The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) includes over 450 different definitions of mental disorders. Just that you know. This is of course revised and updated each year if you happen to be interested in statistics…
What is it a disorder? Basically you are not as you “should be”. You are not in “order”. You do not “comply” with certain criteria. You are different. Do we want to be different? Despite all efforts to prove otherwise during teenage years, wild youth years, middle age crises – we want nothing more than to be considered as normal. Good, ok, lovable, cool, non problematic, acceptable…What do we do if we feel it is not the case? When we feel strange alienation into parallel world, or into the imaginary world? What if we do not relate with our peers – like the classic – all guys play football but I want to play with girls or read in a corner? What if I am a girl who loves short haircut and I play only with boys and all the girls laugh at me? I cannot read at the same speed as the others. I do not understand the mathematical and spatial concepts. I cry too much and they call me a baby. I am too tough and I fight a lot, though my family is not dysfunctional. I twist a lot when sitting on a chair – am I still fine or do I belong to ADHD category? Do I belong at all?
Well, you do not know. Your parents do not know and most probably your GP does not know either. Once you know – supposedly you have been diagnosed by renown specialists-there is a relief. The difficulties you were encountering make sort of sense. You finally belong somewhere, even though not where you wished to belong. There is a plan how to get out of there in order to be able to mix with the “normal”. Very well. Little, tiny detail: It will be a lot of work. It will be not fun. There will be tears – a lot. You will struggle and you will ask many questions about why should you go through this and that. Does it make sense? You will wish to quit many times…to retire into your own world. Perhaps the one with ponies and dolls where things change on a demand and you grow wings and transform yourself in an instant. In your world you are omnipotent, nobody can hurt you and you chair your meetings, folks, etc…You chair your life and happiness.
So here you are. You are let’ s say 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 30, 50 and you are not them. What do you do? You keep your world – the one with ponies, dolls, books, music, walks in the woods, gaming, painting etc. You will never give up on your world. On the contrary you will reach for the familiar in order to be fine, balanced and grounded. Then you will reach out. Slowly, patiently, carefully as if exploring. Not willing to strive for perfection. Just for curiosity to know how it feels. Step by step on your own pace. Without any comparison. You cannot do this on your own. You need someone to be with you. Not all the time but definitely when you need it. When you are in doubt. When the mind says to you that you will not manage.
To spare you from any misinterpretation (the classic one about the author who is always supposed to have lived the story he writes about) I write about this subject because I was re-thinking “the norm” a lot the past few years. Based on my own life, on the lives around me I care about and finally the one of my beloved daughter I tried to figure out what keeps “us” and “them” going on well and to be in peace. My daughter has been recently diagnosed of dyscalculia (considered as developmental disorder) which justifies our parental struggle but does not say anything about her future. It neither helps us to understand her better, neither gives us more knowledge about how to help her with the demanding curriculum. The only thing we have is the love to her and compassion with her. Even LOVE and COMPASSION leave us sometimes stuck in the moment and I ask myself how will this go on? Can I do more? The only answer I have for the moment is no, probably not. I need to be patient. I need to believe in life and nature which certainly prepared a path for all living creatures. I need to get rid of great expectations. I need to be there for her so she feels that ponies and dolls receive equal treatment as school building blocks if not superior. In the end at night we all refuge ourselves in Wonderland where all troubles get to normal and all dreams come true.
P.S.: I believe I have always had a light form of dyscalculia but was never diagnosed. I knew very early in my school years that I will make friends with books and never end up as an economist or a lawyer. This did not prevent me to study, to be relatively successful and make many friends who are lawyers and economists. I did not have the support I have always wished for. I am happy for who I am and paradoxically I need to deal with financial issues from time to time in my work. I have put it in my appraisal as an example of going beyond my limits and it was validated by the hierarchy (LOL). Labels do not matter. What matters is the resilience and faith. Last but not least what changes everything is Love, Self-love included. It is not magic. It is a laborious path which offers lots of magical moments.