Exploring my Neuro-identity

For about a year (early 2023 to early 2024) I considered the possibility that I was “neurodivergent”, and it helped me to reframe my understanding of myself (e.g. Why I had found certain situations challenging to navigate). I also pursued getting a “diagnosis”.

Eventually, because of recognising that part of my neuroidentity is being “highly verbal” (for want of a better term) I decided that

PLACEHOLDER: Update when I come up with a better label for “highly verbal”

  • I didn’t want to box myself as “neurodivergent” because that language would remind me every time that I was some kind of divergent (someone who didn’t belong, like in the books/movie of the same name) or mutant;
  • I also put the “diagnosis” process on-hold because diagnosis means “the identification of the nature of an illness or other problem by examination of the symptoms” and my neuroidentity is not an “illness or other problem”.

My neuroidentity is who I am.

When I had stones stuck in my ureter, it was a condition that was affecting me (and very painfully); I wanted it correctly diagnosed and the stones removed. It wasn’t part of my identity. My neuroidentity is not a condition that is affecting me, and I don’t want it excised, I want it to be accepted (not accepting and accommodating my identity is what causes suffering). For some people, getting a diagnosis helps obtain acceptance, but so far everyone I’ve spoken to has accepted my self-diagnosis.

PLACEHOLDER: Write about needing disabled diagnosis for a disabled parking spot because not everyone can park near the entrance; but we don’t need the diagnosis for low-floor buses and it helps everyone with mobility challenges

However, as an adult who is able to communicate my needs precisely (even if not necessarily accurately), I find that I am able to advocate for the accommodations I need without a formal diagnosis. I know that this is not the case for everyone (e.g. I don’t know if insurance pays for things like noise-cancelling headphones, but if it did, you would surely need a diagnosis to be able to claim it; accommodations at school or work may also require diagnosis) so while supporting those who do need a formal diagnosis, I also advocate for a culture shift that reduces the need for such diagnoses.

Another reason for not pursuing a diagnosis was that the typical labels that might be applied as a result were not going to be helpful in most cases (would telling you that “I am autistic” help you know how you could be supportive of me?) and were actually likely to be harmful - because “people who suffer from mental health problems” are seen as objects of pity.
I. Do. Not. Want. Pity.