Category: Mental Illness
content warning: suicidal ideation, mentions of suicide, anxiety, and depression.
I was diagnosed with inattentive ADHD back in September of last year and it’s been a whirlwind of acceptance, hurt feelings, and tears. I have an amazing support system that helped me through these last few months. I was also taught how to advocate for myself at a young age, thanks Mom, and knew how to walk the path to a diagnosis.
I have what therapists call good scaffolding. But even with good scaffolding, I struggled through life internally. My masks were strong. They started to crumble around 2014 when I lost my routine after being laid off. ADHD’ers hate routine, yet we thrive on it. We need it to live. But it physically hurts sometimes to follow through. I know how, I just can’t.
In 2015, I added a whole new layer of routine when I started college part-time and worked full-time. I had done this before with very different results. In 2004, at 21, I failed classes, lost friends, ruined relationships, and spent money like I had it. I was embarrassed to talk about failing out of college, but I realize now that I set myself up for failure, being undiagnosed in a world that barely understood ADHD was a failure in itself that I had no control over.
This time around at 34, I was determined to do well. I liked the classes I was taking. I liked my job. My mind was still holding onto negative coping mechanisms and masks that weren’t working. It manifested into migraines, anxiety, and depression. I sought help and was told to break up with my boyfriend and to avoid stress by my gp. Only one of those suggestions was good. I didn’t listen to either. I went to therapy in hopes of fixing myself and was told to do neurotypical solutions. Some of them worked. Most of them failed miserably and I was back to feeling like a failure. Except, I wasn’t failing school or work. I was succeeding. I’m actually smart!
The pandemic stole my routine from me but really, I gave it away willingly. It wasn’t serving me. It was soul crushing. My inability to not cry at every little thing spoke volumes. Those tears said RUN. As fast as possible. Run. You don’t belong here and that’s okay. You belong somewhere else.
I ran straight into my husband’s arms. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him. 2020 would have been my last year alive and I would have left this wonderful life I’m living now behind for what I thought would be peace. It turns out, I was in a mild psychosis from severe depression. Meds were the answer. A more accepting and compassionate inner narrative has been the maintenance. None of this positive thinking crap. Positivity isn’t always compassionate and it isn’t always accepting either. My brain found comfort in death even though my body railed against it.
I’m glad I didn’t leave.
Would you be interested in reading about my diagnosis journey? Would that be helpful?
don’t slap that fish.
cw: mental illness, intrusive thoughts, suicide.
Writing about mental health isn’t necessarily a pleasant process. Usually, there are giant tears rolling down my cheeks as I type about the struggles mental illness comes with. There are people in my life who really don’t like it. They won’t say it in so many words but they tell me by asking me why I do it. Why do I pour my tears onto a page? Because I’m compelled to. I need to write out the struggles so they leave my mind a little breathing room.
The other problem is I’m too blunt. Bluntness can be a dagger just waiting to slice. I don’t mean it to be that way. I just don’t know how to fluff up the information. I’m also at a stage where I’m tired of wading through other people’s crap just to make them feel comfortable when I feel incredibly not. People don’t like that very much.
Talk about the fish! Okay fine, the fish.
I’ve been to Pike Place Market enough times to know that they throw fish there. They make the fish talk and do silly things with them. My first instinct was to walk up to one of those fish and slap it. Straight across its dead little face. For no reason whatsoever. You see, intrusive thoughts are the weirdest little neuron firings. Where the fuck did that come from? I never wanted to slap a fish until I saw them being thrown across a marketplace, I guess.
Intrusive thoughts have confused the fuck out of me since I was little. They weren’t always violent. I was about 7 years old when they started to tell me to jump off things, to harm myself. The anxiety was a way of preserving myself. The anxiety mixed with depression was the recipe for coming up with a plan. How many plans have I had? Too many. How many plans have I told other people? One.
The thing about having chronic anxiety and depression is it’s chronic. I’ve had both for as long as I can remember. I have them because I’m neurodivergent. The answer is simple. Blunt. I developed both as a coping mechanism for being different. I’ve spent the last few years untangling all the mixed wires in my brain to show myself that life doesn’t have to be so loud. I don’t have to slap the fish.
Saying that one plan out loud was enough to seek treatment and finally realize what life is like without either sitting on my shoulders. I don’t have to hate myself. I don’t have to be angry all the time. I still get intrusive thoughts but I know what they are now. They are absurd neurons firing in my brain and not violent little fact nuggets infecting my thoughts and feelings.
i’m a writer.
Content warning: suicide, paragraphs 2, 3, 4, and 9.
My Dad called just now to see if I wanted to go to the CultureCrawl with him. Of course, Dad. I’ll go with you.
