A (Mental) Road Less Often Traveled3 min read

One of the side effects of more people talking about neurodivergent experiences is that I find myself confusedly saying "Yeah, doesn’t everyone?" an AWFUL lot.

But even contemplating the idea that I am myself neurodivergent feels like shoving myself into a group (or label) that I really don’t have a claim to. (Yeah, this might sound familiar)

When I asked my friends list for input, I got quite a few responses that I can sum up as "Uh, yeah, dude, I always figured you were neurodivergent in some way."

But I also had some folks message me privately to express a pretty serious concern, and one I share. It’s the same concern I brought up myself about calling everything "narcissism".

I don’t think that I’m like the people who "joke" about being OCD when they merely double-check that they locked the front door. (If you don’t understand why I put "joke" in sarcasm quotes there, do some research on what OCD actually is.)

What challenges I may face due to … whatever my processing / thinking patterns are … do not hold a candle to the challenges faces by people who are diagnosed with ASD or have other diagnoses of cognitive differences. I definitely do not need to draw resources away from others facing those challenges.

And as some folks – and my physician – have pointed out, some of the typical "symptoms" of being neurodivergent are also brought about by extreme stress.

:: looks around at the last two years ::

So, yeah, there’s that, too.

In one way, it doesn’t matter how you came to identify with some of these neurodivergent memes. Because if a coping strategy works for you, or one model of thinking makes more sense than another to you, or it helps you be a better person and have a more fulfilling life, then great. And if it doesn’t… then stop using that model to understand yourself.

Maybe this is the crack in the armor that we need, where enough people are finally looking around and seeing this kind of difference, and realizing that "normal" is just something creating to make the military industrial complex more efficient. (No, really.)

If a label or model makes sense to your understanding of yourself, then go with it. If it helps you make better sense of the world, or gets you the aid and resources you need to have a fulfilling life, then that’s wonderful.

In the meantime, when it comes to allocating resources and pulling focus, I don’t think I’m going to claim being neurodivergent for myself (even though I’m going to take the results from this quiz and this quiz to my therapist), and I’m going to be damn careful to never use it as an excuse.

But when it comes to standing up for neurodivergent people, when it comes to celebrating differences, ensuring that kids on the spectrum get the resources they need, that ADHD isn’t a scapegoat, then you better be damn certain that I’ll be standing right there with my fellow neurodivergents.

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