‘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.

The limits of empathy – on compassion

I talk about empathy a lot – but I think there's something I desperately need to say in regard to this.

COMPASSION IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EMPATHY ALWAYS.

A lot of ADHD or Autistic people have Alexithymia – which is an inability to recognise their own emotions or the emotions of others – but they are still incredibly compassionate people.

Compassion can be a logical emotion, not just an intuitively felt one.

Compassion requires nothing to do with emotion, and in fact in some ways feeling others emotions is a barrier to compassion.

Compassion is a logical look at all the circumstances that may have caused some behaviour and deciding to act with care toward someone.

Logic and emotions are not separate. Too much of either is usually always a bad result and can cause an issue with the ability to be compassionate.

Compassion relies on perspective taking – trying to put yourself in their shoes. That can easily be done logically or emotionally, or with a combination of both – just with "how can I be nice to this person – what more information do I need?"

Emotional Compassion – I can feel this person is hurting, I will be kind.
Logical Compassion – In the past I have identified this as being related to this behaviour through study, I want to be kind which I know involves something I’ve studied
Emotional/Logical Compassion – I can feel this person is hurting, this behaviour might be related to this thing I’ve studied, I will be kind

Emotion = intuition
Logic = reasoning
Emotional Logic = intuitive reasoning

You can use both. Or one, or the other, and get the same result.

The double empathy problem is a failure of logical capacity in emotional reasoning – it demonstrates the limits of egocentric empathy.

The thing that undermines compassion is egocentric bias. Thinking that others are the same as ourselves.

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

A brain that auto-solves

Finding out that other dyscalculic people also auto solve math without being able to tell you how they do it at least explains why I was able to do it in University when I didn’t have to show working most of the time.

I have intuition with math. I have absolutely no idea how it works. I cannot show you my working. I think it’s weird pattern recognition I do not understand. It caused me to suck at high school math.

I can’t do mental math. I can do math, new symbols or techniques take a lot longer to learn but at a certain point they are encoded in whatever background system my brain uses.

I was humiliated so many times in math classes for getting the right answer in school, then the teacher called me a cheater or liar and asked me to come up and show my working. I never could. I would make mistakes or get it wrong.

I have a software engineering degree.

My brain constantly impulsively solves problems when I’m doing other things.

“Intrusive solutions” are one of my most common features.

I think the second I stop stressing my brain often releases solutions to me. This explains why I solve a lot of problems in the shower or just as I am going to sleep. It’s a very frustrating thing as I have to get up and write it down or I will forget it. I have spent a lot of time late at night writing code that always works.

The higher my stress in a social situation = the worse my recall

The lower my stress alone = weird as hell super creative and usually correct answers I haven’t been thinking about.

My rants with insightful stuff on Twitter are most often background processing my brain is telling me to leak out. I don’t know where it’s going for a lot of stuff. It’s a “eureka” moment I have to write down.

This is so hard to explain. It’s like my brain lines up a perfect order of ideas that have been stewing and I just know to post them. It provides me with all the search terms to re-discover articles, and a general structure. Then my ADHD side fills in the chaotic parts.

I almost do not feel in control when this happens. It feels incredible. It’s like a web of disconnected meaning has been formed to finalise an argument I’ve been trying to express. I love it, but I don’t know how to explain how this works. I am a passive thinker for complex ideas

The best ways to bring these out for me, talk to me about an interest area or allow me to read a new book, some novelty starts a chain reaction in my brain that I feel absolutely compelled to express somehow.

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

Sticks and stones may break my bones but names are trauma too

What if it’s all pain? All of it? Like the mental distress of anxiety and depression is just pain in the body unaddressed? I need to elaborate… but I think this is true.

Social pain causes the same receptors in the brain to light up as physical pain.

Anticipation of pain is more dread inducing than the experience of pain itself.

