Sensory Integration whaaa? #MentalHealth

I originally posted this on Facebook and thought that was more than enough exposure, but I have a feeling that reaching out to others (and emulating the courage I see in folks who do it routinely) about this mental health thing might be helpful for me, in some weird ‘I don’t quite get it but it seems to have some Zen-like benefit in there somewhere’ kind of way.

And as someone who made it FORTY-SEVEN FUCKING YEARS without a diagnosis (OK, maybe 42, I remember being 7 and having issues with sounds and textures, lights and emotions), if posting this sparks any kind of recognition in even one other person, it’ll be worth it. Because as the smart young lady over at Eating Off Plastic says,

I’m almost certain nobody that has this condition actually enjoys it

 

True dat.

Everyone has some kind of sensory sensitivity, or certainly everyone I’ve ever met. But please don’t confuse that with Sensory Processing Disorder (or Sensory Integration Disorder, which I somewhat prefer). Crank ALL your senses, including the emotional ones, up to 13, 24/7/365 (yes, even while asleep) x 4 decades and then let’s talk.

And I’m high-functioning. God only knows what it’s like to have this and not be. On the other hand, my very high-functioningnessabilityation is probably to blame for my rather elevated* levels of anxiety, but oh well. We’re dealing with that.

So here’s the text of the Facebook post, shared a bit more widely than the close family and friends I target over there. Now please excuse me while I go hide under a rock and pretend I didn’t do this.


Long post about my mental health incoming.

Today I had my last permitted consultation with the amazing and wonderful Cognitive Behavioral Health lady at the 377th Medical Group in ABQ. An hour later my referral to UNM Neuropsychology (which had been languishing on the desk of my newly-promoted-to-Captain Primary Care Manager [aka Doctor for Euros]) came through, so that will be the next step.

I am still rather uncomfortable discussing all this, even at the remove offered by Facebook, but wonderful CBH lady says it’s fine if I want to share and not unhealthy, so here we are, just to keep my friends and some family updated.

It seems my sensory integration issues may be at the root of pretty much everything that’s eating this Gilberta Grape, though it took 4 decades to get a diagnosis. Even the vertigo. Certainly the anxiety, and possibly the self-esteem issues (which are way worse than most people know because, as usual, ‘high-functioning’. Am starting to really hate that term).

And I may be further on the autism spectrum than I thought, given that I never expected to be on it at all, even on the cool, look-at-all-these-smart-people Asperger’s end of it. As a single example, turns out my issues with feelings (having them, expressing them, dealing with them, doing anything other than pretending they’re not there and can be intellectualised into something else) are not uncommon on that spectrum.

It’s all very, very weird. The diagnosis fits like a shoe you never realised you were wearing, or maybe like a shoe you’ve spent 40 years pretending you weren’t wearing. So it makes sense, but it’s weird. I’m not quite sure how to deal with it. I can’t just ignore it because it won’t go away and it’s affecting my life so negatively right now that I must choose to do something about it.

The next step (see how the shoe metaphor works for me here) is UNM’s neuropsychology department, assuming they accept my case, and Occupational Therapy for what I’ve got. Whatever that really is. It’s difficult to get information as someone diagnosed in adulthood because most of it is aimed at kids, but I’m digging out resources here and there.

And I’m not alone out there. Which is helpful, in a distant kind of way. Here’s one really fun blog that is more baldly honest about *ulp* feelings than I could be in a million years. [See Eating Off Plastic link above. Come on, scroll back. You can do it.]


* I originally wrote ‘insane levels’ but then I figured that wasn’t terribly sensitive. Because I care about that – actually no, I don’t, but I do care about not calling myself crazy. BTDT, it’s not healthy.

8 thoughts on “Sensory Integration whaaa? #MentalHealth

  1. Really sorry to hear about your troubles, Ysh. I hope you are able to get your case accepted and it all goes well.

    Just remember you’ve got friends out here baracking for you.

    1. I guess I need to see it as how I am and just never had a diagnosis for rather than something that’s suddenly happened to me. What’s suddenly happened is how much worse it’s been in the last 6-8 months and I’m still not sure why that is, but the best theory so far is that it might have been exacerbated by the (useless as it turned out) SSRI meds we tried. Maybe the neuropsychology people will have more info even on that.

      It’s very overwhelming now, but on better days I know that having a diagnosis means I might finally give myself permission to take these issues seriously and start learning what I can do to mitigate them.

      Thanks for the support 🙂

    1. I don’t mind being defective. It’s the not being able to cope atm that’s difficult 😀

      1. I have faith in you. You’re strong of spirit and smart. And you got this far in life before it started to really trouble you. Now it’ll just take a bit of time and the help of friends and professionals.

  2. Am I really two weeks behind in responding to this post??? 🙁

    I think you know this already, but I’ll repeat it for context: my daughter has autism and serious sensory issues AND is also no verbal so it is even more difficult to understand what she is going through. Thank you for sharing and hopefully we can support and learn from each other. 🙂

    1. Yes. Shame, shame on you! 😉
      I did know but had forgotten, and I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like for her some (most? all?) days. My own coping (read: repressing) mechanisms have been removed since I got the diagnosis, presumably because I’m now aware of what’s actually going on, and it’s been really difficult. Props to your daughter for every day she manages to get through. <3

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