I’m not sure what the intro is supposed the be like, and I’m joining with the knowledge that at some point these forums will be closed. But I’m struggling, so I hope that perhaps this will be the place where I learn how to overcome some things…
What follows is an adapted and combined version of what I’d written about my ADHD on a different forum, which I’m stating because someone from that forum told me about this forum, and in case there are others who are on both, I don’t want anyone to think that someone else copied my words. It’s still me
When I was in college, I was diagnosed with ADHD. I was in my mid-20’s, and up to that point never had any idea that the condition kids take ritalin for had anything to do with me.
But it was there, lurking beneath the biased perspectives of teachers, counselors, and other adults who could’ve done something, because hyperactivity doesn’t present as commonly in young girls as it does in young boys.
I didn’t do the obvious things that interrupted the order of the classrooms. But I certainly lacked a filter when speaking to classmates and teachers (“Oh, that’s dandruff!” got a good reprimand). I was frequently told how “bright” and “perceptive” I was, how much “potential” I had, and how if I only “worked harder” I’d get better grades.
After somehow adapting various imperfect coping and defense mechanisms, I got by, which was only possible because even though my single working mother was always exhausted and overwhelmed she still always had my back, encouraged active curiosity, and fostered an ethic of solving most problems by doing it, making it, or building it yourself.
Eventually, without finishing high school, I made it to college. Apparently, being able to choose classes one actually has an interest in makes a huge difference! Even so, it wasn’t enough. A semester that included Intro Chemistry broke all those hard-fought mechanisms, and while drowning, someone finally noticed the signs that my head held this ADHD brain. Suddenly, my entire life started to make sense!
I went on a medication, got help in gaining a few accommodations, and learned to develop some time management and organizational strategies to get through school. But even though so many things in my life improved with this discovery, there was still so much I didn’t know, and didn’t know to ask about…
It has become apparent to me that there is an advantage I missed out on, being diagnosed at the time I was. With youth, more support, and especially more money, there are usually counselors, programs, treatment strategies, etc. that the ‘grownups’ structure around you, for you. Parents with the ability to do so can advocate for their kids, to support them in ways that better prepare them for navigating the world along with their ADHD-wired brains.
But, what do you do when you’re diagnosed with ADHD as an adult???
Other than the occasional bout of independent internet searching, and reading a single book about ADHD (“Scattered” by Gabor Mate), I didn’t really learn much else about the condition. Nor did I anticipate what sorts of related implications, consequences, or obstacles might turn up later…
Only within a couple years after graduating (triumphantly!), while learning how-to-adult and planning my next academic challenges, a somewhat tragically hilarious and ridiculously horrible sequence of events took place (my mother got sick and died over a very short period of time).
Up to that point, my ADHD wasn’t too much of a hinderance. I’d had enough coping mechanisms and strategies for getting through life, and I was adding more as I added more bits of responsibilities (living on my own, getting and paying for my first used car, managing my own expenses, etc.).
But that whole process was halted, and severed. I couldn’t go back. Grief, which is already a surreal and horrible thing, was probably much more difficult with ADHD (hindsight is 20/20, as they say). Add to the pile a mountain of her things, my things, and administrative, clerical, and bureaucratic tasks I’d never experienced before but was suddenly responsible for handling, and ultimately, I never actually got through it all…
Between her death and now, I have made SOME headway here and there, through therapy, ADHD medication, donating belongings, and completing other tedious bureaucratic tasks. And that isn’t small.
But so much is still unresolved, either because it feels too logistically overwhelming, too emotionally overwhelming, or too confusing to complete.
And when something is too confusing, no matter how much I might research how to do it beforehand, I become paralyzed.
The paralysis comes from the fear that I will do something important and vital incorrectly. And “I can’t do it wrong because no one will help save me.” (Or so my inner voice says…)
Only after my mother died did I realize that she was my dominant support system, safety net, anchor, foundation–whatever you want to call it… I could take opportunities and risks towards growth in my life before, because I knew that if I got in any kind of trouble, she would be there to save my behind. She raised me alone, without any nearby family, nor any real community or support system. It was just her and me.
Now, after nearly a decade, I still have her ashes, in a box. There are towers of boxes and tubs throughout my apartment, filled with a combination of my and her things. And of her things, I haven’t been able to donate, give, or throw much of anything away, because she was an artistic, crafty, and handy person, so ALL her belongings she either created outright through sewing, building, painting, or crafting, and added to, adjusted, refinished, reupholstered, repainted, decoupaged, or otherwise personalized to such an extent that the items themselves seem to retain her very essence…
I haven’t been able to find a way to move forward, into any sort of functional version of the “new normal” that life becomes after the major loss of a loved one. I am and have been so tired of grieving, having almost no support, while unsuccessfully managing ADHD, and feeling so anxious, confused, and paralyzed…
But I was somehow able to maintain enough, and well enough, to keep the same job, pay bills, eat decently healthily enough, and take care of a cat throughout all of the years since she died. Luckily, I love my job, and am really good at the part of my job that matters most. So my work itself was a refuge, and I was able to do it because I had an actual place to go that was separate from the unstable stagnation of my life at home…
Then, in March, everyone was told to stay home… It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back (I’m the camel).
I couldn’t deal with anything, face anything, nor take care of myself. All I could do was avoid and escape life via things to watch or games to play. And it was like this until around July, when I finally started pulling out of it. That’s when I started to do some research on coping mechanisms and strategies that cover Adult ADHD, Complicated Grief, and similar issues.
And I just so happened upon an interesting TED Talk I’d not seen before, that led me to a youtube channel called How to ADHD, and combined with deeper dives into sites like ADDitude Mag, among others, I started to realize that my ADHD has had a much larger presence and influence on my life than I ever thought before.
So, over a decade after being diagnosed with ADHD, and a bit less than a decade after my mother died, and around four months after a virus took away the place where I could still work, I’m finally paying close attention to my own Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
And I’m trying to get back to the new form of work we’re supposed to do from home. But home is the place filled with things that I can’t escape, that are constantly in my field of view no matter where I am in the apartment. And I can’t really work here.
I was hoping to request accommodations via HR that might enable me to return to the place I work, just so I have a place that I can actually focus ON work. But I’ve been struggling to find specific accommodation examples for my particular type of job that are “reasonable” enough to include in the paperwork.
And I’m also having difficultly dealing with colleagues who know about my ADHD, because while yes, everyone is struggling with the new normal/cuckoo-banana-sandwich world we’re in, there are ways in which it’s even harder for me, and they just don’t seem to get it no matter how much I try to explain…
My life is a mess. I’m trying to figure out how to fix it. But so many obstacles arise, or things pop up to slow me down, or redirect my attention, and so many things just keep sitting there, waiting to be dealt with. Nothing is streamlined, and everything is a fight. I don’t understand why it has to be so firggin hard to get what I need so I can simply function and exist. I’m tired of feeling so alone and misunderstood.
But I haven’t given up. That’s why I’m here.