Self Harm and Neurodiversity

HealingMama

MyPTSD Pro
Anyone here neurodivergent? I'm trying to differentiate between self harm from emotional or trauma issues and self harm from some kind of neurodiversity issue. I think that maybe my SH is related to overwhelm and I don't know another way to get the feelings out. I'm no expert on SH. I know that cutting and self mutilation can be addictive and can come from wanting attention, wanting the outside to look like you feel on the inside, a method of control, or wanting to cope with pain.

I haven't used SH my entire life or even my entire adult life. Only the last couple of years and it always happens when my brain is on fire and I can't think and I can't get away from the deluge of emotion so since I can't calm it down I have to get it out. I guess I am wondering if these are "meltdowns" in the neurodivergent sense, or if these are trauma related. I see a lot of people who have high functioning autism also have CPTSD so maybe there's no clear answer but I wanted to have a discussion about it.

If you use SH or have used it would you be willing to share why, and whether you are also neurodivergent or only have trauma?
 

HealingMama

MyPTSD Pro
That would be everyone... as PTSD is a disorder, no one here (except some supporters) would be neurotypical.



So, just to clarify, are you looking for people with any comorbid diagnosis, or one specific type of comorbid dx?
Yeah, that's fair. A lot of the time when I see this term neurodivergent it is specifically in reference to ADHD and the autism spectrum. The broad definition includes any mental health condition, but I didn't mean it in that sense.

I don't actually believe there are people who are neurotypical in the sense that they have no mental health conditions of any kind. Everyone has at least dealt with depression, anxiety or adjustment issues at some point, or will. But that's just my perspective. But because I have that perspective I wasn't thinking of the term in that broader sense.
 

Friday

Moderator
What does neurodivergent mean?
A term used to define people whose neurological baseline is deferent/divergent from the norm.

It’s reverse, neurotypical, is used to define people who don’t have lifelong neurological conditions/disorders IE have typical/average brains. Normies is another term, but that can be non-mountain-climbers & non-drug-users & non-wheelchair-rollers & a whole host of other things.

One of the wacky things about PTSD is that -to the best of my knowledge- ANYONE can acquire it. Whether someone started out neurotypical or neurodivergent. So one sees things like PTSD dysreglation > Self-Harm coupled to things like ADHD ASD SPD OCD BPD Mood Disorders, etc. that also include dysregulation > Self-Harm.

- When someone has 2 different disorders, that share the same symptom? It can become craaaaaaazy difficult to manage the symptom (as it’s coming from 2 places, with 2 often totally different treatment protocols).

- When someone has 2 different disorders that share the same symptom AND the same coping mechanism? <low whistle> It can get real complicated real fast.

Which loops me back around to @HealingMama ... So you’d be looking for disorders that share emotional Dysregulation to litmus whether what you’re dealing with is PTSD Dysreg or Dysreg+Dysreg?
 

HealingMama

MyPTSD Pro
Which loops me back around to @HealingMama ... So you’d be looking for disorders that share emotional Dysregulation to litmus whether what you’re dealing with is PTSD Dysreg or Dysreg+Dysreg?
Not exactly. For someone with ADHD or autism, a meltdown happens for different reasons than dysregulation from other causes, at least that's my understanding. If it's the same chemical reaction that makes dI'm trying to figure out whether my specific experience is likely to be just trauma or could be more related to the ADHD/HFA process. There may be no way of knowing that and there's generally speaking a lot of overlap between these two things in particular.

So I guess my question might instead be, what is a "meltdown" and what is a PTSD episode.
 

Muttly

MyPTSD Pro
I am neurodivergent in the sense you meant. (dyslexic, sensory issues, executive dysfunction, etc). I'm trying to think how to explain the difference of a meltdown and PTSD episode. In a PTSD episode there's more complexity to the PTSD stuff. I can't always tell until after. I had a meltdown the day I got my covid vaccine. too many people. too much conversation. too much visual stimulation (it was in a pharmacy inside a store). And I thought I was fine until I was in my car and desperate to get home and pounding on the steering wheel.

hmm... not being very helpful. Going back to your original question, I know my self harm is different if it's a sensory type issue. I tend to hit or pinch myself. Instead of trying to cause pain or communicate, it's a need to narrow sensations. It feels very young. And I have a pretty good grip on PTSD self-harm. I don't really do it. But the sensory overload meltdowns and hitting myself or whatever still happen. And I'm beginning to think they always will at times. Because there is no other outlet. It's not about talking and sorting emotions. It's about sensation.

