The Benefits and Challenges of Neurodivergence with Cedar Gray
In the mental health world new terms come and go, but sometimes the way professionals think about certain conditions changes, too. You may have heard the term "neurodivergent," but did you know that mental health professionals are beginning to change the way they view differences in brain processes?
On today's episode Dr. Elizabeth speaks with a guest who is neurodivergent themself. Cedar Gray shares how their neurodivergence has impacted their life and shares a bit about what it looks like for them as well as how they've managed it.
Key Takeaways from Dr. Fedrick's chat with Cedar:
• Learn what neurodivergent and neurotypical mean
• Hear how professionals views on differences in mental processes have changed in recent years
• Find out the unique challenges that come with neurodivergence as well as its benefits
• Learn about the various tools used to navigate those challenges
• Hear more about resources both Dr. Fedrick and Cedar recommend
All of this and more, on this episode of Calm, Cool and Connected.
Check out the YouTube channel, How To ADHD, that Cedar recommends: https://www.youtube.com/c/HowtoADHD
Watch the video interview on our Facebook Page
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DISCLAIMER: THE CONSULTATIONS OR INTERACTIONS OFFERED ARE NOT MENTAL HEALTH THERAPY. THE CONSULTATION IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND NOT STRUCTURED IN A WAY TO PROVIDE MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING/PSYCHOTHERAPY/THERAPY/ DIAGNOSING OF ANY KIND. YOU UNDERSTAND THAT CALM COOL AND CONNECTED IS NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION AS YOUR TREATING MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELOR, PHYSICIAN, ATTORNEY, LEGAL COUNSEL, EMPLOYER, MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. We offer no guarantees or promise of results from event nor assume liability for any information provided.
[00:00:00] Now more than ever. We have an opportunity to be a positive force in the world to help heal the divide, to treat each other and ourselves with respect. Well, there's so many tools out there from meditation to physical training, proper nutrition therapy, and so many others. We all need a little help navigating all the options.
Join us as we share in-depth information, insights and thought provoking discussions that will help answer your questions about how to stay calm, cool, and connected. During these times. Welcome to calm, cooling, connected your guidebook to peace of mind.
Hello and welcome to calm colon connected. I'm your host, Dr.
Elizabeth. Neurodivergence as a term, we're hearing a lot more frequently. And this typically a term that's used to describe a brain that processes learns even behaves differently than what's considered typical. And well, this has historically been considered a problem. Research is indicating that there's actually a lot of benefits that come from neurodivergence.
And this different way of thinking. Joining us today is Cedar [00:01:00] gray. Cedar's here to talk with us about their experiences with their own divergence and how they've learned to manage it throughout the years. I Cedar welcome. Thank you so much for joining us. So tell us a little bit about yourself. Let's just a general overview of yourself, and then we'll jump into this
Cedar Gray: side of, okay, well, I'm Cedar gray.
I'm 29 years old. I am a full-time single parent. I'm a musician. I'm an artist.
Dr. Fedrick: You're a busy person.
Cedar Gray: Yeah, pretty busy. Mental health is something that kind of has always been important to me, but definitely more recently. And that was actually kind of Inspired by my son who is nine and a couple of them.
The last couple of years, he started having kind of like issues at school, behavioral issues problems with regulating his emotions and his, his temper. And so I started kind of doing research just on the internet. YouTube was a great resource for me into ways that I could respond better and tools that I could get for him.
And along that way, I do [00:02:00] that. I do that. I do that. I do that. And which has been really interesting because even in my relatives, You know, short life in the grand scheme of things like mental health or the medical industry the terms that we have now, like you said, narrow divergence. Wasn't a thing when I was in school, wasn't a thing when I was a kid and instead I got labels like disrespectful, rude, lazy was a big one that I got all the time.
You know, you have terrible time management. Something, I was definitely still struggled with. And as a kid that was really discouraging because I like something's wrong with me, but I don't, I never understood because I'm trying, I'm doing all the things I'm you know, I'm doing X and Y, but I'm not getting Z.
