We stood underneath the large tree in the front yard, as dusk settled. Me and Ma. Tears running down Ma’s face. I was so confused!
My best efforts to make Ma smile had led to tears. In my spinning, whirling, ADHD driven world, I thought I was going to make my mother proud. Yet, there she stood. Looking down at me, trying to smile through tears. I threw my arms around her waist, hugging her. “Ma. I’m sorry! Whatever I did wrong. Just tell me. I won’t ever do it again. Please don’t cry, Ma. Please!”
I didn’t understand. I was just trying to be myself. But, there was too much of me. And, at 6 years old, I felt like an utter failure. A burden to my family. An embarrassment. And, I hated myself.
No matter what I did. My brain was always flying at warp speed. From one intense thought, to the next.
Ma took me by the hand. And, we walked back to the house together. As we entered the foyer, I abruptly stopped in my tracks “When I grow up, will God make me normal??” Ma looked down at me with a loving smile. “You already are normal. Just a different kind of normal.”
2nd grade rolled around. Not much changed. The kids grew a little crueler, and more judgmental. I began hearing the word “faggot”, more often. And, I became more hyper sensitive. More self aware. And plagued by insecurity.
What finally shifted for me? How did I find my salvation?
There wasn’t any “magic” therapy. No ‘burning bush’ moment.
My 2nd grade teacher was a very animated woman. And, every afternoon, after lunch recess, she read to the classroom.
What was cool about her:
She would change her voice, to create the different characters, in each book she read.
Something about all of the different tones and speech patters she used to mimic each character, held my focus.
At that particular time she was reading us the book, “Harriet The Spy”, by Louise Fitzhugh.
It was the story of a 10 year old girl, growing up in NYC. Harriet was an only child (like me) and she was, what other children would consider, “weird”…
Harriet had a daily “spy route’, consisting of several eccentric neighbors. She spied on each of them. And she would write every last detail about her neighbors in a little notebook.
What really intrigued me about her Harriet?
She didn’t just write the “dirt” about her neighbors in the notebook. She wrote about herself. Her feelings. Her triumphs. Her fears. Everything she learned about herself, she wrote in her notebook.
There were so many layers to Harriet. And, at 7 years old, I could relate to every single one of them.
She was unusual. Yet thoughtful. She didn’t see the world the same way as other kids her age.
I remember rushing to the drug after school.
And, I purchased a 5 subject notebook. I went directly home, and opened it up for the first time. I stared at the naked pages.
Then, I began to write. And, boy did I have a lot to write about!
First, very random thoughts. A few lines about a classmate I had a crush on. (yes, it was a boy!). Another few lines about how much I loved the smell of my grandma’s Gardenia perfume. Then, on to another subject. I wrote and scribbled across the pages of that notebook, just as quickly as my mind processed thought, after thought.
I was having a conversation with the notebook.
But, there was a significant difference between this particular conversation I was having, and any other conversation I’d experienced in the 7 years I’d been alive.
The notebook was capable of understanding every word I had to say. It followed my swirling, fast paced speech pattern, with ease. I never once received an eye roll, or an exasperated look, while I was confessing my long winded narratives. The paper kept up with me. The paper was patient. Even as I careened towards one self revelation, then veered off to another.
As time passed, I found that there were days I could write an entire story, on just one subject.
And, For a little boy, with undiagnosed ADHD…that was such a triumph!
There were also many days, when I rambled on, and on, and on. About a million different things. But, that was okay, too. Because there was never any judgement.
I found safety, when I wrote. There was a sense of completion, when I wrote.
But, most of all…there was freedom.
I began to write more, and more. I never made up stories. I was never interested in creating characters, or writing non-fiction. I always wrote about my personal experiences. Journal format.
That year was 1983.
I began to grow from a spastic, little ADHD child…Running home as fast as he could, to cry. To, an excited little boy…Running home to write.
I would finish my writing. Slam my notebook shut. Go play. Come back to my notebook. Open it. And there, before me, were all of my crazy, erratic, impulsive, nonsensical narratives. Little sparks of my soul. Spread out, into stories.
I share this chapter of my life with you, because I know that I am not the only adult who grew up with a diagnosis.
Maybe you’ve experienced depression, PTSD, OCD, ADD, ADHD, bi polar, etc…
I believe we all share a common denominator:
We are all extremely sensitive people. We see and internalize things differently. And, that leaves us yearning an outlet.
Maybe you’ll find your outlet in extreme sports, dance, drawing, yoga, science, or teaching.
As long as it’s a safe, non-judgmental outlet. And, it gives you a sense of freedom…
Over 35 years later, I sit here writing my experiences into a 5 subject notebook. Then, I transfer everything to my computer.
The writing still produces a feeling of satisfaction and freedom, inside me.
The difference now:
I’ve become brave enough to share my stories, with others. With you. And strangely, some of you started to respond. Relating your similar experiences back to me.
That has been life changing. I’m not alone! And, hopefully, when you read some of my stories..You aren’t feeling so alone, either.
Please, don’t misinterpret what I’ve written. My writing didn’t “cure” my ADHD. But, It eliminated some of the self loathing and pain that my ADHD produced.
I am a firm believer in getting medical help for any diagnosis that may prevent you from living a productive, fulfilling life. Therapy has played a huge part in mine.
I’m sure many of you are wondering if I use medication to treat the symptoms of ADHD. Unfortunately, I found meth, as a teenager.
Once I received an ADHD diagnosis, I was already addicted to meth.
The meds used to treat ADHD are amphetamine based. So, I was never a candidate for treatment.
In sobriety, doctors were exploring different ways to treat my ADHD, (and the massive anxiety attacks it produced) with non narcotics….To no avail.
In 2013, I was prescribed Klonopin, a benzodiazepine used to treat acute anxiety. Klonopin is controversial in the sober community, due to its habit forming components. But, l was suffering such terrible anxiety attacks, after my ex lover’s suicide. I was hospitalized twice.
My doctor stepped in. He believed that because I was firmly rooted in my sobriety, Klonopin would be the answer.
And, for several years, it was the answer…until it wasn’t.
THE CAPRA DIARIES WILL CONTINUE…