Here is part 3, discussing anxiety, self-esteem and intimacy. Enjoy and I hope it helps and raises awareness further. 🙂
Colleen – On a scale of 0-10, where would you put yourself as far as general happiness and life satisfaction? If there was some way to magically be neuro-typical, would you take it?
Good question. 🙂 I would say about I’m about a 7 or an 8 on average. Sometimes I dip to a 5 but only for a few days at a time. I’m incredibly lucky – I’ve always been a positive person who doesn’t like to dwell on things for too long. Life is what you chose to make it. Shit happens but I think it’s how we all deal with that shit that shapes who we become, well that’s just my way of looking at it and I understand it’s not like that for everyone else.
There is absolutely no way I would want to be neuro-typical, in fact I couldn’t imagine anything worse! Don’t get me wrong I haven’t always felt like this. I spent most of my life wishing I was ‘normal’ just so the pain would stop. I longed to be accepted but once I accepted that I was different the pain eased. I realised that it was okay to be me, that I did have a place and purpose in this world and that I could be loved. I don’t think I would be me without PDA. I like who am. PDA is my gift that I can use to help others. 🙂
Debbie – How did people help you with your anxiety when you were younger? How do they help you now? And what if anything has changed?
That’s a difficult one to answer. I tend to keep my anxiety to myself, not because no one would understand but simply because if I did tell them then it would be all I talk about! I feel anxious most of the time – it’s just bubbling away under the surface. Simple tasks can push me over the edge. Apart from having an extremely understanding and supportive family and network of friends I don’t have any help with my anxiety, such as medication or therapy, and none has ever been offered since I turned 18. I’m not sure I want that either, I’ve learnt to manage okayish without it and I’m not sure how I would deal with an outsider know-it-all coming in and telling me what’s what. It’s been a long time since I was ‘in the system’ and I don’t really want to open up old wounds. The people around me just know it’s there, under the surface, without me saying. I do tell them, if I can, when it’s about to boil over though – more for their benefit than mine. Time and space is also key. If I say “leave me the hell alone!” then do it. I mean it. I need to be allowed to process the jumble of feelings that are racing through my mind and I can’t do that if someone is there going on and on. Pressing ‘pause’ on things is often the only way I process when I’m on the edge, which I will add happens about once a week now. I think many think that I don’t lose it or have meltdowns anymore but I do. They just aren’t as frequent. Neither are they violent or as lengthy as they used to be but they do still happen.
I’ve always felt anxiety but my fuse has got much longer over the years and so have the triggers. Having people around me who ‘get it’ is the most important thing when it comes to anxiety. Most of my childhood was spent by me feeling intense anxiety but not being able to explain it to people and having ‘traditional’ parenting/schooling inflicted on me so I wouldn’t say that it was managed at all then. I don’t think many realised that anxiety was the root issue. For the first 12 years of my life you have to remember I was ‘just a naughty child’ who needed ‘a good smack’. Once I was diagnosed and the adults involved with my case got on board with PDA then it was much easier and my anxiety was seen as just that and then it began to be reduced. We all then worked bloody hard to undo 12 years of damage for mismanagement and misunderstanding.
Sonja – How do I preserve my child’s self-esteem? What is the one thing you wish your parents knew? And my husband asks: how have you controlled/managed your meltdowns within yourself?
I’m going to have to answer this with the answer that I give most of all and that is: self-awareness is key. They need to know about PDA. Talk to them, please. How can we possibly expect children to make sense of themselves and manage their behaviours if we don’t give them all the facts first? They need to be given the facts and they need to know that it’s okay. Explain that they aren’t alone and that just because they act badly at times it doesn’t mean that they are bad or wrong. Tell them that you understand, even if at times you don’t. Comfort them. Love them.
I wish that my parents were given the affirmation that they needed that it wasn’t ‘bad parenting’ or some other fault of theirs because then I would have been helped sooner and they would have talked to me, explained things and understood me.
As far as meltdowns go it’s been a very long road and one that I haven’t had much outside help with. For me it’s been a personal battle and one that no one could help me with. I had to experience the inner turmoil of seeing the people I loved hurt by my actions but not being able to stop myself from hurting them in order to find ways of coping and not lashing out. It got to a point when I couldn’t cope with the guilt if I hurt them anymore so I was forced to look inward and find a way to stop. It took a lot of work and years of upset but I got there in the end. Developing empathy helped massively.
Anna – Were you distant as a child? Did you prefer to be left alone in your own little world and if so did your family let you be or did they keep trying to reach you?
I was an extremely ‘social’ child, well I liked to be the centre of attention! When I played though I often would play the same game, alone, for hours and I liked it like that. For example I would play with my dolls house on my own for the entire day. No one ‘interrupted’ me either. I think for a number of reasons but mostly because it was clear that at that moment in time I needed some space and they were all probably glad of the space and time away from me! I think it’s important to learn when your child needs that time and space and to allow them to have it. I think it’s also important to still ask them if they would like you to join them but don’t push it and don’t worry when they say no. Remember that our ‘normal’ isn’t the same as yours. Sometimes we need a break from your world, just as you sometimes need a break from our world. Remember that and never use ‘normal’ as your benchmark. 🙂
Tracy – What ‘can’t live without’ advice would you give to kids, teens and emerging adults?
I’m going to start sounding like a broken record here but – self-awareness, learn as much as you can about PDA, talk to people with it, talk to your family and friends but most importantly don’t hate yourselves. Acceptance. You aren’t wrong or bad. You aren’t alone. Love yourself.
Anon – Do you have any issues with intimacy? Were there any problems when you were a child, such as hugging random people?
Intimacy isn’t an issue now but it has been in the past. You see I have always trusted people right from the word go. They never had to earn my trust – it was just given freely and, as you can, imagine some men took advantage of this and it left me not trusting them. Thankfully I struck gold when I met Paul and he showed me that not all men are arseholes. 🙂
As a child I was very inappropriate across the board with strangers, including running up and hugging them. I grew out of such things when I was about 14.
Love to you all. X