A Neurodiverse Universe


Colored diversity in the brain space.

           In a world of neurotypical individuals—those that have brain chemistry considered normal under any accepted societal standard—it is impossible to be fully understood as a neurodivergent individual in terms other than described in the terminology and stigma of one’s diagnosed condition. The basic reasoning behind the stance is that while a neurotypical individual may seek to connect empathetically they simply lack the peculiar mental quirks that would allow them to experience the world in a similar enough capacity to enjoinder a true sympathetic response and facilitate open rapport on a significant level. Both of these are relatively new terms that are gaining in popularity and acceptance following in tow with the Neurodiversity Movement which seeks to strengthen the popular theory that rather than engendering through a stigmatized population the acceptance and understanding needed by those that fall under the current header of mentally ill it is possible to change the overall perspective and the conversation itself

            This is a good point to establish a clear cut definition of what I mean by neurodivergent. Nick Walker does a wonderful job presenting this through his advocacy website and defines neurodivergent as “having a brain that functions in ways that diverge significantly from the dominant societal standards of ‘normal.’” Some common examples would include autism, schizophrenia, dyslexia, or epilepsy. Within these neurominorities exists a continuum of specialized perception and thought patterns that are often referred to as distortions from the normal way of processing information and ideas. In more extreme cases, the manifestation of this can take the form of hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, or even extreme intelligence isolated to select areas of expertise. Speaking as an individual diagnosed as multiply neurodivergent through extensive brain changes owing to Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) and schizoaffective bipolar disorder, I can attest to how isolating the current paradigm can feel even as there are those that reach out their hands to cross the neuroverse to create a bridge of hope.

            As noted by Patrick Corrigan and Amy Watson in their study to understand the impact of stigmas on people with mental illness, “…people with mental illness are robbed of the opportunities that define a quality of life: good jobs, safe housing, satisfactory health care, and affiliation with a diverse group of people.” They conjecture that this happens because of a dual stigma that exists in regard to mental illness that exacerbates stressors of the underlying personal and societal pressures we all face and compounds the challenges faced by the mentally ill—or by our new definition—neurodivergent person. “Table 1” has a beautiful breakdown of their stigma specific findings relating to those afflicted with mental illnesses.

Table 1

Comparing and contrasting the definitions of public stigma and self-stigma

Public stigma
Stereotype Negative belief about a group (e.g., dangerousness, incompetence, character weakness)
Prejudice Agreement with belief and/or negative emotional reaction (e.g., anger, fear)
Discrimination Behavior response to prejudice (e.g., avoidance, withhold employment and housing opportunities, withhold help)
Self-stigma
Stereotype Negative belief about the self (e.g., character weakness, incompetence)
Prejudice Agreement with belief, negative emotional reaction (e.g., low self-esteem, low self-efficacy)
Discrimination Behavior response to prejudice (e.g., fails to pursue work and housing opportunities)

            In essence, as those coined mentally ill find it, they are stigmatized both by society as a whole and by themselves—I know I’ve found the latter to be sometimes the more difficult proposition to deal with many times in my life. So what about changing the tone of the conversation through simple adjustment to the vernacular? Neurodiversity is the idea that we are all part of a neurologically complex network of individuals for whom there may well be no standard normal from which to deviate when taken at the grandest of scales. Building from Watson and Corrigan’s work, it is the concept that there is an imposition of normalcy placed on us by societies and self that could be adjusted to reflect instead a microcosm of beautiful and talented people with highly segmented skills, assets, gifts, and attributes amongst the “special” portions of the population.

            My original statement does hold; for instance, I do not believe that I could adequately explain in great enough detail to a neurotypical individual the emotional turbulence and isolating idiosyncratic moments that emerged from being fully delusional and believing that I was an android after losing my own personal identity to the extent that I didn’t know even my own gender. It’s simply an unfathomable state to consider finding oneself in, I mean after all, we all know where to look to discover what gender we are. Brett Heasman and Alex Gillespie suggest in a study “…that neurodivergent intersubjectivity reveals potential for unconventional forms of social relating and that a within-interaction analysis is a viable methodology for exploring neurodivergent communication.” In essence, scientists out there are working on improving the understanding of how to improve on the degrees of communication required to more fully bridge the gap to create a neurodiverse interactivity that would allow us to tap the remarkable talents of all the people out there regardless of genetic predisposition and structure. For me, this is also an acknowledgement that currently, we aren’t quite there yet.

