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Undiagnosed ADHD and Other Whoopsies

by Madeline G. Brewer 13 days ago in surreal poetry
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A Collection of Teenage Poetry


To put it simply, I wasn't diagnosed until I was 21. I had numerous people in my child- and teenage-hood tell me they thought I had it, but because I wasn't getting up during class 500 times or interrupting the teacher once a minute, the school was pretty sure I was a lazy ass with no aspirations. I don't want to sound resentful, but I sometimes wish I could go back to all those teachers who wrote "a pleasure to have in class, but doesn't apply herself" on my report cards, and tell them to go fuck themselves.

Of course, I eventually sorted out my school troubles. I raised my GPA pretty far toward the end of my high school career, got into a good college, and have been doing well in college ever since. However, I look back now at my almost 22 years of life, and I see some social struggles of mine that I wish someone had seen through. I wish every time I let rejection overpower me, or when someone told me I interrupted too much, or when I "too often brought the story back to myself," someone had raised a red flag. But, what's funny is: ADHD is not a red flag. I wanted to get diagnosed to understand why people seemed to think I was different, but I never started medication. I didn't see any point--my life wasn't falling apart, and I was doing well in school and holding jobs just fine. The biggest of my problems were these nitpicky social things, and I decided, why should that be my problem? Why must I apologize to the world for how the world affected me?

My waffling between desperately wanting to be liked and wanting to cut out toxic people from my life helped me a lot in high school...if you define helping as losing friends, letting people manipulate me, and getting called "crazy" behind my back. And yet, I got to college and made close friends, formed a solid relationship with my coworkers, and began dating the best guy imaginable. The catch? It's not a catch, but most of them are neurodivergent, too.

Surrounded by their support, I figured out two things: 1) I need to set more boundaries when forming relationships with neurotypical people, and 2) I need to have more confidence in myself. I didn't formally become an English major until college, but I'd been writing since I was a kid and always felt too scared to share anything I wrote.

So, one step in this self-discovery process was digging out all my old poetry from high school. It wasn't perfect and shiny writing, much like this foreword isn't, but it was real stuff. It was stuff I wrote while crying at my keyboard, floating on clouds, seething in fire, and numbing. It was a glimpse into a person who didn't understand their own personhood. Above all, it was a look into the teen years of someone who was repeatedly told "being a teen is hard for everyone" when theirs were a little bit harder.

I have no need to continue explaining everything here, so I'll leave the rest to my poetry. From this point forward, you're heading back in time to meet the me that would kill to be me today.


My window flew open

When I finally broke free

Everything was lightened

And buzzing with bees

The air felt fresher

You wouldn’t believe

That I reversed my track

And heightened my greed

I wanted what was gone

To then be redeemed

And blessed by an angel

From a sky no longer green

Could she have a shield

And gild no one but me

Hand me someone’s heart

That I know I’ll later need

Of course I love sweetness

To give and not receive

But now my fire’s burning

My quest is all I see

So dear, this is for you

Part of my recovery

I’m back in my comfort zone

And it feels like a nice breeze

Makeshift Moonlight

The trick is in the passion

aloud in gloaming

and neon irises

manifested when eyelids lift

and the beams

from lasers of adoration

slashing the shadows.

The glow is in your caverns

where the strings

in your heart

put violas to shame

and an opal aorta arching

like the Arc de Triomphe

maintains your soul with mine.

Our love is on the clock.

Golden Guilt

Blond like nothing

but a summer fling,

gold enough to last

through autumn.

I made my decision,

and I am unwavering.

My heart remains locked

as my mind wanders

and blossoms desires.

I let blooms shine

until the sun returns.

File away this invitation

for the sake of stress,

and discard your painkillers

as I discard mine.

And I’ll think of him

while I dabble with you,

because I need his smile

though what I have now

is yours, minus that love.

Can you tell that

you’re only a spirit?

Death Herself

Everyone had seen her gemstone bullets,

but few were privileged with their bite.

The few thought Death was a ghost,

until her fingerprints stained their necks.

The fingerprints oiled the paper

with the messages they threatened to send.

The messages were thin air and ice

and chills overtook her decaying body.

The chills were involuntary back then,

because a plague had weakened her once.

The plague was barely new to her

and she sipped blood like wine.

