A hypothesis for my life is that I actually listen to people far more than they realise and have internalised a lot of instructions I was given on a core level. I think scarily when autonomy was removed I outsourced control. I also got it back.
Here’s some example evidence:
* When I was told to stop flapping as a kid. My arms were completely motionless. I then got told off for that and I had to learn how to use them in drama.
* When I was told I couldn't go to the bathroom due to a car ride, and during class, I lost the ability to tell when I needed to go to the bathroom until it was utterly urgent.
* When I was told not to be so sensitive frequently I lost the ability to cry for a long time. I also did start becoming really hostile during my teens until clubbing days brought back a lot of empathy (due to reckless behaviour).
* When I was told anger was always awful I basically never expressed it or felt it. It was converted to anxiety instead. It would only be expressed when I completely meltdown from overwhelm and I could also coke can (delay the effect until it was safe). I got it back in Burnout.
* When I was told that I was being ridiculous after breaking my arm when one of my dogs ran through my legs and told to have a cup of soup and a warm bath – I stopped feeling pain as much. I broke my collarbone and it reset without knowing due to no pain.
* When I was told repeatedly by doctors that none of the issues I had were serious, I stopped responding to internal pain. I ended up in hospital despite horrific pain which I thought was mild after my bowel closed due to Crohn's disease because I hadn't digested food in 3 days.
* When I was mocked for laughing with a wheeze, and also laughing inappropriately when I have an intrusive thought about something funny I learned to supress joy, till I could no longer internally generate it. I had anhedonia until just this year.
* When I was repeatedly told that I was naughty as a child I ended up studying everything I could about bad people to ensure that I did not become one and I developed moral OCD due to the belief that I was doomed to become evil.
* If a teacher thought I was a bad kid, I was a bad kid. If they thought I was a good student, I was their near best student. I pushed myself to study really hard for classes I was hated in, but I could study with ease for classes where I was liked.
This all comes back to being conditioned out of being who I was and being forced to be someone else The problem was this caused significant issues with interoception and I was generating internal body stress – Crohn's disease was a manifestation of external stress internally.
My Crohn's disease has dissipated now I have regained control of my life and understand who I am.
One of the things I think was vital was rebuilding my "inner citadel" (a concept from Stoicism). For me this has meant development of a few things.
1. Interoception – reconnecting and asking what my body is currently feeling.
2. Metacognition – working out why I am thinking what I am thinking by thinking about it. Using science to figure out the missing pieces through hypothesis testing and searching.
3. Balancing vitamins and stuff within my body – magnesium, melatonin, vitamin B12, etc…
4. Developing mindfulness meditation and breathing exercises – these allow me to regulate my body and understand it better. It was dangerous at first and I recommend reading my issues with it first.
5. Being myself (actually living authentically) – coming out bi, non-binary, talking about my neurodivergence and CPTSD publicly and shedding shame. Understanding and researching my differences in the experiences of others.
6. Autonomy restoration – this was done unconsciously for me even though I had started to discover it was missing – it took an authority I trusted and respected believing me about my internal motivations – this was a vital component for the rest.
6. Getting back the triad of self – There are three things here:
* Self-determination (based on autonomy, competence and relatedness)
* Self-efficacy (based on self-belief)
* Self-esteem (based on self-value)
7. Reconnecting with my values – actually defining how I wanted to live and choosing five values – Empathy, Ethics, Inclusion, Reciprocal Learning, and Versatility.
8. Discovering my strengths and leaning into them in times of toughness. That I wrote a blog about here:
I have an identity now. I understand who I am and I have reconnected to me. Most of this was done outside of any therapy. I do have therapy to help me with some of the more complicated parts of my trauma which has been beneficial also.
It took nearly a year of constant hard work every day and a stubborn refusal to let myself be defined by my past. I do believe it's never too late to change who you are – we all have neuroplasticity (the ability to change brains). There is hope. My body and mind are connected.