My last post, more than two months ago, wasn’t optimistic. The feelings of worthlessness, futility, the experience of having jobs and careers slither from your hands, the certainty that nothing sticks and nothing ever will. The addictive behaviours–binge eating being the worst of them. The moodiness and extreme reactions. The depression and chronic anxiety. The frequent accidents and the near-accidents caused by inattention and daydreaming. The fact that I lose stuff, break stuff, can’t seem to finish a task even if it’s as simple as hanging the washing. The house that’s a mess, and the insomnia, the chronic fatigue, the mental haze of just existing in a barely functional state.
Apparently, it all has a simple–and very obvious–answer. My friends were right: ADHD. A clear-cut case–a belter, actually. Never diagnosed in childhood because, apparently, I was a gifted kid who just glided through twelve school years without putting too much effort into it. Never mind that I always drew or fidgeted during lessons. Never mind that I could never sit still or kept talking and interrupting people. Who cared? I got good grades without even trying. Nothing to see here, folks.
And after school? Well, it got worse. Until, two years ago, I got burnout.
I’ve been trying to find out what’s wrong since then, and I finally have my diagnosis.
But who knew anything about adult ADHD in the late 90s in Greece? Who could have imagined? Nobody, and nobody did.
“You only achieved so much,” the psychiatrist said, “because you’re highly gifted. With that level of ADHD, it’s impressive that you managed to get a PhD and to have a functional family.” What’s no wonder at all is that I never could keep a job. And I couldn’t write scientific papers without being guided by a strong supervisor. Quite understandable, in hindsight.
It’s also no wonder that I can write a full novel when I’m focused. It’s the phenomenon of hyperfocus: you don’t do anything else for a couple months, you obsessively live and breathe your task. That’s why I still can’t bring myself to sit and write my next book right now. My family needs me.
So, what now? Medication. Therapy. Better care of my health–I’ve had some health issues that won’t go away that easily, I’m afraid.
I told the psychiatrist I didn’t want to look for a job right now. Damn right, she said. With that level of ADHD, we need to get the medication straight first.
The best part of all of this? The guilt is melting away. The guilt of not being disciplined, not having my ducks in a row, not being able to stick to a job, not managing to continue learning a language, or clean my house, or earn money to contribute to the family finances, or be organized and tidy, calm and not moody.
“It’s not your fault,” the psychiatrist said. “None of this.” Not the addictive behaviours, not the way you confuse people by constantly changing the subject, none of it.
“You’re highly gifted. You’re not living up to your potential,” she said. “But we can change that.”
One thought on “The simple, and yet hard-earned, explanation of it all”
My brother has had ADHD all of his life. And all the behaviors you describe, that is him to a tee. He often means well with many of his actions, but those actions fall short when he cannot focus.
This article is a gentle reminder of what ADHD sufferers go through and I thank you for sharing it.