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My essays feature stories on healing from trauma, coping with disorder and practicing mindfulness

Awakening: How Occupational Therapy Uncovered Hidden Trauma

It was March of 2018 and my third attempt at medication in three years. To try to ease my troubled mind. I had tried drugs before — prescribed or not — but this time, I was more desperate than usual for one to work. Because it wasn’t just myself I was trying to save, it was my marriage. My husband and I had recently experienced another incident. Another episode of me unconsciously going after him. Attacking him.

Followed by me attacking myself. Another menstrual cycle had come and gone, and I still didn’t understand what came over me each month. Making my body do things I didn’t want it to do. Like I was possessed. Cursed. Under a spell….

Masking Who You Really Are When You’re Neurodivergent

I performed onstage for the first time when I was 15. I don’t remember the part I played, but I do remember the feeling of being onstage, of being accepted by the audience, of being understood, of being someone else. I continued performing onstage through high school and college, but what I didn’t realize until much later was that I spent my entire life performing offstage, as well.

I am neurodiverse with sensory processing disorder (SPD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and social anxiety disorder (SAD) diagnoses, which makes it difficult for me to function in society, but I hide, or mask, my pain, so I’m more accepted by others. So I’m less different. Playing a role. Because of my neurological differences, every sound, smell and touch causes me to have a primitive reaction: I fight, flee or freeze…

Life with Sensory Processing Disorder

For as long as I can remember, receiving sensory information causes me to have a primitive reaction. Touch makes me want to crawl out of my skin so badly, I scratch at it as if trying to get out. The sound of a knock on the door makes me jump from my seat and gasp for air. If the sound continues, I become frightened. Scared for my life. Paranoid. Then, I blackout. A smell, like fish or someone’s perfume, makes me enter into an altered state. Like when Bugs Bunny turns into a monster. My primitive dukes always up, ready for a fight.

Until the age of 35 (I am now 36), I just thought I was crazy. As I’m sure everyone around me did too. But here I am. Ready to share what happens to me. Because if it wasn’t for others sharing, I don’t know where I’d be….

“Beautifully put, Jenna! I am a former journalist of 30 years, and now an MBSR teacher, working with first responders. PTSD is a huge undertaking. Thank you for sharing this.”


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