Most of the time, sounds cause my auditory processing to send me into fight-or-flight mode. So before I know it, I'm dropping everything I'm doing to fight or to flee.
I’ve been on a journey discovering my neurodiversity all 37 years of my life, and while I can’t say the journey has been easy, during the last two years, I’ve really started to understand what it means to be neurodivergent. For better or for worse, I am and always will be. And while on difficult days I wish things were different, I am learning the strength in my differences. And in myself. And I have a lot to be thankful for.
I recently bought a new pair of slippers because the pair I had been wearing were falling apart so badly that it became difficult to walk in them. I came home, put my new slippers on, cut the tags off and threw my old slippers into the garbage. Something I never do. Usually, it takes me days, sometimes even weeks, to adjust to something new to wear. It sits in my closet until one day, I feel prepared to give it a go. And I should have known better than to throw out my old slippers. Because I needed more time to decide if wearing the new ones was something I could handle.
Interacting with others is difficult for me, especially interacting with more than one person at a time. The day after interacting, I often feel foggy, regretful, ill at ease. From taking in too much. The social cocktail has gotten the best of me yet again. I am left feeling drained and wishing I hadn't consumed so much.
I read about having a sensory diet a few years before I started one, and I wish I would've started one right away, but I didn’t understand how drastically it would improve my life. Then my occupational therapist (OT) helped me understand that engaging my senses often throughout the day would help me stay regulated. Help me stay in my body and avoid dissociating. A concept that was new to me. I never knew I had been leaving.
As I sat in the conference room for the second day, I was most likely dissociating to cope with the overwhelming intake of sensory stimuli: the fluorescent lights buzzing above, the smells in the air, the room full of people moving and talking unexpectedly.
As a baby, I had colic. I would cry no matter what my parents did. As a toddler, I would rip my clothes off, screaming and thrashing until I was free from them. As a child, I became quickly overwhelmed. By lights, sounds, smells. By groups of people. I wouldn’t eat most foods. I would only sit in certain seats at restaurants. I would have meltdowns on a daily basis.