Guest Blogs

“Summer Unraveling”

Things are exploding at work. I can see the landscape – the big ideas – but with the ADHD, I miss the details of that landscape.

The ADHD in me emerges like the heat from the sidewalks. I feel like things have been slowly unraveling over the past two months. Over the weekend, it finally exploded.

A day earlier, the swim admin guy in charge of private lessons emailed me to say that I was confusing things by working with the clients directly and by trying to book them. It was a short and curt email, and I immediately went up in smoke. I kept thinking, here I was, trying to do the right thing by catering to the clients, because the booking people weren’t getting back to them, and now I get slammed.

I typed out a reply explaining the situation, explaining that the clients felt like their calls weren’t being answered, so what was I to do? I sent off the email and CC’ed the swim principal, who answered with a long email, listing all of the reasons why he refuses to book me for private lessons in the summer. I am perennially late; clients complain; and they can’t keep on making excuses to clients and covering my ass when I’m not there. I felt like I’d been slapped, a bit shocked. But then again, why should I be? In many ways, they are right.

I’d been overloaded and overwhelmed-and to be completely truthful, I’ve lost interest in it. Maybe it was impatience, or a fear of getting too close to a place and its people, but about four months ago, I lost the chutzpah to teach, and, to be honest, the joy of even swimming ebbs and flows.

When I was younger, I would argue with the bosses and powers that be. How dare they accuse me of being late, of being careless, of being unfocused, of not caring; they were out to get me. And now I found myself wondering if I should be the one apologizing. I had sent that email impulsively, too. Another trait of ADHD.

And at work? Things are unraveling, too, in that I feel like I’ve become a bit careless. I can see the landscape, the big ideas, but I miss the details of that landscape and so often I end up apologizing for simply being me.

I talked with the father tonight who tsk-tsk’ed me when I said it wasn’t a lack of heart or trying, but rather that I had no means to organize time and things. I have six calendars, a dozen notebooks, I have my cell phone set to alarms that ring with events like “getting hair cut,” “going to dentist.” But still the day feels harried, and I feel like I am living life doing things by the seat of my pants. I want to be on time, I want to be less stressed; I want to be in control. I want to be normal.

“You just need to grow up,” the father said. “You can’t just say that you have this issue. You need to do something about it.” It seemed like another slap in the face. When will they ever be sympathetic or empathetic? Maybe never, because the ADHD is invisible.

“I’m spending a lot of money on medication and all of these therapists,” I said, somewhat coldly. I want the sympathy, I want to be pitied. I want them to take me seriously. I want to tell people I have ADHD and need help sometimes. If I had one leg and was blind, they would certainly help, rather than call me lazy and undisciplined.

Bottom line is it was a terrible day. Everything was wrong, and I had to simply swallow the reality that I may lose the swimming job I’d worked so hard to earn at the start. It seems somewhat tragic, but, in the end, it was my doing. It is the typical ending to most of my gigs.

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