I didn’t find out I had ADHD until I was almost fifty years old.
No, it isn’t that I have mild ADHD, and it isn’t that ADHD is not that obvious.
It’s that normal isn’t that apparent to someone with ADHD. And ADHD can almost be described as the disorder of lying to oneself.
See, we spend a lot of mental energy on trying to determine why things aren’t working out the way they should, but since we are humans and seem to be fully functional (according to our own observations at least) it never occurs to us to question ourselves and our abilities.
Now, here on the downhill slope of diagnosis mountain, I’m looking back on my life and reassessing things.
What brought all this on?
I’m an easy target for people wanting entertainment. Just ask, I’ll sing, I’ll tell stories, I’ll play guitar.
Of course it helps if you’ll pay me, I have this addiction to food that I developed at an early age. But I’ll also entertain if you have some sort of emotional hold on me. If you’re someone I appreciate and respect from my past and you’re asking me to come back to my hometown and play in the church I was raised in, well, I’m not ever going to say no …
Still waiting …
So there I was, playing my old church last Sunday evening at my high school art teacher’s request. Since I wasn’t the only performer, I had time to reminisce, and I did just that.
And the tornado of my thoughts picked me up and tore back through time to a point in time when I was just into double digits.
(Imagine a whirlwind and then a view through a distorted filmy lens)
It was early Sunday morning, I was looking through all my clothes for my Sunday attire. I was, of course, not looking only for those things, I was looking at everything I moved and pondering its use to me at that time or in the future … I was dawdling.
And I was late.
“Kelly, hurry up.” My mother yelled up the stairs. I delivered myself to the top of the stairs, shirtless, sockless, in shorts, and explaining that my clothes had gone AWOL. A look of exasperation came across my mothers face and she decided at that moment that I was purposely trying to get out of going to church.
Stop! You’re wrong.
I, in fact, was not. My mother left in a huff. (Okay, she left in a Volkswagon, but she was very displeased with me.)
It was true that I had been dawdling, but it was also true that there was never a time when I dawdled with purpose. It was also true that my clothes were supposedly my responsibility, and if I couldn’t find them, then I had misplaced them, but I didn’t need a purpose to misplace my clothes, I could do that with as little purpose as anything else I did in my life.
But there was no awareness …
I didn’t know I had ADHD. In fact, there was no ADHD then. I would have been diagnosed with Minimal Brain Dysfunction if I’d been assessed properly.
What did I do?
I did what many people with ADHD do, at the last minute I did my level best to rectify the situation. I found clothes that looked right, but were too small, possibly were my younger brothers or ones that I had just recently grown out of. I squeezed myself into them, put on shoes that hurt like hell, and walked the quarter mile to church.
I walked in late, waited until a hymn had been finished and slipped into the church and sat down beside my mother in the ensuing shuffle of the congregation putting hymnals away and sitting down.
My mother looked at me, and realized that I was not in fact purposely trying to get out of church.
And then she realized that my biggest crime was that I was her son …
Have I ever mentioned that my mother had all the symptoms of someone with ADHD?
I am my mother’s son.