Psychological trauma causes chronic pain

Adverse childhood events end up manifesting in pain

Shame is one of the most extreme forms of social pain and causes anxiety and depression

Now in this context these things have been shown to cause depression and anxiety – a lot of these are directly tied to emotional or social pain:

1. Those with less autonomy in their jobs are more likely to die at a younger age.
2. Disconnection from other people is a form of isolation that is usually tied to aversion to pain which is more dreadful than the pain itself
3. When you value things other than connection it causes pain – most people who live for material reasons are deeply unhappy.
4. Childhood trauma I have covered.
5. Disconnection from status and respect is a form of social shame (or pain).
6. The natural world is an outlier.
7. The disconnection from a hopeful or secure future is a form of anxiety which is pain.
8. The brain changes in response to dealing with pain sometimes shutting itself off from shame and pain – reducing empathy, if not it increases empathy.
9. People have hypersensitivity.

The TLDR – our society is causing pain. If you think about life expectancy generally, more marginalised groups that are more prone to social pain have far shorter life expectancies.

The Role of Inflammation in Depression and Fatigue

When you take illegal drugs for depression – you are killing pain. Most of the drugs that you take are analgesics in some form or another, they help with pain suppression. People with addiction are often just trying to ease pain it would seem if this theory holds true.

Treating the mind and body as separate things and overly complicating things by reducing them down through atomisation of science just seems to have made this way harder to solve than looking at it from a systems view of the body.

When we say drugs are a health problem, we mean it.

People are in pain – that pain is just as real as physical pain. Shaming people into not being addicts is absolutely counterintuitive.

I sometimes wonder if those who don’t feel shame don’t realise how much shame actually hurts if you do. They seem resistant to ever experiencing it too. Like they are above it.

Others convince themselves, then they experience it, it often ends with terrible results.

I talk about why I tried to shed shame – because that stuff was painful to have someone tell me they had experienced it too and I didn’t need to feel shame took away so much of my own personal struggling. I am happy and in less pain now I have got rid of it.

I shed so much shame I don’t have Crohn’s disease (this might just be an effect for me). I had reached my limit of experiencing shame when it developed. I never stopped the feeling stuff I couldn’t turn it off, so it just developed internally for me. Now I have shed it, gone.

Think about how long Stephen Hawking lived when he had ALS vs the average life expectancy – he was never disconnected from other people, he had full social integration. He was respected, his work was meaningful. He had so many ways to limit the social pain of ALS.

The disease progression of Alzheimer’s has a lot of links to social disconnection. My Dad lost meaningful work, he disconnected from his values, he wasn’t respected, he had no status, he was in a home. His disease progression was rapid. I feel terrible about this all the time.

We are wired to connect to other people – when that is cut off – we get sick. We need each other.

Our society is more fragmented than ever socially, we don’t talk to our neighbours generally, we don’t get time to socialise, if our work sucks we are exhausted at weekends. We need more time with one another, and less judgement.

We turned being together into a competition, this is the core root of toxicity of social media. It’s about trying to prove we are better than one another for so many people. When I used it this way it sucked. I changed to make it about connecting – my life improved.

The high school years generally suck more than college because nowhere is the popularity paradigm more prevalent than at high school. Once a lot of us went to university we established less but more meaningful friendships, but school was about being the best always.

No one is honest – when I talk honestly about the struggles of my life people feel connected. Honestly when I saw someone being real about their actual pain on here my life changed. I didn’t feel like garbage as much – I realised I could have bad days. Being authentic helped me.

Everyone is so ashamed of hurting, but so many of us are, and expressing that pain has a solidarity effect and actually brings us closer, if you see people for everything they are you feel less awful and stop trying to hold up a fake version of yourself for image reasons.

Because if you read before – anticipation of pain is worse than the pain itself. When I finally admitted all this stuff about my life I realised it wasn’t as terrifying. So much of my pain was based on the fear of having anyone know who I really was, and that actually hurt me.

It’s ok not to be ok needs role modelling. And it can’t be celebrities all the time – we need to see each other for who we are and not judge them. People want to feel connected, but we live in a society that actively tries to disconnect them

It was absolutely terrifying the first time I ever was honest publicly about my life. Some threads early on I deleted. I get called things like brave. I am not brave, everyone is – they have just been made to feel like their struggles aren’t important. Minimised. Invalidated.

“Be the worst version of yourself and try and improve.” That was literally what I told myself. I had no self-esteem I was like nothing else has worked – hiding who I was didn’t work. When I came out as bi, I couldn’t believe how good I felt about starting being me finally.

