[VIDEO BLOG] Therapeutic

If I get my attention issues under control,
you’re all going to be in trouSQUIIIIIIIIIIIIIRREL!!!

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This week, I started training for my next full-time day job — without revealing too much detail, I am very grateful and optimistic for the opportunity that has been presented to me. I can tell already that this is going to be a career that requires rising to many challenges, and giving the very best I have to offer. It feels like a natural progression of the work I have been doing on myself over the last three years to improve my empathy, interpersonal skillset, and ability to connect with others. If my art and expression is the calling of my public life, it feels as if I have found the raison d’etre of my personal life. Together, they form a harmonious balance that fills me with a great sense of purpose.

Over the past three years I have nearly eliminated my persistent anxiety and depression, and learned to manage temporary, situational anxiety. However, I am still struggling with executive function, especially tasks such as my book-keeping, household maintenance, prioritization of work, keeping a schedule, following directions, paying bills, and basically anything that is not interesting. These problems are not new — they are things I have always struggled with. I am doing better, largely through automating anything I can (auto-pay bills, automated book-keeping, etc.) and hanging a physical calendar in my kitchen that I write everything I must remember to do on. Habit is also helpful; i.e. I do not eat carbs, I wash the dishes every night before bed. But none of that is really addressing the underlying causes. It was only recently that I finally connected the dots between my constant behaviour issues as a child, wildly inconsistent performance in school (especially high-school), difficulties sitting through television shows and movies, thousands of unfinished art pieces and projects, and waffling between hyperfocus and inability to focus.

I also have something I never knew there was a word for, misphonia, which is a high-sensitivity to specific sounds that can even induce something called sound-rage. Stephen can tell you about my frequent, empty threats to throw his television set into the Mississippi River. My triggers are chewing gum and eating noises, unwanted music, and virtually all television if I am not actively watching it. Some repetitive noises also distress me. I am better at tuning it out than I used to be, but in the past I have walked out of jobs temporarily because someone was bouncing a basketball or playing with a noisy toy, and I became overstimulated to the point that I could think of nothing else.

(I cannot stand ear plugs, but I have noise-cancelling headphones.)

All of this opened me to the idea that I have probably been banging my head against the wall of undiagnosed and untreated ADHD for most of my life. At least a few people that see me regularly have expressed surprise that I did not already know when I brought it up. (“I thought maybe you didn’t want to take medication.” – Both of her kids have ADHD.) To some extent, I may have been self-medicating all this time with energy drinks and caffeine pills. I have an appointment in March with an ADHD specialist to get evaluated. I am also seeking regular counseling, not only to get to the bottom of my attention and focus problems, but to have a neutral third party that I can trust to keep me properly-oriented and healthy as my career grows. My mental state has not been helped at all by too many people and armchair psychologists for most of my life who wanted to tell me who I am, what I am, what is wrong with me, and what I should or should not be doing. I am listening only to professionals from now on, and I will not be gaslit or made to doubt myself anymore.

I had brunch with Lance on Saturday, and I was so happy when he described me as “thriving” lately. I have made so much improvement since surrounding myself with positive, healthy, secure, and well-adjusted people who care and want the best for me, and to watch me succeed. Outstanding individuals who have helped me learn healthy attachment, behaviours, boundaries, and trust through their own good examples. I have also learned what a powerful tool recognizing projection is — both for aiding self-awareness by examining your feelings about others, and for the understanding that how people perceive you is more about them than you. Most people, including myself in the past, tend to project their self-loathing and feelings of inadequacy out onto others. This might take the form of anger, judgement, vindictiveness, self-flagellation, or even ingratiating people-pleasing. The bottom line is that you cannot save yourself by saving others, nor can you lift yourself by beating others down.

There is only one way — to truly love, respect, and value yourself.

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