He’s reading this sentence now, wondering if I’m going to call him out on something he’s done in his past. Dad, you are a wonderful dad. Do I talk about you in therapy? Yes but I don’t want you to feel bad about that. I talk about Mom too. But mostly, I talk about myself. Obviously. Without therapy, I wouldn’t be alive (also love, family, weed and meds, and cats). We don’t talk about that though, you and I. I am now because I want other people to know they’re not alone. If I failed, they can too.
We don’t have to talk about it. It’s okay. I don’t mind you thinking that I’m just as stable-minded as you. It’s nice. One of my past colleagues told me that he’s never had a headache. I was speechless. How can someone never experience a headache? I have a headache at least once a day. It must be so hard for him to fully understand what a headache feels like. He might never find out.
What’s it like not having intrusive thoughts? To have a brain that doesn’t spiral into nothingness so quickly you don’t even realize you’re crying or frozen in place? What’s it like not having written that note?
Why am I writing this? Is it some sort of public catharsis? I’m compelled to write about it. I’m driven to sit at my desk and type whatever comes to mind. It’s raw and vulnerable and makes people angry with me sometimes. And yet, here I am.
I’ve volunteered for the Surrey International Writers’ Conference for 4 years now and every year I get asked what I write. What am I writing? What am I working on? I have a blog, I say sheepishly. What’s it about? I don’t know, me? Typography and storytelling. I guess? Calling out my family on their past regressions? I didn’t say that last part. Don’t worry.
Usually, I come away from the weekend newly inspired and energized. The workshops spoke to me in some way. This year was a bit different. I loved being there, seeing everyone again, and meeting new people. Watching others be inspired. It’s always magical. It still was but not in a writing way for me. Except when I sat in a workshop about changing your writing style and still keeping your current readers. The instructor said emphatically,
“You’re not an aspiring writer, if you write, you’re a writer.”– Susanna Kearsley
I feel like she was staring directly at me when she said this. She wasn’t but that’s okay. I felt it. So now what? I can’t just pretend I’m not this. I can’t just pretend I don’t have a mental illness(es) either. I can’t just pretend I’m normal. I should say I can’t keep pretending. Instead of feeling inwardly uncomfortable, I now make other people uncomfortable. I’m still learning. Imagine me but with grace. How does she look?
If you have intrusive thoughts, you’re not broken or a bad person. You don’t need or deserve to suffer through them. Please speak to someone you trust about them.
Talk Suicide Canada – Hours: Available 24/7/365 for calls; 4 PM—12 AM ET for texts; Languages: English, French. Learn more. Phone: 1.833.456.4566 SMS: 45645
Blogging is weird. It’s Live Journal* for the masses but it can also be used to sell us stuff, teach us how to bake, knit, weld, whatever you want to learn, and show us the world. Is this an ad for blogging? This sounds like an ad for blogging. The title says “struggling.”, let’s get to the point.
I’m struggling right now.*** I have been diagnosed many times in my life with various illnesses. Being told you have something wrong with you doesn’t get easier. It’s not a round of golf that you can practice. Although, if you go into an anxiety-induced thought spiral, you can practice feeling shame and dread over and over again in your head. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? My mental 200 yard swing is looking pretty good these days. Don’t hit the golf ball cart, they don’t like that.
It’s hard to write those words. I’m struggling. When I spoke those words to certain people in my past, I’d be met with some sort of invalidation. I’m too sensitive. If I had just started sooner, I wouldn’t feel this way. I let it get to this point so deal with it. Get a thicker skin. Come out of my shell. Say how I feel, but not like that. Take a break, alone. Sit over there. Get used to it. I’m ugly when I cry. Why am I like this?**
I was apprehensive about being assessed for ADHD. I would usually go into detail about the process and how I felt throughout but I’m not going to do that in this post. I’m tired of doing that right now. I will though because my experience is valid and people have asked me to share it.
Anyways, I was apprehensive about having to convince multiple medical professionals that I did indeed have ADHD. Here are the facts, over and over again. Please believe me. They did. I found the pros that listened and cared and was able to get diagnosed fairly quickly because I was able to pay $300 to get assessed. Is this blog post trying to sell you an ADHD assessment? NO. It’s a comment on private healthcare. You figure out the comment. I’m feeling rather sarcastic today.
There’s dealing with the diagnosis itself and then there’s dealing with the reactions to the diagnosis. Who do I tell? I’ve already told the internet so who is left? Should I even write this post? What is my blog about? What do you, dear reader, even want to read? I’m off-topic again. See? struggling. I have ADHD but it does not define me. I need to take the time to forgive my past self for not knowing any better and to show her grace and respect for dealing with it all. She gave herself bangs so many times and still didn’t learn how to make them look good. Poor thing.
*LiveJournal is Russian owned? WHAT?
**Yes, these things were said to me. No, not by everyone in my life.
*** I will be okay. I have a support system that loves and respects me. I have a health system that is looking out for my needs. I will be okay.