How to Break and Remake a Person

Here is a draft outline of my book.

From Unwilling Chameleon to Emotional Octopus

I never thought I’d write a book. I never thought I could, to be honest. Most of my life people around me have been all too willing to let me know what they believe I am incapable of doing. The contents of this book will largely refute any current definition of what it means to be the person I am in current science, but I will show you with a neuroqueer lens, you too can see my way of viewing the world. I hope that you will come to understand that my biggest flaw was that I have been a co-operative person, stuck in a competitive system which I have fought at the core of my being.  

From a young age, I was slowly conditioned out of taking care of my needs, and before long I was living almost entirely, and without knowing at a deep level, for other people. Outwardly it might not have looked like this – I like to refer to myself during this time as an ‘Unwilling Chameleon’ – I could blend in, but the cost was extreme – a lizard-like disconnection from the self. 

To rework a saying of the abhorrent Ivar Lovaas, a founder of Applied Behaviour Analysis, I looked like a person in the physical sense – I had hair, eyes, a nose and a mouth – but I was not a person in the psychological sense. One way to look at it is that in order for society to “help me” as a neurodivergent child, they saw it as a matter of deconstructing a person. They had an almost finished natural product, but they had destroyed the person underneath in order for me to assimilate.

At thirty seven years old, I finally discovered the reasons why my life had turned out so differently to how I had envisioned it, and unfortunately not without nearly dying first. It turned out that living someone else’s life was unfeasible long term. I got to a point where I suddenly realised that I had been living as a tourist in my own life – and with that realisation came a phrase I often hear other late-identified neurodivergent people say – “I don’t know who I am”.

This book looks into the science of my existence, the process of repeated breaking and unmaking that took place, until finally reaching a level of critical toxic shame – where in this moment I was reborn, a chance given to me to act as a scientific detective in my own life to discover the underpinnings of what had happened, why it happened, and to discover what I might need to do to restore my identity. The good news is that within a year I found answers, and began the process of working toward a self-actualized neuroqueer existence – one I can proudly say, that I was able to reach.

The Neuroqueer Self and the General Conditions for Human Growth

In the first section of the book to understand the level of damage that was done to me, often by those with ‘good intentions’, I will need to define the set of conditions that make me the individual I am, but I will only discuss the ones I believe I had at birth, and explain how I believe others were added later. Far too much of my neurodivergence as defined by the medical model conflicts with my lived experience. 

I am a neuroqueer outsider, and I think I always knew that I was, since perhaps the age of three or four. To put this in terms you are likely to understand, at the age of thirty eight I discovered the full extent of my innate divergence. I am an ADHD, Autistic, dyspraxic, dyslexic, dyscalculic, and dysgraphic person, who is also a non-binary bisexual. These are simply differences about me and are rarely disabling in of themselves. 

At the core of these differences are changes in the way I perceive and sense the world, and the way I interpret information, and the way my body moves. My sensory system, communication style, mode of cognition, and the speed at which my brain operates seems to deviate from the neurotypical population in ways that often made me a target due to not understanding the nature of knowledge competitions, or what it truly meant to be living in a neuronormative society. 

To address the first of these systems – the sensory system – there are eight senses we currently know about (vision, auditory, taste, olfactory, tactile, gustatory, vestibular, proprioception, and interoception). I will propose the basis for two additional senses rounding out to a nice even number of ten.

The first of these senses is the feeling of being in control of our lives, our autonomous sense. We are wired to act with our own instinctive purpose. I believe that we sense this at all times. When we notice we are incongruent with this expectation, our bodies and our minds degrade – our sense of control is gone.

The second of these senses is our social sense. This specific sense can be measured in the feeling of isolation. The more isolated we feel from the social world, the more vast the changes to our internal biology, indeed one of the biggest myths on top of the mind-body duality which I will discuss, is the individual-community duality. 

Self-determination theory discusses in detail the importance of these senses, and at times where I did feel self-determined I was able to stabilize my health before an external factor of extrinsic motivation would rob me again of my happiness. 

My life would have turned out well if people understood one thing about me – I respond well to unconditional positive regard, a concept defined by Carl Rogers as an essential element for client centred therapy, and indeed the times where I was given this are the times where I was allowed to grow. It was thirty four years before a person in an authority position treated me this way – and began the process of identity recovery.

To give a more in depth understanding of the origins of my divergence, I will look into the science that seems to be plausible from a more mainstream neurobiological level, and in doing so will detail the ways in which current understanding of the medical model fails to account for the roles of the nervous system, the mind-body as a single unit, and the complex interactions between our sensory system and the world. No section more vital here than understanding the full role of neurodivergent ‘stimming’ behaviours at the neurobiological level. 

