Oh, what a difference a few weeks makes. Last we left each other, I was looking forward (??) to finding out if I had ADHD or not. Based on its genetic tendencies (my mom was diagnosed when she was just a few years older than me) and a thorough review of the literature (every frickin article I could suction my eyes to), I was pretty certain I’d also been visited by the attention bandit.
Turns out my hunch was correct—I have it, no question. Although, given the emotions churning inside of me since I received the diagnosis, maybe bipolar disorder might be more accurate: I’m relieved and grateful, and am experiencing one epiphany after another. But at the same time it’s like I’m in mourning, second guessing a life that “could have been.” I’ve bounced between “Aha!” and “Oh, shit!” so many times I might have a concussion.
Relief is the overarching emotion. I was terrified of what “it” might be if not ADHD—this is where my curiosity and love of research is not helpful. Instead, I’m lucky—there a number of effective treatments for ADHD, usually a combination of medication, and new learned behaviors and skills. I’m in the middle of a trapeze act of balancing symptoms with side effects; I’ll gain my footing soon, I’m sure.
I’m grateful my doctor identified “it” immediately: “Do you realize you answered ‘yes’ to every ADHD item on this symptom checklist?” he asked me. Yup…I sure did. “Do you realize that because your mom has ADHD and smoked while pregnant with you, and you were a low-birth-weight baby you were almost guaranteed to have ADHD?” Nope…I sure didn’t, but my dad will be relieved to know he’s not the cause of all my problems. Mom’s finally taking one for the team.
There have been so many light bulb moments since the diagnosis I’m glowing like a human Christmas tree. For instance, so many parts of my life have seemed random and disjointed:
Wanting to be no place other than where you are, physically or mentally, but finding it impossible to stay put and present.
Believing you’re getting so much accomplished thanks to your superhuman “ability” to multitask only to realize you’re no further along with any of it than when you started.
Embarking on a new project with a manic, hyper-focused energy, only to walk away a short time later like you’re leaving a bowl of lukewarm, canned peas on the table.
But in the context of an undiagnosed ADHD brain driving my life’s bus, it all makes sense.
Self-deprecating humor is the condom of feelings: It prevents all sorts of emotional diseases and preempts unintended surprises. And there’s nothing more surprising than feeling good about yourself and then receiving comments from people with mouth syphilis who feel it’s necessary to state the obvious.
Today I’m guest-blogging over at The Woman Formerly Known as Beautiful thanks to the generosity of Shannon Bradley-Colleary. I’d love it if you’d spend a few minutes getting to know what it feels like growing up slutty—it’s lots of fun, promise!
Anyone who’s been reading my blog for a while knows that I battled postpartum depression and anxiety after my daughter was born thirteen years ago. I’ve written about it on this blog, directly or indirectly, a few times:
The thing you probably don’t know is that a couple years ago I wrote a long-form creative nonfiction piece (originally around 4,500 words) about that experience. I’ve submitted it a few places; all have been rejected except for the one that I’m currently waiting to hear back on. It’s for an anthology from the HerStories Project called Mothering Through the Darkness. I’ll know by March 15th if they accepted it. I hope so. I really do.
Regardless, those six weeks after my daughter was born, and the week or two leading up to her birthday almost every year until she was nine years old, will stay with me forever. I’ve thought all along that that’s a bad thing—that the constant hitting myself over the head with my failings as a mother is a penance I’ll have to pay for the rest of my life. But now, thirteen years later and four years after my last bout—the one that sent me as far to the edge of grief and guilt as the first—I see the good in it.
I love a good “what an awesome 2014 and can’t wait for 2015” post like everyone else. There’s something about humans collectively stopping to mentally review the past year and project their “coming attractions,” the best bits of how we all hope the next twelve months will play out. There are very few times when we can feel this kind of connected moment among the billions of people on our Earth.
Some of us have clever and magical ways to capture and/or reflect on the significant points of the year:
But here’s what I’m proposing: How about instead of trying to stuff in a year’s worth of moments into one night, no matter how ceremonious and celebratory, we spend a couple of seconds reveling in each significant or simple moment…as it’s happening?
How about if we take a few minutes at the end of each day, maybe just before we drift off to sleep, and instead of running through the lists of everything we have to do the next day, we acknowledge the beauty of what we experienced within the past hours of our waking lives?
How about if we force ourselves to find a single shiny needle of gratitude in the shit-coated haystack of our day?