That became the first thing I needed to realise that shedding shame about my identity had a detoxifying effect for me. Every time I was more honest about my life, I felt better. I had a lot that makes me a marginalised person. I had a lot of internalised ableism. All of it made me hate myself.

I have lost nearly all of my friends so many times. I lost a lot of friends being who I am, but the ones I have now are far more meaningful I get to be authentic – how many people can truly say that about themselves.

Simply put:

Originally tweeted by Rory – ADHD Autistic OCD (@roryreckons) on November 20, 2021.

Possibly my most important pattern seeking moment

Why do people please? They are in pain.

I keep thinking about the effects of being “healthy” and how some of those people tend to be the worst people. Social pain lights up the same receptors in the brain as physical pain. The only people who tend to be the most callous, don’t feel pain or shame.

You spend time around the disabled or mental health communities and you get to see how much empathy these people have for the world.

A healthy society is society where disabled people are respected, and this explains a lot about why we have such uphill battles getting our needs taken seriously. A better world is possible.

I’d like to point out the mistreatment of disabled people is largely a result of colonial mindset, conquering the world. Winning at the expense of connection. Indigenous people celebrate differences.

I think this is why I hated the one anti-depressant that seemed to take the edge of depression, I was numb. Numb. As in not in pain. I felt unable to feel anything.

Competition, the just world fallacy, all these tools that people who are not hurting use to avoid the reality of the world as it exists. Minimising the uncomfortable feeling that we live in an unjust world. They use a fictional view of the world to avoid having to feel.

Our fear of discomfort as a society is making us more distant maybe the things we’ve been taught are unhelpful due to their effects on productivity are the things we need to unify us…

This is why I think ‘Lost Connections’ by Johann Hari spoke to my soul. It reframed depression and anxiety in terms as essential parts of the human experience. I think a lot about the paradox of trauma.

Maybe my life was awful to allow me to reason. I am not saying that it should be for everyone, but my pain and suffering seemed to rein me in when I started trying to live for things other than the goals of self-determination (autonomy, competence, relatedness). A hypersensitivity to living a life of connection.

My Crohn’s disease pain largely went away at the same time as I dedicated most of my time to sharing and alleviating pain, living with true authenticity and by the Stoic virtues. Wisdom, Courage, Temperance & Virtue.

I spent so long trying to work on me alone. Trying to be the ideal version of me at the neglect of the person I was. When I destroyed my ego, gave into the things I was “shameful” over and expressed them honestly it was like all the baggage I had had it’s contents poured out.

I carry my experiences with me, but they are no longer heavy. I like leaning into the pain of my past, it gives me hope for the future, and being honest, it makes me feel human.

If you think about how “PC”, “Woke”, “Cancel Culture” are used by people who use them maliciously you can see it’s a way of never having to feel connected to others because they are terrified of being in pain. Cowards. Actually cowards. The strength is leaning into discomfort.

This is why anti-racist work is so hard. It hurts to know we perpetuate an unfair society by being afforded privilege. Being wrong and realising how systems uphold the things we don’t want is painful. Also why justice sensitivity is high in populations that are stigmatised.

“And it's strange, all the things that I've run from
Are the things that completeness could come from“

This lyric is one of the most important ones in my life.

If you think about passion in love maybe people use the vulnerability of feeling like the other person could leave at any moment as a way to ensure there is passion. The start of a relationship tends to be the most passionate because we live with the fear of pain if we are left.

“Don’t let your disability define you” this message sucked because it denied the pain of being disabled. When I tried to hide my pain or pretend it doesn’t exist. I “hurt” myself the most.

I was so scared of being honest about hurting.

Empathy involves pain implicitly. Empathy requires you to feel discomfort of others and share in it. This explains why people minimise the pain of others, they are scared of pain themselves.

‘Crazy but good in bed’. Empathetic. You mean empathetic.

Non-judgement also requires you to be ok with people hurting other people and understanding that it’s not always a sign of people being awful, the people who hurt me most had “good intentions”.

This is why I’m an abolitionist, why it made sense to me at my core. Isolation and ostracism can push people past the limit of pain till they take steps to limit interoception, it can make the shame of mistakes so powerful they stop interocepting that too. Callousness = a lack of shame and pain.

The dichotomy of thinking there is good and bad people is something people rely on as broken distortion of the truth in order to believe that the world is just, then when we create the circumstances that ensure that is true we say “look we were right”.