At the end of this section I will propose my understanding of the core set of conditions about what it means to be human in our world, and will propose a new theory of understanding of human mental health as it more accurately is beyond the myths of current understanding – the unifying theory of self-determined perceptive interpersonal neurobiology. 

The Forced Coercion of the Incongruent Self

In the next section I will detail the brutal process of identity erosion, the forced incongruence that constructed the unwilling chameleon. Beginning with loss of autonomy, the loss of competence, the loss of relatedness, the loss of self-esteem and self-efficacy. The heartbreaking reality is that despite my best efforts, I never truly belonged – the ‘flaws’ of my true self always revealed themselves under strain. 

As a happy but ‘odd’ neuroqueer child I drew attention to myself, and in the process allowed others to cast their judgement upon me – all the support systems meant to make my life better ended up making it worse for me. 

As a child who deviated from the norms of social rules, who had issues conforming to a neurotypical standard, it was me that was made to change – my school and parents reinforced this first. My own brain worked against me to embed a pattern of behaviourism at an unconscious level. 

The suppression of who I was caused a ripple effect on my identity, each new ripple revealing a new hidden challenge underneath – hypersexualisation, dissociation, substance abuse. 

Once I began living for entirely extrinsic reasons, I spent my teenage years on the brink of narcissism, only to overcorrect to people pleasing, and due to never getting either of these right, ending up with moral scrupulosity OCD as my reward. 

The manifestations were not only mental in nature, stress related physical illnesses started manifesting – first asthma, then eczema, then finally the auto-immune disorder Crohn’s disease. 

I tried to get help repeatedly, but I was invalidated, and my doctors denied my carefully researched evidence. I was twenty six before gaining my first mental health diagnosis – ‘depression’, despite being depressed since around the age of ten. This diagnosis and the treatment provided, ended up causing more damage than preventing it, and for the next ten years I gave myself a vast array of “side effects” on medication that provided no benefit, and at times made my life so much worse, the effects of which I am still dealing with even now.

I will explain the periods in which self-determination provided a protective effect that allowed me to sustain the damage to come, for these were vital for me understanding how I managed to continue.

The Breaking Point of Autistic Burnout

Unfortunately I didn’t discover the full extent of my differences before reaching crisis point, at age thirty six – I went through what I would describe as hell on earth – Autistic Burnout Major. A period of eight months of my life where I rapidly unravelled and did not realise what was going on, and I will discuss in detail what goes wrong if given meditation in critical care. I will also propose a hypothesis for what is happening at the neurobiological level. 

It was during this time that I finally did try to end my life – in some ways this was the death of the people pleaser, and from this time I discovered that which is inside me which is indestructible.

The Daily Practice of Restoring the Congruent Self

This section discusses how I managed to take the fractured reflection of a thousand shards of mirror that made up my current identity to find the pieces that made the congruent self. 

It was a single workplace at age thirty four that restored a part of my autonomy, but unfortunately external circumstances made me break before I could discover the root of who I was underneath. It was from this first piece of autonomy that I undertook becoming an ADHD self-advocate, a vital piece for discovering the rest of my divergence. 

The effect of this allowed me to find philosophy, because if what I thought about myself did matter then how could I become who I really wanted to be, and what did it mean to be a good person. It was at this time I discovered Stoicism – a key component that provided a rough guideline for me to rebuild my ‘Inner Citadel’ – the affectionate repurposing from this philosophy that came to mean for me restoring – self-determination, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. 

I began a process of self-therapy, I was still in burnout, with unidentified Autism and OCD. I began searching for answers and connecting with advocates outside my own current neurology. I discovered these differences on my own despite being in critical healthcare services. 

I began defining values, learning, and undertook a process which I call self-gaslighting – or how to placebo yourself.

From this time I began thinking about how I could ensure what happened to me never happened to anyone else – because what existed currently made me worse. I undertook training to become an ADHD coach. A step which allowed me to reconnect with my strengths.

I began writing, I delved into what it means to be who I am through the eyes of others like me, and with each discovery I was able to slowly start shedding shame. 

The final key was connecting the mind and body back together, through mediation, sensory adjustments, and nervous system regulation.

The only external help I had in the final phase was the first therapy in my life that has helped me – what I deem to be strictly Rogerian narrative therapy. 

These were the conditions I needed to rediscover the person underneath.

