ADHD Voices: Corrin

Photo by Keegan Houser on Pexels.com

When I was 12 years old, back in 1998 before computers and internet access were a household reality let alone necessity, I was sitting in my social studies class as a lecture was going on. My teacher, whose name I can’t remember now (and that is probably for the best), would sit at the front of the class and just talk at us for an hour and it was usually agonizing to sit through if I wasn’t daydreaming.

Thing is I was always daydreaming. And one particular day I was doing just that when she called on me to respond on something she just said. But I had no idea what was going on. I froze like I normally did because that was how I was conditioned. She looked at me with disgust and said I was going to grow up and just flip burgers at McDonald’s for a living. The whole class laughed at me. I was so angry and hurt. I also thought to myself that if she weren’t so boring maybe I’d pay more attention.

Back then I didn’t know I had ADHD, among other things, so that constant daydreaming in her class wasn’t entirely my fault. I didn’t get my official diagnosis for ADHD until May of 2019, when I was 33 years old and in my second year of college. I didn’t even know what ADHD entailed until I really started to struggle. College schoolwork and situational depression were taking their toll.

My psychiatrist didn’t explain all of ADHD’s symptoms to me even when I kept telling her I was struggling to focus and concentrate—that it had always been that way. I thought things should have improved by then since supposedly I was on the right medications for my bipolar disorder.

Everything I know about ADHD I have learned from other ADHDers on Twitter and articles and a book or two. All I had been waiting for and all I needed was an explanation of ADHD and its core symptoms. Suddenly, more of my life made sense. I’m far better off now that I have my ADHD medication and some answers.

Growing up

CW for childhood abuse. I’ll avoid graphic details obviously but I didn’t have a good childhood growing up and ADHD played a role in that. I didn’t deserve to be treated the way I was treated and if you had a bad childhood too and also have ADHD know that you didn’t deserve it either. You should have been loved and cared for unconditionally regardless of what you could or couldn’t do.

Many things were demanded of me and I was constantly set up for failure. One of my two abusers really wanted that anyway, and no one cared enough to look for the underlying problems I was having or to bring me to a mental health care professional.

When I hit puberty, things got worse

I was actually really successful in school up until then, but at the time I didn’t realize it because of many factors: I had always struggled with math, was constantly talking in class, was often caught not paying attention, and had emotional outbursts. A few times I was sent to the school guidance counselor or the special needs teacher in order to relay troubling behavior that was happening at home.

All of these things always got me into trouble at home despite all the A’s and B’s I was getting in school. They didn’t matter because I got a C in math and I was again reported for talking in class. The school reports always said the same thing, “Very bright, but doesn’t try hard enough.” What I heard at home was worse—things a child should never hear from caregivers. When I entered sixth grade I just stopped trying all together, which of course, only made things that much worse.

That wasn’t my fault though and if you have ADHD and was in the same boat I was in, know that it wasn’t your fault either; people should have realized you needed help and love and that you not trying at school was a cry for help. Someone should have helped you. You deserved to be cared for regardless of your behavior.

ADHD and being transgender

I’m transgender; a non-binary trans man who very recently figured out that I have a complex gender dysphoria. I’m talking about this because the emotional issues that come with ADHD played a role in delaying my understanding my gender identity and the complex feelings that I have as a trans person. When you have ADHD you sometimes get stuck with emotions that you have no explanation for feeling and have to play detective and figure out what caused them.

I had many signs growing up that my assigned gender wasn’t what I was.

When I was twelve and sitting in that social studies class, I thought about how I didn’t feel like a girl but I also didn’t feel entirely like a man. I tried to draw that in order to understand my feelings. Someone saw what I was doing and was very cruel to me. In shame I got rid of the drawing and forced myself to not think about it.

At twelve I had no idea what being transgender was let alone that there were more than two genders. I would grow up with a lot of complex feelings and at times a blunt affect for reasons that I couldn’t explain. I thought I was a misogynist because I got angry whenever someone referred to me as a woman or used my deadname–which literally means ‘girl.’ I also got very hostile when my mom wanted me to wear more feminine clothes.

Figuring it out

I never completely made the “I’m non-binary transgender” connection until I was 30 and trying to work through some trauma in a workbook designed for women that my therapist gave me. I was being very snarky—so angry at having to fill out questions that I wasn’t really thinking about my responses to them. Then I got to a question that asked, “What makes you a woman?” Before I realized what I was doing I very angrily wrote “I’m not a woman” in jagged, frantic letters. I remember freezing after that and thinking, “Wait, what? What does that mean?” and spending the rest of the day contemplating what I was if not a woman.

