Sunday, 19 January 2014

The hidden world of living with ADHD

You say your quiet goodbyes, turn on your heel, and leave, hoping nobody saw the hurt surging through you, carried by the self-hatred, fed by a recurring feeling of helplessness.
Belonging; all you wish for.
Acceptance; have you ever been?
Love: how does it feel?
How many times more can you take this? You carry on walking, holding your head up high; anything to hide the tears, right?
After having an uncomfortable conversation recently I withdrew to reflect and, to be perfectly honest, fight with tears; in a nutshell the person said I'm too full on—something I've basically heard all my life.
Time for a bit of truth about living with ADHD. This isn't an easy post, but I'm sure I'm not the only one experiencing this. With ADHD it's all or nothing, and rarely something in between. People with ADHD, and I'm no exception, tend to hyper-focus and, particularly when it's something they like/enjoy, it's almost impossible to rein themselves in. I also talk a lot; it often feels like I need to fill a silence, even when it's probably not needed. It's not that I won't have anything interesting to say (according to those poor people being fed my constant stream of words), but it can just be overwhelming—or get a word in edgewise for that matter. I often realise that people are backing off when it's too late, which then results in me being hurt and mostly angry with myself. I'm a grown-up woman, for fuck's sake and should know better. Very unlike many with ADHD, I'm perfectly capable of reading expressions, even 'feeling' something isn't right and automatically assume it's to do with my being too 'intense'. And often rightly so. Yet I can't seem to stop myself.
You will have to believe me when I say that I'm my worst critic, always have been. In year eight, I think, we had to write a self-portrait, basically describe how we see ourselves. It was the only ever essay of mine that received full marks. I remember my teacher saying that she's never seen someone going to court with herself as I'd done. Brutally honest, no punches being held. And I did it as if it were the most natural thing on earth. Not because I was asked to, but because that's how I am. Always. Often to the point of tipping the balance in favour of unhealthy and I plummet into serious depressions. Managing ADHD without medication means that life is exciting when everything goes well, but if someone happens—and it can be the tiniest incident—it's dangerously going downhill if one's not careful. I had a few hefty lows I thought I'd never emerge from again, but thanks to friends, and my iguana, I pulled myself out of that hole. I remember being so down—it was back in Germany, when I was ready to fill the car's tank to the brim and drive into a wall. I'd had enough of the struggles. Yes, ADHD's positive side is that you always manage to get up after falling, brush off the dust and focus on what's ahead, but the negative side is that you fall equally often and that so hard, that something inside of you breaks. It's not fun, let me tell you that. The reason I'm still alive, and I'm not joking here, is my little iguana girl I had back then. I looked at her, as she slept peacefully, trusting, and I couldn't go through with it. After all, when I bought her, I promised to look after her until she dies, and I never break my promises.
As a kid, I had no idea what was wrong and why others rejected me; I was never part of a group, but more the loner, even worse, the black sheep serving as a punch bag when others had bad days. I got beaten up every day by my class mates and never stood up to them. Why? That's a question many asked me back then, I think it may have to do with the fact that I came home from being bullied at school, to being bullied by my mother, who often enough hit me, or even beat me up until her frustrations were gone. Nobody knew about my ADHD, I was diagnosed in my early thirties and, thinking back, despite my being a 'good girl' I knew I had my phases. As a kid you just act and people think you're a terrible rebel, which I honestly wasn't. Sure, I made some poor choices, like throwing a brick through a window of a parked car—no idea what I'd been so angry about, but I'm sure it had to do with my mother. We constantly clashed as I grew older and developed my own strong opinions. She wasn't fit to be a mother, let alone to a child with ADHD. I may not have been an angel, but I certainly didn't deserve the abuse I received—verbally and physically.
Don't get me wrong, I don't like the wording 'suffering' from ADHD, because I don't—at least not directly. More than anything I'll suffer indirectly, for I managed to scare away yet another person I just happened to like very much. I guess people must feel suffocated, inundated by my liking them. Nobody can ever say I'm not passionate. I am. Sadly I get carried away without noticing before the person flees as fast as his or her feet can carry him or her.
That said, I managed quite all right with my ADHD, took feedback from teachers, and later, friends on board and continued to work on myself. It was hard and often painful, and you  have to be brutally honest with yourself, which is not an easy task. And all in order to live a 'normal' life. Nobody wants to be the socially awkward person. Interestingly, I've always attracted people, due to my open nature. I talk to everyone, give every person a chance. This is something good right? That doesn't mean I make friends with everyone, nope, I'm rather selective in who I want to spend time with, or invite into my heart/life. True to ADHD fashion, it's all or nothing and I don't want to change a thing; my being alive doesn't last forever, so anyone who is destructive to me will be rigorously cut off. Door closed, no way back. I'm not the most forgiving person when you hurt me and don't have the guts to apologise and mean it.
Talking about apologising: I've done a lot of it in my time. Due to my habit to blurt things out without thinking, I've upset quite a few people, which was never my intention. I'm not someone who'd deliberately hurt someone. Those who know me from several fora can will tell you that I'm forthright, but I don't go and try to find vulnerable spots to pick on them. I've been far too long on the receiving end of it and it's not a nice place to be.
You're probably wondering where I'm going with this, and I won't keep you any longer: living with ADHD has good and bad moments. Despite often being a pain in the arse, I'm more than proud of the person I am. I may talk a lot, but if you aren't well, I'm the first to ask what's wrong, or how you're doing. If you come to me with a problem, I'll keep mine wrapped up and give you my undivided attention in order to help; and I'll be the one that offers you a hug when I sense you need one. You see, given the shite childhood/adolescence I've been through, I'm a warm person, who's able to love.
Now tell me again, you're sick of the sight of me. I'm just a girl who's opened up her heart to you. Things could be worse, you see?

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