I used to make jokes about me having ADD. But they were just jokes. I’d follow it up with something like, “Oh, but I’m not really! Just forgetful! Hahah. Hah.”
In retrospect, it should have been so OBVIOUS.
(Okay, sorry, I know I talk about this a lot lately, but a friend's blog post reminded me of this, and I decided I had to write about this)
Since I started meds, it’s like I’m looking down from a high mountain onto my life. I can see it all spread out before me, and it’s like I missed the Great Salt Lake sitting right in the middle. I’m finding out that all kinds of weird things are a symptom of ADHD (not just the attention issues). Things like inability to handle criticism (people-pleasing in general, really). I just crumble inside when someone criticizes me. I know it’s my thing, and so I try not to show it outwardly, but I’ll go cry in the bathroom if I’m given a chance. And I don’t cry all that easily over things like people dying or extreme pain. Now, it’s not all bad. I like a lot of the ways it’s made me who I am (sense of humor, creativity, my ability to get.it.done. when it’s down to the wire). I think in a different type of society, a lot of the “problems” of ADHD could be assets. If I belonged to a tribe of nomads, for instance, I would hear every single suspicious noise in the middle of the night.
But, with this newfound clarity has come a bit of cockiness. “I am medicated, so I can do this! and this! and this! and why not schedule this one other thing while we’re at it!”
Well, I overextended myself the last couple weeks. A lot of it was out of my control. But a substantial portion of it was not.
I’m the church secretary. Surprisingly, I’m at least somewhat competent. I tend to forgot minor things, but that’s why I have lists and routines for everything. If I were an artist, I would make an exhibit called, “My Life in Post-Its,” and it would take up all the walls in my home. Last week, I had a lot on my plate, but I was feeling so great about how well I was doing. I left the house Friday morning with everything I needed for the day. I got to church after the gym (did NOT forget underwear or a towel!) and set to work.
I got so much done so quickly. It was amazing. I was on top of the world. We have an annual thing we do, and I had to send out letters for that. I took the time to personally start each letter with, “Dear [LastName] Family,” before printing them out one by one. We have a small church, so that’s not quite as amaaaaazing as it sounds, but I was still pleased. I got everything sealed, stamped, and addressed, and then I realized, oh no, I had not printed on the church letterhead like my pastor had asked me to.
Thirty-four years of forgetting stupid crap and being scolded for it came rushing back to me. I’m really glad I was alone at church because all I could do for a minute was sit there with my cheeks burning, trying not to cry.
(He was really nice about it, and I did not have to go back and redo everything.)
The rest of the day was like a domino effect. I forgot one thing after another after another after another. My brain had decided to mutiny. I felt like such a dumb child again.
One of the other things I had to deal with last week was Emmy’s book report. While I was helping her work through and understand her book, the word “evaporation” came up; she didn’t know what it meant. I showed her how if you pour a little water on the table, it will eventually turn into a gas and disappear into the air. She said, “Oh! So that’s how rain happens! It evaporates off the ground and goes into the clouds and then when it rains…” Not bad for a first-grader who, to the best of my knowledge, has not yet learned about the water cycle. But she lost her train of thought near the end there and immediately burst into tears. My sweet baby who figured out the water cycle on her own felt stupid and ashamed. I worry that she’ll grow up thinking the same things about herself that I used to (and still do, sometimes).
So in that moment I was grateful for all of my blunders just a few days before. I knew exactly how she felt right then and dealt with it so much better than I would have a couple weeks ago. It’s hard to talk about this without making it sound like my parents are to blame. I have wonderful parents. It’s just that inattentive type doesn’t look like ADHD. It doesn’t disrupt the whole class or cause destruction. It’s daydreaming, procrastination, forgotten assignments, and a weird combination of slacking off and perfectionism. So, basically, everyone’s idea of a terrible student. Unlike my parents, we know what is going on with her. We can help her, and I can understand how she feels when she messes up.
*This title brought to you by my first grade teacher in all her compassion and wit.