The blood was that of the few only;

her scythe was no longer able to hesitate.

The scythe was usually a symbol of fear

when she was kind enough to give a warning.

Death herself is shamelessly human

with ideas grand enough to kill a mind.

The Best Time For Me To Exist

is not right now.

It’s because I’ve done everything

and gotten nothing done;

I’ve loved so much into empty space;

I stared until my eyes teared up

and froze the droplets in place;

I write this with a headache and prayers

I’ve made, written so they never fade;

my words hurt me more than you

though you’re the one I dedicate things to;

I can’t please myself, though I

know me more than anyone else,

I know what I could be doing now

and for that I suppose I can say:

the best time for me to exist

is the day I love me how I love you.

While You Are In Absentia

my heart will tally through winter

for the prospect of sunbeams.

The irises of my welling eyes

will become a duller teal

and no one will notice

past my lipsticked smile.

My forehead will be eclipsed

as my vision clouds,

allowing my thoughts

to disarray into prismatic shards.

Every last melody will be yours;

therefore, I will adore them all.

My phantom fingers will

tour and explore through

your midnight mess of hair

until you drift into dreaming.

They may sweep across

your lashes, as if to strum them

like the teeth of a comb,

then down and over your freckles,

as if I could smear them

into the rest of your colors.

Should you twitch and grin,

I’ll halt my hands and allow you

to wake in the warmth

of my blush and exposure

and I’ll explain in a whisper

that I cannot sleep yet,

for there is that chance

my foolish subconscious

creates a fleeting dream

without you.

Black Tuesday

Like a damn fool

I spent love I didn't have,

because I felt as though

I never had enough.

Anyone could ask you

and you'd say I don't owe you,

but ask me and I'd say

I'll give the last of my savings.

Everything you watched me spend

I will pay back to you,

and anything you want after

will come without questions.

I've stood where you stood

without words to argue,

so when I crashed at the end

on Black Tuesday I came to you.

On This Bright Morning

Zero minutes, one second:

A day. Another day.

These are the days poets say

put on a summery display.

One minute, twenty-five seconds:

I form my outfit quite womanly

in which a princess you may see;

today that princess will be me.

Two minutes, twelve seconds:

Though when these mad people fade

my darkest pains cannot be swayed

to form a heart from a spade.

Two minutes, twenty seconds:

Something changes beneath us two.

I'm the same; it must be you

who does coldly force it to.

Three minutes, eleven seconds:

It looked up then; it looks up now;

it lures me with no charm somehow

and obligates my head to bow.

Three minutes, twenty-nine seconds:

All is fine; it seems to be;

Life dares to get down on one knee

and promises to marry me.

Three minutes, thirty-five seconds:

Glass rains down from all the stars

and tiger-stripes me with new scars

and deafens me within these bars.

Four minutes, zero seconds:

Hard enough, I punch the wall,

yet along with it I do fall.

I can win some, but not quite all.

Four minutes, thirty-two seconds:

The tears look choice upon my face

and all artfully interlace;

this world seems to not hold grace.

Five minutes, fourteen seconds:

The brightest soul I've ever known;

I see inside me it has grown.

My angel keeps me not alone.

Five minutes, fifty-nine seconds:

Now I grasp truth's deja-vu;

we can reverse, me and you!

Now I can trust all that I do.

Six minutes, fifty-three seconds:

Like a ghost, I know you not,

though once I had you, my inkblot;

a name is more than just a thought.

Seven minutes, forty-seven seconds:

Low times ring like a church-bell.

You were the Heaven to balance Hell;

just build your soul; all will be well.

Eight minutes, twenty-four seconds:

Life and liberty again exist;

foolish Sin, though we once kissed,

your burning noose will not be missed.