The worst atrocities are usually caused by people who had such shame or pain they stopped the interoception of feeling those things. You can develop empathy, it’s been shown in brain scans consistently, but you must believe you can change.

Once you see pain and shame as enemies or unfair, you start literally thinking in ways that bypass the brain mechanisms that are developed specifically for this purpose. Hate leads to suffering.

Think now about how toxic masculinity works – pain or shame is seen as weakness, the misrepresentation of being “stoic” as denying the feelings you have is one of the distortions that makes me livid. Now I know why.

Entitlement comes from a lack of shame.

Suicide rates are high in the men who realise they can’t actually turn off the things they’ve been gaslight into believing. This mask is one that too many wear.

When we mock people who appear to feel pain for the first time, what are we doing? How can we allow people to get better unless we allow them to hurt too?

The society we have built is so utterly toxic for progress. We need to see everything as a spectrum as it actually is. Binaries never allow nuance. There is black and white, but there is always more gray. 99.99% is more ambiguous than we believe.

I can quite easily see now I’ve some self-esteem, self-worth how the idea of “not being around people who bring you down” is encouraged. A core of badly delivered CBT is to never allow yourself to stop believing in a just world. It does have a protective effect but it makes you a worse person.

When we protect ourselves from objective truth through self-gaslighting we give up our humanity in the process.

Originally tweeted by Rory – ADHD Autistic OCD (@roryreckons) on November 18, 2021.

To Parents Who Home-School their ADHD or Autistic Children, and those that cannot.

To parents who pulled their ADHD and/or Autistic child from school (and could afford to do so, were able to):

You did the right thing. I know you probably question this a lot. But all the well-being stuff I’ve seen indicates this was correct.

To those who can’t, we are trying to fix it.

Just if you can't, and your kid is really aggressive and defiant at home. That child is hurting usually.

Don't be mean about how everyone has to do it. School can do a lot of damage, but a stable home and support can help.

Kids also coke can/bottle as described here. You need to know about this. It’s not personal even if directed at you, I know this seems like it is, but I swear it’s misdirected anger if you are respectful.

Don't make home punitive. Don't let the school enlist you in homework battles. That is between the child and the school, and homework should not exist. It does not increase learning, especially for ADHD or Autistic children. It does ruin home, and cause your child to run away.

A lot of positive feedback loops (as in increasing not good) occur during the school years. You can circuit breaker these. Let the kid do what they want after school as much as possible. I wish my parents had tried to take an interest in the stuff I liked, rather than ignoring it

If your kid is like me. Most of my learning happened after school. Playing a range of video games, reading fiction, writing bad poetry, spending time on the internet, playing outside.

Tell your kid you love them unconditionally. Yes unconditionally. Conditional love, means they believe they are conditionally worthwhile. Celebrate the stuff they are proud of, centre their feelings during this. Respect autonomy. Presume competence always.

Also pay attention to what they say, like if you can celebrate the effort, more than the result. I swear this is the best you can do.

"I got an A on that assignment I worked on"
"See your effort paid off"

This is a subtle thing, but you celebrate the doing, not the receiving.

Please if a kid tells you they can't do something in school work and you say "yes you can" because they are smart at some area.

They are usually telling the truth. They also probably need some help, if you can help them, be inquisitive and non-judgmental.

Spiky intelligence, multiple undiganosed learning disabilities, and untreated myopia (short sightedness) defined a lot of my ability to succeed. I punished myself for not being better for 30+ years. I nearly didn't make it. Listen to your child, trust them.

Give your child a comprehensive sexual education. Let them know it's ok to say no, even to you occasionally. Model healthy boundaries. Don't be mean about your friends or backstab them. I misread that for a while as ok to do.

If you lose your stuff at your kid. Admit you did the wrong thing. This will usually always happen. No parent is perfect!

Apologizing correctly – show remorse, admit fault, ask what you can do to make it right, promise to make your best efforts to prevent it happening again.

Don't promise it will never happen again if it will potentially.

Be compassionate to yourself. Parenting is hard. You are doing the best you can if you are trying to love the kid and not hurting them.

If you keep lashing out, seek therapy, you might have unresolved trauma.

