Self Awareness and Becoming the Best Person You Can Be: Your Best You!
Accepting you have a disorder can be a blessing for most of us. There is relief in knowing that you aren’t “crazy” or “bad”, but have a disorder that causes you to act in ways that aren’t constructive or “normal”.
There are cases however, where people don’t want to admit they have a disorder because they feel that the diagnostic label will make them different.
My attitude is quite the opposite:
Having a disorder makes you different (with or without a diagnosis). Admitting I am different allows me to create strategies and solutions to compensate for my disorders! By being aware of your differences, you become more able to monitor your actions and behaviours, be more in control, and more able to change your behaviour.
It is critical that you know all you can about your disorder.
By knowing the characteristic traits/behaviours of your disorder, you become aware of what your negative behaviours are (“Hey, I do that !) and how they may impact you in social situations. When I learned about Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, and OCD, I contemplated the characteristics of each disorder and reflected upon myself. I performed a personal inventory, identifying which of the characteristics I had as well as the ones I didn’t.
I considered the triggers that caused me frustration, anger, or anxiety and led me to respond in negative ways. I thought about how I responded to certain triggers or situations, and how I could control my triggers or my responses to them. I learned that I could remove or minimize my triggers through life choices or develop self-calming strategies to deal with triggers for which I had no control.
For example, by being aware of my own volatility, I learned to self-monitor myself (and my temper) to consciously reduce spikes in my behaviour – becoming more level and predictable over time. It might be helpful ask someone close to you “How do you know when I am mad ?” They may describe behaviours and characteristics about you that you aren’t even aware of.
People who have neurological disorders can often be negative. Although I was able to easily manoeuvre friendships (many of our children cannot), I know from my own personal experiences that this characteristic trait can also make it difficult to maintain intimate relationships.
To maintain safe and meaningful friendships (or relationships with a potential mate), it’s important that your friend/partner knows of your disorder and weaknesses as well. They must be able to understand and eventually forgive.
However, don’t depend on the excuse that you have a disorder to counteract the damage done by your negative behaviours. Although the negative behaviour may have a neurological cause, that doesn’t take away the hurt you may inflict on your friends or loved ones. You are still responsible for the damage you create, and humans are only able to absorb so much pain. We can expect our partners to accept a limited amount of our negativity. You need to repair relationship damage quickly, and continually strive to reduce negativity.
Consider your family.
Remember that neurological disorders are inheritable traits. Members of your family may have them as well. Be aware that members of your family will have characteristic traits and weaknesses as well. After reflection, you may find that those frustrating behaviours of your parents or siblings may be yours as well!
As I learned, I thought my never-ending energy was “normal” along with my OCD traits. As it turns out, it’s not – but I looked pretty typical in my family! Although not formally diagnosed, I know my mom has some neurological challenges as well, and they can frustrate me at times. By understanding her neurology, I am able to embrace her eccentricities and laugh about them in a kind-hearted way, rather than feeling frustrated or angry.
Being Your Best You.
Learning about and appreciating the traits, challenges and gifts that neurological disorders bring to our lives makes all of us more self aware and understanding of those around us. For this reason, I believe it is imperative that all people face their challenges “head on” rather than denying them.