Jobless, and Slipping From Reality

Being laid off means entering a new world and starting over. Is this how ordinary people—with or without adult ADHD—live?
ADHD & the City | posted by Jane D.
Jane D.

The weather in the Big Apple reminds me of my days in New York’s rustbelt. The 24 inches of snow and the blanket of depression that came with it. I’m sorry that I can’t be more chipper. I’ve never been diagnosed with a terminal disease (knock on wood), and indeed the diagnosis of adult attention deficit disorder is not hopeless. I know, wasted time, wasted energy, but this is how I feel.

I blame the physical symptoms on stress. I’m tired, my muscles ache. I’ve lost the ability to swallow pills. With the nerves on red alert, I’m drinking two bottles of Gatorade to get a Nyquil capsule down. What’s the deal?

I went to the hospital yesterday to get a physical for a volunteer gig. I used to be scared of needles, but the pinch of getting blood drawn and a TB shot no longer fazes me. The pain doesn’t compare to the emotional roller coaster of unemployment and the ADD/ADHD left untreated. No health insurance, no low-cost Adderall, not even a generic version of a stimulant medication.

Afterward I left for Queens to look at an apartment, a downsized version of what I’ve grown accustomed to on the Upper East Side. Between the #7 train and the mosh-pit packed streets of Main Street in Flushing, it hit me that New York is a tough city to be unemployed. To get from point A to B—point B, a hole in the wall that rents for $570—I need to take two trains and two buses, and walk up and down the bowels of the subway.

The landlord was a middle-aged guy who asked me what I was doing for work. I said I am exploring new career directions. This, along with "freelance” and “consultant," means I don’t have a job.

He said the fellow renters included a Spanish guy who works at a bakery and studies ESL at night, and a young Chinese couple who work at a restaurant. Is this how ordinary people survive? He seemed stunned when I said I have a degree from Columbia. I too wondered how I landed in the predicament of looking here for a place to live.

By the time I left, I felt the knot in the throat return. I am the victim of my own idealism. I stayed in the industry too long, and never knew when or how to switch careers. Sometimes the person who backs out of the dead-end street first is the one who survives.

”Why do bad things happen to good people?” I asked my Bible-banger friend.

“God is not punishing you. He is seeing how strong one of his flock is. You may be hurt, but you are strong and you have the entire flock close to you,” he said.

I want to believe it, but I’m not sure I can stomach much more.

 
 
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