“One reason I’m grateful for 2020”
An overview of what it’s like to live to be 37 and finally figure out that ￼no amount of books about growth￼ will help me with the thing that has been sabotaging me my entire life. ￼￼￼
All of the stress and global trauma impacted my mental health so much I think I am on the verge of getting an accurate diagnosis for the first time in my life.
I’ve been flying under the radar for like 30 years. I’ve been figuring out little tricks, workarounds, and arrangements I can make for myself to cover up what’s wrong with me, even though I had no idea what it was. Starting in March everything flared up more intensely than ever before in my life. Think I’ve almost had a nervous break down at least five times. I would feel so much anxiety I would throw up at work.
One day a month or two ago I just, out of complete curiosity and a little desperation, joined in ADHD support group online. I was still at a place where I didn’t know if I had it, and didn’t know it was all that difficult of a condition. I didn’t know that it’s so severe for some people that they are on disability for the rest of their lives. I thought that if someone is getting any amount of Social Security Disability income for having ADHD, must be really milking it. How could being distractible be a disability to any degree? Standard boilerplate stuff people who have never learned about it might think.
I shared a few things and read a great many experiences others have had. I learned about paralysis of initiate, rejection sensitive dysphoria, and how rhythmic movement syndrome has recently been strongly associated with ADHD. This is a condition I’ve struggled with my entire life, and it can be quite maddening when it’s bad. Things started to click. The way life has always felt started to make sense. The way the simplest thing can be incredibly difficult, and yet some of the most difficult things can be incredibly easy started to make sense. How I could stare at two dishes on the table and scream internally about how I should pick them up, take them to the sink, and wash them, but still not be able to do it… Started to make sense.
I scrolled through and read story after story after story, and I even cried few times. Because if anyone would’ve caught me red-handed in one of my odd behaviors, the only thing I could tell them is that I have no idea. I’d have to tell them, “I’m really sorry I can’t mail a letter. I know that It’s a simple task - that’s why it’s so difficult to try and explain. I don’t know why I can’t do it. I guess it’s because I’m selfish and shitty person.” I wouldn’t say that sarcastically either. I literally had no other way to describe it. There was nothing to connect the things that are nearly impossible for me to do, with any reason other than I am a bad person, a selfish selfish person, or a lazy person. I leaned on just saying I’m depressed a lot. That didn’t feel good because I don’t actually feel depressed, I just felt very frustrated with myself and discouraged.
I have a diagnosis for severe depression but I never felt like it fit. I never felt the loss of interest in the things that I’m passionate about. I felt an inability to do them no matter how passionate I felt. I have had suicidal ideation, at least once a week, for years because I can’t do the things I want to do. I can’t even do the things I’m incredibly passionate about and would love to complete. There are certain normal life landmarks I know I can never reach, like buying a house. I literally could not get through the process even if I could pay in cash. I can’t finish creating what I’d love to exist in the world, and leave behind the most authentic pieces of myself. I have no control over the steps I take towards my dreams. And even if I can take steps some days, I can’t control how many. It’s like being in the passenger seat while someone else decides what I will be doing all day. Usually, it’s absolutely nothing. Usually, it takes me 4 hours of thinking about taking a shower, to actually take one. I would think about eating all day and never make food. I would think about the project I’d love to do and then watch it slip away while I think of the steps I need to do to finish it.
And as it slips away, I’m conscious of what’s happening. So much so, that I feel grief. I feel sad that the one and only thing I would love to do is vanishing before my eyes. I think I have a good way to explain this though:
It’s the same feeling I think most people would get if they were about to do a task and then someone appeared and forced them through a three hour lecture about that task. Whatever spark or zest was there, just fades away and it seems like too much to organize. Too many steps and considerations and just an overwhelming amount of stuff that discourages you out of doing it. Only the task could’ve been the simplest thing like, “pick that pencil up off the ground and put it in the pencil jar.” some days you could do that, some days that morphs into, “solve cold fusion,” which is so frustrating that I want to jump out the window. I don’t think I’ve ever had a dangerous thought about suicide or self harm. I think my mind is feeding me what I’m feeling like. Just how frustrated I am that I can’t do something simple, or can’t control what I focus on. When an intrusive voice tells me I should kill myself, it’s out of being the maximum amount of frustrated because I have no control over what I do, or how long I can do it.
It’s most devastating when the only thing I wanna be, is to be there for someone else. Because it communicates that they are not important to me, even though they are the most important thing in the world to me. It’s one of the reasons most of my relationships fall apart. Why trying to grab the wheel and do what I really want to do, honestly, feels like a scene in a messed up movie were a villain is forcing someone to put a gun against their best friend’s head and pull the trigger. In terms of mental and physical resistance, that’s how hard it is for me to hijack my mind and push myself through something I want to do, or something I absolutely need to do. Imagine putting that much effort into something that you WANT TO DO. Then there are other things I don’t prefer to do, but need to do, and that’s even more difficult.
If I took all the struggles in my life that boggled my mind, things that I could not think of any explanation for. Every single, “Oh dear god, why am I like this?” …and ask if ADHD explains it, the answer has been yes every single time thus far. I want to tell you what that feels like.
Imagine being close to drowning in the middle of the sea for days and days. That feeling when you don’t know how many more times you can kick your legs and keep your head above the water to breathe. When you feel like you’re about to have a panic attack, but you are trying with every ounce of your strength not to, because if that happens, you will definitely drown. Then someone pulls you out, dries you off by a fireplace and carries you into a comfortable bed.
That’s how it feels to finally find a cause that I can address. To have an answer to what has been sabotaging me my entire life. In reality, I’m still out in the water, but I know someone’s coming, and I have people encouraging me until they arrive.