Your kid might have issues task switching, bake in reminders before the switch from something fun to chores.

If you can don't complain about doing chores instead make it a fun family team effort. If you model something sucks, they will hate it.

If your kid laughs or goes blank during times of stress. That is due to losing control.

In these cases: Listen to their words, not their facial expressions.

I didn't have control of mine till age 14.

Drama and music were pivotal in my development, as were pets. If you can afford these I recommend them, if your kid doesn't like doing something new, find out why, if they still hate it after a few lessons stop. Forcing it won't help.

If your kid meltdown or gets super aggressive when loud stuff happens. Get some sort of noise dampening aid. They likely have hyperacusis and/or misophonia.
You cannot reduce the effect through discipline, you can reduce awareness in the child. This will lead to unknown anxiety.

Test anxiety is common. If your child has it, an exam focused school is the worst choice. If your kid has learning disabilities, they will be vastly exacerbated during exams.
Let your kid teach you what they learn, it will help with memorization.
Love your kid. It's worth it.❤

If you have a child who has periods, periods are more extreme in ADHD/Autistic people as a trend. It also plays havoc with medication efficacy. This isn't well known.

Be graceful and compassionate during the mood swings.

A loss of control isn't the child's fault.

Follow #ActuallyAutistic, #TeamADHD, #NeurodiverseSquad, on Twitter listen to more than just me, I am not an authority. There is also #AutisticWhileBlack for Black Autistic issues.

If you have questions you can use #AskingAutistics and #AskADHD

We want to help. We want you to have a healthy, happy life with your child, and them to thrive.

❤🥰

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

On the loss of autonomy and the danger of ABA, my family ‘ABA’ & my Father

I can’t stress you cannot undo a loss of autonomy in a child. They won’t understand what it means to think what they want. It took 25+ years to realise mine was gone. At 34 it got restored partially but I still experienced Autistic Burnout that almost ended my life.

They will pretend to know what you mean. They will be trying to please you. They will be unable to say no to people (and that is abused for many of us myself included). Autistic children need their autonomy intact, you have to fight for it, the world will try to crush it anyway.

This is possibly the hardest thing about being Autistic without it, figuring out you have spent decades living someone else’s life. Causing yourself stress, suicide ideation, depression, anxiety and often developing CPTSD. The most common thing I hear is “I don’t know who I am”.

I think half the reason we lose a lot of our memories from childhood is that we keep compartmentalising the parts of the mask that were broken, hiding who we were to try and be the right version of ourselves. It’s like a maze of compartmentalisation.

It was world shattering when I did get my memories back. I had hidden so much pain. My life was near constant hurt. I just kept plowing through, picking up both physical and mental stress symptoms. When my compartmentalisation broke down. I nearly died.

I got to recover. The first thing that you are conditioned into is minimising your pain. But I actually didn’t know who I was, or why I did anything in my life. I realised last year simply this – people told me to. I outsourced my life to other’s expectations.

No one should ever feel like they have been living someone else’s life. No one should have to be ashamed of the parts of themselves they’ve been coerced into hiding. There are elements that were me, but most of it broke down under any sort of external pressure, I’d conform.

Saying “no” to anything is still a radical and painful act. I mean that too. It actually is a physically painful thing to do to say “no” for me to some reasonable boundary I am trying to enforce.

I also want to point out, no one knew how bad I was. I kept up appearances. I would look ‘normal’ and ‘happy’. It was all performance art. Also when I said the “right” version, it should have been in quotes. The right version of me is the one without the mask.

If you understand that saying “no” is painful, you will understand why having anger back now is useful. I couldn’t enforce boundaries until I got my anger back. I don’t use it to be mean when enforcing a boundary, but I need it to understand one has been violated.

I didn’t get official ABA. I had brutal authoritarian caregiving for the same length and frequency from a new addition to my family. It was systematic they controlled me. Their friends would comment to leave me alone. From age 8, this is where I really lost my autonomy.

I didn’t mean to mislead anyone here. ABA is the same principles – extrinsic motivation in a reward and punishment based framework with the intent of ’extinguishing’ behaviour. I also attended authoritarian high school. Everything was about brutally conforming and I was punished.