           All things considered however, I too share a dream of inclusion like Mr. King did years ago. That one day those things that make me unique amongst all the other two legged flowers out there won’t be a hindrance, but might yet be construed as an asset that I can bloom to my fullest extent. We are all radiant in our own ways, neurotypical and neurodivergent alike; it’s part of the dramatic portrait that paints humanity the multitude of colors we show as on the spectrum of life.

Works Cited

Corrigan, Patrick W. & Watson, Amy C. Understanding the impact of stigma on people with mental illness. World Psychiatry. 2002 February 1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1489832/

Heasman, Brett & Gillespie, Alex. Neurodivergent intersubjectivity: distinctive features of how autistic people create shared understanding. 2018 August 3 https://doi.org/10.1177/1362361318785172

Walker, Nick. Neurodiversity: Some Basic Terms & Definitions. Neurocosmopolitanism. 2014 September 27 https://www.neurocosmopolitanism.com/neurodiversity-some-basic-terms-definitions

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Musings from the Borderlands (BPD)


Tuberculosis in those gasping fits of indulgent wheezes spraying the viscous life goo out in a spray. A misting of not so mild proportions even if the emotional fluid is less clingy initially than blood, it still latches on and shows up in the worst of spots.

The time you decided to gauge your ears and that a pen was the logical jump – pressure couldn’t hold back the infection, or the stable nutrient sludge from leaving a heavy velvet trail down the side of your neck.

Pressure can’t hold back everything, it builds on itself until there’s a raucous and feverish exhalation as the balance shifts and pop there goes the cap.

Just so with love in the quieter stages of a new relationship where urgency tears apart at your genitals, your heart, your mind, and all you want to do is sleep and talk and fuck and cuddle and touch and gaze and there’s a missing component sitting at the back of your mind whenever you’re not around the object of your infatuation soon to beget something more….

It’s an incredible array of emotions that comprise us as people in this world, so much so that the involuntary act of vomiting up a tempest of undigested feels and such onto another can be as easily described in the lead in as something detestable, rather than beautiful.

I know I like to think to that moment when the dam breaks and truest of joys radiates in a way that lets energy ripple its way across the lips and my skin seems to be afire with passionate rightness….love, or anger, sometimes they can be dual sides to the same ride, a peaceful lake to a jet boat ride or some such adrenaline rush.

But man, when I look into those eyes.

I still melt.

Smile Damnit


Hit me with the zap darling,

Break apart the cheek sockets,

Gimme a zing that chews joy,

Spits grit and evaporates misery,

I’d like one for the road,

Splintering that jaw bone,

Forcing the brightside parade of glee,

And even if,

I’ve got tongue sized words to disagree,

They don’t matter much,

When eyes twitch out of touch,

I’m lubricated,

Half insane,

Thank God for magic moments,

Watching sadness drift down a drain.

Overloaded


Stagger and stumble,

It’s nothing if not simple overload,

So when you hear my voice fumble,

I wasn’t trying to goad,

There’s maximum saturation,

No matter how clear you flowed,

My mind lacks your maturation,

Information gets lost despite how you sowed.

BPD Splitting


If it were to be the way that BPD were,

You’d be a goddess or a demon all cut pure,

In gleaming shards of perfect,

You’d hate with everything,

You’d love without anything in reserve.

There would be no middle ground,

No gray area to be common found,

I’d split your single you into two,

Burn effigy of the one not true,

Until the times they changed again,

And I realized that you were my truest friend.

Thank God you’ve showed me to look beyond,

Hear the words your actions write,

When ears signal music to a different song,

You’ll remain imperfectly perfect,

Beautifully flawed,

Like us all.

Externaphizing


Hoping the jury is out.

I’m coming to the realization that on so many different levels I am either a remarkably calloused and demanding individual or there is a screw truly loose (several more likely) upstairs. It’s the only thing that can, or would, account for such indiscriminate moments of self indulgent burbling and behaviour as leads me to regularly overlook the concerns of those loving figures in my life. Unless I am well and truly an actual certifiable dick.


