Posting here or any writing progress at all has been halting and slow for a few years now. I have been open about my frustration at the lack of answers to new, severe physical and mental symptoms over those same years. I was diagnosed with autism, Chiari I Malformation, and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). Those diagnoses provided answers to several issues I have experienced my whole life. Still, they could not explain why I kept having what looked like myoclonus and dystonia episodes, involuntary movements or muscle contractions that pull you into odd postures, and cognitive impairments that seemed like the early stages of dementia with increasing frequency over the past decade.
I bounced between various neurologists, therapists, and a rheumatologist for almost three years now in search of answers until I was finally referred to the Movement Disorders Clinic at UAB last month. The neurologist I saw there reviewed all the imaging and tests run over the past few years, ran a few tests of her own, asked a series of questions, and finally diagnosed me with Functional Neurological Disorder (FND).
I think I'll avoid the usual end-of-year and new year posts. I seem to end up jinxing myself by writing about hopes and plans for the coming year.
As you probably guessed based on that opening paragraph, 2021 ended up being another rough year. It is the main reason I haven't posted here since January, and I have been almost as inactive on social media as a whole.
The issues with non-speaking episodes and aphasia I mentioned last year continued to worsen until writing anything became difficult enough to force my departure from freelancing by the end of April. I received a neurologist referral before the end of 2020, but there were no appointments available until March. That started an almost year-long bout of visits, imaging, bloodwork, trials of different medications, and visits with even more specialists.
I began looking into the autism hashtags on Twitter in late 2018 and early 2019 between beginning to suspect I might be autistic and before seeking a diagnosis. Like most social media sites, Twitter uses algorithms to determine what to show you, even from the people you follow. So an interesting thing happened as I broadened my searches from just writing related topics to autism and ADHD.
Tweets and hashtags related to the own voices movement, most specifically those related to authors with autism and ADHD, began popping up in my feed. Before then, I hadn’t heard of such a thing.
Being both a homeschool family and a bunch of creatives, it’s no wonder summer is a busy time for the lot of us when it comes to our personal projects. During the break the kids and I all take advantage of the extra time to pour a few more hours each day into the creative pursuits we work on throughout the year. So it also tends to be a time of skill growth as well.
This is always a good thing, though both girls have found it to also be a tad frustrating. You see, they have a talent for more visual arts than me, and both have been progressing quickly. This is developmentally normal given their ages and the leaps in fine motor control and abilities to understand and think through complex sequences. However, this becomes a bit of a problem when working on large scope projects such as the comic series one is writing and the animation and game design the other is pursuing. By the time they finish a leg of the project, the art they are producing no longer looks like what they did at the beginning.
It's the fifth Tuesday of the month, so it's time for a Blast from the Past post. The one I picked this time was part of a 30 day blogging challenge I did back in 2012. I've learned a lot about myself since then, and some things have changed. So I thought I'd have a bit of fun with it and point out where I was way off base with a few things and whatnot.
New comments will be written in green. Everything else is from the original post from January 7, 2012.
I don't intend to turn this into an autism or ADHD blog, I promise. However, considering how much of my life tracks back to this pairing, I can't exactly talk about my experience with writing without bringing them up from time to time.
Both "disorders" have the strengths and frustrations, and there is a fair bit of overlap between the two. Yet, when both are experienced by the same person, this combination creates some unique presentations that can complicate the diagnosis of both.
This is one contributing factor to the majority of us autistic ADHDers being found "late" on average. One in particular is behind the largest of my current frustrations and why I missed a couple of weeks last month.
One of the more frustrating parts of "flying under the radar" long enough to reach adulthood before your difficulties become apparent enough for others to see them is the arsenal of maladaptive or faulty coping skills built throughout your youth. Quite often, you can sense they are not particularly helpful, or outright damaging in some cases, but after spending your life depending upon them, they are almost instinctive.
For those of us for whom everyday life can become overwhelming quickly on a bad day, we can fall into these poor coping skills before we even notice stress mounting. And let me tell you, that is an extremely frustrating place to be.
Stories, mythology and fairy tales in particular, have been a consistent special interest of mine as long as I can remember. At first, I listened or watched, as many children do before learning to read. When I had the ability, I would watch a movie or show again and again until I could quote every line by every character.
My understanding of the world, emotions, and how people interacted and thought was informed through this. I understood family members and friends by relating them to characters, using the way those characters reacted to predict how the people around me would respond. I used those characters and interactions I'd watched ad nauseam to cobble together the scripts and the mask I used to navigate the world.
Once I mastered reading, chapter books and novels became constant companions. In them I found a way to escape the sensory nightmare that was the school bus outside of staring out the window and disassociating throughout the trip. I found hundreds of new characters to fuel my imagination and build understanding, and novels went further into their mindset and thought patterns than movies and shows ever could, bettering my understanding of emotion and social interaction.
Unfortunately, this newfound joy and source of information came at a price.
As I continue merging Contented Comfort's website with this one, it just seems fitting this month's Blast from the Past post revisits a post originally published on Contented Comfort's blog back in November 2016.
A. B. England is a novelist, all around geek, avid crafter, and the home-schooling mother of two.
She is an autistic creator with a love of mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
Yekara Series Book 2
The Icarus Project
Rough Draft Progress
77384 / 75000
Myth & Science Collection
Icarus Series Book 2
Sketched w/ Some Drafting
Yekara Series Book 3
Myth & Science Collection 2
Intent Only at this Time
Icarus Trilogy Book 3
Supers Collection 2
Intent Only at this Time
Yekara Series Book 4