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Saturday, December 31, 2016
How I Explain My Disorders to Neurotypicals
Everyone knows at least 1, if not many neurotypicals. They don’t understand why you are the way you are. Life has never been, for them, what it is for you. They are the “just get out more” and “starving children” culprits we, so often, bemoan in our stories. They are “normal” for what the word is worth. We all have found ourselves – as a result of knowing them – in the sticky place of trying to explain ourselves to them. Here is a list of my diagnosed issues:
Pervasive Development Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (Austism Spectrum)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Major Depressive Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
These are the labels pasted on my personal set of symptoms. They aren’t always entirely accurate – but I have a great therapist who is using these diagnoses as a means of helping make me better in the long run. On a fairly frequent basis I am asked to explain myself, and my illnesses, to someone who has never, ever felt them before. So I start off simple.
“I’m Autistic. Specifically, I have a non-specific Autistic Range disorder. I am more highly functional than many other Autistics; but, the disorder makes social interactions – like this one – very uncomfortable for me. That’s because I am not instinctively certain of how to handle them.”
Once they grasp that first branch on my Mental Health tree, I ease them up a bough higher, one at a time.
“I also have PTSD from several very traumatic social events that I was a part of. My Autism, as I already said, makes being in immersive social situations very hard for me, so with these events causing trauma, I developed a PTSD response to any situation that is high-stress.”
“I am also a Major Depressive – or Clinically Depressed. It’s not that I am overwhelmingly sad – which I’m not most of the time – it’s that there is just no fuel for me to run on in my daytime. Most days I feel as though the air is too thick to move through, and I have serious trouble convincing myself to get up. There are a lot more facets to this illness, for me, where I lose a lot of my functional ability if I don’t keep it in check diligently.”
“Lastly, I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder. They are not the same thing, and they are not stress related. I have anxiety that is often not triggered by anything at all. It doesn’t usually come from anywhere – but it is everywhere and in everything I do. I doubt and over-think every move I make and sometimes – often even – I have completely untriggered panic attacks that can – and do – completely shut me down.”
Once I feel like they understand the symptomatic side of all of these issues, I summarize it carefully.
“These all play together, and sometimes it’s all I can do just to try to sleep it off. I am working closely with a therapist and with a primary physician, to get better – but bad days still happen more often than not. Please understand that, until I find the medication and therapy cocktail that works for me, there is nothing I can do about them. Be patient with me, and it will all get worked out eventually.”
That is the concise way that I explain my mental health issues to those who would not understand without a well-educated and thought-out explanation.