And now the adults, you know, my parents are teachers often, you know, are getting frustrated and angry with me. Something I heard a lot from my dad, especially is I don't understand why you can't. You know, fill in the blank. Why you can't just clean your room while you can't just do your homework. And I didn't have the language or the terminology to be, to say, I'm overstimulated, or this is so [00:03:00] boring.
This feels like pulling my teeth out because you didn't, we didn't talk about it. It was just, you just got to do it. So just do it. It
Dr. Fedrick: sounds like in childhood, this really manifested for you in a lot of difficulties with focus and being distracted and having a hard time following through on tasks. Which then it sounds like resulted in you getting in trouble quite
Cedar Gray: frequently.
Yeah, it, it ended up, you know, through, through like elementary younger childhood. I was, you know, I was the good kid who was always friendly and helpful. Cause I really enjoyed figuring things out. I was always teaching my things. New things, taught myself how to sew when I was five, because I wanted stuffed animals.
So I made them I was always designing better things to do because all of my toys, video games, what have you were just boring? And I would just like, Nope, no interest at all. As I reached like adolescents and. Being a teenager and it was less creative in the classroom and more strict and confined.
And you have to do things this [00:04:00] way because you're not a child anymore. That's when my behavior started just tanking. I had a hard time making friends and sustaining friendships because. I like couldn't communicate in the same ways I would info dump on people. Here's the thing that I love. I want to share it to you and they'd be like, oh, that's cool.
And check out. And so it was really discouraging. And so quickly I stopped engaging. I quit trying because I was going to be exhausted and yelled at anyway. So why am I going to even try? And I began. Doing what is called masking, where I just started mimicking the behaviors of people I saw around me, who weren't getting in trouble, who weren't getting out at, who weren't getting grounded or suspended.
And I, because I didn't know how to organically react. I was doing what they were doing. And I got really good at that for a little while. Well, so, but
Dr. Fedrick: I love how you talk about that. All of those really positive traits. So all those things that you were describing of the creativity and the the inventions and [00:05:00] all of that stuff that you were doing early on, when I was talking in the intro about the neurodivergence, the research indicating that there's actually some really significant benefits.
Yeah, I wouldn't say that, that, that would be an
Cedar Gray: example of them. Yeah. Especially when I was a younger child thankfully my mother. My parents are very different. My mother was always very encouraging, always just giving me things to just kind of figure it out and bless her. I would have so many nail holes in the ceiling from building police systems and all kinds of like basic mechanical robot stuff at five, six, and seven to do things because I could, I had it.
I had like the compulsion isn't the right word, but I was just so excited and I could stay with it and I was determined. Looking back now. It is interesting to see then how, like, you know, more neuro-typical thinking that we have very prevalent in public schools that was heavily discouraged. By the time I got to high school, it was, you [00:06:00] know, stop drawing on yourself.
Quit doodling, sit down and quit moving. Pay attention, pay attention, pay attention. And I still kind of joke with my parents that it is a wonder that I graduated high school looking back on everything. Yeah. Well, and so then
Dr. Fedrick: how are these behaviors? How did they manifest for you into adulthood?
How are they showing up for you? And, and let's talk about how maybe they've been. Barrier, but also where they've been a strength,
Cedar Gray: so early adulthood. So we're talking like end of teenager, early twenties. For me, the hindrance was definitely impulse control. I had a hard time making friends got really into more manipulative behaviors because I didn't understand how to connect with people.
So I was just saying whatever people wanted, I got into some really bad groups, you know, there was drug use involved. I was in a severely abusive marriage, had three children by the time I was 21. And so it was incredibly chaotic and I had sought [00:07:00] out, you know help after some severe self harm that I had done and right away, the people that I said, they're like, oh, you're manic depressive.
You know, that was what it was. Cause I was having these huge emotional responses. Oh, you're medic depressive. Here's this medication. Here's that medication. You're fine. Instead of I'm in an abusive relationship and I have ADHD. Right. And that was up until about six years ago. And so just a lot of self sabotaging behavior, a lot of incredibly impulsive behavior.
