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How I'm Getting Through My Writer's Residency With Disabilities

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I struggle with focus and restlessness, often internally and sometimes externally, hyperactive. To be frequently bombarded with intrusive thoughts, whether they are the irrational kind intrinsic to my OCD, or the very real kind associated with my C-PTSD… intrusive thoughts and memories make focusing a nearly impossible task. Throw ADHD and challenges with auditory processing disorder into the mix, and voila, focus is out the window.

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I am currently at a residency for my Master of Fine Art in Creative Writing. I am inspired here by so many beautiful voices and words. By literature. By the people. By nature. By the lectures.

Unfortunately, with beauty, there is sometimes pain, as this is the way of life. I find myself really struggling with complex PTSD and my ADHD as I sit through long lectures and engage with emotional topics. I find myself experiencing the sensory overload of autism and the intrusive thoughts and anxiety of OCD. I am grateful that my bipolar disorder is in check.

How am I getting through? I will share the following ways I am not only surviving but hopefully thriving as I pursue becoming a better writer.

1. I reach out to my therapist… often. I am lucky that my therapist allows this.

2. I use my fidget toys during lectures to combat hyperactivity and sensory seeking.

3. I told the director of my program that I am dealing with PTSD and requested an accommodation to get up during lectures and presentations as needed. I am fortunate that she has been very understanding.

4. I take movement breaks in between writing and lectures!

5. I journal my distressing thoughts.

6. Most of all, I try to give myself grace. This is the hardest part, showing both my adult self and my younger self compassion and care.

I am sure I am not the only one at this residency with these struggles. Far from. And yet, I can often feel alone in my debilitation. I often feel I am not writing enough. Working hard enough. Too hyperactive. Too spacey. Too anxious. Too sensitive. Too troubled by the past and trauma.

But these things aren’t true. I am perfectly imperfect, just like everyone else. I am neurodivergent and disabled. I have a beautiful mind, even if it is dark at times.

Getty image by Studio Stock Art.

Originally published: August 23, 2022
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