It’s hard to articulate after so many years, but I remember noticing I had attention issues my first year of middle school. I had noticed something was off earlier, but I had never heard the term. I got good grades, so it was hard to make my family understand. I remember going home once I learned more about the disorder and trying to tell them, but they said, “your grades are great- you don’t have ADHD.”
I didn’t officially get diagnosed until I was fifteen, and my problems had gotten noticeably worse. I was self-medicating a lot. I had a lot of trouble with school, but I maintained good grades by shutting myself off and spending hours forcing myself to finish assignments and teach myself the material. I hardly slept during high school, and I felt like I was walking on eggshells in almost every situation. The lack of sleep took a huge toll on my mood; I was exhausted with racing thoughts constantly, and my temper got ridiculous. I felt like a ticking time bomb half the time, and the other half, I just felt like I was alone.
After getting diagnosed and prescribed medicine, it got a lot easier to quiet my thoughts in general. I used to (and sometimes still do) get scolded constantly for all sorts of things that I didn’t realize were symptoms; things like fidgeting or moving all the time, talking rapidly, being loud, and blurting out answers in class.
This all has made me a very reserved adult. I get self-conscious and scared to speak in groups, and I bite my tongue a lot. When I am feeling more energetic, I tend to talk a lot, and I have trouble realizing how loud I can get when I’m excited. A lot of people have made me feel like it’s a negative trait and even though that is now the idea that it’s bad is ingrained in my brain, that’s not something I agree with.
I think it’s kind of cool to still have the ability to get excited like a child. I’ve noticed a lot of people I know don’t seem to have that ability, but I still get anxious about those qualities showing themselves to people. I feel like others are going to react negatively and make me feel like I should be ashamed about how I am.
I’ve found ways to cope and try to keep my symptoms in check, but it often feels like I have to give up a lot of myself to appease others. I find that I tend to avoid situations where I have to be in crowds or around strangers because a lot of the time, when I try to be social or make friends, they seem overwhelmed with me or appear to do things that make me feel like I’m being scolded again or being “too much.”
I get uncomfortable when I get into conversations at work because I’m in customer service, and I can be kind of all over the place with conversation. I overthink constantly, and I often feel like when I try to vocalize my thoughts to friends, they don’t understand me or what I’m saying. I feel like people who know me tend to tune me out when I talk because they’re used to me talking so much, and it seems so random to them that they don’t seem to care or listen to what I have to say most of the time.
I feel like nobody understands me a lot of the time–when I talk, what I mean, or just in general. It makes opening up and connecting to others very difficult because it makes me sad when I feel that way, so a lot of the time, I don’t even try. At this point in my life, it takes me ages to actually open up and make friends, and I think people get tired of trying well before I get there. It’s difficult for me to process things and articulate what I mean in a way that others understand, so it’s easy for me to feel lonely when the few people I am close to are busy or aren’t around.
I think my life has gotten easier by knowing what to look for in my behavior and how my brain works, but it’s far from easy. It seems a lot of people don’t have much knowledge of ADHD, so they don’t know how to be present or helpful. Having the knowledge has helped me because I can find support from other people who also have ADHD, and I can research general symptoms and supports myself. It’s helpful because I have a place to start. I wish people were more educated and understanding of neurodiversity, so people like me could feel more comfortable and more accepted in general.
If you’d like to connect with Deighton,
she can be found as @DeightonHeath on Twitter
ADHD Voices is a series dedicated to sharing the stories of folks like you and me who have ADHD. Posts in the series are written by guest authors, sharing windows into their lives and struggles, written by them, for you and me. If you’d like to share your story, please contact me on social media or through my email, ADHDsurprise @ gmail.com
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