What I've learned as a PDAer...
Mar 10, 2021
Some of my best work is done in my pyjamas, and then some days, just being able to get any work done at all, at a minimum means being in my pyjamas.
Because I'm autistic of the pathological demand avoidance kind.
This means that I have a hypersensitive threat response and my brain has quite the avid fight, flight, freeze or fawn bank of responses for the entire spectrum that is life.
There are many things my brain will message my body NOT to do, and it results in others thinking I'm being stubborn or arrogant.
The way I've learnt to handle PDA when it believes it needs to protect me from doing the things I love to do is to make peace with it and be radically accepting.
I've learnt to communicate directly to my brain and bypass my conscious thinking.
CBT doesn't work, strategies don't work, reward and punishment don't work.
Communicating safety works. But it takes time and is often limited in success, meaning as soon as PDA catches on, it may no longer work.
There are days where I get so excited about the work that my brain confuses it for threat and steps in to protect me, bringing on instant fatigue, migraines, heightened anxiety, a feeling of impending doom or dread and many, many more interventions as that threat response is there to do it's one job - to keep me alive.
I noticed early on that staying in my PJs, grabbing a coffee and heading out to the office allows me to work for hours, uninterrupted and to be extremely productive.
Without medication, or any other supports.
My neurobiology, my PDA in its powerful protective nature has only experienced and observed rest and relaxation when I am dressed in PJs.
So there's no need for the threat response to be activated, no escalation of anxiety, and off I go.
Who knows, I might start rocking up at events where I'm contracted to speak in my pyjamas.
The point is, I've learnt to communicate directly with my PDA neurobiology via my sensory channels.
Smells, sounds, visuals, aesthetics...
It's a little more complicated than just sniffing, tasting and looking; but it helps me for sure.
And yep, obviously, I can't go through life in my pyjamas, but there are many other ways I get through tough situations that I choose for myself by communicating through the senses.