The Self-Actualized Neuroqueer Person

There is good news, it took me just over a year to reach what I deem to be an almost self-actualized state of existence. I am happy with who I am now, I feel more coherent – I am nearly swimming freely in ‘the river of integration’.

There are a few vital things to discuss here – the importance of keeping the body’s score at zero – which means demasking as best you can, and allowing yourself to feel your feelings fully at the time they occur. 

I also discuss the fragility of self-determination for those of us who have been imprinted at a young age with the pattern of behaviourism, and the threat of extrinsic motivation to what I enjoy. 

Finally I round out the book with a more philosophical look at what it means to be a person at a core level, with the key lessons I have about making your own path. I have hope for the future now, and I believe that none of us must exist in a state of measured observation.

I like to refer to myself now as an emotional octopus – and I will explain exactly what that means and why.

Autistic behaviour neurohormone cheatsheet and why the ocean is good for me.

The suppression of natural stims -> escalating stress and unhappiness -> having a 'tantrum' in public a lot -> being chastised for that and stopping -> intestinal issues and alexithymia.

You can retarget stims to safer ones, but they need to do the same thing neurohormonally.

Nothing worse than your parents hitting you up for tantrums (meltdowns) so you start running away to do them also. This is exactly what happened to me. They made out like I was trying to run away from home because I hated them, I was trying to regulate, I didn't know this.

I mean on some level I did hate them, because they were antagonising me to make me run away. I never used to coke bottle on the way home from school when I had to walk home, because I had time to just do my own stuff. Like go on swings… Except if I was bullied on the way home.

School just causes so much internal pressure, if you don't have a safe and friendly way to blow that off you will explode. I needed my autonomy – time to do what I wanted.

Crying is a way to release excess hormones. This is done usually in conjunction with vagus nerve stimulation by beating the ground or screaming. It’s actually really smart to release mass stress. Sometimes we hit our heads too. I think this is to help me cry if I can’t.

For me:
Running and flapping = generating GABA helps regulating
Screaming or humming = activating the vagus nerve for transportation, generating serotonin for happiness
Closing eyes and crying = stopping norepinephrine flooding and releasing all excess hormones
Light touch here (stroking) = generating arginine vasopressin (the fear hormone), causing aggression
Deep touch (bashing hands, strong pressure, or sucking fingers) = generating oxytocin for soothing

Autistic kids are masters of self-regulating. Leave them alone.

A meltdown can trigger a hyperplastic pivotal mental state in the brain. When this happens they will:
1. Become more enlightened with the right support, and more loving.
2. Embed bad patterns that cause background anxiety aka “masking”, or aggressive.

Treat your Autistic child with unconditional positive regard. The world can become super traumatic to us due to our sensitivities, we get pushed past our limits too often, and pivotal mental states can cause very significant brain changes that can be highly negative.

If we can’t regulate and have been masking. We can get stuck in a state where neurohormones are constantly flooding us. All our sensitivities are amplified. We cannot regain control. This is a result of critical levels of “toxic shame” that is unprocessed in our nervous system. Autistic Burnout major.

There is no therapy for being Autistic. There is increasing acceptance. I still can’t regulate properly because I constantly fight up against toxic shame about the way I need to regulate. This is the worst Catch-22 of late identification.

One of the best ones my parents figured out (specifically my Dad) was spending time in the ocean. It must not be crowded though. It gives us dopamine – deep breathing, serotonin – from the sound of the ocean, vagus nerve stimulation – from the cold water, magnesium for deep sleep – from the salt water, and oxytocin – from the pressure as it’s like a blanket, GABA – also through exercise. Oh it might also have melatonin.

The ocean is soothing to us because it provides so much regulation for us. Seaweed sucks though lol.

I never sleep better than after a swim in the ocean. It’s always the best sleep.

Can’t believe how true this joke is:

Originally tweeted by Rory – ADHD Autistic OCD (@roryreckons) on November 28, 2021.

Pivotal Mental States and the role of Serotonin in Crohn’s Disease

Pivotal Mental States… why didn't I make this connection.

Autistic people are more often exposed to pivotal mental states. That causes a period of hyperplasticity. Meltdowns are probably related to this… They can go very wrong too.

High stress makes you reach a breaking point – at that point your brain enters a hyperplastic state – if it’s in a supportive environment it can override negative beliefs about yourself, but in a negative one it wires in really bad ones.

Deep learning is stuff that happens in the subconscious. The messages we internalise in this hyperplastic state can dictate a lot of our behaviour. I think 'Masking' can be directly related to us hitting these all the time.

