Just a Few Thoughts Bouncing Around in My Head

I’ve just finished my exams (that’s why I’ve been gone for so long that I ran out of scheduled posts).  Oddly enough, I actually feel worse now than I did during my exams, as stressful and awful as they were.  I have no idea why.  Anyways, I just wanted to write about a few things I’m starting to realise/question:

1. I’ve known I am asexual for a while, but I always considered myself to be hetero-romantic.  I’m having complicated feelings for a girl, and that’s making me question my romantic orientation.   I might be biromantic or panromantic.  I’m not sure about that yet, though.  I guess I’ll see what happens.

2. My therapist thinks that obsessive compulsive disorder might be a reason for my symptoms.  I’ve been provisionally diagnosed with ADHD.  Neither diagnostic label seems to fit me particularly, well, though, and reading about the experiences of people with either OCD or ADHD have really convinced me that I most likely don’t have them.  I’ve been considering the possibility that I might be autistic.  The more I talk to people who are autistic and read about their experiences, the more convinced I am that my life finally makes sense.  I spoke to my mother, and she says that she can see that I might be autistic.  I’m pretty convinced that I am autistic, and I think I’m reasonably confident in self-diagnosing myself as autistic.  I’m currently trying to consider the advantages and disadvantages of professional diagnosis.  On one hand, it would be nice to deal with the self-doubt I have about my self-diagnosis and I might want support and assistance at university, but on the other hand, I’m concerned about the very real consequences about having a label like that attached to me.  It’s a difficult decision, and one I’m going to take a while to carefully consider before I do anything.

3. Superficial vs actual insecurities.  I realised that some of my insecurities are things I genuinely believe (for example, that I’m overly sensitive and have deficient social skills), but some of the insecurities are things that logically I know are not true, but I am somehow insecure about anyways (for example, that I’m bad at chemistry and that I’m fat).  I find it interesting that I can believe that I’m not good enough in some areas even though I have sufficient evidence to logically show that I am not, in fact, as bad as I believe myself to be.  It’s strange.  My brain is weird.

4. I’ve had depression for about three years.  I’m wondering if I might have psychotic depression.  Not that it would actually make any kind of a difference at this point.  I’m just wondering.

5. Recently, I’ve been having a recurring thought.  I keep thinking of a needle in my heart, and all the blood draining out until I die.  I have no idea why on earth I’d be thinking of that since I absolutely hate needles (despite being 17 and a half, I still act like a 3 year old when it comes to having blood drawn).  I guess more evidence that my brain is weird.

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Even More on Identity

I promise this is the last one.  Really.  I just wanted to link to a blog post that made me cry because it was so relevant.

Yesterday, I talked about how mental illness and disability can contribute to someone’s identity.  Here’s an awesome blog post I’ve had bookmarked for ages.  It made me cry the first time I read it.  It made me cry again reading it just now.  That’s a pretty big deal since I rarely if ever cry.

So here is a blog post about wanting a diagnosis written by Nattily over at Notes on Crazy.

More On Identity

Yesterday I wrote about values and how that’s important to identity.  It’s the obvious thing people think about when they discuss the idea of identity.  I’ve been thinking lately of another aspect of identity that is often overlooked because it doesn’t apply to everyone, but one that can be very, very important to the people that it does apply to.

Disability.  Mental illness.

Those aren’t things that people often think about when they think about identity, but they’re important.  Here’s why.

When I was younger, I struggled with many things (you can read about one of them here, but I also had other difficulties with social skills, motor coordination etc.).  I’ve been called all kinds of things.  ‘Lazy’, ‘stupid’, ‘stubborn’…  But in the sixth grade (after a learning specialist at my school suggested it for the second time), my parents took me to an educational psychologist who gave me a provisional diagnosis of ADHD.  Although I do not actually believe I have ADHD, the label was and is so important to me, because for the first time, I allowed myself to consider the possibility that I might actually not be broken or weird.  That I might just be a different kind of normal.  That there might be others out there who struggle the same way I do (which there are… I’ve found a few, although at the time I felt really alone).

It’s so easy to say “don’t let [diagnosis] define you/your child”.  It’s so easy to think that nobody wants to have labels like ADHD, autism, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia…  That’s not really true, or at least it isn’t true for me.  I’d rather have a word to describe my struggles, because it lends validation to the very real challenges I face in my life.  Because ‘anxiety’ is always a better label than ‘overreacting’ and if I had ADHD, that would be a better label than ‘lazy’ or ‘stubborn’.  [I read an excellent post about how labels are great as long as they’re the right label, but I can’t remember for the life of me which post it was or even where I saw it.   This post was heavily influenced by that one and I’d love to credit the author.  I will edit to include a link if I can remember.]

