Lavender is Not Indigo

Purple is my favorite color. What shade? Every shade in the Crayola Big Box. I even count magenta as an honorary purple.

Early on, it was indigo. I have a recording of my younger sibling’s first word. While my parents tried to document the milestone, four-year-old Lavender can be heard interjecting her thoughts.

Everyone’s continued focus on a single word was rather underwhelming. (This dominating-the-conversation habit would also get her into trouble in preschool until her parents gave up and pulled her out. How was her ADHD not diagnosed until adulthood?) Lavender felt that her parents should “make [her sibling] say indigo,” which she explained was her favorite color.

I am, thus, amused when someone on the Internet says that millennials with ADHD are Indigo Children.

I’m not an artistic, mystical semi-psychic being in touch with her true Cosmic nature.

I hide behind pseudonyms. I draw stick figures. I got kicked out of a Pentecostal Church because I burst into laughter trying to sing “Lord, You made me in your pleasure, Lord have Your way in me.” (I took a comparative religions class in college that involved attending worship in multiple faith traditions. I loved the class, and I respect faith and all faith traditions. That line was just a bit much for my then undiagnosed/untreated Foot-in-Mouth Disease. I’m sorry retroactively; don’t hate me please! I have the sense of humor of a twelve-year-old-boy.)

The only mystical insights I have into the Mind and the Ways of the Universe are Behavioral Economics and Bayesian Probability. (Also 42.) I’m about as far from an Indigo Child as can be.

I have a personality beyond my ADHD. ADHD is central to who I am. I’ve had it forever, as the stories of my life make clear. It’s hard not to view something that has been with me throughout my formative years as a core part of my identity. However, it’s a core part of my identity. You can’t have Lavender without ADHD, but you absolutely can have ADHD without Lavender.

We are not all the same just because we share a type of chronic physical or mental illness. The Indigo Child stereotype is harmless, but I was recently confronted by other stereotypes about Spoonies by Spoonies on WordPress. I followed some folks who had helpful things to say about chronic illness. They offered practical advice worth adopting to manage symptoms. They also had things to say about others that were profoundly upsetting for me. I’ve had to unfollow some well-written blogs because the authors have proudly posted photos from Trump’s side of the Bigot Fest in Arizona, said the Charlottesville Nazis were paid by Obama supporters or were pleased that low-income children could lose their only meal of the day.

Confronting these events under the pen of someone who celebrates them reminds me too much of my own trauma history. I can’t respect both sides because one side is indirectly responsible for my PTSD. Yes, I developed PTSD many years before Trump gloated his way down that elevator. Yes, I’ve heard all the excuses that it’s those other types that deserve it, not specifically my family. Shit still happened to my family. It hasn’t stopped happening to my family. People I care about have suffered because they are viewed as subhuman. I have been told by some Trump supporters that my family isn’t one of the unworthy ones, but I’ve been told to my face by more of them that people I love aren’t truly human, more times over more years than there will ever be enough blog posts to recount.

The ability to dehumanize people because of inconsequential differences created the system that created – creates – the trauma for myself and my family. The rest of the Progressive world is just now waking up to what institutionalized discrimination means. I’ve been dealing with its pervasive effects on my family for most of my life. I already knew what it was, I just didn’t know how to write about it without giving away personally identifying details. I’ve been dealing with it on Tuesday and going to work on Wednesday.

PTSD is usually known for hypervigilance, but I apparently had an ADHD moment and forgot to be hypervigilant when I thought fellow Spoonie bloggers would be better. I don’t know why I hoped. People are people, and it was as stereotypical of me to assume the good in someone simply because they have a chronic illness as it would be for them to assume I’m an Indigo Child.

You don’t suddenly become an introvert because you have limited mobility and don’t get out much. You also don’t become a Progressive just because you have high medical bills. In this one instance, though, I wish you did. It sickens me, even more, to see people who know exactly how difficult it is to live with chronic illness celebrate trying to take healthcare away from other Spoonies or cheering the pardon of an abuser with a badge who left mentally ill and physically sick prisoners – predominantly Latino – in 145-degree heat because he could.

In this one instance, I wish being a Spoonie was a unifying identity. I wish it automatically conferred on its members a desire to defend others in the in-group. It isn’t a given that being a Spoonie makes you compassionate. Social justice is a core part of Lavender, not Dysautonomia or ADHD. It’s not even a core part of PTSD, as one person with PTSD can write blog posts cheering actions that evoke PTSD symptoms in another.

There seems to be an unwritten rule that a predominantly chronic-illness or mental-health oriented blogger should avoid controversial topics. I see the value in that rule in that I don’t want to make life harder for someone who is dealing with their own demons. If talking about current affairs through a Spoonie lens transforms me into a different “style” of blog, I understand.

The Golden Rule says Do Unto Others As You’d Have Them Do Unto You. Who better than another Spoonie to know what that Doing should look like? If some of my political posts are too intense, or my readers with similar PTSD histories would prefer to find a blogger who avoids those triggers, I also understand. There are days when thinking about the U.S. in 2017 is too triggering for me, as well. There are days when fully comprehending the scope of what our country is willing to do to its vulnerable would keep me from being able to do anything for the people I care about. There are days when fully comprehending it would keep me from doing anything period. On those days, I don’t read the news, either.

