“I want to break free. I want to break free…” -Queen
Somedays I find myself singing this song, or at least these first two lines over and over and really wanting to break free from the life I have built but not really understanding why.
When I was in the second grade, way back in the mid 1980s, my teachers and mom decided something was wrong with me. I couldn’t sit still, I talked REALLY fast, I was smart but couldn’t focus long enough to satisfy the adults around me, so I was taken to the Child Study Center and diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
There wasn’t a lot of information at that time, just the basic, “Don’t eat sugar” and “Here’s your Ritalin.” I won’t get into all that here, but as I grew, I chose to stop taking the meds and try to learn to live with the brain I had. This certainly wasn’t easy, but I really didn’t like the meds and thought I could learn to control myself.
It seems in recent years a lot more people are either being diagnosed or are self diagnosing and speaking out about their symptoms through social media. I began seeing these videos as I scrolled through my feed and was a bit blown away. There were women in their 30s being diagnosed and finding help and encouragement and passing it on. I have seen a few videos complaining of late diagnoses because so much could’ve been done earlier. As one diagnosed early, the information just wasn’t there to make it easier.
Now, in my mid forties, I am recognizing the symptoms are just what I considered my quirks, my personality, my toxic behaviors learned in childhood, etc.
I began sending some of the videos to my husband, to which he replied, “Do they know you!? How do they KNOW you!?” We laughed a lot but the immense relief has been overwhelming.
I have spent so many years trying to learn to be like everyone else, judging and condemning myself when I said something ridiculous or behaved a bit too hyper. I took the blame when someone decided I was too much to deal with. I built walls and hid myself and kicked myself when it became too much to hold in and I exploded in the wrong place with the wrong people. This is where I wanted to break free, to unashamedly share with others who I am and the craziness that goes on in my head and then be accepted.
Through this journey, I have built a few close friendships and shared some of these videos them. I have smiled and felt a great relief when they replied, “This is SO you!” Then laughed with me.
I am also amazed at how many people around me have seen more than I thought they did, how much I thought I was hiding was seeping out. Yet, they still accept me.
Knowing I have people that see me, accept me, and enjoy my quirky personality have allowed me to begin to break free from the life I have been trying so hard to conceal.
It is time to emerge from my desire to be “normal” and enjoy the qualities that I now know are connected to my amazing ADHD.
For those that don’t understand, that’s okay, too. Enjoy your quiet mind, because mine is running fast enough for the both of us.
As a side note, I am writing this 3 days before it is set to publish. As the Plaid editor, I had to put my name on the calendar to make myself focus on this article that has been swirling in my head for a while. I have sat down to write it so many times, but the words weren’t there yet. Today they were, along with a lot of other words and back stories, and distractions, and anxiety…
If you are interested in checking out any of the videos I’ve been watching, my favorite has been Katie.adhd on instagram. And since “they” have such great tracking, once you look her up, you will have so many more options pop into your feed, I don’t think I need to add more.