I was at an outdoor concert in an idyllic setting listening to some of my favourite music and yet, less than 5 minutes into it, I realised some part of me was screaming an existential scream, knowing I was going to be sat there like this for the next couple of hours. Admitting I have ADHD, that I am wired to need more dopamine than most, that I am rewarded by all kinds of stims (and not all are created equal...plus some are much harder to come by when your health is compromised) is proving to be a massive step towards understanding chronic illness, how it came about and why it perpetuates.
Some of us have thinner boundaries, we perceive more and process far more deeply but is this a mistake, a curse or an error in our makeup...or are we simply looking at this all wrong?
When you live with EDS, MCAS, POTS or any of the several forms of neurodiversity its so important never to cease experimenting with what triggers or supports you best as your particular mix of ideal exposures and conditions is likely to be quite different to the next person's. Take, for instance, the effects of the sun...
Perhaps more than any other aspect of chronic illness I have ever had to deal with, including chronic unrelenting pain, dysautonomia has the ability to throw your entire life into disarray, permeating every single aspect of your life in ways that can be as invisible to the casual bystander as they are devastating. Is there a bright side, things we can learn, ways of living with it better?
Twice-exceptionality is such fertile territory to explore for anyone who may have even an inkling it applies to them (assumng they can get over the sticking point of using that much stigmatised word “gifted” for long enough to even consider it). The effect of being gifted in some areas and yet held back in others can make a person seem as though they are coping when they really aren’t, and it can also deprive them of the help, understanding and accommodations they desperately need for their deficit areas, as well as the recognition they deserve for their exceptionality. The outcome can be a lifetime of lost potential, fallen through the cracks, or even total burnout...until both the giftedness and challenges can be seen side by side and looked at in a whole new way.
Women with ADHD tend not look like men with ADHD; we often hide it, we work around it, we express it differently and we harness it in ways that allow us to excel and do our suffering in private, we even seem to feel about it a different way to most men, so its absolutely essential to find other women and hear what they have to say if you are going to work out if this is really you!
Illnesses stop us in our tracks and call time on the old ways of being that no longer fit who we are. Often, they are an invitation to look deep into the corners of our life and do some real work…the kind of work that brings us into love and acceptance of who we really are, beyond the stories and expectations that get overlayered by our crazy and demanding lives. Often, there is an opportunity to be found in our own disarray and, once we find it there, it doesn’t stop giving…not ever, for the rest of our lives.
Getting to know yourself is, in my opinon, the single most important thing you ever get to do in your life...and its often a golden key to all those other unfathomables that may be "going on", such as persistent health issues. Above all, depathologising the way you were made is an essential step to discovering the sense of wholeness and peace in your life that may have so far eluded you.
Do you have marked seasonal difference in your health symptoms? Many people do! However, when we learn to accept them, know them and work with them we get to find a new kind of equilibrium in spite of them, and that brings its own seasonal gifts.
Coming to understand yourself is the single most important thing you get to do in your life! When it comes to healing a chronic condition, some of the tools you can use to understand your personality type can reveal explicit treatment approaches, lifestyle and even useful attitude modifications that might otherwise elude you, because they spotlight things about YOU that might not apply to the next person.