Sigh. I'm not sure I've been at all helpful. My head isn't working great today.
 

HealingMama

MyPTSD Pro
I am neurodivergent in the sense you meant. (dyslexic, sensory issues, executive dysfunction, etc). I'm trying to think how to explain the difference of a meltdown and PTSD episode. In a PTSD episode there's more complexity to the PTSD stuff. I can't always tell until after. I had a meltdown the day I got my covid vaccine. too many people. too much conversation. too much visual stimulation (it was in a pharmacy inside a store). And I thought I was fine until I was in my car and desperate to get home and pounding on the steering wheel.

hmm... not being very helpful. Going back to your original question, I know my self harm is different if it's a sensory type issue. I tend to hit or pinch myself. Instead of trying to cause pain or communicate, it's a need to narrow sensations. It feels very young. And I have a pretty good grip on PTSD self-harm. I don't really do it. But the sensory overload meltdowns and hitting myself or whatever still happen. And I'm beginning to think they always will at times. Because there is no other outlet. It's not about talking and sorting emotions. It's about sensation.

Sigh. I'm not sure I've been at all helpful. My head isn't working great today.
Thank you. I feel that my episode was also sensory in a sense. I didn't really want to hurt myself I just wanted to rebalance somehow. But it was all triggered by attachment stuff, which is the bulk of my trauma, so idk.
 

Muttly

MyPTSD Pro
Well, I think they can mix together. I think that's part of what @Friday was trying to get at. Like, I know if I'm triggered with PTSD symptoms my ability to cope with my normal sensory issues decreases. Could it be a mixed response?
 

EveHarrington

MyPTSD Pro
I’m neurodivergent in the sensory sense, but I’m not on the autism spectrum and I do not have ADHD. Yes, I have meltdowns. I’m still not sure what kind of neurodivergent sense that you mean. It’s a huge umbrella term nowadays. And, PTSD gets mixed up in it all. However I do know that some of my meltdowns are primarily due to sensory issues. I’m not sure I could say anything is 100% a sensory issue though as so much overlaps. The meltdowns are fewer now that I’m on medication.
 

HealingMama

MyPTSD Pro
Well, I think they can mix together. I think that's part of what @Friday was trying to get at. Like, I know if I'm triggered with PTSD symptoms my ability to cope with my normal sensory issues decreases. Could it be a mixed response?
Maybe it is mixed, yes. I know for the days following the episode I've been incredibly sensitive to bright lights and sound. I always have a risk of sound sensitivity but it's been really bad. I honestly don't remember if that's a common feature of my PTSD related issues. It does sound like these reactions have a similar chemical response (ANS stress response) regardless of the cause.
 

HealingMama

MyPTSD Pro
I was discussing this issue elsewhere (adhd/autism/spd vs trauma stuff) and here is a collection of info I found from studies in pubmed.

ADHD meltdowns and PTSD episodes both involve ANS sympathetic nervous system reactivity. Meltdowns from ADHD or autism are sometimes more of a sensory issue.

Regarding sensory processing issues, studies have found white matter abnormalities (extra, or less, or deterioration), some of which correlated with left-right hemisphere functioning and some in the back of the brain. So, neurodiversity in the sense of ADHD/autism/SPD is not necessarily limited to front-back.

Stimulant medication taken by those diagnosed with ADHD has been found to impact the following brain regions: amgydala, lateral PFC, medial PFC and inferior frontal gyrus. In these cases it mitigates whether the area is overly activated or not activated enough compared to a neurotypical brain. There is a less known theory that ADHD is not primarily a cognitive based disorder and can therefore have an "affectivity" component.

The fact that stimulants affect an overactive amygdala makes this even harder to tease out since that is one of the hallmarks of trauma! That explains why my medication basically cured my dysregulation yesterday 🤔
 
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