whiskey

Self-medication in a glass

To begin with, I had nothing to compare my mind to, having never been in any other mind. We, any one of us, neuro-typical, or having ADHD, or Autism, or OCD, or Down Syndrome, or any one of a million different perceived differences, only know what it is like to be inside our own heads.

But as we grow, and as we interact with others, they say and do things that give us glimpses into their minds. And we say and do things that reveal our minds to them.

And as is often the case for those of us who are perceived to be different, our minds are found to be lacking, wanting, odd, not acceptable to those who would perceive themselves as right, typical, normal.

And we are told

Oh yes, we are made aware of our differences. For those of you whose families made that distinction painfully obvious, I am sorry you had that experience. I almost feel as if I should apologize for the fact that my family accepted me so lovingly.

But I can’t do that, I can’t apologize for my childhood being as good as it was, because I think it should be the standard for raising children with differences. I was never told I was unacceptable within my family. Well, my brother alluded to the possibility in blatant terms, but that’s what brothers are for right? I told him he was … well, let’s not go there.

We are told?

Oh, right. Yes, we are told we’re different.

We are told by the teachers who are less effective and looking for reasons for that. We are told by our peers who are already engaged in trying to distinguish themselves and who feel that diminishing those they are in competition with is an easy way to elevate their stature.

And we absorb that. We accept that we are different. And we even begin to judge ourselves.

In my case …

Some of us struggle to be the same as everyone else. Some of us strive to fit in. Some of us go so far as to criticize ourselves in order to fit in.

I would often try to remove myself from other people’s company. That wasn’t easy, since I am a social being. But being social with people who were not sociable was not really a positive experience and hermitage seemed the better option.

At this point …

It was at this point in my life, as a young teen, that I began to realize that my brain was spinning pretty fast. And because it skipped from thing to thing, it really annoyed me.

I hated that I could start a hundred things in a lazy day and finish none of them. And I hated the constant and incessant chatter of dialogue that went on in my head.

Dialogue, not monologue

My mind held conversations, sometimes with me, and sometimes with others whose roles in the conversations were played by me.

And those conversations were often critical of me. I have to say I almost always defended myself well, but I never really believed what I said of myself.

And then …

Around the age of 12, I encountered alcohol, and everything changed.

You see, somebody left this brain running, left me to watch it, and didn’t tell me how to slow it down or turn it off. But alcohol? Alcohol put my brain into neutral, left it spinning quietly in a corner and let me relax without any worries.

So for me

You see, I was never going to be diagnosed back then. At that time, ADHD was known as Minimal Brain Dysfunction, and psychiatrists in my area were few and far between. And, I suspect, they were uninterested in the nature of my mind.

So you see, for me, self medication was salvation from the madness of a whirling mind. And while I must say it was a very detrimental thing, it had its purpose. It got me sanely through to a point where I felt strong enough to take on the world again.

Sounds like heaven?

It surely was heaven. And I would have remained there until my dying day, if it weren’t for … ah, but that’s a story for another day, isn’t it?