We not only change fundamental things about who we are in this hyperplastic state, but we encourage our brain to help us reduce the connection to memories that are incongruent.

If you are in a fear state during hyperplasiticity you can wire in so many awful things about yourself, your brain uses these patterns to help inform new behaviour to protect yourself, but it's actually erasing who you are.

‘Suggestibility’ in hyperfocus hangover might be explained by this too.

This is what happens to me, my brain is basically burnt out and people can talk to me and my subconscious brain is just taking direction without me even realising. My wife gives me instructions and I act on them without even thinking. There's no cognition on my part.

When I was on Venlafaxine I was in a permanent hyperplastic state I had no control over and I was just overwhelmed merely moving due to the effects of brain zaps and brain fog. I couldn't meltdown because I was numb. This is what happened… ugh.

This medication actually messed me up really badly. I internalised so many awful messages about myself for the two months I was on it.

It was overloading my norepinephrine and serotonin receptors constantly. I think I metabolise fast and was rebounding constantly.

Oh right… I always metabolise fast… I always have.

I have extremely high drug tolerance too, and this destroyed me on the lowest dose.

The main thing SSRIs did for me was slow my metabolism… I need to look into this effect now. A lightbulb just went on.

This isn’t to be fatphobic how I look here is fine also but I want to talk about this. I was 115kg on high dose SSRIs (sertraline). When I went off SSRIs I dropped down to 75kg and I maintain with no problems. I had an excess of serotonin always.

95% of serotonin is stored in the gut. It must have a role in metabolism.

Because I had so much I had to eat so much… I was always hungry. I think my brain thought I didn’t have enough food. I have Crohn’s disease.

When I brought my dopamine and serotonin levels back in line in the gut and ALSO eliminated sound stress (sound has a link to serotonin production). I am in remission… 🤯

Can’t really explain how much this one thing messed up the last ten years of my life.

Originally tweeted by Rory – ADHD Autistic OCD (@roryreckons) on November 27, 2021.

The unifying theory of self-determined perceptive interpersonal neurobiology

Six months ago I started trying to figure out how neurotransmitters and neuropeptides / neurohormones / neurochemicals worked. I know now, but the problem for so long was looking at the individual in isolation, rather than the individual as part of the environment also.

The reason why so much stuff isn't understood is because we think these work independent of external systems, but they are a response to a larger system as well as individual. You cannot split one from the other. The nervous system is massively involved too.

Health is a holistic issue. This was a pretty massive moment for me figuring out what everything does, and how it works because almost all of the scientists in these fields are looking at one potential effect rather than all the effects that moderate the interactions.

Crying is leaking hormones.
Hormones are generated based on:
Light, Sound, Touch, Smell, Taste.

There’s another two senses I will say also:
Social. We have a social sense.
Self-Determinism. The sense of being in control of our lives.

When these senses needs are not met, we are flooded or deprived of certain neurohormones. That is the basis of mental health.

You can regulate neurohormones in a lot of ways – but you need to work out how all these senses are currently being dysregulated and to make adjustments. You can't fix a lot of these problems with pills or diets, there is underlying stuff that has to be addressed also.

The body keeps the score – that part is true – but the specific part of the body keeping the score is our messaging system – our nervous system. I would go as far to say that our nervous system is our consciousness. Our brain is a storage facility for previous interactions.

No single nerve may be more important due to the way it seems to work than our vagus nerve. Vagal tone appears to one of the most important sense tools – it controls 'interoception' what our body is telling us – the basis of emotion, hot/cold, urination, defecation.

The unifying theory of self-determined perceptive interpersonal neurobiology.

The body-mind duality was a myth.

But the individual-community duality is also a myth.

After figuring this out, I feel more integrated with the world generally. Identity is always shared with the world around you, it never exists in isolation.

I would also argue that the social sense for a lot of us is more than just our own species, it's any 'living' thing. What you define as living is probably what defines your capacity to feel, but I think everything is connected.

Ever solve the problem of your life with a unifying understanding of how and why everything was so hard?

I used to believe in determinism, and I still do to an extent. We have as much control in our world as blood cells do within our own body. Determined by the larger system.

RIP Leela Bearded Lady Legend

TW / pet death

20/4/2009 – 27/11/2021

Nothing is more heartbreaking than: The Dog Paradox

Thank you for every moment we had together.

Thank you for taking care of Mum for me when I was not around.

Thank you for always running with the joy of a young puppy.