Assessing the situation now before me I

Begin to crumble at my full plate of

Carcinogen memories that toll my mind like

Dull pains of a dreary nostalgia and

Egregious people erasing my hope as I

Forget what it means to be inside the

Glory days where nothing mattered and

Hatred was a theoretical thing and

Ideals were an item only inside heads

Just barely ever cracking the surface

Keeping to oneself was understood by kids

Losing was accepted but unacceptable

Mindsets were purer than the average adult

Nevertheless many doors were taped shut

Off-limits was a sign at child height

Prancing with a solo instrument was

Quite unheard of in a dependent time

Realizing the things underneath in places

Secret and only revealed between lovers was

Terribly disgusting and wrong to us yet

Ultimately something bold to us now and

Verifiably exciting and energetic now that

We are free to be grown and wise like

Xenon in space once filled with helium just

Yesterday, then we became heavy and

Zombified yet proud of our age


Shimmering uplift

To deceive the ear and chest

Secretly plaguing

Plunging, darkened chords

Making heartstrings collapse hard

To arouse the shade

A concerning wink

From the ghostly musicians

Don’t evade the pulse

Allow fantasies

To take arcane undertones

And find happiness

Tonight we bring you

The only holy séance

The song of our minds


And here I am foolish

To think I loved you most

That I cared more than they

And was your loyal host

We’ve all gone a bit crazy

To rationalize ourselves

So we become angelic

And they can show their hell

The blame game is gambling

Denial seduces roulette

Now I lie here mourning

What hasn’t happened yet

Envision I invite you

Back into this morass

Would you want to return here

Or maintain your dear class

We can’t rectify, just wreck

Our own salvaged blood

My veins feel so distressed

Eroded by inner mud

So yes, my dear, I loved you

I toiled for your heart

And my own humanity’s blameless

For only I split us apart


When one wakes

Their eyes jumble and fragment

Into a flippant array

Some blink away the mosaic

And rise in confidence

Some rise and their head floats

And some don’t rise at all

Perhaps the weight of their bodies

Is more than most days

Or perhaps the weight

Of the energy in their heads

Some can accept themselves

But not all, and why?

In the subconscious riptide

We all admire ourselves

In our vulnerable state

We cannot hate nor love

The sights we see are

The sights that will be and

Our sunlit minds judge until

They take over moonlight, too

And our conditions fight

The innate equilibrium in us

And we see a kaleidoscope


You threw me for a loop

And as I flew through the air

For one ephemeral moment

I thought you'd catch me

Yet once you stood lifeless

I reached for anything in my way

Nothing safe like your embrace

Only inanimate objects that

Will always be there, though

Not nearly as comforting

Because even if I couldn't

Fall into your arms

I didn't want to hit the ground

And any day I'd take

Your whiplash that breaks me

At the very least I'd survive

So if you can't save me now

At least save my memory

So I can hope as I lay

And as your car drives away

You're only getting help

And not fleeing the scene

Haiku of Selfish People

Thank you for your heart

I needed some confidence

Good luck rebuilding

Pavement Combination

Confusion meets anxiety.

In a stressful fit I fall

as I begin my search

and pray I find myself.

Perhaps I’ve been forgotten.

Now all I see is colors

and missed it by a thread.

I so desperately want

what I’m looking for.

I need baby blue and

I knew I smelled the scent.

I need olive green

because it won’t leave me alone.

The world needs to know

the feeling is desolation.

My torturing conflict,

am I really so alone?

I love what I have now.

It’s my own fault I got here.

And I refuse to lose it;

I blistered up my feet.

But what if I wait long?

My pleasure now has left me

to brew my cup of tea

so fear could move on in.

I’m now nevermore’s perch

in a panicked, bittersweet haze.


You fragment my fever

My stoic sexuality is

submitting to purity

to preserve you

as an innocent heart

because to break you

would be forever

in my mind as a

felony though the law

would never bother with it

You can blur yourself

but only if you assure me

that your fracture was

not due to who I am

but who you are instead

Intramural Renaissance

Perhaps my vascular flora is returning

with the wind sweeping away my feet

and I can look at the sun again

without feeling the scorching heat.

Perhaps I can fight my battles with yours

to again prove I’m worth peace

while boxing my chaotic thoughts

to force these tornadoes to cease.

Perhaps I can clear one notion up:

these words are strictly about me

and all the things I say about you

despite your pseudo-apathy.

Perhaps I write with empty heart,

its blood a vantablack sea,

yet I feel blessed it pulses not

by lust and pride and greed.

Perhaps my vascular flora is returning

with the wind sweeping away my feet

and love will love my mind again

and freeze its warmth like sleet.

surreal poetry

About the author

Madeline G. Brewer

21F; neurodivergent; writer of fiction; and lover of feminism, LGBTQ+ stuff, mental health awareness, equity for all, and artists.

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