It was their suggestion to my caregiver to threaten to glue sheep shit to my fingers to stop sucking them. But I could have a toy dog if I didn’t. I had none of my regular activities. I was policed for being me in a way the rest of my caregivers did, but were more absent.

I would wake up ever morning in utter terror because the first trial of the day was “breakfast” and it never really stopped after that. Their eyes were on me always. I had no safe haven. It wasn’t just subtle looking, it was staring like a hawk. I have PTSD from every period.

No matter how hard I tried, they’d find fault. I mean the thing about friends. I heard:
“Leave the poor kid alone”
“Will you give him a break”
“What has he done to deserve this?”

I also got really sick with stomach bugs every holiday.

I have a split in the front of my lip it doesn’t look obvious but I got it from an injury when I was 4 years old. It means I don’t form a perfect seal on glasses. Due to this quite often there was a small bit that ran down the glass. I was repeatedly punished for this every drink

This is the person I justified most as me being unfair to also. I was like “I was a bad kid, I needed discipline, it wasn’t unfair I’m overreacting”

Due to the fact I kept getting sick every time I was in this situation for roughly 10 weeks of each year. I actually thought I was being poisoned. It was stress related illness I know now, but I couldn’t work out any other reason why, and I was the only one sick all the time.

The reason I was targeted? I looked like the other parent from the divorce. I was explicitly told they hated me for that reason.

This was the most complicated part of my life. My Dad was awesome to me. He kept telling me he was going to leave them, every year he told me that. I believed it every time. He made me feel safe, but was at work when this happened most of the time. Divorce sucks.

This person made my father really toxic as a person in the end. My Dad started getting really racist. By the time he died I barely recognised him from the values he used to have I grew up around. My Dad I realised in retrospect was a people pleaser. Stuck in a toxic environment.

He became a cautionary tale for me. I never wanted to end up like him, but I also distanced myself from him. His constant betrayal at both sincerely wanting to leave, and being powerless to actually do this I didn’t understand until after he died. It still hurts.

He also did other things that I now realised are just related to the fact he was abused also. Their relationship was toxic I think for both of them. He ended up cheating on her a lot. I knew this was happening, and he didn’t come see me one time he came up to visit.

I blamed him for that, but he was missing basic human needs. I know you will say this is very forgiving of a flawed man. Understanding what I do now and having been in one relationship where I was similarly controlled and got out of eventually (without infidelity), I understand.

My dad taught me to stick up for the underdog, to never respect authority too much, to stand up for what you believed in. He protested apartheid. He campaigned for gay rights. He was a good man, who did bad actions. All his friends spoke so highly of him, he was loyal to them.

I miss him so much now. I have a bad memory for certain stuff just briefly, so I think to myself “I’ll give Dad a call”, then it hits me again with the full emotional force and no passage of time since it happened.

This quote from Seneca is for a reason:
“Associate with people who are likely to improve you. Welcome those who you are capable of improving. The process is a mutual one: people learn as they teach.”

For those of us with impaired autonomy, we are the company we keep.

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

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.

What can happen when you eliminate stims

The “I stopped my kid from stimming they appear so neurotypical now” to “my kid is aggressive and depressed” pipeline.

I’ve discovered the science behind stimming. It’s all self soothing stuff that generates the chemical that allows social connection and prevents the one that causes a lot of anxiety. Simplified Oxytocin(love) and Arginine Vasopressin(fear) bind to the same receptors.

If you limit our natural way to produce Oxytocin we get trapped in an anxious, fearful and depressed state.

Simply put. Stimming is joy.

This is why the only solution to helping Autistic people is to increase Autistic acceptance. Not to change us. We are trying to ensure we are regulated properly, you change that, and we are unable to.

Those of us who discovered our Autism later in life have been reverting back to the behaviours we did as children, because they contain the keys to well-being. But the internalised ableism is so hard to undo, and a lot of us have forgotten.

The more destructive stims are usually responses to pain we are feeling but are unable to express in other ways. It’s a external manifestation of internal psychological or physical pain.

I adapted btw. When my parents extinguished my Autistic stims I started turning to other forms of generation. I was lucky in some ways because I had largely absent parents due to divorce, working and poverty.

TW / sexual abuse, suicide, drug use
When they stopped me sucking my fingers, I became hypersexualised. That was an extremely bad outcome for a young child, and it was taken advantage by bad people. I also turned to substances. It was this, or plummet into despair and suicide.

