How I made ADHD my strength, and why it matters for you. #1
I calmly approached the front of the now silent class, about faced to my already raging teacher, dropped my pants, and gave him a full moon that he would likely never forget. I then casually pulled them back up and walked out, leaving both my teacher and my class speechless.
I was that kid; you know the one. That little bastard you don’t want your children to hang around with. That naughty kid who will never amount to anything, and you know what?, for 20 years of my life I pretty much believed them. But, in true ADHD form, at least I was sure to never disappoint. I was caned, screamed at, suspended, expelled, isolated from my peers, pulled off my chair and dragged around the room in front of my class by my hair to name a few things. But do you know what? I not only survived relatively unscathed, I eventually thrived and there are a few things which I learned along the way that I would like to share with you.
But before I do, you need to know something about me. I have what they call Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Before diagnosis at the age of 25, I amounted achievements such as, and not limited to; flunking school, dropping out of college and not holding a job or a relationship. But one thing which I almost never strayed from, was the unwillingness to give up, a conviction to always learn from life and to move on. Life can be a shit of a place, but I want to share some of what I have learned along the way which has led to what I now consider to be a pretty amazing life.
Life ain’t easy and it likely never will be. Shit gets hard, often significantly harder for yourself than others and it will never be fair. If there is a rock in your way on your path through life, move it and keep going forward. No matter how hard life gets, remember this: “Every person you know has some kind of fucked up weakness or imperfection which you likely don’t know of and they ain’t gonna go out of their way to tell you about.” One can’t stop cheating on his wife, the other has some kind of weird porn fetish which will soon cause her to lose her job, and that guy, yeah him, you know? The one down the street from you, he has a gambling addiction and just sold his kid’s motorbike so he could place a another bet.
People ALWAYS show their best face to others. They have the big house and a great car, maybe even a picture perfect plastic wife and the appearance that their life couldn't be better. What they aren’t telling you is the cost of their mortgage repayments, their marital problems, or the myriad of other real life issues they face every day.
Know when to go easy on yourself and when to get tough. No human can be Arnold Schwarzenegger every day. That guy is inhuman. I learned at the lowest of my low points that some days you HAVE to give permission to go easy on yourself. Ask what it is that you really need to do for your own well being on that day and do it. Take it one day at a time and don't be too hard on yourself when you burn out, it happens to all of us. On one day I would choose to do nothing, I might sleep all day or watch The Lord of the Rings extended (yes all of them). Then the next day I might go spend time outdoors and eat something healthy. Give yourself permission to do what's right for yourself for no other reason than it is best that you do so.
My struggles throughout my early life, though, had taken a heavy toll on me and was not without consequence. At the ripe old age of 20 I was far beyond breaking point. I had done more drugs than you or your friend combined and would wander the fields eating magic mushrooms trying to have insights into life. I was bound by what I was yet to discover was my greatest asset.
I was a tree, bending in the wind, but in the end, that tree broke.
As Laurence Fishburne (Morpheus from the Matrix) said, “Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.” (Sorry Laurence if you read this, for taking that selfie at that liquor store with you looking dazed and confused behind me. It was Morpheus man and I have ADHD, I do dumb shit before I even have time to think about it.)
Not only was I yet to discover that I had ADHD and that it was my strength, but that it would take a drug, in part, before I could properly manage it.
Learning about my condition, re-framing it so that it was a strength and getting help was the catalyst I needed to finally break free. In my next post I will talk about my teens, depression and diagnosis. Everybody has their own personal battles in life that they have to overcome. Life is hard for everyone to varying degrees. My life so far has been a walk in the park compared to some, and perhaps harder next to others. One thing that we have in common is that we are here together, all trying to make a go of it. If we allow our selves to be bound by our weaknesses like a ball and chain then we have given up on life and we begin to stagnate. Positive change really is the spice of life and nothing truly valuable comes without hard work and conviction.
Your comments, thoughts and advice below are all greatly appreciated. I hope you enjoyed reading this, and if so let me know because I have not even began to scratch the surface of my story. I am passionate about promoting awareness of ADHD and would enjoy making regular blog posts like this one.