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General

Neurodiversity and Traveling: 16 Ways to Meet Your Needs While Away

When I was a little girl, I imagined I could shrink my bedroom into a box that would fit in the palm of my hand and that I could magically put it back to its original size wherever I went. To keep me safe. And to have everything I needed with me while traveling.

Now, in my late thirties, I find traveling difficult not only because of the inevitable changes in routines and environments and overwhelming interactions and stimulation, but because of the number of things I need to bring with me in order to have my needs met while away. But, not only is traveling sometimes necessary, I also love breathing in the air of a place I’ve never been before. Feeling adventurous, and if only for moments at a time, free.



Auditory Processing

Noise-friendly Neighborhoods: A Sensory Utopia

It’s 9 a.m. I have my tea, my weighted blanket and my morning’s readings. I am calm. Regulated. Even quite peaceful. Then it starts. I always hope it’s just a truck passing by, but I’m not so lucky today. One of my neighbors has started mowing their lawn. A noise that is detrimental to my well-being. Before the panic can ensue, causing my body to become completely unregulated, I get up quickly and turn on the loud oven fan to try to drown the noise out. I grab my noise-canceling headphones. I settle back in, relieved I acted before the noise got to me. But I can still hear it. I can feel it. So I put on some brainwave music through my noise-canceling headphones to try to calm my nerves. And breathe.

Loud sounds, especially those with a high pitch or a heavy vibration, cause me to feel out of my mind. Well, technically, out of my body. Putting all of my on-edge nerves over the edge. And the danger is that many of these sounds can send my body into an immediate fight-or-flight response.



General

Neurodiversity and Mental Health: Using Routine as a Map to Regulation and Self-care

I’ve always needed things to be the way I need them to be. Insistently. Demandingly. Holding my sanity hostage. For if things aren’t the way I need them to be, I’ll have a meltdown. And if too many things aren’t the way I need them to be, a breakdown.

This is something I couldn’t describe when I was younger and I’ve had to learn to navigate now that I’m older. I’ve always been considered picky or particular. My need for things to be a certain way coming across to others as spoiled or high-maintenance. But really, I just need things to be a certain way to be able to function. Which is why for everything I do, I have my own way of doing it. My own routine.



Mental Health

Neurodiversity and Regulation: The Out-of-sync Adult

To me, being regulated means my mind, body and soul are connected. Centered. That my senses are stabilized. All eight of them. That my mental, emotional or physical needs have not taken over. That everything is aligned and in place. Being regulated means I am the truest version of myself.

I need a lot to stay regulated. To reach that balance between being overstimulated and what I guess would be normal. Perhaps calm is a better, less-stigmatized word. I have to refrain from being over- or under-stimulated. From having too much going on at once or not enough. For excitement is just as dangerous as discouragement. Because either can make everything come crashing down. It’s always a struggle for me that even my happiness can be dangerous.



Chakra

Neurodiversity and Fight-or-flight Response: How Occupational Therapy Saved My Life by Teaching Me to Regulate My Nervous System and the 16 Things I’ve Learned

Dedication


This week’s blog is dedicated to my occupational therapist — words cannot express my gratitude for guiding me through my pain and for helping me learn to regulate my nervous system; our work has changed my life — and to a special young man I had the pleasure of meeting this week — may you begin to see your true self, work to forgive yourself and learn to love yourself; I hope you feel better very soon.

A Little History


I've been going to occupational therapy for close to one year now. I was referred to an occupational therapist (OT) by a psychiatrist because, after over 20 years of seeking help and trying everything to get better, while there were slight improvements in my well-being, something was still extremely wrong.



General

Mental Health and Self-love: At 38, I…

                                                                          Inspired by Lena Dunham’s Instagram post: 


Lena Dunham, Instagram. 2019.

At 38:


I know who I am.

I understand my mind, body and soul both separately and whole.

I am the strongest I’ve...


Mental Health

Neurodiversity and Sleep: 16 Ways to Calm Your Nervous System and Your Mind to Sleep Better


I have a very active mind, which is great for a lot of things (until it gets obsessive), but it's never great for sleeping, and if you add my overactive, often unregulated, nervous system, it's a recipe for insomnia. I find this typical for people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and sensory processing disorder (SPD); every part of ourselves stays too stimulated to come down, unwind and sleep.

For decades, I kept a...