a flash and gone almost to quick for me to establish them.

On top of that and the information I take in visually, sounds are everywhere, and the world is noisy and loud. Overwhelmingly so at times. I never really understood my frustration or rage, other than I know that on a train when you can hear people breathing and chatting and music it is not the done thing to lie on the floor and have a full tantrum. Do you know what is worse knowing that and having to fight the urge to do it because everything has overwhelmed you so much and you just want to break down, but normal well-adjusted adults don’t do that right? Everyone else copes why can’t I just get over my shit. Do you spent your days so angry and frustrated you want to destroy the world around you, to smash it all into little pieces so it stops? I did everyday and as I write this I realise since April I’ve felt like this less and less. I still don’t get the world, I still get frustrated, but I am calmer with a language to help me define and the overwhelming need to destroy has lessened.

My frustration and anger used to come as tears and violence to myself and I am sorry my love a barrage of verbal anger to you, except it isn’t you and it never was, its me, its my frustration at me and how I can’t get things to understand and how I can’t understand things. I am sorry for all the pain and hate you have had to deal with and carry.

Conversations and crowds are overwhelming, and if you pay attention you will see little hand flutters designed to calm me. Over the years these have changed when I was younger I sucked my thumb and twisted my hair to calm me – except when I got braces that had to stop. Then I twizzled my hair or other peoples. For a while I took to rocking if I was stressed I would rock back and forth to myself until I was calm again. Now I either rub my thumb and forefinger together or the fingers of my left hand in a circular motion on my right hand. These actions steady me, ground me and calm me enough to follow my thoughts. If I am in a crowd or stressed and anxious it will be a fluttering of my three middle fingers usually down by my thigh – the more rapid it is the more anxious or uncomfortable I am. This one could be confused with anxious but if you see me happy or content that same flutter will be a slower movement and be higher near my chest.

However, don’t confused any of those hand movements with the thought hand movement this is a rapid slightly more all over the place and my hand could be anywhere, as I try to remember what I was doing or thinking. Or you may see me become distinct while my hand just moves rapidly in the same place (usually just one or two fingers), that is also the thought hand movement but what I am doing is moving pieces around – I see everything data, problems, processes, storytelling, people like a jigsaw and what I am doing is visually moving them until the slot into the correct place and BOOM I’ve figured at that problem or I’ve written that next interesting bit of the d&d campaign.

I will take this moment to pause and apologies having just read this back, there is a lot and it flows very fast – sorry this is just how it came out and I plan to leave it as the way it reads in frantic movement through thoughts feels right somehow.

Finally, for I am sure there is so much more to write but this is already long. I don’t get people, I don’t I’ll be honest really get tact I say what I think, and do you know how many friends I have lost through tackles comments. Expect I didn’t mean to be tackles, I don’t mean to be rude I just am saying a fact, or a truth or what I see as a fact. It makes me come across as uncaring and blunt except for I care greatly I just don’t know how to tell you. People come with emotions and feeling, and I don’t really get feelings, don’t get me wrong I feel things for people but not in the same way not with the force of attachment others do. It makes me come across as cold and logical I have been called Spock enough times. Even my Christmas tree decorating is a logical distribution of colours to perfectly cover the tree in a way in which the bauble/ colour and tree ratio is just right. The down side for years I would feel like there was a physical chasm between me and people and I never knew how to cross it often they would just get further and further away until I lost them.

Out of me and my sister I was always the one who was considered good at making friends, and the one with friends. The truth is I spent most of my time learning that I wasn’t like most people, I learned to stay quiet, to watch, to mimic to mask my confusion and my bluntness. However, I lost more friends than I could ever face thinking about, I hung out on the edges of groups confused and unsure what was wrong with me. Each time I made a group of friends someone who eventually not want me there, disagree, feel I was too odd, and I would have to move on, I moved through so many groups of friends at school over the years all the way from the most popular to the uncool kids. Do you know ho many lunchtimes I wondered the school, always moving so bullies didn’t catch up with me, always moving so the reminder that I was alone wasn’t there – I dreaded lunch and the pretense that came with it. Over the years I got better at trying, at faking, at pretending until sometimes I didn’t recognise myself anymore.

Note: Edit Thursday 11th:

What I realized rereading this is what I have missed out: Repetitive Behaviours – or at least exploring this more, Effects of change in environment, I am still learning to understand my sensory issues so I am sure there is more there, being consider fussy/ picky/ awkward and non verbal communication – using non verbal forms of communication – there will be more I am sure bear with me I am only just learning.

Also additional edit to the original piece because there were some mistakes – apologies x

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