ADHD

All I could see was rows of little boxes…

I am starting, in the last few days, to begin to see my life compartmentalize.

I have always been a logical thinker, if a slightly scattered one. I have always been able to digest clear, rational arguments, and tear apart those that don’t fit that criteria. I have always been (or at least since older childhood) able to create some kind of order in intellectual situations…though not always in the same way as others (which gave me a wicked inferiority complex, because it took me a while to figure out that I often had good insights, other people just hadn’t gotten that far out of the box yet to find them valid).

But just getting through the day has always been a stressful challenge. It was so for my mother, who struggled to create order in our always chaotic mornings, and it is for me as an individual, now that I’m all on my own. We see order in the moment, in a flash of a second, but as we move away from that moment, things fall apart. It’s not that we can’t see order…just that it seems to run too fast for us to truly catch and master it.

Life, as a result, feels like a continuous stream of too many layers of quickly moving individual pieces that I am sometimes able to link in a moment of inspired alchemy, but generally drown within. That constant motion is too much. As my sister has said “that explains why you have always been so sharp and crabby at home when people bother you”. When you are that overwhelmed, you don’t often have the luxury of energy to spend on “nice”.

Well. I have been having a strange experience since my meltdown of about a week ago. I am beginning to spontaneously see things in static “compartments”. See my days in “segments” rather than overful and liquid, and barely containable. And as a result, this is allowing me the occasional, and never before felt sensation…of pieces of my life feeling manageable. Or at least I am experiencing the impression that they might become so.

I’ve always had this “idea” of what that looks like, but for the first time I feel little heavenly REAL sensations of it in my mind. So real I can feel them, like starfish or anemones in a touch tank…so WEIRD feeling, but so magical to touch, and foreign, but no longer unknown. I see disorder and I see order, and they don’t all exist in the same torrent of thought. I never really experienced them separately before and I didn’t even truly know it.

What a WEIRD THING!

I am not an old person but it’s still pretty rare at 34 to have something in the daily course of your life genuinely surprise you. Is it any mistake that it’s happening during a blessed moment where my medications seem to be doing what they’re supposed to without the distraction of side-effects? Probably not.

I do not mean to give the impression that I have made some large achievement in terms of how organized my actual day is. But I feel myself working away at little bits of things that I will be able to free myself from…that I can put a date-stamp on. It’s like…hmmm. Okay, tired cliche…it’s like I took off the training wheels…and I can’t ride very far yet…but now that I know that magic “feeling” of balance, I can see what actually riding a bike might look like. And I know that I’m not interested in bicycle racing, or even doing fancy tricks…I don’t even care about those because I know that just being able to balance for slightly longer distances from time to time…will be of so much joy and benefit to me that…okay honestly, I’ve got a few tears in the eyes at the moment.

I’ve seen a lot, and I’ve never seen anything like this before 🙂

I’m perfectly aware that I may fall off of the bike (sorry, cliche, but useful!) from time to time…but so does everyone. And if the bike metaphor holds true…I still love riding my bike. No fancy tricks, just me, the bike, and the road…balanced, and headed somewhere with calm purpose.

One day, my dad and I were talking about how much we liked riding bikes when we were kids. I used to actually do some pretty crazy stunts…involving ramps, no hands, and riding standing on my seat like a circus chick. You’re bound to crash occasionally, when you roll like that, haha. My dad…says he would ride as fast as he could and jump off. He was also prone to jumping off of ravines, roofs and barns. I asked him why he did it…he got a funny look on his face like he was watching a movie in his head and smiled, and very thoughtfully replied “I was compelled!”. I said “compelled?” and he said “yeah, I don’t know why, but it seemed like the thing to do and I HAD to do it.”. Can you imagine a more perfect statement from someone who was probably a hyperactive ADHD child, famous for his stunts? Me, I just felt free when I stood on the bicycle seat, figuring out how to steer it around curves and corners by slightly adjusting my balance, and raising myself on and off of the seat with no hands, without stopping, and usually, but not always, without falling off. I was obsessed with the challenge, and I imagined I was in sequins in the circus.

…it makes me think of this new action in my brain, these new visions popping up…this new feeling of occasional calm, even in the face of a storm of “to-do” items. I waited 33 years to do battle with the anxiety that was running my show…even though I had some abstract inklings of what it was doing to me. I can’t change that waiting…but I think I waited so long because I truly didn’t know another way to live. And it can be scary to trade one thing in for another when you don’t know what you’re trading in for…you don’t know if you’re trading up or down, and logic dictates that you shouldn’t trade if you don’t know the terms.

The stakes were finally too high for me…to fail at this point in my life, in anyway, has consequences that reach beyond me. I wonder how many other adult ADHDers have the same experience (probably just millions)…where you finally reach out for help and it’s not only for yourself, to rid yourself of the desperate feelings that living a double life brings…but you’ve realized in a desperate moment or two that others are relying on you to succeed. And you can’t bear to fail, because you can’t stand to have others bear the weight of your failures.

Heh. So…here I am having a day that as usual is totally off-track, schedule-wise. There are aspects of my office job that will always throw things a little off kilter, and that’s just how it is. But…it just so STRANGE…I have this sense where I actually see little ways that I can tuck a few things back into their compartments, things I can let go of because they’re just not worth the stress can all go into another compartment (to be shredded, of course) and I have this idea that while my days will probably never be perfect in terms of timeliness and order…that if I keep practicing with this new ability to “see” things in a more useful way, my days will come just a little closer to the middle road of balance. That my days will average a little closer to the middle.

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