Neurodivergence and Thru-Hiking
As more of us are diagnosed every day, the stigma of autism continues to be reimagined. Neurodivergence is a spectrum within which the autism spectrum resides. ADHD also resides in the neurodivergent spectrum.
I Have Both
I focused my introduction post around the primary reason for my pending 2020 thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. I grew up in trauma and all that jazz. So many of us did. In telling my story all these years, I have found that it is only my willingness to talk about my trauma that makes me anything near special (and I recognize that I’m not special). When you tell your story of trauma, and then truly desire to hear stories in return, you realize that none of us are as alone as our trauma and mental illness would have us believe.
It is, I believe, largely as a result of my autism that I have been able to share my story and hear so many in return. If I had been neurotypical I can imagine the emotions related to my trauma would have been debilitating. As it were, my ability to look at highly traumatizing and emotionally erratic situations with a calm and logical mind has resulted in a lifetime of critically analyzing the various results of trauma in the world around me.
Walking in the Forest = Lily Can Actually Focus and Think Time
A primary problem with this, an ability I refer to as one of my super powers, is that the data continues to collect at all times and prevents me from analyzing internally. In short, I require a substantial amount of alone time because my brain works like a weird computer. If I spend that time at home I get bored and almost immediately and inevitably end up in a nonproductive Netflix binge. Because ADHD.
I require near constant, changing, and interesting stimulation or I kind of feel like I’m going insane at a phenomenal rate. That stimulation can be my own imagination, but not if my environment doesn’t provide enough distraction without being entirely distracting. People with ADHD get it. I honestly don’t know how to explain it to anyone who doesn’t already understand.
I took up hiking as a teenager because the constantly changing, but altogether predictable landscape provided a way for me to keep the ADHD occupied and not have an overabundance of data from external sources.
The Appalachian Trail
Will my neurodivergence make for some anxiety and awkward encounters on the trail? Oh, I don’t doubt it! But I also suspect I will have a very different understanding of myself by the time I reach Katahdin. I mean, as long as I don’t get sticky. Textures suck.
In addition, I am looking forward to testing out and providing reviews of products for my thru-hike for other aspiring hikers with autism-related texture restrictions.
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