Sunday, December 30, 2012

The borders of me

My own particular ADHD presentation has been a significant impairment (and, of course, advantage) since early childhood. Like so many diagnoses that have landed later in my life, I can chart-out the onset of various tics and stimming practices, various odd mental states, from my earliest memories (I have reliable episodic memory from about 2½ years of age). All the same, my self-assembled coping mechanisms sufficed to get me (if only barely) through five excruciating semesters of a particularly challenging undergraduate program, at which point I spontaneously developed a panoply of seemingly arbitrary neuroses and sleep disorders. A year or so of research, experimentation, and reflection later, I settled on a stimulant treatment (Adderall, a mixture of R- and L-Amphetamine salts, and a SDRI (presently duloxetine HCl in subclinical dosage, but I've tried a few over the years) for cingulate gyrus issues) that made [mostly] everything just work again. That was over a decade ago, now.

Many things have changed in the intervening years. I take ever so much better care of myself, now, than I did then. I have a much more realistic and intimate understanding of my nervous system's capabilities and limitations, and how they degrade (both gracefully and otherwise) over time under persistent abuse. I know, now, how fundamental a healthy mind is to the maintenance of emotional wisdom and strength, and I am committed—for the sake of my self and my family—to protecting my mental health.

I have more insight, now, into certain traits that once seemed to be unusual offshoots of my existing diagnoses, if not outright inexplicable. It so happens that I am dissociation-prone. My emotional detachment and level mood stem from this rather than from a neurotransmitter-cycle mutation in the neurons of my limbic system. I am a survivor of childhood trauma, which likely led to my dissociative predilection. I am transgender, the neurological implications of which I am still unraveling. I am neurologically improbable in several other ways, with potential memory impairments having developed into unusually facile and encyclopedic mnemonic ability, dysfunction in episodic memory organization having produced a mind forever storytelling rather than a disoriented amnesiac. I have begun to complete entire sections of the puzzle, though it will likely never be done.

The time has come, I feel, to begin cataloging certain anecdotes that have become touchstones for me, that serve as markers and landmarks in my experience of daily variations in mental function. They are outliers, some strange, some horrible, some amusing. They are all a part of me.

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