Identifying the Problem
Dealing with an invisible disability is hard. It is hard to describe to others and difficult to understand myself.
On of my main obstacles is “black or white” thinking. I had no way to gauge days that were simply gray. I would have a bad moment and write the whole day off as horrible.
My overly critical judgment was setting every day up for failure.
Luckily, I stumbled across a key that helped me. I would like to share my system in hopes that it can help you, too.
My oldest daughter is on the Autism Spectrum. She has the “diagnosis formerly known as Asperger’s”. One of the key criteria of an Autism Spectrum diagnosis is a deficit in communication.
Emily’s communication problems do not stem from a lack of vocabulary but a lack of pragmatic speech or the social language rules. Pragmatic speech is a complicated concept and I will link you to more information about what it is and what it affects by clicking here.
Owing to the fact that Autism is a pervasive Development disorder she also has complicating symptoms such as Sensory Processing Disorder and emotional regulation problems.
What all of that means in simple terms is Emily sees and feels the world around her much differently than a typical person. Then, she has a very difficult time expressing what she is experiencing to others.
As her Mother, I was often at a loss as to how to talk to my daughter in a way that we could really communicate
My biggest help was finding the Incredible 5-Point Scale by Kari Buron and Mitzi Curtis. This book was life changing when it came to communicating effectively with my ASD daughter. We finally had a framework for us to use.
Applying the Concept to Me
I am not going to go into specifics about the book other than how I adapted the concept to help me deal with my Mental Illness.
Where Emily has a hard time communicating her thoughts with other people due to Autism.My communication problems are primarily with myself. I have a hard time organizing and understanding my own thoughts due to my own neurological differences.
What I identified from the book was that everything can be rated on a continuum or number scale. It really is a very versatile system for balancing and comparing emotional experiences that could otherwise seem random or ethereal.
How it Works
Like I was saying in the beginning of this article, I was a “black or white” thinker. Everything was just good or bad.
If I had a bad moment my brain classified it as a bad day. This lead to negative thoughts controlling my actions. I was an angry person.
When I realized you could break things apart and measure them independently, it changed my outlook on life. I was using this communication tool throughout the day with Emily and slowly adapted it to work for me.
One of the first changes I made was to stretch the scale to 10 points. This helps me more clearly define each number. Next, I just started putting all my emotions on a scale to see where I was getting overwhelmed.
Amazingly, I could finally make sense of all of the ups and downs in my brain.
What I learned
There are three things that really affect my mood. All three of these are interconnected.
I f any one of these three things is out of adjustment it will affect all three. Even though I can not control how these things will affect me on a day to day, I can plan for how I will react.
Instead of believing every day is bad I now know there are many variations in a day that can be affected by the internal and external stimulus. Having some knowledge where my day will fall on a 10 point scale helps me adjust my expectations and prepare myself for the day.
In a future post, I will talk more about this scale and what different number days mean to my routines.
Please feel free to comment or ask any questions you might have.
Also, enjoy my video where I talk a little more about this concept. It is the first one of a series I am planning on living with Mental Illness.
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