A whisper of a thought.
A brief spark of inspiration—and then it's gone and whatever grabbed my attention takes over completely and I'm left at a loss, trying to figure out what it was that I had wanted to do before my brain so rudely hit the reset button on itself.
Before I understood ADHD, before I considered it a thing I might be dealing with, I thought it was just the property of hyperactive kids and "bad students". I was a very focused child, quiet, introverted, who could zero in on a task for hours at a time—provided I actually enjoyed what I was doing.
If it was something I didn't like, it would take the stress of a looming deadline to get me to hunker down and get to work. Procrastination was my fuel.
I enjoyed reading, history, a lot of the things that were marks of a good student, so nobody noticed my addled brain until I was well into adulthood—and actively seeking help for that specific thing.
As a child, I would carry a pile of non-school things with me to every class, even into high school: my sketchbook, a notebook for story writing, whatever novel I was reading at the time, and a heavy pencil case. My drawing subjects of choice came from whatever game I was obsessed with at the time, and I always had an instruction booklet or strategy guide with me so I could draw something from them whenever I wanted.
When one such booklet started falling apart, my French teacher silently took it from me and taped it back together. That's a vivid memory.
It never occurred to anyone that this was the sign of a mind in need of help—not just the quirk of a creative child. All of that shit was to occupy my mind in the silences between completed tasks so I didn't become overwhelmed.
Boredom was my greatest enemy.
College made the fraying seams come apart. A nervous breakdown in the middle of one stressful night, in the midst of doing far too much work on a group project, signalled the start of my problem. Lack of focus in my student placement (not that they gave me much to do that fit my education) should have been another hint.
I was working for the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs when I hit the most awful depressive episode ever. I'm certain my work was sloppy, I was staying late or taking work home, I was overwhelmed and didn't understand what was going on. As I read up on mental health—and picked up on things from the association's focus for that year—I learned that my problem was likely one thing.
I went to my doctor. I was confirmed to be clinically depressed, prescribed medication, started getting treatment and seeing a counsellor.
Things started picking up. I bought a house. I got a cat!
And then I got fired.
Sorry, let go. The claim was that the association was outsourcing the website so I wouldn't be needed, but two weeks after my firing I was not surprised to see a job ad for an Administrative Assistant pop up on the Careers page.
It was the worst of times.
I didn't know back then that depression and anxiety are comorbidities of ADHD: people with ADHD often have or develop both, making treatment a little more complex. In my case, ADHD triggered and contributes to both, and it didn't become a possibility in my mind until friends on the AuDHD spectrum said, "You know, you're one of us."
Autism and ADHD share symptoms. People will sometimes go looking for one and find the other, or both, and as I dug around and read up on Autism, it sounded more and more like me.
Then one of my sisters messaged me one day and told me that another sibling was diagnosed with ADHD, and it's possible our mother has it.
More reading. More discussing with various people, especially friends who are, as the kids say, "neurospicy"—and I was finding more and more explanations for why I have had so many problems with finding and keeping a goddamn job over the past 10 years.
The buzzing brain. The inability to focus. Jumping from task to task, thoughts racing, mind babbling away, getting a spark of inspiration and then—the TV is just loud enough that it makes me feel like there's cotton in my ears and I can't think.
Starting a task. Finding that task leads to another task that should be done first because once I do that, then the first task will be easier—but there's this other thing that should be done now that I think about it, I don't want to forget, but also there's yet another thing and it goes on and on and on, and only makes sense to me.
Sometimes the noise from my fans generates the illusion of a radio station playing music that I can just barely hear. The murmur of instruments and voices, but don't ask what's being said because I can't tell you.
I'm reading. Someone speaks to me. I have to ask them to repeat themselves. Sometimes they just aren't loud enough, or their voice sounds garbled because all my focus is on the words in front of me. They're frustrated on the third repeat, but at least I got it this time.
Scuttling about like a terrified crab because there are people, I am expected to interact with people like a normal human being but I have no idea what the hell that looks like and I know I come off like a little goblin that's seeing daylight for the first time. Good Gods, I think, but everything is so big and bright and scary.
How much would be different if I had known back then what I know now?
I can't say. Maybe I would have had a better understanding of my brain as I grew, and I wouldn't have tried to fight it. Maybe I would have embraced my nature and found my perfect fit. Maybe I would have become an accountant or a paleontologist or an actor (where being a strange little creature is expected) and lived happily ever after. I don't know.
I'm sure the me that knows these things is living her best life.
In the meantime, I have medication to get used to, blogs to write, things to create, and an empire to build. Recovery from my life thus far is not going to happen overnight.
About the Creator
Loves Star Trek, cats, tallships, lost expeditions, and macabre things. Adult with ADHD. Wrangles vintage graphics into digital products and sells vintage stuff. Knows many things, finds it difficult to apply them.