Guest Blogs

“Does My ADHD Push People Away?”

As I continue to struggle with my relationships and my career path, I wonder if my symptoms — a mix of anxiety, depression, ADHD, and OCD — are pushing people away.

My self-confidence index has plummeted over the past several weeks. There has been a dry spell of dates and suitors, and I have the ever-growing feeling that, at the age of 35, I am well on my way to becoming a cranky and whiny spinster who just happens to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). There are even times when I feel like I am shifting from ADHD to having obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) with tunnel vision as I obsess about not having a boyfriend and not having a stable profession — at least not yet.

I’m starting to wear the friends and the family down by sounding like a broken record. The sister, who is seven years my junior, now doles out her advice to me on love and work by starting with, “Now get the earwax out of your ears…”

The other day, a girlfriend and I were on Skype and she started with a story about a friend of hers. “So my friend Maya is 45, OK-looking, but she’s all over the place. She can’t even decide when she’s going to come visit me, and all she wants is a relationship and a baby,” my friend typed. “She’s obsessed about it, as if without a man she’s not worth anything. It’s all she can talk about. It’s terrible.” For a second, I thought she was talking about me. Have I become that woman? The answer is that I am becoming that woman, and I don’t like it.

It seems that most people my age have stability at work or at home, either a stellar work life or personal life, but at any given time, I am struggling to hold onto one or the other. Now, even the 27-year-old cousin is catching up with her hunk of a boyfriend who she is showcasing on Facebook. They’re both doctors, and as I’ve mentioned before about how Facebook impacts my self-esteem, I am increasingly feeling inferior in comparison.

Things wouldn’t be so bad if, by this age, I had a corner office and a really cool job like Oprah. Maybe that cool job would land in my lap if I were more popular with the colleagues. Lately, the lunch invites in cubicle land have faded, and the initial offers to hang out have slowed down. “Maybe it’s your attitude,” the grandmother says. “Maybe you look sad and depressed. Maybe when you speak, you snap at people. Maybe you get too anxious and other people are scared of you,” the grandmother muses. She doesn’t even have a high school degree, but at 88, she has seen it all. She understands what I’m going through socially, and I feel embarrassed being so emotional, vulnerable, and needy in front of her.

Because she doesn’t know about my ADHD, she thinks I am overly stressed and anxious, especially when I’m overloaded. When that happens, I appear angry and overbearing to anyone in my path. “Just think that if you were someone else and in their shoes — wouldn’t you be scared, too? You don’t want a guy who freaks out on you and is overbearing. And you don’t want a colleague like that,” she reminds me.

My nightly dinner conversation always centers on the topic of how to get a man and have a better life, how to someday acquire my own mortgage, family, and rock-solid career. “You need to start with yourself. Start by being more patient with yourself and taking small steps,” the grandmother says as she shuts off the TV, gets up, stretches, and hobbles toward her bedroom. “I’m tired and going to bed. Let’s talk more about this tomorrow since it can’t be solved tonight.”

The grandmother is right, and when she doles out advice and wisdom, it makes a lot of sense. When I feel down like this, it’s true, I’m not the best to be around — maybe I’ve even managed to drive my sweet grandmother away, which takes quite a bit of talent. I am not sure I’d want to hang out with myself right now.