Guest Blogs

“ADHD and Depression Downspiraling”

Deep down I knew that even if I got a job tomorrow, a decent job in the industry I love, I would not remain happy. I would fall back into being dissatisfied and miserable. Along with adult attention deficit disorder, there came depression and anxiety.

(Warning: long post ahead)

I’m sorry I’ve been incommunicado in the past week and the blog posts have been slow in coming.

Life had taken yet another turn, and lately it has been hard to keep this blog upbeat. I had been focused – haha funny word for someone with ADHD – on training for this swim around the island of Manhattan.

The big swim had been in the works since November, and then two hours into the race we were pulled because of navigational issues. I laugh in retrospect. The greatest challenge that adults with attention deficit disorder face is not ability nor talent, but focus and keeping on track. It almost seems like a cruel joke that, in the end, what did us in were navigational issues, and, perhaps, lack of self-confidence.

I never imagined that we would not finish the race, and it feels like a personal blow for a number of reasons. Life in ADHD land is filled with disappointments, knowing that you have the ability, the passion, and energy, and yet not being able to make it into reality, and, even worse, being misunderstood by others.

Once in a blue moon you get lucky and partner with someone who is your arch opposite and can keep you on task, but more often than not you flounder. Without an organizational Sherpa, one is essentially screwed. We were swimming so well until we reached Hells Gate and swam into a tide that had turned against us. Although the kayakers and the boater who were there to serve as our compass were a disappointment, in the end it was avoidable.

I was asked recently if it is better to know or not know about ADHD – to have been diagnosed in adulthood or not – and my answer is I’d rather not have known. When I didn’t know I still had my self-confidence. Now, more than ever, I struggle to believe that there is much hope in myself and in this crazy world I live in.

Yesterday I talked with the father and, for the first time, told someone that I was starting to question whether or not there is a God. Why would I question it, he asked. “Because if there were a God he’d see that I’d suffered enough and throw me a bone. At the very least, he would have let me finish this marathon swim and earn a scrap of self-confidence.” You’re doing okay, the father said.

“I have no job, no home of my own, no man, I don’t have a boyfriend, I have ADD and can’t even get organized enough to conduct a normal job search, and now a swim that I’d put my heart and soul into failed,” I said. What made it worse was I received an email from Mr. Ph.D., who finished the race, asking me how our team did. Why can’t he just check the race results, rather than stabbing me and moving the knife around?

I’m starting to wonder if I should go to a fortune teller who can tell me how to acquire better luck. This year seems to be filled with failures, disappointments, and, in the end, bitterness. The father told me to come home for a few days, so we could talk and regroup. He fears that I might be falling into the abyss again.

I spent the evening and night again with Dylan, the friend with benefits guy. He’s made it clear that I’m just a friend and we’re not dating, but he likes me and is obviously attracted. We had margaritas and chips, and I started crying at the restaurant, the tears flowing like a faucet on a steady. “I consider not finishing anything a failure,” I said, repeatedly.

A fellow teammate had a much more Zen outlook on the race, and said that the goal was to swim, have fun, and stay healthy – and we achieved all of those things. I see this race as a slap in the face. The reality is I spent $800 and a lot of heart and soul, and in the end I spent $800 to swim 45 minutes and we were pink-slipped in the water.

Poor Dylan, he wasn’t entirely sure what to do. We went back to his place where I sat on the couch with my face in my palms. I really wanted to do something crazy, like smoke a cigarette or drink a bottle of Bacardi. I didn’t want to play Wii, I didn’t want to watch a flick, I didn’t want to live anymore. The tears wouldn’t stop, like blood from a deep wound. The anger churned like a tsunami, its roots unknown.

What would make Jane happy? Dylan asked. I had gotten the same question from the sister a few days ago. I told her a secret. I said deep down I knew that even if I got a job tomorrow, a decent job in the industry I love, I would not remain happy. I would fall back into being dissatisfied and miserable. Along with ADHD, there came depression and anxiety, the evil stepsisters that came with the family.

I blew my nose and the tears stopped. “I want to go out for a ride,” I said. The friend with benefits had a motorcycle, a red BMW, and he said, “Okay, come on.”

We retrieved it from the garage, put on jackets and helmets, and took a spin along the FDR drive and West Side Highway. It was freeing feeling the cool air, and there was the rush of the wind. I hung on tight, tighter than ever, because I so feared that I’d let go. I didn’t trust myself.

Down the highways I could see the Hudson and East Rivers, and could feel the sting of the tears again. It was a reminder of the latest failed attempt, but I told the friend, “Hey, it’s more fun to ride around rivers than swim in them.” He laughed when he heard me laugh. It was his reward.