I always come back to it, though, because similar experiences are already seared into my nightmares. At least calling attention to the same things happening to others on my blog is a form of fighting back. I can’t tell you my story right now without possibly breaking something I wouldn’t know how to fix inside, but maybe I can tell you someone else’s.

I think my #advocacy posts are the most important posts I will ever write on my blog. So far, I’m lucky enough to remain employed and pass as neurotypical in the upper middle class. I know how difficult that is, so I feel it my duty to speak up for Spoonies who can no longer make it in an NT world. I also know what it’s like to fear for the safety of loved ones because they can’t pass in the same way. I know what it’s like to become powerless because your privilege can’t overcome their marginalization, no matter how hard you try to scream for them.

We need to win a war for human rights, not just a battle. If your heart is on the side of helping fellow Spoonies, but you can’t read a specific post on a specific day without potential harm to your mental health, feel free to skip an #advocacy post. There will continue to be Improv 101 posts, or hints about how to ADHD at work, to read instead.

If, however, you don’t believe the Golden Rule applies to all Americans, I won’t permit you to skip my #advocacy posts free from guilt. I can’t make you read them, but I sincerely hope you’ll keep reading long enough for me to try and convince you. I’m Lavender, with or without diagnoses, and you are you. You are allowed your beliefs and to unfollow me, as I have unfollowed others for their views. It’s your right, but it frightens me deeply that if you do, it means that I haven’t been able to make you understand what that your worldview has done to my world. My trauma history is not unique, even if people would guess many other explanations for my PTSD before they’d guess the truth – if they ever guessed it at all.

I’m not an Indigo Child. I’m still confused by the core Indigo concept. How did “Empath” get into the mix? How is it internally consistent for ADHD to be synonymous with Indigo Child when social rejection is so prevalent among our challenges?

Is it indelicate to equate Trump supporters with oppressors? I’m sorry, I’m not an Indigo Child. I can’t empathize. It may be indelicate in the blog world, but it isn’t in my trauma world. Without bigotry, people I love could never have been dismissed as lesser. Without the ability to view people as lesser, there could never have been an excuse to look away when my family needed help. Hell, without that excuse to look away, abuse couldn’t have skulked in the shadows for my family to have needed help. Without abuse skulking in the shadows, I couldn’t – wouldn’t – have PTSD.

I would still, however, have a heart. It doesn’t require mystical Indigo empathic abilities or firsthand trauma experience to be a decent human being.

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10 thoughts on “Lavender is Not Indigo

  1. Thank you so much for saying that! This was a very hard post to write – as was one I wrote today and will post soon that is kind of an update on things. I’m glad to know they do mean something to my readers.

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  2. Very well put! In the back of my mind I’ve always thought of my son as an indigo child. I’m not actually even familiar with all the details of the label but I did read The Indigo Children and it’s him. He’s grown now but he’s always possessed a sense that I don’t have, that few do. I’m off on a tangent but what I really wanted to say is that your honesty is greatly appreciated and admired. Hiding behind what we think others want to hear isn’t being true to ourselves or others. 🌸 The best thing we can give another is our true selves. Unless we’re hangry😉 then maybe a snack should come first.😊

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  3. Sometimes a label or a name for sets of traits is the first step in identifying differences that are not yet known enough about either by society or science. Perhaps there is a scientific label better suited to those with co-morbid mental disorders and they aren’t disorders of the typical neurological brain but simply one type of brain in a spectrum of many neurological types. We don’t know what we don’t know but it can be easier to help ourselves if we feel understood and can find ways to share our processing of what we feel is “disordered” due to society being where we look to find what is “normal” there may be a perfect scientific and neurological explanation for indigo, empath, ADHD, hsp, odd, crystal, light worker, anxious, insomniac people who feel they are plagued with several disorders but really could be labeled for example “type 2, class 4, subclass 7…” or some taxonomy of the brain that eliminated the labels and cormorbid mental illness. Just a theory. From what science has learned in the past decade or so about the brain, mental illness, psychology and physiology, it’s difficult to assume we know more than we don’t know. If indigo Facebook groups help people with similar experiences share ways to cope and thrive in a society not accommodating to the very core traits that define how a person feels about themselves…… let them call themselves aliens, or martians or empaths or ADHD. What does it change about their true feelings and emotions anyway? There’s something to any label if the set of experiences shared feel isolating to so many people-it’s about knowing you are not alone in your struggle called living as human in it’s beautiful and complex nature.

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    1. I totally agree. Having a label and a shared identity is awesome. I just unfortunately don’t share that particular label, so it’s weird when people assume I do JUST because ADHD. The label is fine in and of itself – I just want people to see ME, the very NOT Indigo personality person who happens to have ADHD, instead of a stereotype of what they assume ALL people with ADHD are like. It’s great to be Indigo, and maybe a lot of people who have ADHD can relate to the label, but I can’t. I have a different personality type I do identify with (and an even kind of jokingly am now known for at my work.) ADHD is a thing I have, but I also have my own unique personality over and above that. Sometimes people assume they know my personality because they know my diagnosis, and that bothers me, not the label itself or the fact that a lot of other people do self identify with it? If that makes sense?

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