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Round 7: I’m Not Dead! Just Like Seven Billion Other People

October 11, 2013

The following is a copy-paste of a reply I wrote on a friend’s post about mental disorders. Now edited so there aren’t [i] and [b] tags everywhere! I’d also like to say, for the record, that any ads you see floating around here aren’t mine. I have nothing to do with them and I can’t stop then without paying gobs of money. Probably not gobs, but a non-zero amount, which is more than what I have unless it’s rent or sushi. Ahem. Would you kindly continue.

Funny you mention it, there was a Cracked article I just read today about OCD and how most people’s view of it is total bullshit. I presume the author is a sufferer therein based on the narrative style and context clues.

As for ADD, it and it’s subsets have been rolled into an umbrella “ADHD” category, with emphasis on hyperactive, inattentive, or combination. Mostly a categorical change. Diagnosis and what not is basically unchanged.

I believe, according to personal review and not-quite professional analysis, that I have a touch o’ the ADHD. I’m not as bad as what you describe in your post up yonder, but there are signs that I wouldn’t have recognized until I read up on it.

The stereotype ADHD kid is the bugger in class who can’t stay in his seat and forgets things all the time or chases after squirrels instead of girls at recess. I can sit, even as a child, pretty much forever. The catch to that is something has to be moving; I have to twiddle my thumbs, shake my leg, tap my fingers – I’m rubbing my feet against themselves as I type this and I don’t think I can stop without feeling wrong somehow.

If my body stops my mind kicks up. Pieces of songs, TV shows, movies, conversations, inconsequential memories from 15 years ago all start co-mingling in my frontal lobe taking up my otherwise prodigious processing power. Just now, even, I stopped my feet and started staring into space thinking about some stupid thing I can’t even remember now with a Jimmy Eat World soundtrack playing on top of it. 30 seconds between beginning and ending the sentence, and the subject of my zone out was gone just that fast.

When I was a kid I would sometimes, rarely, feel the compulsion to move, with big bold letters, yes. It wasn’t a want, like, “I’d like to play outside, yay!” It was a need as deep and dear to me as the breath in my lungs. I’m not athletic and I’ve been plagued with allergies and almost-asthma my entire life, but when that spirit of movement came over my watch the fuck out because I’m couldn’t stop. It felt great, really. Not having my throat constrict, feeling the wind rush through my air by virtue of my own leg power. It really was amazing. The last time it happened was sixth grade, I think. One night in the field behind my house I ran and I ran and I ran and nearly chased down the local Freshman track…not star, but guy I guess, which is still pretty impressive for a sixth grader.

I did great in school, too, right up until I dropped out of high school with one semester until graduation. I’m quite bright, you see; though I can’t play music to save my life. Working on trying again though. I played viola for two years. In retrospect some of my difficulties there were likely due to more than just not having a talent for music. I was having issues learning my notes and reading the music. “Issues” is putting it lightly. I was an extremely well behaved, disciplined kid, but as soon as I hit that roadblock (possibly my first real one outside of Mega Man boss fights) I broke down. I couldn’t do anything. I was paralyzed by the shame, or guilt, or maybe it was unbridled frustration. More than just frustration I was encumbered by a deep, unfeeling sadness. I had been sad before, of course, but this clung to my insides like a sickness. It still happens to this day and my academic and social life have suffered for it. I’ve lost entire semesters and squandered rare visits from dear friends. It’s only gotten worse as time has passed. At my absolute lowest there are times when I consider being just a little more reckless on my motorcycle. Just a little extra.

Just enough.

And then I’ll be fine a week and a half later. The storm will pass and I’m my usual chipper, leg twitchy self again. I’m coming off of one of those swings right now. I can function at my normal levels. I do my homework, pay my bills, text my friends and have a jolly laugh about stupid shit. That will last for about eight weeks and then back down the hill I go.

My research tells me that ADHD often manifests other disorders to go along with it, most often depression and anxiety. These are called “co-morbid” disorders, as they would not necessarily manifest without the enabling disorder. As a child I never would have noticed the patters and emotions for what they were. Even now, knowing what I know, on my upward spirals I sometimes entertain denial. But only entertain; never embrace. On rare occasion during my childhood I mentioned the depth of my sadness to my family. They listened, and were concerned, and even tried to cheer me up more often than not! But nobody recognized any deeper currents. As an adult I still find myself frustrated when I open up to my loved ones during my downward spirals. They still try to cheer me up, and – bless their ignorant hearts – offer to listen if I need to talk. But there’s nothing to talk about. I can’t negotiate with the clouds on my horizon. They come, bleed hollow sadness into my life, and then they leave.

I’ve finally mustered what resolve I have and am actively seeking a properly qualified professional for diagnosis. This is likely going to be expensive with no insurance. The cost now will hopefully be offset by future gains; my academic and employment futures no longer being in constant jeopardy should be relief enough to justify the expenditure.

For honesty and posterity I must confess that I have taken ADHD medication without a doctors prescription on more than one occasion. I must also confess that those were a couple of the best days of my life. Being clear, and calm, and focused, I moved from task to task with all the finesse of an ice skater. No depression awaiting me on the horizon. No anxiety. Just me and what the hell ever I wanted in my head at the time. Complete control over my mental and physical faculties. Complete bliss if ever I did envision it.

Thanks guys, for letting me vent this here. I didn’t intend my reply to be so enormous or personal, but here we are.

 

~ Rao

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