Why I'm Grateful to You, My Beautiful Brain

I recently wrote a letter to my body, letting it know that it is loved. I meant every word of it. It’s time for me to sit down and have a conversation with my CPTSD-wrought, over-anxious, depression-shaped, Aspie brain. We need to talk about the things that are, the things that no longer can be, and the things that will be, and we need to do it in such a way that it sinks in. Because there’s too much of a party going on up in that spongy pink mass that’s called a brain and it’s time I was the one in control of it, not any of my diagnoses.

Dear Brain,

Like with Body, we’ve been through everything together. I’m sorry for the scarring across your language center that occurred as a result of 7-and-a-half-year-old me trying to fit in with my classmates and hanging upside down from the climbing frame, only to have all the blood rush to you and for you to make me black out. I didn’t know we’d land on our skull once our legs let go and we plummeted the seven or so feet to the ground (yes, 80s playgrounds weren’t as safe as the ones now). And I’m sorry for feeding you more sugar and caffeine than is strictly necessary, oh and the nicotine addiction we’re still battling the cravings of, 18 months after we finally came off the replacement therapy, but in fairness, that was also a result of genetics and growing up with a smoker for a father. So not entirely my fault there, we know this. But maybe we can look at things a little differently, hmm?

We can’t change our Asperger’s and I don’t want to — we both know that I love this part of us. It gives us our unique view on the world, but maybe, just maybe, as we (mostly) cut out the self-harm/scratching, the buttercup tattoo, and conversation with our wonderful “Angel” (we’ll ignore the recent setback), we could find a way to not beat ourselves round the head when we’re stimming or going into overload. I’m sure it’s not doing you any good, and it’s actually kinda painful. So is the pulling of the hair. For now we’re going to at least try and work on open palms and not closed fists. And yes, “Sissa” has agreed to help with that.

We can’t change the past, but we can change our reactions to it — oh my goodness, I said it. The amount of times we’ve heard this in therapy. This is one of the reasons we no longer pay for therapy. We heard this and a million different phrases over and over again, but we never believed them. Again, thank you to our wonderful Angel, because it really is true and she helped us see it. Look at how we’re not jumping at sirens any more, and they used to be our biggest emotional flashback trigger. So now we need to work on our other triggers, OK? We’ve got this. One by one, step by step. And that means I’d like a night where we don’t go through yet another flashback, whether emotional or memory, while awake or asleep. So that means we need to work out how to deal with things like banging doors, flashing lights, car lights in the window, and shouting outside in the street.

We need to remember that not everyone is going to up and run away — and we’re getting there. We’ve accepted it with our Angel. In a way that’s because she’s proven it time and time again, as has Sissa. Both of these women choose to be in our life, and they’ve pretty much seen the worst of us and you know I mean the worst of us, and neither of them have let us push them away, so it’s time to stop trying, OK? If people leave, that’s down to them. It’s not down to us. I know after what we’ve been through it’s hard to believe that, but it’s true. So it’s OK that a part of you is my scared childhood self who doesn’t want to face the reality of not having anyone to rely on, but we do have people we can turn to. We do have support.

We can say no and we can take the time to look after ourselves — this is the last point for now. I know how hard it is when we get overloaded, so I’ll leave it on this one for now. But we can say no to people. We don’t have to be the “yes person” our father made us be. We don’t have to quietly allow people to use us and abuse us. We can stand up for ourselves and say enough. It’s not OK for others to emotionally treat us like doormats, or to only come to us when they want something. We are allowed to say enough is enough and end relationships that are bad for us. We are allowed to put ourselves first. To sketch, to write, to meditate, to get in our wheelchair, or grab our walking sticks and walk along the canal or spend some quiet time wandering amongst the graves at the abandoned graveyard for some quiet. We can’t care for others without some self-care too.

I’m so incredibly grateful to you, my beautiful brain. Because of you I have a love of all things science fiction, an eye for detail that comes out in my sketches and my writing, a way of looking at things that others don’t. Because of you, I have a rich internal life that allows me to escape so much of my pain. But we need to work together and remember that now we’ve been shown what unconditional love is, we have a duty to use it towards us.

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