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“With Adult ADHD, Is It Hard to Give Up Control?”

As an ADHD adult, how can I let go of the unknown and things that haunt me?

Halfway around the world in Hong Kong, I find myself working for a new boss who probably suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), too. I am quite certain that she has a more severe case than I do.

A colleague tells me to avert the boss’s gaze because just looking her in the eye may inspire another unpredictable brainstorming session. Indeed, my new employer is a hurricane of ideas and works non-stop. The e-mailing begins at dawn from her oft-misplaced Blackberry. A sure sign that she also has ADHD is her inability to keep track of anything. The other night, she took a bunch of employees out for dinner. Just as the dishes hit the table, a phone call from her assistant came in. Where are you? You’re supposed to be at this meeting. We had to laugh because we ended up eating without the person who had essentially rounded us up and picked up the tab. Funny at the time, this nevertheless gets exhausting day in and day out.

Nearly one month into my time here, exhaustion has caught up with me. Though I’d originally thought of my Asian adventure as respite from home, my life here on the other side of the world parallels the life I led in New York. The speed of Hong Kong is quick, and the people I encounter are workaholics. There is a sterility to the city, amplified by sleek shopping malls and streets packed with cars that look like they are out of a James Bond movie. Everyone I meet is concerned with appearance and social status.

My grandmother lives here, and seeking solace, I went to her house for dinner. After we ate, I sat down to flip through some photo albums and was a bit horrified to find a photo of my ex-boyfriend there among the snapshots. Figuring we’d eventually get married, my father had sent her the photo. How can I get a fresh start when my past keeps running after me? My poor grandmother, sympathetic as she was, didn’t quite understand why this bothered me so much.

I’ve made one good friend here, a fellow transplant from Los Angeles, who understands my strange mix of nostalgia, homesickness, and pursuit of change. In a collective attempt to shake off some of the frustrations of life abroad, we went to mass a few days ago. The priest gave a homily emphasizing the importance of faith. We can’t understand something that happened until much later, he told us, and if we dwell on understanding the present, we will never move forward.

Why do I keep ending up with ADHD bosses, whose insanity reflects my own? Why am I continually drawn back into remembering my ex-boyfriend? Will I ever find the solace I seek? If I take the priest’s sermon to heart, I’ll be able to handle the unknown, and at least temporarily, I can stop asking questions and just learn to be.

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