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“Coping With ADHD and My Personal History”

My ADHD doesn’t just bring every day challenges, but the challenge of overcoming an already dark past mixed with a lot of anger.

Aside from my ADHD there is a greater demon — a checkered past.

The history starts with my mother. For whatever reasons she was never there when I was growing up. Maybe it was my sister who was born sick and required two kidney transplants, maybe it was her own disorder. Whatever the reason within the entire tsunami of issues, my problems and issues were overlooked. I did not suffer from abuse but rather neglect.

Maybe no one but me will ever understand, but here are the memories that leave me troubled today.

Postcard from the past: Parents are throwing slippers at each other, the mother slams the bathroom door in the father’s face, the cop car pulls up. I am five. I am crying.

Postcard from the past: My mother is asking me if she should stay with my father, should they get a divorce or not? I am 12.

Postcard from the past: The parents are at it again, the mother screaming at the top of her lungs and the father retreating, as silent as a sphinx. I am 13 and yelling at my mother for being the enemy. “Stop it,” I scream, “stop ruining everything.”

Postcard from the past: I am 16 and the moving trucks come and take the furniture, and the innards of the house away. My mother promises that she will visit me again, but she doesn’t.

On that day those of us who remained — my father, my sister and me — were left to pick up the pieces again and live with the reality that for many years we had a house but not a home, and that is where history starts all over again. In the end my sister and I were blessed with a caring father and a stepmother as solid as they come.

Those are snippets of the darker part of personal history that I haven’t shared with most people because it brings shame, guilt and hurt, and a reminder that some things can’t be changed, and that I can’t just reverse it. I keep telling the Boss and the Father that it’s like a Boeing 747 that has been going at 5,000 miles an hour. A plane just can’t be turned around that quickly, especially if it has been flying like that for years.

This is a long way of saying that the ADHD doesn’t just bring every day challenges, but the challenge of overcoming an already dark past mixed with a lot of anger. With the storm of a broken family and my sister’s illness, I needed to take a backseat. All the while it was as if I were invisible, and my own issues were invisible, too.

Then I found that the disorder had a name (ADHD). I wonder if things would have been better if it had been found earlier.

But why dwell? One needs to move on, and perhaps take the plunge. I will find a way to tell the Boyfriend about the ADHD. I was able to tell the Boyfriend about my personal history, but that can not be changed and issues such as divorce, a crazy mother or a sick sister, are more comprehensible to someone than ADHD.

These are challenges that normal (non-ADHD) people can more readily relate to — a broken family, a sibling who suffers from a physical illness, but my few attempts to share my ADHD with others haven’t gone well. (Postcard from the past: The good friend who responded to my ADHD confessions with, “Hmmm, interesting I just think people are wired differently.”)
The Boyfriend is important to me, but our relationship has yet to stabilize…I fear that this revelation would obliterate what is there. Increasingly though, I think to myself, “What is the worst that could happen if I told him?” and I move closer to revealing one of the darkest and most uncertain parts of myself.

I hope to move on, and perhaps take the plunge. Life is meant to be lived.

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