Ramblings From a Neurodiverse Gal
CW: mental health, self harm, suicidal ideation
From the time I can remember, I have always been different than my peers. I can recall being in elementary school and being so overpowered with anxiety that I would stash my most prized possessions in backpacks in my closet just in case a disaster would happen and I’d have to quickly grab them and go. Or also the time when I was convinced if I didn’t touch a lightbulb while on that my mom would die, or even the time I was convinced people could read my thoughts. The list of anxiety driven paranoia continues.
It wasn’t until high school when I suffered from my first major depressive episode where I landed myself in my first psychiatric facility. And unfortunately ended back up in 2018 & 2019. I’ve spent years struggling with these ideas that the world would be better off without me. Consumed with the thought that I am a burden to those around me. And paralyzed with fear that people will leave me. Yet somehow, I’ve made it to 26. An accomplishment I never imagined for myself.
The depression has been at bay for some time now. Mainly my daily struggle is the fact that I’m 100% in all forms an empath. I feel SO DEEPLY. Anger, frustration, joy, humiliation, pride, I feel them all on level 10. While sometimes this can be completely and utterly exhausting, it also may be my best quality.
I knew from the time I was a young child I wanted to be a teacher. I currently have the honor of being a teacher at a beautiful place for children with disabilities called Bridgeway Academy. So the question is, what does it look like being a Neurodiverse teacher for Neurodiverse learners?
It. Is. So. Special.
I’m not going to sit here and say I know what it’s like to be Autistic. I am going to say I feel as if my ND mind is an aide in my teaching. I see things others may not, I pick up on subtleties that may go over someone else’s head, I value each and every difference that enters my classroom. I see myself in some of my students, I WAS that kid that wasn’t “on track”. I remember the feeling of not understanding and shutting down. I had those teachers who were frustrated with me for not keeping up with my peers. I will never be that teacher.
When you grow up Neurodiverse, you see the world in a variety of ways. Some are beautiful, and some are challenging. However, no matter what, there is a place for you in this world. If you asked me 2 years ago where I would be now, I would have hesitated because I didn’t want to give my real answer. I did not think I would make it through my depression. I thought I’d be another statistic. Now, still here, I am a wife, a mother, a teacher, and an advocate. Titles I am so honored to hold.
Hang in there, you’ve got this.