Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
February 25, 2024

How I came to terms with being neurodivergent

By JORDAN BRITTON | December 7, 2017

10 mg of escitalopram

5 mg of escitalopram

150 mg of bupropion

Depending on the day and how I feel, I prepare myself and my belongings for a morning workout in the Rec Center. My workouts usually last 30 to 40 minutes.

I grab something to eat before noon. That’s when I attend my job as a student mail clerk in the on-campus mail rooms. I spend the next six to eight hours fulfilling a variety of tasks like checking in packages, sorting mail and assisting students.

After work, I hang out with close friends or my girlfriend for the rest of the night. Considering my friends are graduate students, a lot of this hang out time is allocated to group work sessions.

During these sessions I either read, write or draw.

At 10 p.m., a calendar reminder pops up on my phone. It reads, “Take medicine every night.” I proceed to take my last pill for the day:

1 mg of brexpiprazole

The night ends at some unspecified time when my friends and I all get tired, pack up our bags and each head to our respective homes.

Once home, I either watch some TV, write more or go straight to sleep.

I wake up the next morning and repeat.

I am neuroatypical.

In case you don’t know, neuroatypical (NA) refers to anyone who deals with some form of mental or behavioral disorder (e.g. depression, ADHD, autism).

In other words, NA’s are the ones that people like to call crazy.

We aren’t crazy or broken or messed up, though. Our minds just work a little differently.

The chemical imbalance in our brains causes us to interact with the world differently than what would be considered “normal.”

A single action may always affect any two given people differently, but their responses to the action usually exist within a realm of expected reactions known as “the norm.”

Imagine a door. The door is poorly designed, so it’s not clear whether to push it or pull it. If we see someone walk up to the door, we expect them to push the door, pull the door or walk way. That’s the norm.

For those of us that are NA, our individual responses may exist outside of the norm.

Some of us may go up to the door and wipe the handle down with disinfecting wipes thoroughly before even touching it.

Some of us may talk to the door.

Some of us may get so overwhelmed by the ambiguity of the door that we have a panic attack.

Some of us may simply just push open the door and walk through.

We may interact with the world differently some of the time but not all of the time.

Everyday I take four pills. The three pills I take in the morning are for my depression and anxiety. The pill I take at night is a mood stabilizer.

I have severe recurrent atypical depression and generalized anxiety disorder.

Those two often come together.

Although I’ve never actively hidden my diagnosis, very little has motivated me to speak out publicly about it.

In today’s world, shame often accompanies a mental illness diagnosis.

It took me years to stop feeling this shame. It took me even longer to fully accept my diagnosis.

My mother raised me on the idea that you don’t put all your business out there: Keep your private life private.

I often used this life lesson as my excuse to only be open about my mood disorder to close friends and relatives.

Over the past year, my view on this has shifted. I’ve gradually expanded the circle of people who are aware of my disorder.

Still, I have yet to “come out” so to speak.

I’ve come close many times, but then I ask myself — “What will people say?”

I’m no longer going to ask myself that question.

Allow me to reintroduce myself. My name is Jordan Britton, and I am neuroatypical.

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