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Navigating the Neurodivergent Seas and Chronic Illness Rollercoasters: A Scenic Route to Thriving Differently

Thriving Differently - Riding the rollercoaster of neurodiversity and chronic illness

Once upon a time, a younger me was floating through life like an asteroid on a crash course towards a revelation of cosmic proportions. I just didn’t know it yet.

First, let’s rewind a bit. I was always that peculiar kid growing up. You know, the one who couldn’t sit still, who daydreamed about dragons in math class, who saw the world through a kaleidoscope of endless curiosities and chaotic energy. I was a puzzle piece that just couldn’t seem to find its spot in the jigsaw of societal expectations.

The terms ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and neurodiversity weren’t yet part of my lexicon. Fast forward to age 40, I was handed my belated membership card to the ADHD club. Oh boy, was that a rollercoaster ride of “Ah, that explains it!” moments.

Having ADHD is like hosting a one-person brainstorming session. Ideas bounce off the walls like hyperactive ping pong balls, sometimes leading to incredible creativity, other times leaving me searching for the mental equivalent of a lost sock in a messy room. And the whole ‘ADHD = kids who bounce off walls’ stereotype? Talk about a misbranding scandal. We could surely use a PR team to rectify that one.

Just when I thought I’d started to make sense of my neurodivergent mind, life decided it was time for a plot twist. In my mid-thirties, while neck-deep in Theology studies, I was hit with an autoimmune arthritis diagnosis. My body had seemingly mistaken itself for a villain and had taken to attacking its cells like a Marvel superhero with an identity crisis. I was suddenly living a blockbuster life filled with suspense, drama, and a lot of pain.

The thing about chronic pain is that it can become an unwelcome roommate who leaves dirty dishes in the sink and plays heavy metal music at 3 AM. My body was conducting its symphony of aches with the determination of a maestro gone rogue, and the result was less of a harmonious concerto and more of a chaotic noise band.

But there’s an old saying that what doesn’t kill you gives you a set of unhealthy coping mechanisms and a dark sense of humor. Or, in my case, an intense desire to reach out, connect, and cultivate resilience.

Thriving Differently sometimes feels like you're falling through space

My mental health has always been like a mischievous cat, unpredictable, curious, and sometimes scratching at my sanity in the middle of the night. With the added stress of chronic illness and the discovery of my neurodivergence, I had to learn how to communicate with this tricky feline.

Between you and me, life handed me lemons, and I was allergic to them. But I’ve managed to make some zesty lemon sorbet, anyway.

So, here I am, not merely surviving but thriving differently. Yes, I have chronic pain. Yes, my brain dances to a different rhythm. Yes, I’ve encountered storms of despair. But here’s the thing – through the struggles, I’ve discovered strength I never knew I possessed. I’ve navigated the labyrinth of my mind and emerged with an understanding that my differences aren’t defects; they’re simply me.

Each one of us is a universe of experiences, abilities, and potential. We’re comets streaking across the night sky, brilliant in our own right. My journey has shown me that being “different” is just another word for being “unique,” and there’s strength in embracing our unique selves.

Thriving Differently is sometimes about learning to harness the things that make us different

As I continue this wild ride, I’m excited to take you along with me. The waters might be rough, the rollercoaster may have some unexpected loops, but we’ll navigate these seas and ride these coasters together. Buckle up, it’s going to be an exciting journey to thriving differently!

Remember, friends, if life gives you lemons and you can’t make lemonade, a food fight is always an option. Just be sure to duck!

Marty Denial

Marty Denial

Meet Marty, the trailblazing founder of Thriving Differently. With a background in Theology and a life rich in unique experiences, they were compelled to change career plans after an autoimmune disease diagnosis. Their journey through the realms of chronic illness and neurodivergence has reshaped their understanding of life, strength, and resilience, leading to the creation of this platform. Living with ADHD diagnosed late in life, grappling with the complexities of autoimmune arthritis, and consistently navigating mental health challenges, Marty leverages their personal experiences to empower others on similar paths. When they aren't sharing insights and laughter on Thriving Differently, you'll find them delving into a good book or honing their digital money-making skills. Join them as they embrace the joy, chaos, and creativity of thriving differently.View Author posts