Since I found out that I have adult ADHD, I have learned so much about something I once only associated with young boys. I have learned that girls and boys tend to show symptoms differently, and that adults who have it are often not diagnosed, or were diagnosed as kids and told they’d grow out of it. With my elementary history of going to nine schools in three states by the time I was twelve, and making honor roll through all but my senior year, I slipped through the cracks. Knowing what I do now, and how it has affected me after all these years, I’m compelled to advocate for those kids like myself. The ones who look like they’re doing fine until one day, they’re high school graduates, and they don’t have the first clue what to do next. Or worse, like me, are handed an education by way of scholarships and grants, and somehow feel too much pressure and not enough support, and so they walk away, unable to succeed, and feeling like the only reason is because they’re lazy, or irresponsible.
I spent over an hour today looking at college majors at the local university. I want to write. There is a creative writing minor, but not a major. So the logical major, in my opinion, would be English. So I look at the English requirements, and I’m overwhelmed by the classes. British Literature. William Shakespeare. Thesis. Ugh.
So then I look at other options for an hour. Finally I settle on Psychology. I don’t know what I would do with a Bachelor’s in Psychology. I guess at that point I have the option of going for a Master’s. If I don’t end up writing for a living (which, lets face it, is unlikely), then I want to help kids like me, like my friend’s son, like my little cousin, who just can’t seem to get their head around things. I want to learn what I can about treatments, techniques, and routines that will help them succeed not just in school, but beyond school. So I guess that leaves a few options. I could be a teacher. I could be a school counselor. I could be a tutor. The thing is, I don’t know yet. I feel like I need to get into a classroom before deciding if I can handle it. I have a friend who teaches middle school math. I’ll have to talk to her about it. I also have a friend who used to teach art at an elementary school. I’m sure they could both offer me some insights. But none of that can happen, of course, until I get my medication where I need it.
So today I started to crash again, after lunchtime. I know it isn’t from not eating this time, because I did eat. I guess I have three weeks left before I can get it adjusted, since she made the next appointment one month out. All the amazing differences I was noticing the first few days are starting to fade as my body adjusts to the Adderall. I am still more motivated and I am keeping things much less cluttered. After my daughter goes to bed, I go through the living room and pick everything up off the floor. I never did that before. I also cleared the backs of the couches off, and they stay relatively clear. The few things that did gather there today, I put away before getting on here. So I know it is still having some affect on me. And I am sleeping so well. Probably because I’m doing more work during the day.
I noticed something the other day when I was talking to my therapist. I used to shy away from making a lot of eye contact with people. I guess I figured if I didn’t look at them, then they couldn’t see me, couldn’t cast judgment on me. Eyes are so intimidating when your self-esteem is in the tank. But with this medicine, not only do eyes and faces no longer intimidate me, but I no longer just see eyes and faces. I see the person. I’m not looking at something scary, but just another person, like me. Before when I mentioned that everything seems to have more depth and dimension, this is the same thing. I’ve always been pretty superficial about looks. I think that it was because before, that’s all I could see. I could tell myself that I was being shallow, and that there is a person under there. I could even argue with other people who would say someone was fat or ugly. But now it’s like I’m wearing glasses, like my vision has cleared, and now I can see the person behind the face. The funny thing about that is that before, I had such a hard time remembering faces. Even when I did look someone in the eyes when we spoke, even if I had a whole conversation with them, or sat next to them for a whole day. I would still have trouble recognizing them a week later, or in another context. I have spoken to each of my new(ish) next-door neighbors, but I guarantee that if they approached me in public, away from our neighborhood, I wouldn’t know who they were. But now, even though I haven’t tested my theory, I feel like that won’t be as much of a problem any more. Because faces aren’t just empty, intimidating vessels to me anymore. They’re people. And just realizing that difference, I am even more amazed that I have done half as well in life as I have. But not surprised that I don’t have tons of friends. I guess I will have to work on that.
On a somewhat related note, having been diagnosed with ADHD, and having learned more and more about the symptoms, I almost want to go back and tell everyone that I have ever known. I could almost take out a billboard, only it wouldn’t reach everyone who lives in other states. I want to tell the world that I wasn’t trying to be rude, I didn’t want to offend, I never meant to be self-centered, I didn’t realize I was ignoring you, or hurting you, or dismissing you. I hate that I’ve always known my brain didn’t work right, but I never knew I could do anything about it. It’s so frustrating to know that you’re smart, but to feel so stupid. To read a paragraph in a book, over and over and still not know what it said, or what they meant. To be shown how to do something over and over, and still not know how to do it. To have three kids, and still make it out the door without the diaper bag. Or your purse. Or the baby. How worthless you feel because you just can’t seem to get anything right. Or finish anything. Or even start something. Because you just can’t seem to make friends with your neighbors, even when they’re making friends with each other, just because you are so blasted shy. Then when you come across as being stuck-up or flaky. It’s all so blasted frustrating, so you get frustrated about everything, and so you don’t want to think about anything because you don’t want to get frustrated, so you just throw your hands up in the air and say, “Fuck it!” and go read a book or play a video game or watch a movie because then you can imagine a world where you’re not getting frustrated, and none of those real things matter anymore, and everything is copacetic, and there are no bills to pay and no dishes to wash and no dogs to walk, out there in the real world where the people are.
I have lived my whole life… hiding from my life. Trying to escape. Not knowing how to become an active participant in MY OWN LIFE. And now I am thirty-five years old, and I am looking back and thinking It wasn’t just me. I’m not worthless. Maybe, just maybe, I can turn it all around. I can be more than an active player in my life, I can be the director. I can be the composer, the author, the producer. And that is a wonderful feeling. Underneath is still the feeling of outrage that I have lived so long without a diagnosis, but for now, I want to focus on the relief, and start moving forward. Because I can’t get anywhere moving backward.