Squirrel Brain

My name is Midge, and I got a bad case of the ADHD.

This is a blog for my people, and the poor folks we’ve suckered into putting up with our shenanigans.

ADHD is a nasty bitch of a condition, and as far as I can reckon, it’s the only one sufferers have to convince people they have. Despite decades of research, countless studies in the fields of psychology and neurobiology, and the effectiveness of devised treatment methods, many of us still find ourselves begging our friends and family members to PLEASE BELIEVE ME. Many ADHDers are closeted, afraid of being told yet again that they’re looking for the easy solution; that if they just tried harder, they could succeed; that medication is a “crutch”; that they’re emotionally fragile, and need to toughen up.

Here’s the thing, though: We want nothing more than to focus and take care of business, because existing in a constant state of panic over missed deadlines and disorganization is exhausting.

The struggle is real, turds. And we live it 24-7.

Not to say it’s all bad, and I deffo want to explore the benefits of this particular flavor of neuroatypicality (aww, yeah – that’s a word I just used). That being said, this is a disorder, so let’s not fucking kid ourselves. I think it’s safe to say the majority of sufferers would WAY rather not have to deal with this nonsense. For every benefit we see (change agility! multi-tasking ability! creativity!), there’s a whole mess of challenges tagging along for the ride (anxiety! lack of focus! impatience!) that make handling basic life tasks a giant pain in the ass.

I’m 41 years old now, and until my diagnosis and treatment, I was living life on expert mode. (BOOM! BLOG TITLE!) And it wasn’t just me; anyone I lived with, dated, worked with, or befriended got to share in the ADHD funtimes. I’ll get into all of the details over time, but to start, lemme tell you what this looked like for me when I was a kid (and hold on to your ass, because I’m about to get my rant on):

I was assessed as “gifted” in elementary school back before the internet was a thing, in the early 80’s. One day each week, they would bus us smartypantses over to a special Gifted & Talented program, where we would spend time with other precocious kiddos and learn advanced skills outside the normal curriculum. I loved those days, working with a teacher who specialized in giftedness education, in an environment full of kids whose brains worked at the same pace as mine. There were problems, though. Big ‘uns.

My particular flavor of ADHD presents primarily as inattentiveness, time blindness, chronic disorganization, impulse control issues, heightened sensitivity, hyperfocus, excessive chattiness, and shitty, shitty, shitty short-term memory. In 5 years of GT, I never once turned in an assignment complete and on time, and I couldn’t understand how it was seemingly so easy for everyone else to stay on track. My Korean mom is a classic “tiger mom” (a term I use with love, because above all, it means commitment to your child) inadvertently made things worse; the notion that there might be something other than a character flaw making it difficult for me to perform at the level of my peers didn’t even enter her mind, since learning disabilities aren’t really a thing in Asia. I was able to focus when I was practicing piano and voice, or when I was reading a book (thanks, hyperfocus!), so why not in the classroom?

When I was at “regular school”, things were even worse. I’d get my classwork done in minutes, then distract other kids with the random thoughts that would fly through my head and out my face hole. Because I was labeled gifted, the small-town Indiana teachers unlucky enough to be stuck with me decided I was just a bad egg who was too smart and mouthy for her own good. Rather than consider that there might be a legitimate reason for the way I acted, they installed a folding screen in a corner of the principal’s office and stuck a desk behind it, facing a blank wall. When I was done with my classwork, I’d be banished to the desk and left for hours, isolated and staring at a field of cinder blocks painted institutional green. (Note to self: might be a good topic for another post: “What Shitty Fucking Thing Did Your Shitty Fucking School Do To You When You Were an Undiagnosed Kid?”) If you know anything about ADHD, you’re aware that intolerance to low-stimulation situations is a big-ass problem for us, so being stashed away in that corner was tortuous for Tiny Midge. The funnysad thing is, I never once thought that I might not deserve it. It was my fault for not being like the other kids. I just needed to try harder. To apply myself. To quit being lazy, and live up to my potential.

Fer chrissakes.

(Funny story: It was my shrink’s reaction when I told her about my screened-in corner that finally made me realize how fucked up  it was. Dr. S., you’re the wind beneath my wings.)

I’ll spin out more of the story over time; it starts getting reeeeeal weird in the 90’s (spoiler alert: heroin is a hell of  a drug). I just hope I can manage to keep up on posting; follow-through isn’t a strong suit for people whose stupid brains work the way my stupid brain does. But I think this is important. I need an outlet for all the crazy-ass shit running through my head; and if even one person reads this and gets a little comfort in seeing someone else shares their experiences and struggles, I’ll be one happy squirrel-brained lady.

I love you all,

Midge

P.S. Here are some first lines I considered using for this post. Feel free to point out in the comments how any or all of them would have been a better choice than the one I settled on:

“Welcome to my blog about adult ADHD! I hope it sparks some good conversa…SQUIRREL!” – rejected for lack of originality

“Hello. This is a blog. My name is Midge. So, this is Midge’s blog. Yup.” – rejected for idiocy

“The DSM-5 defines ADHD as…” – rejected because it made me want to kick my own ass

“At the dawn of time, humanity harnessed the power of fire, and the world was changed forever. In 2016, I harnessed the power of Adderall, and now my world will never be the same.” – I don’t even know what the hell is happening here

3 thoughts on “Squirrel Brain

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