Me and my "best" friend: My ADHD
Updated: Mar 2
I'm a sucker for horoscopes. I listen carefully when I'm purportedly very in or very out of alignment. Which is ... always?
So. About this point in my life right now. In the horoscope my mother sends me (truth — cut out, via snail mail) I'm being told to ... relax. To stop, be lazy. But the flip: This same horoscope says that this is the way to cement a recent cycle of great growth, self-discovery, and achievement.
Very counterintuitive, especially for someone with ADHD.
In therapy this week, I shared that, even when I was deep into my life as a poet, just being in the moment — being still and letting life happen — wasn’t a strong suit. I’m always busy, always working on or toward something… Or, I’m numbing out. That’s a topic for other posts.
In my most on-point poems, I'm not still. I'm possessed. I'm not there. I'm pure fire. And my brain is, too.
So, I’ve never been good at just chilling. When I’d failed out of college and, for years, believed I was not getting anything done, I wasn’t living free and easy. I was drowning in anxiety. Outside looking in, I’d leave jobs and people as it suited me, go follow a band for a few months, whatever. But I was paralyzed.
My ever-gracious therapist asked if, as a person living with ADHD, I have to live extra. Do extra. “Is it a bad thing?” he asked. “Aren’t you, you? You seem very much Haines Eason.”
I love him.
I did feel a lightbulb go off. Or, a door open. I’ve lived with the assumption that my ADHD runs me. Amps me. Makes me doooo and goooo. But, am I doing more … because I have to? How much of my bigness is driven by ambition, and how much is driven by a need to catch up. Not a question. I've settled on "I don't know." And "I like who I am."
I didn’t finish my undergraduate degree until the age of 26. I was arrested a handful of times. I attended four schools to get it done. Completed over 225 credits. Tried, or so it seemed, nearly every liberal arts major out there.
By that age, those imaginary, perfect American kids out there — the ones from my private high school who always seemed to be so poised — they were four or more years into work. Or, they’d wrapped a master’s or PhD. Whatever. I was full-on hooked by the idea that I was falling behind.
“So, I’ve never been good at just chilling,” I told my therapist. “When I’d failed out of college and, for years, believed I was not getting anything done, I wasn’t living free and easy. I was drowning in anxiety. Outside looking in, I’d leave jobs and people as it suited me, go follow a band for a few months, whatever. But I was paralyzed.”
So. Intentionality is the solution, maybe. I go out to the backyard. I sit at the patio. No phone. I wait for a bird, or a breeze. But the bare spots in the lawn, where I’d sown and nurtured a great mat of grass last year but had cheaped out on water… They’d start calling to me.
“Time to rent an aerator. Time to buy seed. And hey, water the damn lawn this year, ya bum!”
Finally, at 42, though. I know I am able to know without judgement that this will happen … and know I am strong enough to let the thoughts flow on. They’re never going to stop. That’s me, me and my ADHD. My head is a bonfire.
So, I’ll try to go sit out back. Just sit. It isn't easy for me. I’ll try my best to not get up, walk around, start doing a small thing that turns into a huge project. No phone. Just the approaching spring, me, and my mind.
We’ll see what happens.