This past Sunday, we took down the Christmas decorations, and a wave of relief as big as a fucking tsunami washed over me. I know some folks feel sad when the tree comes down, but not me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Scrooge or a Grinch; I like Christmas. But, Jesus am I glad to get my living room back. Having everything in its proper place just feels right. You see, when you’re neurodivergent, routine is a big fucking deal. And, anything that upsets that routine is about as welcome as getting tasered in the balls.
It’s a Love-Hate Relationship
The best way to describe my feelings about things that, like Christmas, bring disruption into my life is the old “love/hate relationship” trope. Take Christmas, for example. There’s a lot to love there. Getting to spend time with people I care about, eating a shit ton of really good food, the sheer goddamn hominess of the season that wraps around you like a warm fucking blanket… I could go on but you get the picture. But, as much as there is to love, there’s also a lot to hate. The crowds (oh god, the fucking crowds), the hectic pace, the overwhelming stress brought on by the need to get everything right. And, that’s just the stuff that everyone deals with. Being neurodivergent adds an extra layer of fuckery that most of you don’t even know about.
Every Little Bit Helps
Of course, those layers will vary from person to person. A lot of mine revolve around the fact that I’m not good at handling change. Okay, that’s not exactly true. I fucking suck at it. Between a working memory that has more holes than a goddamn slice of Swiss cheese, difficulties with sequential and procedural learning (which is a fancy way of saying I learn shit in weird ways), and having the attention span of a fucking fruit fly, life can be… well, let’s call it, “interesting”. And, by “interesting”, I mean “a motherfucking nightmare”. So, any little tricks that help me cope with that nightmare are welcome. Routine, aka the ability to operate on what amounts to autopilot, makes things less stressful. Not a lot, of course. But every little bit helps. And, oh my god do I need help.
A Relief. Sort of.
The fucked up thing about all this is that it’s not a one-and-done deal. Change is like death and taxes: that bastard is constant. Things like taking down the Christmas decorations help but that’s also a change and that’s a problem too. I mean, hell, I’ve spent the last three weeks walking around this big-ass tree, the bookcase being in the wrong place (it had to be moved to accommodate the aforementioned big-ass tree), remembering to turn on/off all those lights, etc. and now, just as I’m getting used to them, they’re fucking gone? Like snapping your goddamned fingers? I mean, I’m glad that things are returning to normal but, in the end, it’s still just one more fucking layer to deal with.
There’s Some Weirdness Here
One of the more “fun” aspects of being neurodivergent is the weird way this shit goes down. Like, due to my sensory issues, I have a visceral distaste for the rituals of the high church tradition (it’s all just too fucking much). But, because of the very same neurodivergence that causes those sensory issues, I find rituals very soothing. See what I mean by “fun”? For me, though, little ones seem to work best. Small, everyday things that my weird-ass brain has taken beyond routine and moved into the territory of ritual to provide a tiny bit of comfort in a world that seems dedicated to fucking me over on a daily basis.
If you meet one neurodivergent person…
As I said earlier, this stuff varies from person to person. For example, when it comes to faith issues, a lot of autists love that high church shit. But, there are also people like me who find that shit triggering in one way or another. I can’t believe I have to say this in 20-fucking-22, neurodivergent people are not a monolith. Basically, just like you and everyone else in the world, no two neurodivergent people are the same. If you meet one neurodivergent person, you’ve met… one neurodivergent person. Is that a cliche? Yes, it is. But, cliches exist for a reason: they fucking work. Especially this one. It’s a succinct, well-turned phrase that gets that information across in as few words as possible. That’s important because fucking neurotypicals just can’t seem to grasp that concept, forcing us to point it out over and over again.
That Shit Ain’t Easy
The decorations are down, packed up and stored away till next Christmas. I can move around my living room, kitchen, and dining room without a bunch of shit in the way. The bookcase is back where it fucking belongs. And, there are fewer things to remember to turn on and off. In other words, things are finally getting back to normal and I feel less like a stranger in my own goddamn home. Not completely, but it’s getting there. I know that, in the overall scheme of things, this isn’t a big fucking deal. Hell, it’s not even one of the harder things I have to navigate in this shitstorm of a world. Most aspects of my neurodivergence, taken individually, aren’t a big fucking deal. But, I can’t take them individually; they’re a package deal and they pile the fuck up. And, after a while, it’s just exhausting. So, the next time a neurodivergent friend–like me–is less than enthused about something that society deems important, like Christmas, cut them a little slack. This shit ain’t easy for us.