Image

Thank you for being the best friend and guiding me by letting me know if things were not ok.

Thank you for the runs on the beach, and the time spent playing with your piggies.

Thank you for protecting us from everyone so diligently.

Thank you for looking after the cats and treating them with kindness.

I will miss you. I know you have returned to nature now and I will grieve you for the rest of my life as I do all the animals that have touched my life.

I know you held on for as long as you could so I would be strong enough when this finally happened. Thank you for giving me the time.

I love you. I always will.

I was glad I got to be there in the end.

Image

May you play with piggies again in your next life.

My personal guide to advocacy

Someone recently asked me how I do advocacy – this is how I operate these are not prescribed rules for others.

There are a lot of guides on more general self-advocacy usually for each and every mental health variance. I tried to read all these first. I made a lot of mistakes.

My advocacy rules based on the principle of harm [Everyone should be able to act freely unless doing so infringes on the rights of others]

1/ I don’t actually care what ‘diagnosis’ people have, as long as I don’t speak about one I don’t have. Taxonomy is pretty bad. I don’t do lateral ableism. If I don’t know, I don’t speak. “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer. I also don’t question people’s diagnoses.

2/ If I talk about a trait – I generally check to see if it overlaps with any other neurodivergence. If this information isn’t clear I usually indicate it might include more than my diagnoses.

3/ I never try to generalise my experience – although my experience is often quite generalised. The reason I use first person language is due to having a lot of issues with people feeling excluded. This is impossible if I talk about my subjective experience.

4/ I try to make sure that the stuff I say has some scientific basis, if that is not available, I try to state how I got that knowledge. Audio issues I discovered that a lot of us have are anecdotal evidence, but there is a consensus among that evidence.

5/ Self-identification is preferred for me as a term over self-diagnosis. In the same way I self-identified as bisexual, and non-binary – this is based on my subjective experience. There’s no hard science behind our experience of the world. If done with research – this is valid always. This is meant in the context of self-diagnosis, people should be able to access care more easily. I had to personally self-identify first. It was correct and I was misdiagnosed for years. It was months or years of research in some cases till I felt sure.

6/ I don’t try and pose anything that could be viewed as a false dichotomy, and it’s also unreasonable to expect myself to get this correct all the time. Sometimes I will use a term like “Autistic people are…” in these cases I always mean ‘some’ not ‘all’ – we vary a lot.

7/ Trauma is widely not understood, and a lot of us have a sensitivity to trauma – as we are reactive to emotions in an extreme way. Often when people attack they have triggered a fight response. I try to let it go, but I also respect my own boundaries for repeated offences.

8/ I understand it’s not my job to convince anyone of anything. If someone wants to start an argument over a position that I do not hold, I feel it’s better to let this go than to refute it, unless that person is clearly being malicious.

9/ I try never to take compliments too much – this is really hard to explain but I both appreciate and care about receiving positive reinforcement from time to time, and I am averse to it due to flimsy autonomy from a lifetime of people pleasing.

10/ If someone can point out I am wrong – I will correct that. I will sincerely apologise and make a note to correct my behaviour in future. Things that are based on grammar or lots of new terms I won’t understand easily due to how my brain works.

11/ I am not an authority. I am only an authority on my experience. I will often say things about certain elements to do with mental health – but these are based on part of a complex system that affects it all. If I ever talk about biology, it’s related to everything else also.

12/ I have bad days too. Some days my level of self-control when I am attacked is poor. I can default to my trauma responses – I will try to make amends but I also tend to delete the offending posts also – simply because no good comes from keeping harm up.

13/ I try to raise awareness of other advocates issues around their circumstances – especially BIPoC due to my privilege. I usually do this by directly boosting their content, and will do it if they ask. I may not do every post as there are limits to what I can see now.

14/ My DMs are open but I am very intermittent to respond to them unless they are super urgent. This is not a personal thing – it depends on how many things I am thinking about at the time. It’s never a personal slight if I ignore people – it’s an neurology thing.

15/ My goal with advocacy is to increase compassion and understanding. To always cooperate if possible, and to share everything I know. I am working on a book to compile this into a more central format. It’s going well and I should have sample chapters soon.

16/ I live by these rules – if you ever see me contradict them – please let me know as I do not like the incongruence of acting out of character.

17/ Trans rights are human rights. Black Lives Matter. White supremacy informs mental health. There is no equity without intersectional identities respected. I do not debate these positions with people, unless I think their minds can be changed. I have limited time.

