ADHD is a topic I’ve been writing about a lot lately. I tend to write about things more passionately the more anguish they cause me, and this is one disorder that has caused me a HELL of a lot of anguish my entire life.
Although I was formally diagnosed when I was eighteen, I’ve dealt with symptoms since I was a toddler. From the moment I began forming words, I talked excessively. When my feet learned how to carry my weight, I just had to be on the move. I threw extreme tantrums when I was giggling five minutes before.
When I hit school age, these symptoms made me a presence in the classroom. I blurted out answers and used my “outside voice” exclusively indoors. I ran around the classroom when I was supposed to be seated. If I was bored, I let the teacher know. If I was amused, I really let the teacher know. My laughter went on until I was isolated from the group and told my behavior was inappropriate.
Why wasn’t I put on meds?
My grades were excellent–at least in elementary school. I read poetry I wrote in the school talent show in second grade. I tutored younger students in reading because I was grade levels ahead. I was tested for gifted in third grade. My boredom with the school’s curriculum–particularly in earlier elementary grades–certainly did not help my poor behavior. Basically, my marks allowed me to slide under the radar.
As I got older, I learned to channel my hyperactivity into certain parts of my body. To jiggle my leg up and down beneath my desk to release the energy churning inside of me. To pick my cuticles and lips to manage my nerves and help me concentrate (this became a separate problem, but that’s for another time).
In high school, my inattentive symptoms became more prevalent. As I learned to tame the “HD” part of my disorder, my “AD” symptoms ran wild. I constantly forgot my lunch at home. I left my things everywhere—sometimes I got them back and other times I lost them permanently to the black hole. Where was my mind? It was there, but not really with me.
For the first time, I was seeing how problematic “AD” could be.
I’ve also always had difficulty regulating my emotions—another hallmark symptom of this wonderful disorder. They have always gone up and down like children playing on a jumbo seesaw. On Monday, Child A would go down; I’d experience happiness, contentment. On Tuesday, Child B would go down; I’d experience crushing inadequacy and sadness. (In recent years, Child B has really been hogging the seesaw.)
Recently, I’ve been trying different stimulant meds to rein in this beast as best I can. I’ve seen improvement in certain symptoms, but the meds are not a cure all. A few months ago, I wrote this poem to vent my frustrations and showed it to my therapist to show her how my black hole mind experiences the world. Here it is below:
Living with this condition can be debilitating
Having it is showing up to the pool as a child who cannot swim and has no device to float
Living with it every day is like dwelling in a world where everyone has eight arms
Others hold one item in each arm while I stack four items in two
Everything is breaking, shattering, exploding
I feel like my best is never going to be good enough
What they don’t see is the pure amount of background noise I have to combat on a daily basis
Four songs, all playing at different volumes and speeds, on an endless loop
Some crazy video I saw online that I keep seeing and hearing and thinking about
A text conversation I had with a friend that I found particularly amusing
All of these things are competing for my attention
It’s the most loud, bizarre competition to ever take place
And I’m sure that most spectators would run away screaming from center stage
Sometimes I’m just an alien wearing my best human suit that I found laying around after they beamed me down here
I’m trapped here now while the rest of my species watches while I fail to make it on this strange, brutal planet
I just want to go back
I am absentminded
And I can’t plan for shit
I’m always going to stumble
Tripping on air while others glide by on a battlefield with live mines
I’ll always be on the fringe of what’s considered “normal”
Tantalizingly close enough but never able to cross the barrier into neurotypical-ness that I watch all of my friends enjoy
I fiddle too much, always filled with this jittery, manic energy
Or I’m sedated, on the edge of sleep
Brought to rest by meds that are supposed to calm my mind but instead quiet me entirely
But then again I guess you can’t feel like shit if you’re not awake
Through all of this, I’m still so glad to be me
I am creative
So incredibly devoted to the people and things I love
Witty and sarcastic as hell
So spontaneous that I can’t even anticipate my own move on life’s playing board half the time
Why the hell would I want to be anyone else when I can just be perfect ADHD me?
For now, I’m signing off. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ramblings of my black hole mind.