That day was four years ago, and the time in between has been, well, somewhat odd. I realized I was non-binary that day, but it wasn’t until months later that I realized I was transgender. I came to that conclusion when I realized that the only reason I wanted my breasts was because my marriage partner liked them. I certainly didn’t, and don’t. Thankfully my marriage partner, or my ringmate as I call him, loves me for me—regardless of my gender and how I present. Due to the emotional dysregulation from my ADHD, I didn’t realize I had such complex dysphoria until a month ago just before I turned 34.

~~~

Having ADHD has made life quite a trip and I’m still figuring things out. If you are struggling to figure things out and need someone to talk to, you can reach out to this stranger on the internet at @ArtistSomeday on Twitter. I may not know what to say but I will certainly listen and care about your problem and hopefully help you find an answer or something like it.

~~~

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

~~~

Looking for more great ADHD content?
Check out all of Jamie’s platforms:

ADHD Voices: Kenny

Photo courtesy of Kenny Vasquez

I was diagnosed with ADHD in April 2018 at 36 years of age, but I always knew that I had ADHD. When I was four my mom asked the pediatrician to prescribe something that would calm me down. His answer was, “Ma’am, do you really want your kid to be a drugged-up dummy?” People would comment on how fidgety I was or that I was an excellent “multi-tasker”, and I would say that it was because I had ADHD. In fact, I would often tell people that I wasn’t going to bother getting diagnosed because it didn’t affect my life. Ah, the bliss of being young, dumb, and growing up in the 80’s.

Life between birth and 22 was full of ignorance and bliss. Aside from constantly getting in trouble for daydreaming and talking, life was easy and carefree. At 23 I got married and realized that having someone depend on you really puts a spotlight on how bad your ADHD is. Getting to places late, not paying bills on time, mounting to-do items at home, etc. Not to mention that ADHD also impacts my emotions and temper. This was the beginning of 15 years of fights, most of which occurred because we were battling my ADHD without knowing it. 

The day my first son was born was one of the happiest of my life, but I quickly became overwhelmed. Since my ADHD brain easily becomes bored and is always looking for something new, I accepted a job overseeing distribution in Central and South America, which began a period of traveling for work every two weeks. I also accepted heavy religious responsibilities within my local congregation. I didn’t know how to say no. I tried my best, struggling to be a good father, but really felt my failures as a husband.

At 29, I just couldn’t deal with my life as it was. I quit my job to find something that required no travel and I dropped all religious responsibilities. This allowed me to focus more on my family, but I still faced a couple of major problems. I was still living with undiagnosed ADHD, remaining the same unreliable person my wife had been tolerating since we got married. On top of that, this was the first time that I felt like I had truly failed. I didn’t realize it (or I was in denial) at the time, but I was suffering from secondary depression and anxiety as a result of ADHD. These would persist for the next nine years and would affect my family life, stunt my professional growth, and worst of all, cause me to strongly consider taking my own life. I came dangerously close to attempting it on more than one occasion. 

In October of 2014, we were blessed with our second little boy. Then in February of 2016 I was recruited by a financial services firm with the prospect of being a sweat equity partner and I accepted. This was one of the most emotionally and financially draining, difficult and disappointing experiences of my life. Not only did I not make the kind of money I was expecting, but it also caused the largest issues my marriage had ever seen.

However, it was also the catalyst that helped me turn everything around.

See, I had forgotten just how talented and smart I could be. ADHD made me think I was a failure because I started and dropped so many projects. In the words of so many teachers and employers, I was not working to my potential. Although that particular opportunity did not work out in the end, I excelled at my position and started feeling like I could be capable of great things. I had not felt like that in a long time. 

Finally, in April of 2018, at 36 years of age, I realized that perhaps my ADHD was affecting me a little more than I thought. I was diagnosed, started on medication, and things started to get better. Medication made a huge difference in my life. The first drug prescribed was a stimulant, which allowed me to focus and concentrate like never before. But I realized that it was only a band-aid, addressing some of the mental aspects of ADHD but not resolving the underlying issues it had caused.  

In August of 2019 everything changed. I was accepted into a clinical trial for a very promising non-stimulant ADHD drug. It allowed me to think clearly for the first time in my life. I started to give serious thought to major events that had happened in my life and the results were painful. My wife begged me to see a therapist. I resisted fiercely but eventually relented and went. I am so grateful to my wife because therapy has truly changed my life. I have begun the immense task of purging 36 years of pent-up feelings and frustrations, and although at times this is painful, I have never felt better.

Today, even on medication, I still have days where I am wholly unmotivated. I struggle with my emotions and self-confidence and it feels like I am trudging through mud. But at least now I know why and I know how to fight those feelings. I have the tools, the support, and the motivation. 

I have 36 years to make up for and I am just getting started. 

~~~

Kenny can be found as @TheADHDExec on Twitter and YouTube

~~~

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

~~~

Looking for more great ADHD content?
Check out all of Jamie’s platforms: