Recouping, once more
I'm reminded once again to take a rest, while also showing kindness to myself
(Here’s a cute gray cat from the Korean grocery that I go to)
I haven’t written anything ~*profound*~ in a while. However, I have a confession to make: I almost fell into AuDHD burnout recently.
To be honest, I felt ashamed that I ended up having this close encounter with AuDHD burnout. I already have the tools that can aid in burnout prevention— a structured task list at work, accommodations with chores and other daily activities, a work-from-home setup, self-soothing tools and activities, and the Finch app for self-care.
Despite having these things, I continue to struggle immensely with executive dysfunction and pathological demand avoidance.
To be able to support myself in these struggles, I usually have three routes for action: I soften or lower the demand, rank it as a priority and push myself to do the thing, or channel my inner mean girl and shame myself to do the thing.
Take basic self-care tasks like showering, fixing my bed, brushing my teeth, and doing chores as some examples. I find these tasks harder to do than coming up with a tweet or a social media post. It’s not a flex, but it’s something that I feel very ashamed about. To add, I felt patronized when it comes to handling basic life tasks. When it comes to my attempts at getting shit together, I notice that others tend to fuss at the way I do things, instead of commending my efforts. As a neurodivergent person navigating a neurotypical world, being able to do these “basic” tasks with my own efforts is already an Olympic sport in itself. I have to give myself affirmations when I accomplish something. However, whenever I encounter people criticizing or patronizing me about my accomplishments, my pathological demand avoidance gets triggered and I end up defaulting to two reactions: it’s either I try to equalize and prove these people wrong that I’m not stupid or ill-equipped at life to the point that I’m pushing myself to the point of burnout or I end up shutting down and I lose all the drive to do that task until I feel safe enough to do it.
An area of my life where I try to equalize and prove people wrong as a way to respond to my demand avoidance is my physical appearance. Back in grade school, high school and college, people would give me very mean comments about my looks. I will admit that I wasn’t as well-equipped when it comes to different as self-care compared to now, so I’ve spent the last 8-9 years overcompensating and making an active effort to prove that I’m not ugly, or that I look like a laughingstock to the people who said those mean comments. My physical appearance and my approaches to self-care are areas in my life where I still overcompensate and feel insecure about, despite seeing the fruits of my labor over the last couple of years. Despite embracing body neutrality and having the balls to post selfies and my beauty routines on my social media channels, there are times where I still feel like I’m the Lea whose hair texture was ridiculed countless times, or whose physical appearance was seen as a joke or a punchline.
I still believe that outer beauty isn’t everything. You may not be “hot” based on your bullies’ standards, but your beauty will be appreciated by the people who care for you. I learned this the hard way. I’m glad that I’m unlearning how to approach self-care according to my inner mean girl, and I’m always working on caring for myself in ways that I can accommodate. Rather than approaching beauty treatments as steps to achieve the standards that my bullies set for me, I would rather be my own standard and take care of my looks in the way that my budget, pain tolerance, and sensory needs can allow. That means chemical straightening is out of the conversation. I’m beautiful, no matter how people perceive me to be. Coming to this realization and embracing this new approach day by day is a way for me to embrace a more compassionate and shame-free approach when dealing with demands and exercising autonomy. Not to mention, doing things from a place where you have to constantly defend your own existence like it’s a thesis defense is extremely exhausting. I need to relax and enjoy life too. Maybe that’s why my teammates tell me to “trust the process” and enjoy it, rather than going against the grain to prove my worth. I’m capable after all.
One day, I will be able to build a toolkit that will help me cope with my pathological demand avoidance a lot better. That toolkit includes detaching from others’ opinions of me (real or perceived).
Dealing with this profile, or this aspect of my neurodivergence is incredibly challenging, but I will try to love and support myself to the best that I can, and that includes resting and caring about the things that matter to me.
Until the next brain dump,