18/ I am one person. I do not have a sense of superiority. I do not care about how much influence I have except if I can use that influence to affect positive change. I am not here for my own status – I abhor the concept.

Ted Lasso’s demonstration of unconditional positive regard is what I hope to role model. People get better when given a chance to grow. I try never to make ad hominem attacks and I abhor pile-on behaviour, please don’t ask me to join you in this ever. Respect my autonomy.

It’s bad business to get all up in everyone else’s business, ya know?

A society not built for us. A world not built for us. We’re blamed for it though.

Also, as a programmer, I’ve solved countless problems by stepping away from it and sleeping on it, or going for a bike ride, etc.

graeme_0

I can’t explain how bad a consistent 40-work week is for neurodivergent people generally. My productivity has been magnitudes higher and better quality since I started working far less, and with breaks every day to do my own enjoyable stuff.

Nothing is worse than my job making me feel stressed and pressuring me or micromanaging me, or watching me or monitoring me, or just taking away autonomy and not being respectful enough to answer my 'stupid questions'. So many companies WASTED my talent.

I see it as a pressure and blow off valve thing – my mind works really well on tasks in short bursts with very high quality of work, the more I force myself past it either though medication or not realising just from hyperfocus – I end up with massive hyperfocus hangover.

It's brain fog unlike any other. In stress situations where people disrespect me – it's like someone has stuck a fork in a blender and then asked me to think. My sensory sensitivity is amplified and I end up getting Crohn's flares.

This absolutely makes sense too – so many of us are achievers with really bad procrastination issues. Draft copy ? I write a 1.5k opinion piece in 40 mins that is of high quality when I am not stressed. It needs minor edits by editors.

My biggest limiting factor in life has been how I learn, and how I was assessed about my knowledge. Not the extent of what I know, how you made me show you that.

The biggest limiting belief we have with procrastination is that we are taught it's a bad thing, and then because we don't get a perfect result (with usually bad parental reinforcement) this starts a cognitive pattern that we cant work in short bursts and be successful.

A tip I usually tell my clients is to stop focusing on the end result. Focus on a certain amount of time, and start small and build up, if you reach the limit and want to continue that's fine, record it though. If you are struggling to do it, just stop and come back later.

Procrastination TEACHES us that we can do high quality work in short time. Society TEACHES us that the end result is the only important thing – the amount of time was important too. That is vital information. Short bursts frequently = best results for me.

I never go in with a goal of having the task completed just the expectation that I will work for x amount of minutes – this is why the Pomodoro method works for us – the tangible goal is just a realistic amount of time worked.

"The journey is more important than the destination" is literally the main paradigm for my productivity. If I can make the journey important, I don't care about the destination, and consequently I get to the destination faster and with better results.

Which comes back to intrinsic motivation.
Autonomy – I am in control of how much time I spend on stuff
Competence – When I work on stuff consistently I feel better at it
Relatedness – As the work is higher quality, I am appreciated for it.

This one theory underpins so much success:

Body Doubling
Autonomy – I chose to do this because I want to work for an amount of time
Competence – The person next to me just likes I'm working and doesn't care about the result
Relatedness – I am not doing this alone.

Self-Determination is INNATELY tied to dopamine release also.

That is the thing I've discovered.

Self-determination and dopamine are linked a lot to our intrinsically motivated – social selves.

Talking about our special interests and working on them makes sense to us – because we meet our self-determination needs.

Autonomy – I am discussing stuff I like talking about
Competence – I know a lot about it because I am interested in it
Relatedness – I am sharing it

I have been skirting around self-determination for a while but I have realised it's basically the precursor for us to succeed – that's why when we are EXTRINSICALLY motivated we tend to struggle as we cannot generate dopamine. We have to have meaning in what we do.

A lot of ADHD/Autistic people are anti-capitalists – because we innately are averse to it's goals. I've always disagreed with it on a core level – at 16 I thought it was consumerism when I saw fight club, but I discovered the far more insidious depth when at university.

Others get conditioned out of it – they become focused or get hollowly rewarded for success – they still have relatedness and competence, but their autonomy has been undermined for external reasons.

Stoicism helped me ween myself off having stuff or needing stuff beyond basic needs. Now I focus on intrinsic goals and my life is good and I am happy all the time. I did it in weird ways but all the good times in my life I have had self-determination.

I am averse to rewards because if I start living for that I will not be able to sustain it. I do need to know that I am valuable to people – and I want to know how I can improve but I don't live for external feedback all the time as I was told to.