Do you know who tends to be really nice and help you gain access to both those things? People who offer you one for the other.

I was a naive as hell child in many ways socially. This was really really toxic.

I was lucky I was ADHD and Autistic. My impulsive nature allowed me to find alternative forms of regulation. Sure I have PTSD from them, but the alternative would have been death. That I am sure of.

It’s been incredibly helpful to understand why I did such reckless things. I had a lot of shame from doing this stuff. Because some of it was my initiation. I was also a damn child, it wasn’t up to me to know this was wrong. I was doing logical stuff, they were taking advantage.

I didn’t discover hypersexualisation on my own. That first move was made by someone else at my fourth birthday party. When your frame of reference for acceptable behaviour is this broken, it distorts everything else.

Everyone else in my life was infantilising me. These people were not. It’s not hard to see how they took advantage of my need for agency and autonomy by showing me respect, while simultaneously abusing me.

Lonely desperate kid looks for friends in an environment people are looking for something far more dubious but it’s guaranteed to mean social contact.

This is the most obvious outcome. Add in disrespect for authority due to maltreatment and I know why I did this now.

My behaviour is entirely explainable by the intrinsic human motivations of self-determination theory:
Autonomy – I was treated as an adult.
Competence – They told me how mature and intelligent I was, making me feel competent.
Relatedness – I was being offered social connection.

Imagine if I had positive people in my life telling me this stuff from the start?

Parenting 101.

When you have authoritarian parenting which controls every part of your life, you don't know what a good and bad relationship is or what a healthy and unhealthy one is.

Kids with autonomy, competence, and relatedness intact respect themselves to know this is wrong.

You have to understand – I didn't seek help even when I was hurt here, because that was always the expectation – I should be hurt. When you are getting hurt by your parents it can't be they are wrong, it has to be that you are wrong. This means you justify and hide more pain.

Here's a thing I need other kids who look back on their past now with a lot of trauma to know.

YOU WERE A KID. NOTHING THAT WAS DONE TO YOU WAS ACCEPTABLE IF ABUSIVE.

Cry all the time hearing other people saying the same stuff I did for so long:

"I was a bad kid"
"I was trouble"
"I needed discipline"

That is the stuff that broke us. It was a failure of parenting. I know that from seeing healthy parenting now.

I got to repair my relationships with my parents. I understood how intergenerational trauma is transmitted down family lines. My dad died 3 years ago today. He was a flawed man, but he always loved me and was proud of me. I just didn't have him as a parent

Really want to make clear here it’s not survivors of abuse that have to do this and I never want to claim that. I am critiquing the systems we have and the ways we think about others.

People often wonder why we keep having bad parenting. Because I loved my parents, and I still do. They are complicated. They were doing their best. I wanted to get them help but the only help that exists involves taking me away from them. No ‘Justice’ in that. ACAB.

It's really fucked up I had to be the social service that mended my relationship with my parents. I learned all the stuff I could to understand and fix the problems. I had to find out the grey that they existed in because the world was telling me to see them in black and white.

"You aren't responsible for fixing your parents" – therapists.

Cool ? Who is going to do it then? Because cutting people out of my life is some carceral bullshit. I want to develop connection between people always.

Healing these relationships restores my humanity too.

I know people will say this is pathological.

The pathological thing is that we have this expectation, that some people are unsalvageable. It's been hard work – it's taken a lot of introspection, reading, mental fortitude developing, and care. They are more happy now than ever.

All it really took is figuring out how to communicate in the language they had been programmed into thinking about, figuring out what was driving the behaviour that hurt them, and helping them autonomously realise there is always a better way forward.

I also stopped judging them. That was the first thing I had to let go of – if I need unconditional positive regard to fix me… maybe they needed that too.

This takes some epic mastery to develop. I had to control PTSD reactions. It was a slow non-linear process.

Hurt people can hurt people. Generally no one acts negatively unless dealing with some unresolved issue.

No survivor is responsible for rehabilitating their victimzer.

When you realise everyone has the capacity to hurt others – especially those with "good intentions", it actually makes you more connected to other people, not less.

There are no good and bad people. There are good and bad actions and behaviours.

