Neurodivergent is a term that describes a variety of ways of being. Some of them have experiences that are basically the opposite of others.
There's no universal ND experience, and when you are neurodivergent in a way that is very different to more well known neurodivergences (like you have a really hard time with direct communication because of your neurodivergence), it kind of hurts to see those difficulties attributed to being neurotypical, when you're very much not and most people have never even heard of what you are.
It feels like there's no room for neurodivergent people who don't fit the popular image of what it means to be ND, especially when you see other ND people making fun of the things that make you ND as "being neurotypical"
I see a lot of talk about how neurodivergence evolved and stayed in the gene pool because it was somehow ‘useful’ to our ancient ancestors. While I don’t necessarily disagree with this theory, I would like to propose an alternative. A theory that we already have physical evidence for. Humans just love each other and care for each other. Don’t you think that a species that cared for it’s people while they recovered from broken bones, or nursed their elderly well beyond their ‘usefulness’ would leave a member out because they didn’t make eye contact, or couldn’t stay focused on a particular task, or whatever other trait you associate with neurodivergence? I really don’t.
Sure, maybe it was useful to have someone around who didn’t mind making arrowheads all day, or who knew absolutely everything about all of the local flora and fauna, or who keyed in on every little distraction. At the end of the day, though, these people weren’t kept around because they were useful, they were cared for because they were loved.
[ID: Six hands clasping each other’s wrists in a circle, against a blue and cloudy sky. In the centre of the circle is the text “Wait, that’s a SYMPTOM?!”. There is text on each of the hands, as well. Starting at the top and going clockwise, they read “Autism”, “OCD”, “Dyslexia”, “Depression”, “Anxiety”, and “ADHD”. End description.]
This is your friendly (but autistically blunt) reminder that the term "neurodivergent" has always included mental health conditions, and the disabled woman of colour who coined the term, Kassiane Asasumasu, did so precisely because we were missing an inclusive umbrella term for anyone whose brain operates differently.
Not only do you sound clownish when trying to suggest that there is such a thing as neurotypical mentally ill people, you are slamming the door of neurodivergence on people who are also ostracized and marginalized and I have to wonder about your motivations for being so keen to distance yourself from us.
And as Asasumasu herself has said when y'all try to bring up the "but you have to be neurodivergent from birth or it doesn't really count" definition that people keep plucking out of thin air for no apparent reason, the term you are looking for already existed and it is "developmental disorders".
TL;DR Stop trying to retrospectively change the definition of a word if you don't even know its history, neurodivergence includes mental illness and that is not up for debate.
people don’t talk enough about the weird grief that will randomly hit you when you have ADHD. for a good stretch of time I am so happy that I have answers about why I am the way that I am, and then I’m hit with an avalanche of “I don’t know how to do this” and “fuck, this is the way that I am, there is no cure.”
I genuinely believe that folks like me are bright and intelligent and passionate and creative and to be celebrated. this week though I just feel like shit that I can’t think “normally”. I’m struggling to make money and I’m frustrated because I know that I could bring so much to the table if I could “apply myself” the way that NTs can. I’m trying so hard, and the rejection is painful.
my head feels full of static. I have all of this energy in my body but I can’t move. I’m a musician and a birth worker and a writer and creator. I know this. just today I feel like I’m not much at all if I can’t do anything with that information.
Recovery culture is particularly unnerving to me because people struggle to understand you can hurt yourself in the name of being "healthy," you can replace a "harmful behavior" that looks harmful with an equally harmful behavior (or even worse behavior!) that doesn't look harmful (and is harder to stop doing because of it)
I'm thinking of how orthorexia isn't an official eating disorder yet but could be eventually, how people self harm all the time by working out until they drop, how every bit of self care can be twisted and warped, how policing "bad" coping mechanisms out of existence just transforms them into something that's harder to recognize, about how physically disabled people and fat people push themselves beyond healthy limits and get praise for it.
An apple isn't a health food if that's all you'll allow yourself to eat out of fear of doing A Bad Thing. Health is not a moral imperative.
me discovering a new hyperfixation: this is it. This Is The One. there isnt anything on this goddamn planet that could overpower my Love for this Thing. what i'm feeling is an all consuming, overwhelming, incredibly overpowering Happiness, an immovable force within me. I will never stop tal
me, like two weeks later: i literally do not feel an ounce of human emotion about this Thing. i am an empty void, numb and dark. i have only known happiness once. and never will i feel it again.
It’s funny because a lot of the people who refuse to acknowledge or compliment a neurodivergent kid on things that can actually be impossible for some of us, like waking up on time, being organized, finishing work, paying attention, etc. because “it’s their job they don’t need praise for doing the basics” will often be the same ones lavishing praise on parents of neurodivergent kids for …feeding them… providing necessities… not abusing them… you know, the basics. Their job.
