However, my “WTF do I do with ADHD” journey began before that. It began in the cold winter at the beginning of 2009, in January or February. I was desperate. I was in grad school. I had left my full time job and could not find a part time job. Never since age 15 had I been unable to find work. And school was extremely stressful. The combined stress was pushing me into obsessive anxiety and I could not shut of my mind…nevermind focus it. At the time, I had no idea what focus was.
Normally, I had been propelled through life on the whim of adventurous ideas. Nothing crazy, but certainly beyond the level of spontanaiety that most people subscribe to. Life with ADHD was an adventure, for a long time. Sometimes heartbreaking…I alternated a certain native practicality with spurts of big risks for big rewards, interpersonally, geographically, artistically. I wrote plays, acted, learned to flamenco dance, explored extreme territories of love and emotional landscapes.
But school has always made me feel constrained and I had no control over my work life that winter. I’d moved into a fixer-upper apartment that should have been a good idea–a big risk…that should have been a big reward, but thanks to the drug dealer downstairs, was a totally unsafe nightmare. It was icy winter in New England. In winter here, everything dies.
Trapped in that place, I had nothing to distract me from some nagging thoughts that I’d had for years.
Thoughts that I was beyond my ability to cope with just being myself anymore. Thoughts that other people didn’t seem to be as challenged as I was, to complete many ordinary tasks. Thoughts that I felt like I lived outside of something and worked hard to be seen as “an insider”. That I worked hard to seem normal…and that maybe that just wasn’t normal. And of course…there was the simple fact that it took me up to 12 hours at times to read articles for school that should have probably taken an hour.
So there I was. And here I am.
This isn’t a literal anniversary, but it IS an anniversary.
I write this not just for myself, to celebrate a milestone. I write this to make a point: it’s taken me two years to get here.
Where is here? Well, frankly I’m a little disgruntled at the moment…but not because I can’t figure out what to do with ADHD. And not because I’m having some big undefined anxiety issue. I’ve taken on a challenging new life that was bound to come with growing pains. Another big risk for big rewards, another big ADHD adventure. But I am better equipped now, thanks to the past two years of experience.
I’m pretty good at steering myself through the day now, and through my resources, even when I’m having challenging emotional experiences (and I do still have them). I am able to express myself in far more patient ways, even at challenging times, because I understand the processes that are happening in my mind. Because I know the territory of my own ADHD so well now, I rarely panic now at those times when quirks arise.
If you’ve followed this blog, you know that I did not take a magic pill that fixed my life. I have worked to get here. I have tried quite a variety of different magic pills to find ones that work for me. Through it, I still lived my life…I had jobs, I had relationships, I had a wedding, I got stepchildren (and those are just the highlights!), I rocked my community work and won awards for it. I have been very contemplative and conscious about selecting coping strategies that help me to operate at my best. I have tackled some of my oldest baggage.
Diagnosis was a moment, but learning what to do with this diagnosis has been a process.
Progress is a reasonable expectation, with effort expended.
But a quick fix? Quick fixes don’t exist.
Medication made many things easier, it laid a foundation for certain learning experiences to occur more easily…but it did not cure me or fix me.
Therapy can help you learn strategies, and explore baggage…but it takes commitment and time.
So here I am. Here I am. I absolutely recommend beginning your own journey, if you haven’t already, but know that it will take time to really extract your rewards.