How to build resilience in trans kids (and everyone else)

With all the focus on awful government news these days, it’s easy to forget how much power we have as individuals—and as a thriving community of queer and trans people and our allies.

Let’s not get locked in to planning for the next 4 years. Let’s also look at the next 40 and the next 400. We need queer and trans kids to grow up resilient and become powerful adults. We know this is possible because we have powerful queer and trans adults who grew up when U.S. culture was worse than it is now for queer and trans kids. Remember the 1980s? Or the 1950s?

Each of us has the opportunity to help build resilience in each other and in the next generation of queer and trans kids. Let’s look at how we do this:READ MORE

Taking care of yourself in tough times — a guide for the neurodiverse

You might not need this post, but I do. It started as a note to myself about what works. Some of it might also work for you. And I’m sure I missed some things. Feel free to add in the comments.

If you’re like me, you’re different from a lot of the people around you:

  • You might have more trouble letting go of obsessive negative thoughts
  • You might get easily triggered into traumatic states
  • You might be prone to spirals of anxiety or depression that are really hard to stop
  • You might feel that you’re the one responsible for fixing the world
  • You might absorb feelings and energy from the people around you, even if it makes you sick

One great thing is that you know this about yourself. Also there are a lot of simple steps you can take to be strong and healthy. Here’s my list:READ MORE

Book Insight: ADHD and the Edison Gene

I first read Thom Hartmann in my mid-20s when I was informally diagnosed with ADD. I was highly anti-meds at the time so there didn’t seem any point in getting officially diagnosed. Plus I wasn’t convinced that it was a disorder. (I’m still not.)

Hartmann’s books helped me understand how to choose environments that suited me and helped me be kind to myself when I didn’t fit with cultural expectations about work.

This latest, “ADHD and the Edison Gene,” takes his initial ideas and updates them with more current science. Instead of describing ADD brains as hunters (in a hunter/gatherer vs. farmer paradigm), he’s using the “Edison gene” and inventors. I’m a fan of all of it. I don’t care if you think of me as an inventor, a hunter or a superhero as long as it’s positive and creates an environment where we can do our best work together.READ MORE

Book insight: FAST MINDS

FAST MINDS is a great book for people with ADHD/ADD that does not pathologize our diverse brains. The authors write:

Having FAST MINDS traits can mean there is a mismatch between the way the brain works and the demands of life. It’s a way of thinking and being that makes it harder to function in today’s world.

The is the single most pragmatic and actionable ADHD book I’ve read in the past few years. I found a lot of it extremely useful. Some of the tips I’d already implemented over the years, but even then they usually had good input. If you need to skip science and theory for now and start making changes in your life to make it more workable, start here.READ MORE

Book research part two

Welcome to the second of my research posts, covering books that went into the making of My Year Zero (MYZ). Below you’ll find two more books about bipolar disorder, one about emotional neglect, and one about girl sex.

Should I really be talking about mental illnesses and sex in the same post? Absolutely! People with mental illnesses like sex as much as neurotypical people – and some of us are at greater risk for engaging in unsafe behavior, so leaning how to work your brain goes hand in hand with learning how to talk about safer sex.READ MORE

Bipolar disorder research highlights

In my novel, My Year Zero, one of the most important characters has bipolar disorder. Since that’s not my disorder, I set about researching it before I started drafting and throughout the editing. I read a half-dozen books, plus tons of blogs and studies. I also worked with a consultant who both has bipolar disorder and writes about it. I wanted to make sure that the character of Blake came across as realistically as possible.

Of course doing all this research, I discovered great insights and tips that I want to share. I started using some of these with my friends and myself. They work not just for bipolar disorder, but for a variety of disorders and plain old challenging day-to-day mental states.READ MORE

How to forget people’s names

I know, Dale Carnegie says, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” I’ve read that a number of times over the years and every time my reaction is, “If that’s true, I’m screwed.”

I’ve got a lot of valuable tips for you about how to forget names — a skill I’m extremely good at. But first let me set up some context about anxiety and ADHD and the overwhelming amount of information that comes with meeting people.READ MORE

Mental health and brain news – January 2016

As a brain geek, I like to keep up with what’s new and noteworthy. Below you’ll find headlines and highlights from last month. Click on any of the headlines below to read the whole article.

From vicious cycles to virtual cycles:

Bear with me through the two bad news items below to see two positive articles about ways to combat racism and how that helps everyone!READ MORE

http://geek-lantern.com/new-x-men-dans-la-collection-marvel-now/

Disorder or superhero?

How do you talk to yourself about yourself?

Out in the world, you might be someone with a disorder. But what do you tell yourself about your brain and who you are? How do we navigate a world in which it’s sometimes useful and necessary to think our ourselves as having a disorder — and then drop that label when it’s not empowering?

I was lucky in some ways because I got labeled “gifted” when I was a kid. Some of my ADHD behaviors were (accurately) attributed to the fact that I was bored in school. But being a gifted kid didn’t explain why I was being bullied or why I struggled with simple tasks. It was a good label for making me feel powerful but it was a poor map for navigating the reality of my life.READ MORE

Why is this novel about mental health?

If you read the interview over at GayYA, you’ll know I wrote My Year Zero in honor of my first girlfriend. (If you haven’t read the interview, feel free, I’ll wait.) When I met her we were both 16, both Scorpios (born nine days apart), both dark-haired and bright-eyed. And both struggling with our mental health.

She was the first person I’d met who was forthright about having a diagnosis. From my perspective, she was totally cool about it. (From her perspective, I’m sure it felt a lot less cool.) She had bipolar disorder and was on meds for it and would talk about it openly. She was also great at listening to me without judgment and without a lot of advice.

To understand how important this was to me, let me tell you a bit of my story. Bipolar’s not my disorder — ADHD is (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Despite the name, ADHD isn’t just about paying attention. It’s a change in how the brain’s executive functions work that pervades areas of focus, engagement, social cues, emotional regulation, impulsivity and hyperactivity.READ MORE