Celebrating Women

Jillian Enright

International Women*'s Day

*Women, non-binary folks, and neurodiverse people

March 8th is international women’s day, but… Since gender is a social construct anyway, I’m celebrating women, trans & non-binary people, and neurodiverse folks.

So… hooray.

People of marginalized genders have to fight just to get equal access to things like mental health care, including assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.

Growing up as a female-presenting person with what’s considered a more typically “masculine” personality, not to mention unrecognized neurocomplexities, I always found it hard to fit in.

I began having major mental health struggles in my early twenties, which I now understand were primarily due to burnout, after two decades of masking and trying to play “normal”.

Even that wasn’t enough to recognize my ADHD and autism. Because I’m female and was struggling with intense emotions and impulsivity, I was misdiagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder in 2010, then in my late twenties.

This despite the fact that I had predominantly externalizing symptoms — such as emotional dysregulation, hyperactivity, and impulsivity — typically considered a “boy” presentation of ADHD.

It wasn’t until 2019, when my son was diagnosed with ADHD, that I realized I needed to pursue an assessment for myself. Seven months after my son, who was then 6, was diagnosed with ADHD, I joined the club — at the age of 36.

Unapologetically contrary

I am proud to say that, despite many adults’ efforts to the contrary throughout my childhood, I have retained my defiant, opinionated, smart-ass attitude.

I aspire to be like the legendary Ukrainian woman who marched up to Russian occupiers and told them to put sunflower seeds in their pockets so they would at least grow into sunflowers when they die on their soil.

I would much rather be an outspoken pain in the butt than someone who always follows orders, even when those orders are immoral.

My husband would take this opportunity point out there does happen to be quite a bit of middle-ground between those two diametrically opposed comparisons. To which I might respond, to hell with diplomacy when there are fascist soldiers standing on your street corner with automatic rifles.

Self-control is defined as “the ability to be in command of one’s behaviour and to restrain or inhibit one’s impulses. In circumstances in which short-term gain is pitted against long-term greater gain, self-control is the ability to opt for the long-term outcome.”

What this definition doesn’t (and can’t) specify is whose long-term greater gain is being considered.

When it comes to the general desire for self-control, the benefactors are usually employers, society at large, and those who hold positions of power and authority — much like those Russian soldiers currently occupying Ukraine.

self control may support society’s interests more than our own.” — Dr. Matthew Lieberman

Sounds about right.

Break the bias

The International Women’s Day theme for 2022, prepackaged in convenient hashtag form for social media consumption, is #BreakTheBias.

I want to break the bias in the field of psychology. I want women to stop being told they couldn’t possibly have ADHD or be autistic because they’re “too smart” or “too high functioning” (yuck).

I want women to stop being incorrectly labelled with personality disorders when they have legitimate responses to trauma and burnout.

I want women of colour, trans women, and non-binary people to have equal access to mental health services.

I want —

Okay, I want a lot of things, but those are my top three for international women’s day this year.

So… is there, like, a santa claus or easter bunny-type representative for international women’s day? Where and to whom do I send my list?

© Jillian Enright, Neurodiversity MB

Related Stories

I’m a Feminist And Didn’t Even Know It

Neurodivergence, Misogyny, and the Politics of Self-Control

My ADHD and Autism Were Misdiagnosed as Borderline Personality Disorder

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References

Lieberman, M. (2012, April 23). The Hidden Doublespeak of Willpower and Self-control. Who do we control the self for? (Blog). Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/nz/blog/social-brain-social-mind/201204/the-hidden-doublespeak-willpower-and-self-control

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Neurodivergent. 20+ years social work and psychology experience. I write about mental health, neurodiversity, advocacy, education, and parenting. Founder of Neurodiversity MB. CYW, BA Psychology.

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