Photo by Zoë Kessler ©2008

After diagnosis, one of my first tasks was understanding my past in the context of ADHD. At one point, I had the impulse to go back and make amends. I’ve never been to AA, but I guess it’s kind of like Step 8, “Making amends.”

I haven’t tried this with every situation, but what would it look like if I did?

Let’s take that job interview I blew.

The day of the interview, I was bouncing off the walls. I was so pumped, I was practically manic. In the college president’s office, I couldn’t stop nattering.  The interviewer couldn’t get a word in edgewise.

It was like an out-of-body experience; part of me watched in horror, knowing I needed to calm the hell down and that I was coming across like a nutcase, but that part just couldn’t get back in to my body to push the off button in my brain. The ADHD gremlins were holding my arms behind my back, and the buggers wouldn’t let go.

Job interview do-over

Here’s my imaginary do-over:

I call up the president of the College.

“Hi, President Smith? It’s Zoë Kessler. You remember me? [How could he forget? I was wiggling like a five-year-old in a 46-year-old body, perched on the edge of my seat, doing standup comedy and connecting things that I thought were job-related, but realized later wouldn’t be for someone without an ADHD brain].

“I was there for a job interview about a year ago. Well, guess what? I have ADHD! Who knew?! I can totally do the job now, honest. I’m on medication. I’ve changed!

“OK, you’ll definitely have to give me an assistant to do the paperwork, but-hey! If anything goes wrong at the school, you can always blame me; my self-esteem is so low I’ll just take it. And – bonus – I’m so poor, you won’t have to pay me the contracted salary. So how ’bout it? When can I start?”

So much for making amends.

Friendship do-over

A year ago, I bumped into an old high school friend. We hadn’t seen each other in over 30 years. Carpe diem! I decided right then and there that I’d apologize for being such a crappy friend. It was a tearful, gut-wrenching experience for me, but I was determined to do the right thing. I apologized for our fights, and said that I’d never meant to hurt her.

She said that she’d thought about contacting me in the past, but was afraid to.  She also said our fights were due to both of us, it wasn’t my fault.

“No, no,” I protested. [I was on a mission. I felt so guilty and ashamed that I couldn’t stop long enough to hear anything she had to say].

“You don’t understand,” I continued, “I just found out I have ADHD!”

“But you’re not a 13-year-old girl,” she retorted, dismissing what I’d just said. I’d planned on explaining how my ADHD had affected our friendship. Now, I just wanted to punch her.

When I told another high school friend what had happened, she said, “Claire Watson? I never did like her. She was always picking fights.”

So much for making amends.

Family do-over

Days after my diagnosis, I visited my sister to tell her the news. “That explains everything,” she said. We had a long talk, put things into perspective, cried and hugged. And she still never calls me. I guess you can’t undo 47 years of history.

So much for making amends.

AA drop-out

I know all this sounds depressing. And if I WERE in AA, I’d totally fail Step 8. Fortunately, I’m not in AA. While my whole “making amends” thing hasn’t worked out, I can still go for beers with my NEW friends (who know I have ADHD). And I can make every day better than my pre-diagnosis days. And that’s enough for me.