Then, Now, and Who Knows?

I took a day off yesterday of writing about my dysfunctional brain to do a writing prompt. My goal is to write at least once a day, and I am starting to feel like I want to start flexing some of my old writing muscles. Even though I didn’t make up something to write about, I was still talking about a fictional world made up by my favorite author.

Today, I’ll get back to the brain business. I’ll talk a little about how I’m doing today, then talk some about how I’m seeing evidence of ADHD as I look backward at my life. At some point, whether it be today or some day in the future, I want to take a look forward and talk about where I see my life going, now that I have a treatment.

So today was productive. I didn’t gut and reorganize anything, sadly, but I did get all the laundry done, folded, hung, put away. I also ran a load of dishes and made dinner. Usually my mom takes care of kitchen chores, but she hasn’t been feeling good. Part of me getting my act together is going to be me helping get her act together as well.

It was a snow day here. It started yesterday afternoon and continues now. It’s a pretty fluffy snow, and even though it’s been going on and off for over twenty-four hours, it hasn’t amounted to more than three or four inches so far. Hopefully the streets are drive-able tomorrow, because we need groceries.

As you might have noticed, I write here usually in the evening. That means that by the time I’m blogging, my medicine has more or less worn off. Yesterday I physically felt it start to crash. From about dinnertime on, my family could tell I was pretty out of it. Tonight, it means that I go off on tangents. For that I apologize, but I will go forward without censoring my wandering mind.

Being a snow day, I was not able to go have lunch with my friend as we planned. She was home with all three of her kids and I was stuck in the house with a baby and two dogs who all would have been happier getting out of the house. I would love to have gotten outside, but Mom was having a bad day and was getting lots of rest. I did manage to get the backs of the couches cleared off. They tend to collect items, as that is a place the little one cannot reach. I’m happy to say that I succeeded in that mission despite the fact that things kept reappearing on the couches.

I no longer feel a noticeable difference when my medicine kicks in. I do feel more of a drive to organize the chaos around me. I also feel more inclined to move around in a productive way instead of just wandering aimlessly or staring at my phone all day.

As I was talking to my therapist yesterday, I started to say ADD, and corrected to ADHD, as both diagnoses now fall under the one. She brought up the hyperactive part of the whole mess and asked if I had felt like that part applied or not. Initially, when this was all brought to my attention a few weeks ago, I would have said that it did not. But the more I analyze different aspects of my life, the more I start to identify with that side of ADHD.

For one thing, I have certain memories of getting myself into painful situations. There was the time I fell off of the front of the house while climbing up after a cat. There is the story my mom tells of me climbing on top of the washer when I was two to get something out of the cabinet. I remember climbing up on rooftops, treetops, and just about anything else I could climb up on. I remember I always had a foot shaking or bouncing. I still do, some days. I got loud. I still get loud. I’m impulsive. I take risks and sometimes I get hurt.

But there is one thing that has always been there, a feeling that I’ve had as far back as I can remember. I always felt like I should have been a boy. Now don’t roll your eyes or shake your head, just hear me out. This isn’t about sexually identifying as a male, or about sexual orientation or anything to do with plumbing, aside from maybe wishing I could pee standing up. But seriously, women get the short end of the stick with that last one.

No, I’m not a boy trapped in a girl’s body or anything like that. In fact, if it wasn’t for our culture’s way of identifying certain things as being “for men” or “for women”, then I would not have felt this way. I promise that I’m getting to the point. I have always been happier doing physically demanding chores over doing tedious ones. For example, a few weeks ago when it snowed, I put on boots and gloves and went and shoveled the driveway, the front steps and the back steps. Twice in one week. I think I must have done the dishes once. One time, a bunch of my cousins were at our house and the adult in charge had us draw numbers to see who would do what chores. I lied and said I got the bathroom, even though I had gotten the kitchen. Clearly my sister had drawn the bathroom and didn’t say otherwise, as she was happier with the kitchen. I liked the bathroom better because it was more physically demanding. I hate washing dishes. I hate just standing in one place just to put my hands in warm water and scrub things. It’s so boring. In fact, my feet started itching every time I washed the dishes. My mom thought I was making excuses, but I swear it’s a thing. I looked it up once. I can’t remember the name of it, but it makes parts of your body itch when other parts come in contact with water.

