I was formally diagnosed with ADHD four years ago, but I’ve shown symptoms all my life. I was the daydreamer who would lose myself in things I was drawn to and fascinated by, but found it near-impossible to focus on and complete things I was bored or frustrated by. I wasn’t hyperactive in the sense of being in motion nonstop (which is what most people associate with ADHD), but I’ve always been teased for my nonstop, rapid-fire speech that jumped from topic to topic. (As one friend in college would say to me, “You’ve gone nonlinear again.”) By the time I was diagnosed, my blood pressure was high enough that my doctor couldn’t prescribe the usual ADHD meds, and I decided that even if she could, I didn’t want them. I’d grown to like the way my brain could quickly move from one thing to another, lightning-fast and nonlinear. I liked my ability to wander through dreams while awake. Energy is my gift. Imagination is my gift. The problem wasn’t me, the problem was the lack of support I’d gotten all my life from people who didn’t understand or accept the way my brain worked. Neurodiversity FTW!
Except…okay, I’ll fess up, it’s sometimes frustrating to have an ADHD brain. Being particularly sensitive to bright lights and loud noises, being highly emotionally sensitive, walking into a room and forgetting why I went in there, those aren’t fun all the time. Also, there’s a pretty high amount of comorbitity with ADHD and other mental health problems, particularly anxiety disorders. Anxiety is all kinds of not fun. (Bipolar disorder is also not much fun, but that’s a different story for a different time.)
However, I’ve recently started noticing something interesting. Sometimes my anxiety is that skincrawling fear that I’ve talked about, while other times, when I’ve taken an inventory of my physical sensations and mental feelings, it’s not so much fear as it is a build-up of energy that I don’t know how to expel. I wasn’t feeling nervous and afraid, I was feeling fidgety and annoyed and angry. I’ve begun to suspect that this isn’t always an anxiety disorder thing. Sometimes this is an ADHD hyperactivity thing. After growing up being consistently scolded for exhibiting behaviors that are indicative of ADHD, doing my best to hide them and fight them, I don’t have a repertoire of ways to deal with a build-up of energy, anxious or otherwise. This is something I need to work on.
Whether my energy is focused towards wanting to act out in ways I’ve trained myself not to do (even though those ways are essentially harmless) or it’s focused towards the uncertainty, fear, insecurity, and dread of anxiety, I need to remind myself that my energy is a feature, not a bug. A strength, not a weakness. A gift, not a curse. There’s a lot of accumulated negative self-talk, a mess of bad code, scrambled up in my head. That stuff needs to be hacked, rewritten and redirected.
20 PRINT “ENERGY IS MY GIFT!”
30 GOTO 20