It has been a while since I wrote on the blog. I’ve been quiet lately, because I don’t have a lot of energy. I’m spinning a bit from time to time, but not that much, so I don’t have anything to show. I’ve been playing the violin a lot (every day), and that has been great. I just love my new violin! Work has been busy, and next week they will start working on our house (replacing all the doors and windows, adding solar panels, isolating the walls, etc). Great, but I’m not looking forward to the noise and lack of structure. I want to do better for myself (taking photo walks, eating better food, sleeping more, etc), but I have a hard time finding the energy to take proper care of myself.
For years, I’ve been trying to pinpoint why I am the way I am. I get overwhelmed by sensory input quickly and I am always tired. I work parttime, 24 hours a week, which is my max (I also tried 32 and 28 hours, but that would lead to burnout). I hyperfocus on my creative pastimes, and my mind is always racing. I crave structure and silence. And even though I know from experience that honouring these limits is how I can sort of function in life, I still carry a lot of doubt and shame about it.
I know that I’m valid, that my lived experience is my reality, and that I need to accept what is. Sometimes I can, but whenever I’m tired or not feeling well, the doubts can take over. I question whether I’m somehow the cause that I reach my limits so easily. That I’m doing something wrong. That I’m gaslighting myself into thinking that there’s something different about me, a valid reason for my weirdness, but that I’m in fact just like other people, only, the other people don’t give up because they are resilient.
Sure, I know that this is my little inner critic talking, and I try and reprogram it (it’s already less harsh than it used to be), but it’s still my achilles heel. What if I’m actually making this all up, and sabotaging myself? What if I’m convincing myself that I’m a special little snowflake who deserves to put in less effort resulting in other people having to do more?
That’s why I, sometimes subconsciously, keep looking for an explanation. Over the years, this quest for the eternal ‘Why’ has led me to explore many things that kind of resonated with me one way or another. HSP. Adrenal fatigue. CFS. CPTSD. And, more recently, neurodivergence, more specifically, ASD, SPD, and ADHD.
Do I need a diagnosis of sorts to be valid? Of course not. A diagnosis is, in a way, always fluid. Having a diagnosis or not doesn’t change me. Science moves forward, insights change, and psychology is not an exact science anyway. But having a diagnosis might help me accept my reality. I’m not sure if it will, I might always keep feeling like an impostor, but it’s possible that it could help. It could at least help explain why I experience my life this way, and make me feel less alone.
I have worked on my CPTSD intensively since a few years ago and am at a point where it’s relatively mild. But that has not made a big difference in my energy levels. Yes, I am more relaxed, milder, but my energy levels are still the same. I still get overwhelmed easily by things that seem not to bother most other people. So, I’m thinking about trying to get tested for ASD/ADHD at some point. Not right now, because life is already a bit much lately, and I don’t have the energy to pick up another big thing. But maybe next year.
You know what, I’m fairly sure that I have ADHD and/or ASD. On some fronts, they seem to kind of cancel each other out. For example, my autistic-like need for structure and planning helps me avoid forgetting stuff and being late. I don’t have just one or a few obsessions, but many, yet I obsessively focus on one at a time. I need planning, but I love not having planned anything (as long as I’m in control of my day).
Of course, my tentative self-diagnosis is not just based on these few examples. I have read about neurodivergence quite a lot, and I have taken online tests to see where I could fall on the spectrum. Those usually indicate a strong correlation between my experience and that of autistic people.
I’ve been exploring this for a few years already. Sure, it’s possible that it’s actually something else, maybe even something that doesn’t have a label (yet). But I’m sure that my experience is not neurotypical. And while it hinders me, I think that is also the thing that gives me my strengths.
Whatever happens, I know that I need to work on accepting myself. For now, I’m merely tolerating myself, it seems. Barely. With time, it will probably get better. But if you know a way to speed things up, please let me know. I’d love to feel more harmony between my inside and outside experience.