I’m even finding a flair for it in the fact that I tend to fixate on my own reactions and actions in situations – pre-emptively justifying some flagrant display of asinine “my way or the highway” choice making prowess with a fixated smile plastered in disregard on my face (which I will only later realize to my own chagrin). If I were to explore the world around me, step outside of this little glass room and observe that what I previously represented as fun was actually a brazen push off of my wife’s emotions and verbalized needs (supplanted by my own), irresponsible actions that drained coffers and put us at risk, and a worthless extension of a wonderful day into the doldrums and mire of a night huddled at opposite sides of the van.

Somewhere along the lines there is a lynchpin moment – like when I say, “wow, we are getting along great recently!” Klaxons should go off inside my head that any moment now my own self-destruct sequence just silently clicked on and started down. If I can chase back that singular moment as it happens and repetitiously drill it into my head that this is the moment where a choice can mean the validation of goodwill and genuine happiness being experienced and a continuation thereof, or disaster and a repeat of the same overplayed mistakes once again.

It seems intuitive that anyone would want to sustain positivity and goodvibes that are making themselves felt in an interpersonal dynamic – so why does my brain blank to suddenly and with seeming intent when it comes to taking the basic neccessary steps to do so? I don’t like the burned out husk of joy that is left when I don’t, no one does. If I have to be self serving enough to recognize the discomfort that the miss of that moment will bring to myself in order to identify the external impact that will precede, so be it.


I really hope I’m not just a dick. That would really be terrible.

Stuck


Stuck on,

Wash, rinse, repeat,

Stuck on,

Reading the same page.

Stuck on,

Making the same mistakes,

Stuck on,

Being stuck on.

Not a Normal Zoo


Tremulous chattering in the van like we’re beetles in heat. Something like that anyways. Its fucking cold but it sure beats being on the street. Time to start on one of those commitments. That thing where we write everyday, try to spew out the content that drives each of us bonkers, makes us sicker and crazier than anything else upstairs no matter how much we beg and pray.

There’s joy to be found here. In the way that our interactions have changed. Its subtle, so very subtle, but present and there’s no denying the pleasure it brings. Instead of side eyed looks they come straight on, a touch of passion, and I’m even back to singing terribly constructed spasmodic morning songs.

Like a drunk man who’s way too sober christening each second with noise to blot out all of the thoughts before they come screaming to his room begging for their toys.

But it’s all got a rhythm to it. A banging irrational rhythm.

From the awkward sex making in the cubbyhole cavern with blanket draped window we reside, to the front seats arm deep in residue from yesterday which resides. You’d think we were animals, but that’s far from true. The hallucinations today have me convinced that we’re clearly not part of the normal zoo.

Summertime Delusion – A Letter


All credit to The Hamer https://www.deviantart.com/the-hamer/art/Little-Soldier-Boy-182842008

Despite every frothing nuanced prayer that initializes my psyche, the distorted grimace of broken promises and lost understanding, perched atop a wistful hallucination, a misted and cloaked recollection of the past run doggedly down by the present pretense.

If ever there was something akin more to the listless and forgiving welcome end of the fight with the embittered arrogance of senses beguiled by a world at odds with the wasted conviction that drives each of us to draw determined store each day.

I don’t want to see that shit.

It’s going to remain a figment of some darker god’s plaything.

Poor darlings chained up until the scent of dread and hate and playful desperation and longing and weakness and fear cum resignation. Soaks the fingers loose from greased clasp on steel.

Fucking breaking would be the sweetest of releases.

To find forgiveness in deceit , blunder through fields of denial, laden and swollen deep with the putrid rage at self and world.

Just take one more day beautiful.

Please.

I’m begging through this weakness and shame of my indignant mistrust.

Please.

Please show me I’m crazy enough that I won’t die in my hate lust that these fears have spawned.

I’ll be your puppy faced joker.

Your sterile cat of misapprehension.

Feed me your sin to mirror mine and kiss these wounds to sew them shut against a clot of your mercy. The sheen was lost so long ago and hasn’t been a clean reflection since you woke me to a world of normalcy bathed in the crackled genius of the wounded.


Errr….and then words….


Composite a spectrum,

Diagnosis alternative nostrum,

Qualifier doctrine placenta,

I’d call it a kid if only it were one.

So, birthplace be lobed,

Rounded and gray matter globed,

Because words man,

Them is the things that I once loved.