Having depression as an identity to validate the fact that certain things are harder for me than they are for people who don’t struggle with depression is really different from using my depression identity as an excuse to not make an effort to minimise the impact depression has on my life.  I try not to do too much of the excuse-making.  In fact, if someday I’m lucky enough to recover from depression, I’m (hopefully) not going to give up on recovery because I’m afraid of losing the identity.  But for now, I do have depression, and having that identity is better than being called lazy on those days when I simply cannot do something because getting up out of bed in the morning is the hardest and bravest thing I can manage for that day.

In Which I Ramble About Anxiety and Self-Diagnosis

I’m in the hospital so I now have a lot of free time to write stuff so I can get a few things off my chest. Wednesday was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for me. A lot of stuff happened and because I’m not currently in a depressive episode, I felt a lot of it pretty intensely.
I finished my mock exams. Chemistry. Three papers of it in a day. I was feeling really, really apprehensive about it because I feel a lot of pressure to do well because I’ve always been good at chemistry and therefore people have high expectations, or at least I think they do. I was also feeling a bit excited because my chemistry teacher had said that he thought I’d find the questions fun (which in his language, means they’d be really hard, but interesting…that didn’t help with the apprehension much). Anyways, the exams were fun, as promised, but because I hadn’t studied and because I missed a week of school right when we were doing the chapter on carbonyls, I found there were quite a few questions I wasn’t confident about answering.
Cue anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorder enters stage right. Honestly, I was kind of expecting that I’d have anxiety about the chemistry exam afterwards no matter what. That’s how my anxiety disorder works. I worry about everything, but particularly about things where the public perception of my intelligence and/or ability might be at stake. Reason and logic do not play a role in anxiety and even when I know how to answer a question, I worry about getting it wrong, or writing a technically correct but silly answer. Couple that with having to be assessed in a subject taught by my favourite teacher and it’s a near certainty that I will spend a great deal of time worrying about how I did.
Lately I’ve been having a new kind of anxiety. In addition to my performance/social/scared-of-the-dark/checking-behind-doors anxiety, I’ve started to have anxiety about my identity. Specifically about appropriating struggles of other people. I was initially self-diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Having that self-diagnosis made it possible for me to ask for help from a therapist (otherwise I would have thought my problems were too insignificant to deserve help) and it allowed me to accept that certain things are difficult for me due to my mental illnesses. The emotional validation of a diagnosis, even a self diagnosis was, for me at least, a major part of self acceptance and taking the steps I needed to take to improve my life and move forward. I didn’t take self diagnosis lightly at all and I carefully considered my symptoms against the diagnostic criteria and against the stories of personal experiences of people with depression and anxiety. Even so, I did have a certain degree of self-doubt, wondering if maybe I was overreacting and exaggerating (professional confirmation of my depression and anxiety made this worry go away, thankfully). More recently, I’ve been wondering if I might be autistic. On one hand, I see a lot of myself in some of the autistic people I’ve met, I identify with many of the things autistic bloggers write about and as far as I can tell, I meet the criteria for an autism spectrum disorder according to the DSM-5 and ICD-10 (I don’t meet the criteria according to the Cambridge Lifespan Asperger Syndrome Service, but on that one, the only criteria I don’t meet are the ones for lack of imagination).  My mother has mentioned that she can see why I might be autistic.  A few autistic individuals I’ve met online as well as my counselor who has an autistic son believe that I might be autistic.  Despite this, and despite my previous self-diagnosis having been confirmed to be correct, I worry nearly constantly that I’m appropriating the real struggles of real autistic individuals.

Part of that self-doubt comes from the fact that I realise that I have a certain bias in this.  I want an autism diagnosis.  That sounds like an odd thing to say, because who would want to have a disorder?  But if you look at it another way, whether or not I have the diagnosis, I am who I am.  Getting a diagnosis won’t make me magically and suddenly autistic.  The only thing a diagnosis can change is how I approach who I am.  An autism diagnosis could help me learn to accept why I am the way that I am, and that is really important.

Some people don’t get that labels can make you feel like you belong. They can make you feel you have a place where you fit in. And that means a lot when you’ve felt like you don’t belong, like you’re disconnected… Everyone deserves to feel like they belong. Please quit attacking people for labeling themselves when it helps them to realize they’re not alone. What others label themselves really doesn’t affect you.

lirpaiswolf

I don’t know if any of that made any sense, and I don’t think I really have a point I was trying to make.  If it didn’t make sense, I apologise, my painkillers are making the world feel a bit distant at the moment so my reality is distorted.