This is the central theme of my book on my life using science. Because this is a self-determined project I have no problem working on it in small bursts. I am making good progress. The lack of self-determination is also physically and mentally painful.

It took me 8 weeks to come up with half an autobiography outline. It took less than 3 hours to realise what I wanted to do for an autoethnography. I was trying to write two separate books because I thought I “should” – one on mental health, one autobiography. Should have thought about combining them sooner – it’s exactly how I tweet about science. I NEED TO RELATE INFORMATION I CANT TALK ABOUT IT IN ISOLATION.

Expanded Part 1.

Expanded Part 2.

I said I was able to keep up teeth brushing more frequently a while back… guess what – it's about self determination:
Autonomy – I want to do it because my dental team is nice to me
Competence – slowly improving I am getting better at it
Relatedness – my dental team is nice

Most of my teeth brushing issues are a mental barrier – when I think about the fact I need to do the task – I used to go straight to all the pain that is associated with the dentist, the social pain of shame, and my own self-blame over having bad teeth. No one gave me autonomy.

Being negatively reinforced ends up making us quit. ADHD people ARE EXTREMELY SENSITIVE TO SOCIAL PAIN.

I can't express how much negative feedback creates the problem. We are masters at hating ourselves from social conditioning. My job as coach is restoring self-determination.

SOCIAL PAIN AND PHYSICAL PAIN LIGHT UP THE SAME RECEPTORS. PAIN THEORY UNDERLIES ADHD SEVERITY.

If we could have just done stuff in our own way… what could we have done?

I think about this all the time. ALL THE TIME.

It's natural to WANT to stop yourself being in pain.

Needed Ted Lasso in my life. Got Dr Cox instead.

THANKS FOR COMING TO MY TED TALK.

Originally tweeted by Rory – ADHD Autistic OCD (@roryreckons) on November 24, 2021.

On the way I learn…

Really, really want to figure out if there is anything on 'passive learning'. I feed my brain information, it may not understand it at the time, then a week later or so without having thought about it much I understand it in depth. As though my brain has been networking nodes.

Disconnected information is the hardest to integrate for me. I spent forever not understanding pointers in programming, and then my brain linked it to the postal system as an analogy. I instantly understood it. Raw technical terms need translation links.

This was inspired by another client who said the same thing. We have weird brains, we have an incredible 'unconscious' mind for complexity that helps us solve simplicity. This is why also I think we need to know everything rather than just tiny parts, because we need a network.

The problem is that we are often it was too hard for people to understand I wasn't trying to be obtuse when I asked seemingly 'stupid questions' I was trying to link that information together to other stuff I knew so that I could translate it into my Autistic understanding.

For understanding a lot of quantum physics I just had to read everything (I still can't do a lot of the math) but I joined all that information together once I knew a ton. Then I felt more comfortable with it.

Being taught in a linear fashion is the opposite of how my brain works and explains why I found school so impossible. I need the full picture to understand the fine details. It's a full picture detailed understanding, that also just takes time, and verbal processing speeds it up.

The more I can communicate it to someone else (either through text or through speaking) the better I understand that information, given how many parts of our brain are involved it makes sense that potential plasticity helps this work.

Also when I think about how all my neurons want to infodump on each other all the time:
eg. Rocks are minerals, mineral shampoo is not always natural, a concept of a synthetic material made out of natural components is weird, computers have components, I do a lot of processing.

The more I tried, the harder it was to actually encode information – the less effort involved or more enjoyable it is, the easier I can access that information and process it. Competition conditions or extreme timelines for content I didn't understand made it worse.

This was also why I knew someone didn't know a topic well, because if they couldn't explain it in it's simplest form and then build on it, they didn't really know that information except from a rote perspective, not an in depth one.

Regurgitating information and teaching are two different things. Anyone can do one of these, it takes a good teacher to do the other.

Most of the times I was called stupid now I am realising it's probably that they didn't know beyond what they had been taught and encoded from an imitation perspective I am now realising. Bad epistemic justification on their part.

Oh right, this is where ad hominem or appeal to authority was always used on me – "You think you are so smart", "I don't see your <subject> degree", "I don't have time to explain to an idiot".

I used to get so frustrated with people repeating the exact same thing but slower and thinking that helped. It wasn't that I didn't hear you, it's that you could not explain it to me in a simple form. Anyone can repeat jargon – listen to a lot of political theorists.

Just so sad when I know this stuff about my brain now. All this time spent thinking I was bad, when it was the delivery method that was bad, and the fact everything is a competition with knowledge. Why?

