You know what's weird? When you make a new discovery and it completely changes the way you view yourself, your life, your history, events that happened, jokes made, judgments, misunderstandings, confusions, heartbreak. When those things that were interpreted as one thing and basically one thing only and sat that way on the shelf of your memory. (Autocorrect wanted that to be "shed" and I like that too. On the shelf in your memory shed, collecting dust.) But only to have new light "shed" (it was meant to be) on all of those things. And you take them off, one by one, every single day since discovering that new light, and examine them, your view of them completely different. One by one. Again and again. Hundreds of things. Thousands of things. Things you forgot were there. Things you carried with you. With new understanding, new pain, new heartbreak, and a chance for reconciliation, growth, the shedding (I'm really getting my money's worth out of this word today) of old things. A chance for rebirth this new look brings. It is... so weird.
Julian and I have always had so many things in common. From the early bizarre days of same-smelling poop (you're welcome) to how we experience emotions, our shared senses of humor which I've been inclined to attribute more to nurture rather than nature but now I'm not sure, and generally how our brains work. Subtle things. Things hard to explain, that jog up forgotten or even subconscious things. But just things I've understood on a very deep, visceral level. Felt, rather than explained or fully described.
When he was 8 years old, he was diagnosed with ADHD. This was five years ago. And just before my 42nd birthday, so was I. It took me until he was almost 12 to have the thought finally occur to me, given all our similarities, understanding him on a subconscious level, that maybe this thing was my thing too. For a full year I studied and researched and made new discoveries, learned words for things, connected them to many many dots in my past, and illuminated myself to this new explanation. Every single day, just swimming exhaustive laps in this new immersion, slammed with influxes of revealing information. I cried a lot. I grieved a lot. I exclaimed joyfully like an illuminated and determined scientist or detective. Tacking up new evidences on the pin board of my brain and tying dozens of strings to and from and around them all. Feeling insane, questioning everything, refuting my own propulsion, my own interpretation, which felt almost like gaslighting myself. I begged for Sean to understand and, ever on my side, thoughtful and observant, he blessedly did. He listened to me and he believed me. He supported me and he saw it too--backed me up and said yes, you are not crazy. Yes, this makes sense. Yes, it's a big deal. Yes, it doesn't change how I feel. He'd been there for the Julian ride. He saw the both of us and saw the weird connection and similarities. It wasn't surprising. A lot of it was really funny, actually. Very laughable discoveries. A lot of them feeling like, no, doi. (trying to bring back "doi")
Since then I've done so many webinars, participated in virtual summits, listened to so many podcasts, read so many articles. I've joined Facebook groups and virtual book clubs, online communities. I've been working my guts out with this kid so I intimately know how it works in him. And though we are similar, we are not identical. He has his journey and I have mine and they are ongoing, with potential discoveries still yet to be made. Parsing out our differences and knowing how to attribute the complexities of our natures is not an easy task. Or even possible, probably. Not everything is to be explained. But once you find yourself going down a road filled with new answers to a billion new heretofore unrealized questions, answers that have names, medical terms, official reasons why, it is hard to stop.
I have filled my brain with an astounding amount of new information. I had been on this path already for him. But now that I was a participant, a specimen to examine with decades of history to make sense of, it all has been completely overwhelming, realizing that the 5000- piece puzzle I had been assiduously working on is actually just a small corner of an even larger puzzle of what feels like infinity pieces.
They say there's a weird cycle to receiving this diagnosis as an adult. There's shock, relief, grief, understanding, hopefully acceptance, and then it all kind of starts up again, jumping around from each thing at random, but often between grief & relief, or both, together. I received so many explanations that much of it was, indeed, a laughable relief. I could link to probably fifty blog posts of my own making that would make a lot of sense in this new regard. If someone reading this has been here for my blog life, they might be nodding themselves right now thinking, oh good, she finally got there. How many times have I referenced my weird brain? My brain that I've loved my whole life but that has also frustrated me for reasons unknown. My brain that struggled in ways that seemed unusual, bizarre, left unnamed.
Grief comes into play when I think back on my life and how I creatively and painfully navigated it. Making up for things that were challenging because my brain "worked differently" and I didn't know it. Or at least, that there was an explanation for it. Processing past moments within relationships where I came away feeling misunderstood or judged due to this lack of information on both of our parts. Frustrated because a message was received I did not intend to send and I can't explain why. Ultimately not feeling accepted because I was not understood. By others but also, on a deep level, by myself. The ramifications are astronomical.
But somehow, for some reason, I developed confidence early on. I attribute it to my journal and deciding to decide that, at age 13, I was awesome. I embraced being different. I eschewed conformity, the expected, the standard. Typical. I decided to see my unique brain as marvelous vs. defective. And to laugh instead of worry. To decide I was good without external validation or mainstream systems to tell me so. It does not go this way for many people in the world.
I may share more details of myself, my process and discoveries because I think it's important for others to know, but because I need it too. It took me a while to want to share it with people, and I still am unsure if I want to, particularly with some. I weigh it out. Publishing it here is a risky move but I bank on the story I tell myself that fewer than five people read my blog. But I can't know that for sure. It's scary to share things, to show ourselves, but also suffocating not to. I have tried to be more open about it to prove to myself how fine it really is, and it's opened doors with others and deepened connections and relationships. New friends who confided they experienced the same. Friends with children who were newly on this path and were at a complete loss as parents, filled with fear and anxiety as to how to go about it. I could explain to them there was nothing wrong with their kids, to help normalize and understand it doesn't change anything about them, but gives new information which, though intense at times, is always a good thing. To build a mini community and awareness around the subject and the people who find themselves new entrants. Life is lonely for everyone, and perhaps especially those who feel low-grade (or high-grade) "different" at every moment of their lives, constantly having to carve out a place for themselves.
I'm half-tempted to go through my blog and add a retroactive label to each post that screams "ADHD." I know I'd find many. But for now, I will end this here and call it a grand reveal, hoping to connect or do some kind of good, but at the very least, carve out a bigger space, be a little more honest.
Oh, wow-- I miss a few days of your blog and log back on to discover this!
I don't know a lot about ADHD (but I do know enough to suspect that half the things I "know" probably aren't even true!), and I've never actually met you, so I don't have opinions or anything like-- Ah ha, yes, this makes perfect sense for you. I'm just reading this thinking, Interesting. What a thing to learn about oneself!
I will leave you with this thought from my Mom's best friends (who always had many deep thoughts she would share with us-- most of my best advice comes from her). She once told me that all change requires a mourning period, even good change. At the time, she was talking about my Dad starting a new job (which turned out to be a very happy work environment for him, after a very toxic one, and then a month of unemployment), but I've learned it applies to everything. Change requires a mourning period. In your case, nothing actually changed, you just suddenly have a whole new set of tools in your toolbox to understand both yourself and your son. And I can see how you can easily wish you'd had those tools a lot earlier on. I can see how having all these new tools would be both amazing and also so frustrating because WHERE WERE THEY ALL THIS TIME.
Thanks for sharing this. It is a big thing to share. I still like you, for what it's worth!
(Shoot-- should have worked "shed" into my comment! Those new tools IN YOUR TOOL SHED. That's what I meant!)
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