I am proud to be an adult with Sensory Processing Disorder.
|I Made Dr. Zoidberg Sad. Sorry Buddy.|
This pride seems totally counterintuitive to the limited form of life I lead. It seems silly in the face of the therapies I've undertaken and the money I've spent to feel only sort-of-well. It appears to be misplaced pride when I'm in the thick of yet another sensory shutdown or another meltdown and the world around me is waiting for me to just get my sh*t together already.
How can I be proud of the very thing that so frequently holds me back? How can I be proud of the attributes that keep me feeling just shy of "normal" and at arm's length from the fully-engaged life enjoyed by so many others?
How can I be proud of my neurological differences when they impact every corner of my life?
My reasoning is simple:
I have SPD. I was diagnosed long after I developed anxiety issues. I spent years feeling hypersensitive and embarrassed by the very things I couldn't control and didn't understand. I interact with the world differently because of the way I'm wired. I cry more easily. I don't know how to relax. I am sometimes especially challenging and inflexible and emotional.
And yet, this is who I am. I am also supremely loyal and intuitive. I can tell you how you're feeling long before you've even opened your mouth to speak. I feel your pain and your triumphs so intensely, that I am the one you call when you are at your lowest point in life and your highest. I sit with you in the trenches of your misery and dance with you on the shores of your joy. My value in life stems directly from shepherding you through these times both unscathed and with some humility. I feel music somewhere deep within my bones. Every stride I take through this world is laced with poetry.
Even with these incredible traits, I still spent years sitting with the shame of some unknown attribute that made me feel lesser-than. I can't handle things, I'd say, burrowing even further under the covers. I was ashamed of who I was for the first three decades of my life. I spent most of this time having no clue that who I was was something to be celebrated.
I can't change the fact that I have SPD. I have always been and will always be wired differently than most. Feeling ashamed of this won't change who I am or how I live my life. For me, the opposite of shame is pride. Life's too short to be ashamed, especially for the things we cannot change, and so when we choose pride instead of shame, we take back control. The very second I decided to be proud of myself - of all of me, and not just the good bits - the entire universe opened up to greet me. I began my advocacy work in earnest. Hundreds of people flocked to read my thoughts about all of this stuff. Next spring, someone is publishing my book.
This is my life. I am not an acrobat with Cirque du Soleil. I am not a cowgirl. I don't have Lupus. This is my path, much as it is many of yours. You have a choice to make in your sensory life. You can choose shame and spend your time feeling defeated by the very thing that makes you you. I won't stop you. When you've made the decision to live within your perceived flaws, no one, not even this passionate advocate, can stop you. Your glass will always be half empty. But there's another choice you can make. Choose pride. Choose to celebrate your quirks and sit patiently with your own challenges, much as you'd sit beside a friend. Choose to highlight every tiny step forward, for these steps take immense bravery and drive and patience, and find kindness for every tiny step backward. You won't always be proud, not every single second. You are, after all, only human. But pride isn't a moment-to-moment thing. It is a thread that is woven through your sense-of-self and a filter by which you choose to view your world and your experiences . . . and although your world is complex, and it takes so much work to do what takes others mere seconds, you deserve to feel good too.
I am no longer ashamed to be who I am. Life is short, and I don't deserve to live in shame for how I was created. Guess what? Neither do you.
Happy Sensory Awareness Month. Keep being proud.
Shameless Self Promotion: Want to learn about SPD from a delayed-diagnosis sensory adult's perspective and hear more from yours truly? Pre-order Making Sense: A Guide to Sensory Issues today!