My Bendy Brain: Mental Health and Ehlers-Danlos

Before I go too far, let me preface this. Unlike some of my articles that have been extensively researched, this one is primarily based on my personal experience and theories.

Baby me

I started out this world in 1966 in the home of two brand new parents. I confused them from the beginning.

Immediately, I pushed away the cuddles that were given to newborn me. I refused touch that was not on my terms.

Me (age 17) and my first son

I wouldn’t discover for 54 years that this was a sign that I was neurodivergent.

It made for a difficult beginning of a relationship with both of my parents. As a parent now and grandparent, I understand how confusing that must have been. When my own children displayed a myriad of actions that weren’t described in the parenting manuals, I was confused as well.

My father responded by sexualizing his infant child, and that created a slew of mental illness that I still live with today.

I disconnected from him for the good of my mental health at age 18, only to discover he chose to end his life 15 years later without reconciliation.

My father, Ronald Slighte, 1968ish

I entered therapy at age 13 and have continued on and off for over 40 years since.

This last month, I acquired a few more diagnoses from the psychologist I’ve been working with for years, that help to give perspective to so many of my own actions as a young adult.

It has taken those four decades to be diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) (age 13), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) (age 14), ADHD (age 26), PTSD (chronic) (age 33), DID (age 49), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD, Neurodivergence) (age 54), Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) (age 54), and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) (age 54).

It took over 30 years of misdiagnosis to discover I was a multiple. It took over 40 years to realize I was neurodivergent because I have a vagina.

Something is inherently wrong with this.

Although I’ve listed the alphabet soup of my diagnoses above, a few of them (autism & ADHD in particular) are more neurodivergences, that is, differences in the way my brain has operated since before birth, than disorders. The disorder and disability comes when I’m trying to grow up, live and communicate in a world that is designed for neurotypical people.

As more neurodivergent engineers and advocates come into our own, I hope the world will become more inclusive and our differences will disable us less and less.

I question if I would have ever been a parent at all, if I had not been highly sexualized as a child by my father. I hope I would have, because I do love my children and grandchildren.

As an multiple neurodivergent adult, I am on a mission to inform and educate the world about neurodivergence, autism, DID, ADHD, sensory processing disorder and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.  At least the education I can perform by being open and aware of not only my disorders, but their effects on others.

My brain is bendy. As bendy as my body. As my body has stiffened up with age, my brain is also finding stability with assistance.

I can only hope and pray that others are able to find help before they hurt those people they love the most.

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