So my therapist and I were talking today about ADHD brains, and what "executive function" means, and we discovered a really interesting thing about how my brain works. I don't know how much it will extend to other people, but I'm throwing it out there in case it's useful for anyone else.
Usually it takes me about 1.5 - 2 hours each morning, to go from "booting up my computer" to "actually starting on my first task". This is true whether I work from home or work in the office, whether it's a coding day or a meeting day, whether I jump out of bed when the alarm goes off or if I'm very seriously giving consideration to sleeping under my desk while my computer boots. I don't want it to take that long, but extensive experimentation has shown that it definitely does.
Today I decided to try an experiment. Instead of my normal morning routine (where I check email, IMs, to-do list, and self-care list, and compile that into an enormous to-do list for the day, then sort that list in order of "if everything goes sideways and I get to only one thing, what thing will be the most painful if it happens tomorrow instead of today", and then set up multiple desktops on my macbook so that each task -- including "brush teeth" has its own desktop, and then put the desktops in the assigned priority-order), I decided I'd just jump right into my first task, and see if I could get myself a hyper-focused hour of work before someone came into the office to bug me.
It. Was. Terrible.
I mean, I got the task done, in record time. Then I checked Tumblr. Then I checked Facebook. Then I composed a summary of David Graeber's argument that the European Age of Exploitation cannot be understood without knowing why the Chinese decided to abandon paper money. Then I replied to all my Facebook messages. Then I helped Jessica at work set up her code. There followed a relatively productive afternoon where I helped my boss sort out a personnel problem, set priorities for our department, contributed to one meeting, ran yet another meeting, got consensus on a project, and helped Jessica again -- but I didn't eat my midmorning snack until 1pm, I never did brush my teeth, and my knees are killing me because all through the second meeting my body was sending "This posture hurts! Change position! Get! Up!" signals, and I couldn't summon the focus to actually move from the floor to the couch. By the time my therapist called, my phone was on 3% and I couldn't find my bluetooth headphones. I'm still 400 calories under my target for the day, because I missed 900 calories during my workday and I couldn't figure out how to add more than 500 calories to my dinner.
So my therapist and I talked about this strange mix of symptoms: knocking out task after task of helping people at work, but unable to feed myself; incredibly highly effective code debugging, but also getting lost in Tumblr for an hour. I wasn't under-stimulated, but I also didn't get to pick what I focused on. And he talked about how executive function isn't just one thing, which I knew, but mentioned specifically that one element of executive function is taking your own initiative, deciding your actions for yourself, rather than just reacting to stimuli. And it hit me ---
I can't do that.
I thrive in hyper-focused development environments, where I react to each compiler error by debugging the error ... but I break down when the compiler runs without error; I don't know what to do if I don't have the error-stimulus deciding my actions.
I thrive in high-multi-tasking environments like running a retail store at Christmas, where I do a task, and then look around and see which notification is the highest priority, and then do that task. But I struggle in January and February, when all the customers are gone and I don't know what to do.
And today, I was entirely stimulus-driven. Jessica asked for help, and I helped her. Kathy commented on Facebook, and I replied to her. Ryan asked about a report, and I explained it to him. Mark brought up something that reminded me of David Graeber, and I typed up a history essay. Anything that didn't have a notification -- brushing my teeth, eating my snack, charging my phone -- didn't get done.
And that's when it hit me. My usual morning routing isn't a waste of 2 hours. It's setting up my environment so that I will be stimulated to do the things I want to do.
I have barely any initiative-decide-for-myself at all. I get one (1) intitiativon each morning, and I have to spend it wisely. And what I do with it, each day, is set up the stimuli I will experience throughout the day.
I finish a task and close that desktop: the next desktop pops up with a note that says "Meditate."
I finish meditating and close the desktop: the next desktop pops up with an email I need to reply to.
I finish that email and close that desktop: the next one pops up with a note that says "Order groceries."
I don't have any initiative left by that point, but I don't need to: I get the stimulus to do my work, maintain my health, connect with friends, and clean my house, and I'm too executive-dysfunction-deprived to do anything but respond to stimulus, and so I do all those things.
This explains why I need to leave such specific directions to myself: not “write chapter 5″, but “Open C:/Documents/Writing/NovelTitle/Chapter5.doc”. The first one isn’t a stimulus to action; the second one is.
It's also why I have such a hard time with "leisure", and why my "randomized leisure activity" deck helped me so much; because by the time I get to the end of the day, and I'm out of spoons and I have earned a fun and relaxing evening.... I cannot -- by definition -- decide what would be fun and relaxing.
Like I say, I have no idea whether that will be any good for anyone else, but it prompted some interesting introspection, and I wanted to share.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I still need to go brush my teeth