But I digress. Again.

My favorite job at the store where I worked was when I was unloading trucks. I didn’t have to think about it. I didn’t have to deal with customers. I didn’t have to make any decisions. I lifted things onto the conveyor belt, or took them off and stacked them on the appropriate pallet. Later, we would pull pallets out to the floor, and then we would stock the freight. Eventually, the schedule for that position was no longer compatible with my family life, and so I switched to department manager. Worst job ever. I liked it on some days. In fact, I loved the days when I could tear everything down and put it back up again. Probably because I had a diagram showing where everything should go. If I had to organize it myself it would be a disaster.

Other things I have enjoyed over the years were mechanical things, like fixing the toilet, changing doorknobs, replacing the belt on the vacuum, things where I used my hands and felt challenged, or felt like I could impress someone with my handiness. Things I hated were things like doing dishes, folding laundry, vacuuming, anything monotonous or repetitive.

When I was about nineteen, I liked to show off at parties by standing on my head. I bet I could still do it, but it would give me a headache, as I’ve gained a LOT of weight since then. But the point I’m trying to make is that I’ve always preferred things that were considered boy things or man things. Boys stand on their heads, not girls. Boys fix toilets, not girls. I’m not saying that’s true, just that historically, women have been expected to behave as ladies, and I’ve just never been what you would call ladylike. Back when I tended bar, many of my patrons thought I was a lesbian. That might have had more to do with the owner of the establishment where I worked, but apparently it was credible enough that no one questioned it.

Maybe it’s because my mom raised us alone after she and my dad were divorced. Maybe it’s because when I was fifteen she showed me how to change a tire. She did her best to make sure we could take care of ourselves. But even though I get physically exhausted a lot quicker these days, I usually prefer a physical challenge to a board game. I’d rather wash a car than dust. And I’d rather climb a ladder to work up high than to sit around waiting for a phone to ring.

There was even a period, mostly in my teens and early twenties (but occasionally still, if the situation is right) when every time I talked to someone on the phone about something that I was excited about, I would pace. I would walk through every room of the house and chatter away on the phone, talking about boys or whatever it was that kept me interested back then. I probably also did it when I was anxious or nervous about something. Nervous energy. I’d pace if I was waiting on a ride, looking out the window every minute, watching for headlights. If I sat, my knees would be bouncing or my fingers drumming.

So I guess I have always had a touch of the hyperactive bug. My mom never recognized it because I was just like she was when she was younger. I guess in a lot of ways I’m still like her. Of course, that’s pretty normal of a mother and daughter. Even more so, knowing that ADHD can be hereditary.

So what do I see for myself, now that I’m medicated? I see a world of possibilities. I see what I was told when I was graduating high school. I see opportunities to be whatever I want to be. To do whatever I want to do. I see a chance to finally finish something. Get a degree and do something with my life. Have a career. In the past year or two of my life, I have started to feel resigned to the idea that I would never be happy with one job for more than a few years. My mother never was. But now, for the first time, I see myself having the tenacity to stick with something. To be excited about something for more than a week or a month, but to continue to be stimulated by the things I love and to stick with them. I see a chance to make my family proud.

I see a chance to make my husband proud. That man, bless him, had loved me more than I ever felt like I deserved. He has been there for me and believed in me even when I couldn’t believe in myself. Since I started taking Adderall, barely a week ago, I have started to feel like I am capable of finally making my husband proud. I feel like by making myself into something successful, I can redeem myself to him for always being a mess, and give something back. He has always been the successful, stable one; my rock. I feel like if I can succeed at something, anything, then it will have all been worth it for him. I really feel like above all, I owe it to him to take this opportunity to get right with the world.

And so the question remains: What do I want to be when I grow up?


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