September 8, 2013

This is What it’s Like to Live With ADHD.

Sometimes my thoughts get stuck in my throat.

I can feel them piling up in there, lodged and frightened.

My jaw gets achy and my neck feels tight and constricted.

The muscles that run from my shoulder blades to the base of my skull act as levers that perpetually hold my shoulders up, making the weight that’s placed upon them that much more uncomfortable to bear.


And then there are times when my voice is a raging echo.

I holler.

I yell.

I cry.

My throat becomes a tunnel—no, a vacuum—that purges the winds of hell out through my mouth and into the ears of the people that I love.

At times like these, my throat feels hot and raw and unsteady—I am unsteady.


My husband says that I too frequently give him the final draft.

The rough copies, of course, have been floating around in my head for days—for weeks or months even—and yet my mind rolls these around until the point of exhaustion, when I can contain and inspect them no longer, and then—boom!these thoughts explode…into words.


Words are impactful.

Words are sources of great misery and pain and also elation and deliverance.

There is intense, insane power contained within your words.

So why do we throw them around so easily, so effortlessly—so carelessly?


It’s unfortunate—my frequent inability to hand out rough drafts and go through life on a more even keel.

I tend to hinge between quietly calm strength and, well, being unhinged.

Because I’m intense.

This word was recently used to describe the presence that I bring with me into a room when I appear.

It was also brought to my attention that I’m often unconscious of how threatening such an intensity can be—and I think that’s why I hand out these final copies.

Because when do you spare those around you from your constant barrage of internal chatter and your occasionally overwhelming internal fire and when are you hiding things away from them?

In case you’ve never experienced ADHD, or you haven’t  loved someone like this, this is what I’m describing to you: what it feels like to have internal hyperactivity and then try to pretend that you’re normal and not you—because you is someone entirely different from most of the people around you.

You are quick-witted yet impatient. You are passionate and intense. You are honest or, more accurately, unfiltered and, possibly, you are also unable of censoring yourself when you want to and really should.

So how do you learn to open up and be you when who you are is often too much for those other people?

And by too much I mean that when you walk into a room, your presence is palatable and obvious. This fiery energy of yours is nearly impossible to completely contain and others can feel it.

Sometimes they’re drawn to it and they don’t even know why.

At other moments, they’re uncomfortable and it’s not something that you did or said.

So basically you flit between attracting people like magnets and repelling them like magnets too.

And how do you deal with this?

Do you take medication? Do you exercise? Do you spend time in nature, where regular stimulation ironically provides you with a softness that feels a lot like peace?

Do you say screw fitting in to the world?


And maybe you do all of these things at different times.

You learn to accept who you are and the way that you work, even when those “others” around you lack this same understanding.

You explore the yogic concept of non-attachment to the reactions and feelings of others, and then you recognize that non-attachment doesn’t mean that you lack sympathy or selflessness so you  seek to re-learn this concept, newly applied with more balance between self-centeredness and sensitivity.

And you struggle.

You often wish that you were like most other people, and, at the same time, you shirk labels, boxes and limitations for yourself.

And this isn’t what it’s like for everyone to live with ADHD—it’s what it’s like for you (because we’re individuals and not a category and, besides, there are actually several sub-categories anyways, you know),

And because, as it turns out, you are not so different after all.

No, you discover, instead, that we all struggle.

We all fight with ourselves and, though we may be fighting different battles, it’s actually how you handle this process of struggle that’s important.

So you accept it when you’re called someone with ADHD, but you refuse to see yourself as anything but the person who you really are.

And your moving, typing fingers stop racing to meet your brain and you slow down and finally still.

You click save and decide to share this—your rough draft—because this is your story, for right now at least.

Sure, it will change and it will evolve, but you’ve decided to continue sharing these rough copies as they form and shift.

And that’s exactly what you want, more than anything else: for those others (for you, yes, you) to curiously and lovingly exchange papers with me.

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Ed: Sara Crolick


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