Thank you The Good Place for solidifying my moral code and belief system, and breaking down the good person/bad person dichotomy I had built in my head.

What matters isn't if people are good or bad.

What matters is if they're trying to be better today than they were yesterday.

People ask me a lot what helped most with OCD?

This show. Literally this show – it helped me more than anything else to start conquering my OCD before I even knew I had it.

I have non-cleaning OCD (except in times of extreme stress). I have moral OCD.

This show gave me the guidebook that I needed to actually make a code to live by – you will see that in a lot of what I do. Because now I just make sure I am acting in line with my code – I check to see if I violate a principle. I needed good personal boundaries too though.

Originally tweeted by Rory – ADHD Autistic OCD (@roryreckons) on November 15, 2021.

A living paradox

People often ask me how I tell the difference between ADHD and Autism.

It’s hard – so here are contradictions that make it hard to describe.

In many ways I am a living paradox. This is just my interpretation.

For me it comes down to a key internal feeling:

* I need extreme order
* I thrive in total chaos

This is the battle I deal with every day.

Autistic Behaviour:
* Excruciatingly researching purchase options in a logical fashion.

ADHD Behaviour:
* Impulse buying something that looks cool and instantly regretting it.

Autistic Behaviour:
* Loving eating the same food every day.

ADHD Behaviour:
* Hating when I notice this and needing to eat something completely new.

Autistic Behaviour:
* Living with a routine, and loving it.

ADHD Behaviour:
* Needing a routine to thrive, but hating it.

Autistic Behaviour:
* Preferring a lot of time alone and to be quiet.

ADHD Behaviour:
* Needing to be around people and be social.

Autistic Behaviour:
* Wanting to follow the rules all the time and having respect for order.

ADHD Behaviour:
* Acting illogically in a way that contradicts these rules.

Autistic Behaviour:
* Wanting to become a deep subject matter expert in a few subjects.

ADHD Behaviour:
* Wanting to be a generalist in all subjects.

Autistic Behaviour:
* Enjoying menial tasks that are soothing like sorting LEGO for hours into types.

ADHD Behaviour:
* Hating doing menial repetitive tasks.

Autistic Behaviour:
* Wanting to be quiet during conversations and offer thoughts rarely.

ADHD Behaviour:
* Needing to implicitly interrupt and say everything before losing that information.

Autistic Behaviour:
* Needing low sensory environments to account for high stimulation.

ADHD Behaviour:
* Seeking high stimulation environments for low stimulation.

Autistic Behaviour:
* Being cautious about trying new things

ADHD Behaviour:
* Running headfirst into some exciting new task without consideration.

There are shared traits too (not every either Autistic or ADHD people will have them):

* Hyperfocus
* Strong emotional feelings and empathy
* Divergent thinking
* Good problem solving ability
* Creativity
* Interest in deep thinking
* Needing to know how things work

Also:

* Stimming / Fidgeting
* Over analysing social scenarios
* Strong sense of justice
* Altruistic behaviour
* Tics
* Rumination

I also am not uniformly Autistic / ADHD in the same way.

I seem to have more Autistic days, or more ADHD days. Accounting for this feeling and trying to work out which is more dominant helps me make the best use of my day.

It can change within that day too.

The most uniform quality I have is that I am unpredictable – even to myself.

You'll never guess why I needed to become my own boss.

This is why giving up on expectations about what I should be doing or what should work is probably the thing that has allowed me to be most productive. There's no rule book on how to live when you are often two things at once.
When I developed perfectionism it sabotaged my life.

Also why I think 'structured' therapy is especially awful for us dual diagnosis people who have perfectionism issues.

Because we might be consistent one week, but then meltdown due to becoming impulsive the next.

I call myself the swiss army knife person. Use whatever works. There are no rules – stop thinking of what is right and start thinking in terms of what works.

CAVEAT: I mean in regard to organising life – don't be a hurtful person – that is a fixed rule I try never to break.

I really can't stress enough how much it's important to teach yourself failure and to be ok with it – perfectionism kills self-esteem. It's uncomfortable as all hell to start with, it grated at my soul. I literally started by leaving errors in Tweets – and that was painful.

Originally tweeted by Rory – ADHD Autistic OCD (@roryreckons) on November 15, 2021.