I was trying so hard to escape my reality that I was spending money. I didn't have, because you know, this thing is fun or this is fun. Anything to escape where I was at, or cause I never learned how to self-regulate and. Fast forward to what I talked about in the beginning. When I started looking at tools for my son, who I was recognizing a lot of the same behaviors and remembering being yelled at and how it felt to sit at a table after eight hours of school.
And I've got two hours of homework and just the physical [00:08:00] pain that I would feel, because I can't like I can't do this anymore. And my dad being like, oh, you just have to, and not in like, You know, and wanting to do better for my son. So I started, you know, doing research and finding all kinds of tools for things, because now we talk about it more for me.
I love metaphors metaphors helped me out so much. And a big one that I have employed recently is kind of. In my internal dialogue framing everything like a video game. I love video games where a game or family at home. And like taking the mundane things of life that are hard but necessary for survival, especially with raising kids and reframing it like a video game, like doing dishes are my daily check-in XP bonus and eating food is like a health bonus and sleeping is a safe point.
And it kind of sounds, you know, it might sound silly when you say it out loud. But it really helps me. I love that. That's
Dr. Fedrick: very creative and it's very, like, it sounds like it's exactly [00:09:00] what you need to stay focused and to stay on track. Yeah. What are, what are some of the other tools that you have found, whether it's through the research for your son or for yourself?
What are some of the other tools that you have found
Cedar Gray: to be held. Instead of like trying to like justify rusting or time to play, making time to rest and time to play you know, living and functioning in a world that is typically neuro-typical, you know, it's run for a different kind or by a different kind of brain than I have.
Learning how to function with that has been a huge trial and error and. Finally feeling like I'm at that point where I make time to rest and I make time to play resting and play playing is not a reward for being productive or focusing. It's a mandatory, it's a baseline. Yeah. And. 10 minutes or vice versa.
When I'm feeling overstimulated, when I'm feeling overwhelmed, taking 10 minutes, I'm going to cry and I'm going to panic 10 minutes, and then I'm going to put it away to do what I [00:10:00] have to, and I can deal with it later and allowing myself that little reprieve for rest, for, you know, feeling whatever I need to feel that makes the things where I really have to double down and pull myself back.
One more thing that I do again with metaphors. So for me, my brain, like we had talked about narrative versus at the beginning, I'm able to connect ideas so quickly and maybe not a quick way or a different way. And so I see it as like all these different colored clouds of pictures, of these different ideas.
And when I'm like, you know, I have to go to sleep or I have to finish this project or I have to go to work. I pull on what I call my tether. So I imagine. Tethered to my physical body. So I do grounding, you know, your surroundings. I make it tangible, tangible. I feel my clothes I wear this often. It's a scarf that I love.
I use it as a textile to kind of bring myself back to the physical to be like, alright, you know, enough floating. I, you got to focus. Sure. So those are a couple of the things that I've, I've been able to do. Like, I love [00:11:00] that.
Dr. Fedrick: Yeah, those are such good ideas. And it sounds like you must be doing lots of research and lots of maybe even work with your own therapist or cause those are a lot of the similar, so for my clients, we talk a lot about, as you're saying grounding and mindfulness meditation, but then also using some of those other tools.
Timers and alarms and schedules and reminders. So yes, that's great. Your son is so lucky to have you you're you're working really hard to figure this all out. What are some resources that you might recommend for viewers listening, who can relate to your
Cedar Gray: struggles? Okay. So, like I said earlier YouTube is a wonderful resource.
Specifically there is a channel called how to ADHD. It's run by a woman who also has ADHD. So she speaks from experience and she has. Kind of reframed her entire life, her entire existence to be ADHD friendly and shows you how to do that. And a very ADHD friendly kind of way. And so I frequently [00:12:00] check out her channel and she's helpful.
My kids love her channel and she's, she's just great. Perfect. Thank
Dr. Fedrick: you so much for being here, Cedar. I appreciate it. Thanks for that. And thank you all for tuning into this episode of calm, cool and connected. Please make sure to find us on Facebook and Instagram and also make sure to rate and subscribe to our podcast so that others can discover our content as well.
Thank you again for joining us on this episode of calm. Cool and connected. .