DISCLAIMER: This is quite a long-ass blogpost, I apologize for having so much things to say in this subject.
Receiving a diagnosis as being neurodivergent helped me understand my creativity better… Does it sound crazy? Meh. Maybe…
July 31st, 2011. It’s the date of my first official diagnosis. My fear was real: I do have Fibromyalgia. I was “lucky” enough to have friends living with this and to be able to ask them questions. After months of constant pain and exhaustion, after advocating for myself that indeed, it was not “just being a parent of young children“. When you know… you know. And I was sure something was not right in my body. So I talked to my then-doctor about my suspicions. Once again, I know I was one of the lucky ones. My doctor believed me. My doctor did all the tests to rule out any other possible illness (usually, you have to check if it is not arthritis and stuff like this). She knew the trigger points to check etc.
You know, Fibromyalgia belongs to the “syndrome” category: if this is not X or Y or Z, then okay it is Fibromyalgia.
2020 is also the year my therapist was positive about one thing: I am gifted. Did I kinda laughed at her face? Maybe… yes, yes I did laugh at her face, asking “ahah, my husband and my daughter are gifted. Trust me, I am so no like them! you are wrong here”. Then, she had me do several tests etc and the results were all the same. I am no Einstein, but well, my brain works in the same ways as the brain of gifted people in many many ways.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain and spinal cord process painful and nonpainful signals.Source: Mayo Clinic
Medicine still does not know anything for sure regarding what causes these symptoms. All we have are various hypotheses.
There are no meds that exist specifically for treating it. It’s a
lot little touch-and-go regarding what meds help, about the dosage that is best etc. I used to take way over the recommended dosage of Lyrica, for example.
The more time passes, the more my body gets used to the things I take. I need to find new ways of finding relief.
I tried acupuncture because it is a good tool for fibromyalgia pain, but I have to be honest: this was awful. The acupuncturist was great, but the points used caused my hands and feet to be paralyzed completely for the entire duration of the needles working their points. And this is not the best feeling in the world, even if I knew it was temporary. Have you ever experienced sleep paralysis? It was the same sensation.
⚡️Something strange I have noticed over the years is that I am not feeling the pain as much when I am painting or creating. I guess it might simply be because I get lost in what I am doing? For a while, I used to go to my Studio and work in my art journal just so I could have some relief from the non-stop pain.
Fibromyalgia teaches me to be in my body (well, it does not really give me the choice, actually). When I paint, I stand. And it became an entirely different experience once my body was constantly yelling at me.
Additionally, suffering from this state of never-ending exhaustion forces me to listen to it. I am a pusher. A go-getter. Most of the time anyway… But there are still days when getting out of bed takes all my energy. So in regards to my creative life, I had to accept that it is okay to have days without painting. Days where creativity takes another face than being in my Studio. This is huge, still now. I need to remind myself that I have permission to press pause now and then.
ADD as an adult AND as a woman
This is crazy and cliché but it took me a very long time to realize it might be something affecting me as well. Apparently, this is common for adults to realize they might suffer from AD(H)D only once parent of a child with it. How come? Because we might recognize our behaviour and struggle in them, but also because it’s apparently hereditary…
My general practitioner doctor in Québec is the one officially diagnosing me. I think I will try to talk to my new doctor here to see how I can manage it better.
And (do not judge) TikTok also helped even more. Because on this platform, people talk about it freely. Both doctors and people living with it. I realized that they were reasons why my brain is working the way it does. But more importantly, it brought to me the truth that others suffer from this as well. Plus, there are healthy ways to cope… I am always coming back to figuring out healthier coping mechanisms than the ones I have been using for decades now.
⚡️2020 is the year my general practitioner doc did acknowledge my difficulty to focus. There were so many symptoms, he agreed that I have an attention deficit disorder. Over the years, I really thought I was going crazy. It is impossible to focus on a task, my brain going in so many different directions at once it was/is overwhelming. Always starting too many projects at once but having trouble finishing any. And these are just quick examples that come to mind.
Creatively, I get bored very easily. I guess that when I become obsessed with either a technique or an art supply, I will exhaust all I can do with it over and over. But then, I move on to something else (or go back to a previous obsession). I never can work on one project at a time, I NEED to work on several paintings, on a journal page, on so many different areas of creativity. My brain seems to connect more when my hands are used in different ways.
My impulsivity will have me buy all the colours of that product, or do all the techniques found about this specific project… I have to admit this led to me hoarding art supplies for a while. In hindsight, I know this was a crazy time. I have to have long discussions with myself about not needing to have it all or to do it all. The fear that it won’t be available anymore and thoughts like that were constant in my mind.
For a long time, I felt guilty to function this way. Until the moment I read about how this is normal for someone living with ADD to act that way.
Never forget being a highly sensitive person!
Novotni* suggests that it is the tendency of people with ADHD to feel overwhelmed that leads to their hypersensitive reactions. This, in turn, contributes to their difficulty in coping emotionally.*Michelle Novotni is a psychologist and ADHD coach.
Source: Attitude mag
According to my close family, I was a crybaby. They would also tell you I react quickly and with a lot of intensity. This is something that, unknowingly, impacted me a lot. I talked too much, I talked too fast, I talked too loudly.
I was always feeling like I was different and learned how to adapt my behaviour regarding whom I was with.
As a teen, I noticed how easily overwhelmed I often was. Our culture does not normalize being sensitive, being empathetic. But in hindsight, I now see it as a superpower.
Creatively speaking, this sensitivity transpires in the faces that appear, in the colours I am attracted to, the textures I build within layers.