Rebuilding the citadel

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.

Originally tweeted by Rory – ADHD Autistic OCD (@roryreckons) on November 17, 2021.

Published by roryreckons

I am an ADHD/Autism Coach as well as ADHD/Autism/OCD/CPTSD advocate and independent ADHD/Autism researcher. I am an ADHD/Autism Coach who trained through the ADD Coaching Academy. I write mainly about ADHD/Autism/OCD/Mental health issues, but will also discuss morality, abolition, and current affairs occasionally.

One thought on “Rebuilding the citadel

  1. This was an arresting read. It made me hold my breath on several occasions, finding myself in many so parts of it. It made me cry and awakened parts of myself that I know I have shut down for so many of the reasons to which you refer. Thank you for articulating this complexity as you have. I do not doubt that I sit amongst many it will cause a seismic shift within. Thank you.


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