Launching a very private battle to slay the demons of ADHD.
by Jane D.
The recent meltdown started with an email and a call to the mother, the invisible non-existent mother, who years ago abandoned my sister and me after an extramarital affair.
I rarely talk about her because it is like a wound that is easily reopened, so raw that, at the age of 33, I cannot talk about her without physically tensing up or crying. My mother jumped from job to job, hobby to hobby—sign of adult ADHD, you think?—without regard for any of us. After the divorce, she chose a lump sum of alimony, including my college tuition, rather than what most mothers would want, custody of the kids.
On top of this, she is a Bible banger. My sister and I have never known whether to laugh or cry during our brief but painful and well-worn phone conversations with her.
She: Are you going to church and praying?
Me: No, but I am doing well in school.
She: Are your friends Christians, do they pray?
Me (annoyed): I don't know.
She: It's important to pray, let's pray now...
Me (voice rising): I don't want to pray. I don't want to always talk about praying, I want to have a normal conversation. Why don't you ever ask how I am doing?
She: Let's pray a short prayer. We are all sinners so it's important….
Me: No, you're not listening. And in the meantime, life, with all of its ups and downs, had marched on—college, graduate school, swimming competitions, new friends, and the discovery that my mom would perhaps never change. The last time that we talked, a few days after Mother's Day, I told her off. "Stop," I said to her. "I'm facing enough problems in my life, please don't call and ask me if I'll visit you, sleep over, or if I pray."
My mother does not even know that I was diagnosed with ADHD three years ago, she does not know about the struggles I've had since then, the daily experiments with meditation, medication, exercise, and the bookshelf of self-help books that offer the lifeline called hope. But I still think of her because she is my mother so I recently emailed and called, and was slammed with silence. She'd always been great at guilt trips. Before she hung up the last time around she said, "I'm your mother, so you'd rather I not call." I told her that is not what I said, but that I needed some space to figure things out now. And yes she is biologically, but in the greater sense of the word she's done shit.
This rejection was harder than the others. All weekend I found myself engulfed in a sadness that is so intense and painful and that cannot be explained. The pain is invisible and even with friends I could not share, because I rarely talk about my mother, the ADHD, my very private battle to slay the demons. So this weekend they sensed the air had changed, my aura had shifted from my usual prim and proper facade to the dangerous calm before the storm.
"Are you OK?" a friend asked.
"Yes, why?" I asked.
"Because you seem really sad," the friend said.
At times like this the line between ADHD and the demons of my past, the debate between nature and nurture, are blurred and I am left swimming and struggling alone, seeking desperately for respite or an island to hang on to. For now it seemed hopeless. There was only darkness.