Over the last few weeks I have had trouble making a new post. I have been thinking a lot about exactly why? I have come up with many actually, but I wanted to talk about one in particular. The idea here will be then to give a little more insight into who I am, in addition to shamelessly make some excuses for not posting in nearly a month. It’s a win-win scenario, don’t you think?
One of the biggest reasons I have had trouble is that I tend to self-sabotage before I ever start. I do this because I have a terrible sense of self-worth. I believe that a large part of the state of my self-esteem has to do with my having ADHD (If I’m losing you, try to stick it out, I promise I’ll bring it all back around). Specifically, I am ADHD-PI; the “Predominantly Inattentive” subtype. Yes indeed, the name of the blog. Yes it’s kind of like using the movie title in the dialogue of the movie, but I’m a corny motherfucker all right? So sue me.
As an aside, this post is going to assume that those reading this already accept that ADHD is even a real thing, along with vaccinations, the moon landing, and/or a spherical earth. If there is interest (har har), I can pick up that conversation at a later date.
Anyway… Many are surprised to learn that there are subtypes of ADHD, which is understandable considering they have only been formally recognized since 2013, when the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fifth Edition) was published. If you haven’t seen them before, here are the symptoms of all three types, courtesy of ADHD Institute – If you’re pretty familiar with these, you can skip this next part:
Combined Type – Diagnosed in those with six or more symptoms of both subtypes (12 total).
Finally, to be appropriately diagnosed, one must have experienced these symptoms causing disruption to one’s life for six or more months.
Now, Obviously ADHD sucks for nearly everyone that has it. But occasionally, someone with ADHD will actually find themselves living a lifestyle that is well suited to their condition. In those cases, not only may they never be diagnosed, it may not even be considered a disorder at all technically speaking. According to the DSM-V “Mental disorders are usually associated with significant distress in social, occupational, or other important activities,” (Psychology Today, 2013).
So I imagine taking an artist with no set schedule, no deadlines, a plethora of simultaneous projects, but also loves to paint. The artist is one that has all of the biology of a person with ADHD, only he or she doesn’t notice, or doesn’t care, that they worked on four different projects in the last hour, or can’t sit still for more than a few minutes at time. Now place that artist into a cubicle and say he/she has to complete 6 TPS reports before the end of the week, and suddenly there’s the ADHD; But in the art studio, there was no “disorder” at all.
Most of us won’t, or can’t, ever be Da Vinci. Most of the daily tasks we have to complete aren’t going to be fun or engaging. Meaning most of the shit that we do, no matter how easy it is, is actually hard fucking work. For those folks (i.e. most folks), ADHD just plain fucking blows. But the worst thing about, it in my opinion, are not those practical manifestations that we struggle with everyday, like one might think.
The worst thing about ADHD, for me, has been the social and emotional ramifications, and I think most ADHD sufferers will agree. It’s getting better these days, but even those with Hyperactive and Combined subtypes have experienced a unique type of skepticism from those around them when they disclose their condition, or even that it exists at all. A skepticism just not showed for most mental disorders (Not to be confused with stigma – different conversation entirely). Simply put, if you’re lucky enough to have the people around you believe in, and that you actually have, ADHD, they just don’t appreciate what it’s like. Or at the very least, usually have terrible misconceptions.
“He’s just a kid, and little boys are naturally hyper!”
“You don’t have ADHD, you’re just being lazy.”
“But Dr. Overprescribes, Susan can pay attention to the things she wants to pay attention to!”
The one about hyper-focus is the one quickest to throw me into a Planet-Hulk-style rage. It’s hard to describe just how terrible this can be, especially during one’s formative years. Watch the first 15 seconds or so of this TED Talk to get an idea if you have the time:
The first time I watched it, I definitely got a little choked up. I just wasn’t expecting shit to get so real right out of the gate. Hearing things like that from people you love every day was enough, but our society at-large was at the same time gas-lighting us. I frequently remember during my childhood and adolescence hearing neighbors, the news, and even my parents, discussing the greedy pharmaceutical industry and corrupt doctors over-prescribing medications of all types. Don’t get me wrong, that was and still is a big problem. But, all the skepticism starts to make you think that, you know maybe I don’t have ADHD. But, what is wrong with me then? Why can’t I just do x, y, and z? Why is it so easy for everyone else? Is my Mom/Dad/Teacher right? Do I just not care enough? But, I really really want to care…
It wasn’t until much later that I understood the sad irony of that last thought.
I often wonder to myself if I would have been spared some of that if I was not the purely Inattentive subtype. If I had some of those other symptoms I showed you from Hyperactivity, would people have been less skeptical? Would people assume that I was just lazy, or stupid, just a little bit less? I’ll never know. But I do believe that these things added up, and added up to be a huge part the crippling low self-worth that I struggle with today. It seems that when you hear something enough, you start to participate in the depreciation. Eventually, you do so even when there’s no one else around. It starts to become a part of your own internal monologue. Do that long enough, and it seeps into your bones. From then on, it simply becomes an understood truth. Like laughter, or gravity. It’s a part of you now.
So how does all this circle back to why it took me so long to put up a post?
Well, when I wrote my first post I was still flooded with excitement at the prospect of finally starting something I have wanted to for a long time. My need to do it finally outweighed my reservations about not believing I had anything to say worth listening to, and that my writing was good enough to warrant text based expression.
After I threw up that first post, I started brainstorming ideas for the next, and I actually had a bunch of ideas. But when I sat down to write any of them, that initial excitement had faded, and those feelings couldn’t quite be silenced or ignored. It’s hard enough as it is for me to motivate myself, but it is much, much worse when things start to feel pointless and embarrassing. Every time I got a very sentences deep, I started second guessing myself. I’ve already noticed some (very) minor traffic, which is great, but it actually discouraged me more. I mean, holy shit, someone might actually read this garbage! Such was the current of my thoughts. It would likely have been a little bit easier if no one had ever shown up here at all.
But now that I’ve finally written another one, I’m hoping the next one will be easier. I’m already feeling better about it.
So a short message to all my attention-deficient, and/or hyperactive-impulsive brethren and sistren, or fuck it, anyone else out there with terrible self-worth, period: Do it. Do that thing you’ve been wanting to do. Fuck that shitty voice in your head. Don’t listen to that terrible inner monologue, that villainous little troll. Start a new monologue. No self-deprecation, but affirmations. Be your own cheerleader, whether you believe it or not. Ignore that feeling in your bones, as best that you can. Let the new monologue seep to the marrow and replace the old blackened shriveled bits your self-esteem.
I am tempted to end on some comic relief, but I won’t. I wanted this message to remain sincere, as corny and cliche’ as it may be. You can do it. It’s okay to fail, and it’s okay to not be perfect. But you can do it. And, god damn it, so can I.