Pattern Spotting/Not Anxiety

(Content warning – a lot of mental health stuff)

I found it. Far too late. But I did find it. I’ve been looking for patterns as part of therapy. I knew there was one left, there’s probably more but I knew there was a really important one, I just couldn’t see it properly. I think I can now of course, really fucking wish I couldn’t, or that I’d spotted it sooner but that isn’t how any of this works of course. Horribly enough there’s probably nuance I haven’t yet seen.

I’ve done a lot of what we’re covering in therapy before; good self talk, not situating your self-worth in other people’s opinions, that sort of thing. Looking for patterns of behaviour when it comes to these moments of self-destruct in our lives. Am I locating my notions of self-worth in someone else’s opinion and thus dating people who treat me badly? That kind of thing. And no I’m not. What I am doing is treating people badly due to lack of impulse control and avoidant attachment patterns. Oh not often, I think- I hope but over the past thirty years I’ve got enough examples to see it. Now I have anyway.

One thing I don’t often put on this blog is actual diagnoses that I have, well my main employer knows them and isn’t likely to fire me anytime soon so I’ll shove them up here. I met with a psychiatrist just to forestall any arguments about self-diagnosis – godsdamn valid by the way. So I have ADHD, ASD, CPTSD and Depression. The diagnosis roughly ten years ago of Anxiety and Depression the psychiatrist ventured to say might (because he was covering his arse) be a matter of mistaking ASD for Anxiety. That by the way makes an awful lot of sense to me, because that would explain why I have spent the past decade repeatedly saying ‘my Anxiety doesn’t present like that’ to people who actually do have Anxiety and why all the things that calm mine exacerbate theirs – I am so so sorry everyone I’ve ever presented with information in precisely the wrong way – it genuinely calms me that way round.

It looks like I’ve been unknowingly gaming my brain to get anything done by balancing the ASD in opposition to the ADHD and the pair of them in varying combination against the PTSD. So smart, but also – so constantly fucking up in the middle of Depression.

The really interesting thing of course is how this plays into some attitudes of mine. Now the Therapy is of course concentrating on the CPTSD, looking at trauma responses disguising themselves as personality traits. So, ones I’ve recognised – “not interested in intimate relationships” (I don’t do love anyone?), “needing someone to nurture/look after” – ok this one takes a bit more unpacking. I’ve never thought I needed someone to nurture but BBM and others have always said I’m nurturing towards my partners – far in excess of expectation. “Identity rooted in helping others” – maybe not in the traditonal female role sense but I already worked out that my job is based around my monetising trauma survival skills and I knew I was unhappy with quite how I help my friends but not able to place a finger on what or why (since I do enjoy a lot of what I do).

Ok, so there’s the CPTSD hiding in the less obvious corners, let’s go back to ‘I don’t do love’, my previous stance on relationships shall we? Specifically my statements for the past twenty years about not trusting myself when I’m in love, that big hit of dopamine, seratonin and oxytocin or whatever it is chemically. I manage my ADHD by pulling on my ASD and visa versa. I have been told that my ASD behaviours are Anxiety and I should feel free to let go once in a while, often I’m told this after I’ve expressed concern about causing problems when I do just let go. But that’s all in my head right? It’s Anxiety after all. No it sodding isn’t, it’s ASD desperately trying to keep the jumping butterfly brain of ADHD to focus on the list of important stuff rather than the single shiny thing pulling its attention right now. The poor fucking ASD that also has to deal with the Swiss cheese of CPTSD encouraging the ADHD to solely focus on that shiny thing over there and forget anything else because clearly someone I’m around thinks it’s important.

FJ used to remark on my ability to completely compartmentalise my brain to the extent that I would forget things had happened until I focused on them again, he called it compartmentalising from myself. How fucking right he was. That’s CPTSD survival mode right fucking there. That’s hiding what you love because it’ll get taken away or mocked or both and that got doubled down on in my teens because I fucking liked girls. I can hear Giggles saying I was a robot who only turned on her emotions at particular times right now and my being unable to work out why they just seemed to do that. Better not reveal how important anything is because it’ll get taken away – and I’ve tried to deliberately fight that one not that I realised what I was doing or what I was fighting. And then I get reactions like The Princess asking me if I was dying because why else would I be saying how much I loved her?!

Christ it’s not Anxiety, the preparation – that’s a good thing it’s not working in opposition to good instincts it’s keeping a check on the inability to fucking focus. And how do we think this works around Love? How do we think? When there’s this whole social story about how we should just Fall in Love and get whisked away by it all? It’s not Anxiety making me take a breath, it’s how my brain needs to function in order to operate well. Combine that with an instinct for hiding what’s important to me and well great, that explains my ability to totally fuck up in particularly happy circumstances over the years. Don’t say it out loud feeds into the idea that actions speak louder than words and you don’t realise that it’s an unhelpful trauma response not a fucking part of yourself – of course no one notices what’s important to you the whole thing is designed to stop that and it’s still doing as designed without you realising it. By you I of course mean me.

Call myself a pattern spotting animal? I really missed this one, I also really needed a psychiatrist about fifteen years ago in order to get here sooner. I mean, at least I get to be conscious of what I’m doing now, that means it stands a better chance of working at least. I’m beyond frustrated though, why the hell couldn’t I have got here without hurting my friends?

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