Originally tweeted by Rory – ADHD Autistic OCD (@roryreckons) on November 24, 2021.

Interest is required for memory encoding – it can be positive or negative

Memories are encoded with interest – when we are not interested in the thing we tend not to encode it. This is how exam info is forgotten really quickly for subjects we don't like. But we also do this for tasks we don't like doing, and we berate ourselves when we do them.

Instead of robbing ourselves of joy – as I am super guilty of, if we can take a moment and record that we did the task and remember the feeling of completion rather than saying: "OMG WHY DID I TAKE SO LONG TO DO THIS?"
We can actually encode success, not the perceived failure.

We do encode the interest in that situation – but it's the negative interest, not the positive one.

This leads to all or nothing thinking:

"I can NEVER do this easily, why do I ALWAYS struggle with this" etc.

Nothing like completing a task and then deciding to reinforce the ‘Wall of Awful’ with another failure brick and corresponding emotion.

Remember hyperfocus is stuff we are interested in:
That interest can be positive – hobbies, things we enjoy doing.
That interest can also be negative – repeated failures during rumination.

The curse of the super interested brain and a lot of negative reinforcement – endless invisible barriers built by other people that we use to stop ourselves.

Originally tweeted by Rory – ADHD Autistic OCD (@roryreckons) on November 24, 2021.

‘Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage’

TW / CW / The root of my identity crisis

When pattern recognition in the subconscious is embedded at a deep level – you lose your life. This is why all forms of ABA are toxic to Autistic people – it’s an exploitation of our brain’s need for order and it’s subconsciously ingrained as a default mode.

I may have had issues with sharing material possessions because I was poor and I wasn’t taught well. But I wanted to share anything I could that I could afford to. It was never related to being better, it was seen as a threat.

Rory Reckons

The messaging about this had devastating effects in my adult life. I often forwent things I needed or money I couldn’t afford to give because this was so deeply ingrained in me as being “selfish”. I have severe anxiety seeing charity collectors.

OCD + reinforcement about being a bad kid when not sharing = personal harm to ensure you are being 'moral'.

A kid with a natural predisposition to sharing, reinforcement about how holding onto things he cares about is selfish when this was often related to poverty and losing things and being berated is a cruel set of conditions to instill in a child.

I gave away my lunch money and food at school all the time… I thought my only value to people was when I was giving them things. Most of these people were not even 'friends'.

I thought the moral of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein – that there was no limit on what you should give. That was the message I took from that book as a child with this reinforcement.

Understanding this is always so hard now.

'Why don't I have boundaries?'

In so many cases I was explicitly taught not to and I did make pattern recognition that was logically reinforced by results. People talked to me = give stuff away.

Knowledge = bad.
Self-sacrifice at the cost of my health = good.
Learning = not for me.

Some cool lessons I learned at school being an unidentified multiple neurodivergent kid with learning disabilities.

Behaviourism works – trust me when I had no intrinsic motivation left all I did was live using behaviourism to dictate appropriate behaviour.

I realise now why I was so repulsed to learn it in University psychology. Variable ratio of reinforcement for positive and negative outcomes had dictated my entire life. I was still too naive to understand the damage or how it was applicable to masking as I didn’t know I was ND.

You know how this is the most successful form of reinforcement for addiction behaviour. Apply this lesson to relationships and work out WTF happens then.

Nothing like discovering at 37 that you have been stuck in a cage pecking a key instead of flying outside like you wanted to.

I feel sick.

I feel so sick. My life has been dictated by endlessly Skinner Boxing myself because I thought that was the best idea.

Never crush a child's autonomy or they will find a logical paradigm to explain how to behave.

My god, this actually explains everything in my life and I just feel absolutely repulsed.

This was deeply embedded in my brain through constant reinforcement. I remember feeling so sorry for the pigeons and rats in the experiments.

I was looking at me.

This was in my subconscious. This was what I fell back on – all the time.

It took an adult at 34 believing my internal motivations to actually start fixing some of this damage.

I… this is it… I couldn’t live till I had autonomy because I was programmed to be a tourist in my own life.

You know when in Flowers for Algernon he realises people were mocking him, instead of being nice.

This is a fitting comparison, except I am also the people mocking him.

Smart but brainwashed. I get it now at least.

I know what to look for.

I understand my strong aversion to compliments and I know why I have a desperate need to never start living for extrinsic reasons. Because I will lose myself.

Originally tweeted by Rory – ADHD Autistic OCD (@roryreckons) on November 22, 2021.