Mind + Matter Challenge – Week 13

I have a confession to make…I didn’t mean to vanish these last 10 weeks.

A lot has happened over the last two months in both my personal, professional, and crafting lives, and I want to take a moment to chat about them a bit.

Two major things happened since my last post:

  1. I celebrated the 1 year anniversary of my stroke.
  2. I was officially diagnosed with ADHD.

I want to chat about each of these in more detail, because I think they’re both significant parts of why I’ve been MIA these last several weeks.

1-Year Stroke Anniversary

I’ve been eagerly waiting for this day for months.

Shortly after my stroke, my therapist recommended trying something creative to help with the unidentifiable feelings I was experiencing. I’d recently taken up painting as a hobby, and I felt that my extremely wobbly arm/hand could at least manage some abstract art. So I gave it a try, and I ended up with the bluish-purple canvas on the left.

You know what I see in that painting? Trauma, anger, fear, depression. All of these things, drowning and sinking together.

As the one-year mark of that incredible life event edged nearer, I knew that I had to make a new painting. I took the day off from work, bought myself a few new paints and some acrylic mediums (see that crackly bit in the corner?) and decorated the canvas on the right (center?). The middle picture shows some of the acrylic medium I used before it had dried—you can see the finished product in the side-by-site photo at the right.

Do you know what I see in that painting? Healing, growth, acceptance, grace. There’s movement, balance, life.

I’m in a much healthier place than I was before, especially when it comes to my mental health. There are so many factors I can attribute to this, but I think the core of it is hard work, patience, and truth.

I do not, in any way, mean to downplay the severity of having a stroke or the consequences it can have on every aspect of your life. It was the single scariest moment of my young life. That being said, I’ve been extremely blessed to have made a 95% physical recovery. Things could very well have been much worse, and I fully acknowledge that, but I am forever grateful for my stroke and the opportunities for growth and grace that it has provided me.

ADHD

I always knew that my brain worked “differently” than other people’s brains, but I didn’t understand why until a few months ago. I actually have TikTok and my friend Amanda to thank for this: without their insights, I wouldn’t have been able to name the struggles that I’ve experienced all of my life. After a lot of reflection, conversations with family and physicians, and a lot of research, I decided to seek assessment for ADHD.

I did not advocate very well for myself at my first assessment. When the doctor asked me if I did well in school as a child, I simply said “yes.” He inferred that I had no struggles in school, and that was incorrect (though I didn’t speak up and correct that assumption). I spent the entire rest of that assessment having an internal meltdown because I knew that I needed to clarify what I’d said, but I didn’t, and I left that appointment knowing full-well that I had not shown up for myself like I should have.

Of course, based on the inaccurate (or, should I say, not fully accurate?) information that I’d provided, the doctor’s analysis suggested that my symptoms more closely matched anxiety and/or depression.

To be fair, I have both, and there’s a bit of truth to that suggestion.

But I knew in my gut that he was wrong about this, and it took many weeks of reflection and self-pep talks to convince myself that nobody knows my brain as well as I do. So I sought a second opinion, and I forced myself to be truly honest with my experiences. I was explicit in my examples, and I really advocated for myself.

The assessment almost immediately resulted in an ADHD diagnosis. Shocker! It was incredibly validating to have the diagnosis, but it took several days for that to sink in. (In reality, it probably took weeks to really sink in, but those first few days were so uneasy.)

I’ve learned an awful lot about myself in the following weeks. I’ve also started taking medication to help with the symptoms, and the work I’ve done in therapy has really helped me reconcile this aspect of my identity.

Needless to say, this really explains why I hyperfocus on projects one day and then they totally drop off my radar the next…

Whoops!

The Mind + Matter Scarf

To that end, I would like to thank you for your patience as I’ve dropped off the face of the earth these last 10 weeks. Apparently, I needed the time to focus on some other areas in my life. While I haven’t been posting about the Mind + Matter Challenge, I have been keeping up with my scarf! I even have some pictures to share with you!

  • Picture #1: The month of January in scarf form, with all of the ends woven in and everything.
  • Picture #2: The back side of the first month of the scarf, prior to trimming the ends. I’ve woven them all in to the center of the scarf, then carefully snipped the ends. Does weaving in the tails suck? Yes. But it’s also a great opportunity to sit back and reflect on your month.
  • Picture #3: An updated shot of the scarf, which shows the month of February and the first several days of March. I don’t have a more recent photo, but I promise I’m keeping up with it!

I hope to do a post soon on weaving in these ends—there’s a lot of opportunity for mindfulness there that I want to discuss—but for now, I hope you find this update to be a helpful explanation of what I’ve been up to lately!


Mind + Matter Challenge

Week 13: Take a Minute (or Ten, or Ten-Thousand…)

Here at the march through Week 13 of the Mind + Matter Challenge, I have a very simple task for you: forgive yourself.

Whatever the need, no matter how small, I invite you to give yourself a little bit of grace this week. Life can really beat us up, and it’s okay to slow down when you need to. Take a minute (or, as I said above, ten thousand) to be kind to yourself and acknowledge that, frankly, life is hard. And that’s okay. We don’t have to show up for everyone all of the time. But we do have to show up for ourselves.

The Dalai Lama once said that “we can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” This, I think, is one of the universal truths of life.

So as you work along on your scarf this week (or don’t!), take a tiny moment and forgive yourself. You deserve your own grace, hon.

3 thoughts on “Mind + Matter Challenge – Week 13

  1. I am so glad to receive this email! And am delighted that you shared so much of yourself with me (and many others) as a result. My spouse, Jeff, has ADHD and it is challenging for everyone but we are learning each day how to grow and thrive. Lots of love and blessings to you!

  2. So good to hear from you Alex, and, as usual, a thought provoking, life affirming message.
    A prompt to us all not to lose sight of who we are as individuals and to make the effort to care for ourselves so we can get the most out of life.
    Me best regards to you and your family x

  3. Your post was so interesting, l too had a stroke one year ago in March thankfully l can still knit and crochet now, and at times I had bad anxiety. Good Luck in the future.💝

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