Ok so part of the subject of this post has the dual purpose of explaining why I haven't blogged in weeks (months)...
I've received a diagnosis which is connecting dots in my head and explaining a lot of things to me. As of last month, I now know that I suffer (suffer isn't the right word) from Inattentive ADHD. Can't figure out how to say that sentence yet without implying negativity. My brain does ADHD? I go fast and also slow? Maybe simply I 'HAVE' ADHD, although sometimes it feels like ADHD has me and not the other way round.
When I was growing up, 'ADHD' was a term thrown around when describing kids who were typically hyper, loud, full of energy, therefore becoming associated with bad behaviour. I was probably more like the opposite of that: quiet except when with particular friends, introverted, socially awkward, therefore liked by teachers because of the quietness.
In recent years, research and understanding of ADHD has vastly improved, and snippets of this has been slowly drip fed to me through the internet, making me wonder if 'hyper, loud, full of energy' was actually a realistic way to describe my mind and mental health, despite outwardly projecting an opposing mask.
When my psychiatrist asked me questions about my childhood, about my teens, and my experiences gaining independence as an adult, she wasn't surprised when our discussion turned to difficulty with short term memory, with concentration, with organisation, timekeeping, and even binge eating. She wasn't surprised to hear about the countless times my dad had to chase the school bus back to the depot because I'd left my violin in the overhead compartment. She wasn't surprised when I told her about the issues I have with motivation, and the different projects I would start without finishing them. She wasn't surprised to hear that one of my biggest stresses is just simply keeping the house clean, made more stressful by the fact it's never achieved. She wasn't surprised that I've been on anti-depressants for 10 years, and she wasn't surprised that I left my job this year after a period of burnout and sick leave.
At one point, I began to use the analogy of a phone which has been disconnected from the internet for some time, then reconnecting and being hit with a barrage of notifications, vibrating itself off the table. Imagine you pick up the phone and assess the scene... Some of the notifications are memes from friends, some are work emails reminding you of a task you'd forgotten about, some are messages from family asking questions about a thing you were supposed to know about, some notifications are from that self care app you downloaded in an attempt to slow it all down. You only have a short time to respond to everything, so you quickly swipe away the things you think you can get back to later. The things you don't swipe away remind you of something else you needed to do...
So you go into your photo app to grab that picture you need to finish The Thing. You open the app and are met with 'on this day' pictures from a year ago, two years ago, three... You reminisce, screenshot it and share it with That Person. You open the chat with them and realise you didn't respond to their last message yet. You respond to that, send the picture... Then you remember that you were supposed to be doing something before this and you've lost track of what it was.
You put the phone down and try to remember what you were meant to be doing. Walking out into the kitchen, there are takeaway pizza boxes on the dining table, used pots, plates and cutlery on the sides. The dishwasher has been on, and you need to empty it before you can put away the clutter on the sides. Too much. Don't have the time for that now because I'm supposed to be doing That Thing.
You have a task you were setting aside for today, and it sits in your periphery. You're excited to get stuck into it, but you know that once you start it, you'll be absorbed in it for the rest of the day. You decide you better keep trying to figure out what This Thing is before you start Another Thing because otherwise there will be too many Things.
But you can't find the first Thing. The Things build up and are in every element of your professional and home life.
Some time later you take a second to look up and see all the Things you have set aside in the periphery, waiting for the moment you find time/energy to acknowledge them amongst all the other Things. It’s overwhelming. But you’re tired. Tired because you’re constantly on alert for Missed Things, and constantly behind on Other Things. Tired because your brain doesn’t relax and takes on the mental equivalent of the misbehaving hyperactive kid that the teachers hate at school. Tired because of the 29 years of missed diagnosis meaning you haven’t been nourishing your brain with what it needs, and instead have been constantly working to twist and contort it to fit a normalised shape that it doesn’t naturally bend to.
There are a lot of dots being connected for me now that I’ve received this diagnosis, and the reflections and therapy are helping me to address and realise a lot. Some things went on a bit of a hold while this all peaked inside my head, but I’m hoping I’ll be on a downward slope for at least a little while now. This is my public attempt at giving myself some accountability to rebuild a structure for myself - one that fits my needs, and gives me a routine. Going to be aiming for a fortnightly blog on here again - subscribe if you want it straight into your inbox the minute I press submit, and if you’ve read this far then you’re my favourite.