Archive for October 2012

About being “strong.” (October 4, 2012, Tumblr)   Leave a comment

From this post:

I want to talk about how I’m a “strong person.” I lived for 28 years without knowing I had ADHD, and even though I couldn’t figure out how to adult, I somehow managed to achieve “success.”

I want to talk about how I don’t feel strong a lot of the time, and how I spit out the phrase like it’s poison, because it’s something I feel I have to be, not something I want to be or even really am.

I want to talk about how I’m a “successful person.” I have a university degree and completed the coursework for a second, and I worked full-time (or something resembling it) for nearly a decade.

I want to talk about how I have never really felt successful, and how I never feel like I deserve the praise I receive from people for the things I do, even though I know that I do those things well and worked hard to do a good job.

I am not “strong”; I am determined. There is a difference.

I am determined to achieve my kind of success. I want to prove – to everyone, but particularly to myself – that I can do that. I want to make my life what I want and what I need. I want to be happy. And I am determined to make that happen.

Also, I am not “strong”; I am stubborn. There is a difference.

I refuse to give up on something because it’s hard. I return to things like moderating the Reference Desk and being an ML for NaNoWriMo every single year because I’m stubborn.

Being determined and stubborn are probably the two character traits that led to the “success” that I have.

I remember once a friend told me I was successful. I was flabbergasted.

How could I be successful when my house was a disaster?

How could I be successful when I was always broke?

How could I be successful when I had so much trouble paying my bills?

How could I be successful when I was always late for nearly everything?

How could I be successful when I still hadn’t achieved my primary goal, which was to be a published author?

How could I be successful? How?

…because I had a Bachelor of Music and had completed the coursework for a BA in Psychology.

Education makes a person “successful,” apparently. The fact that I was barely managing to adult “properly,” barely keeping a roof over my head, and – really – barely getting by… had no impact on whether or not I was perceived as being “successful.” And this friend knew all of my struggles.

It took me a really long time to stop explaining away compliments people gave me. It’s something I’ve done all my life. I finally learned to just say “thank you” and leave it at that. People don’t want to know (and don’t care about) the reasons why whatever it is isn’t really as good as they think it is. And that’s okay.

Another quote from my other post:

I want to talk about how changing my environment and my life situation to better suit my brain hasn’t cured my ADHD. About how all those “experts” who say that ADHDers find it easier to focus on things they enjoy and things they’re interested in are full of shit. About how hard I’m working to get my house in order, because I want it to be comfortable and I want to be able to redecorate and I want to be able to finally organize our books and things like that. About how much I hate my medication right now because it’s making me miserable physically due to indigestion, but I can’t stop taking it or I’ll eat everything in the house and regain all the weight I’ve worked so hard to lose over the last few years.

I work so very hard, every day, at making my life bend to my brain. I have established routines, because it is easier to get shit done if there’s a natural flow to the activities, to the tasks, to the chores, whatever you want to call them. And I still don’t get things done the way I want to.

I used to read constantly. I fell out of the habit and I’m slowly building it back into my life, a little at a time. I love writing and creating in general, whether it’s drawing or painting or working with clay or yarn. Making these things happen is extremely difficult. These are preferred activities, things I want to do. But they are not things I do, they are not things I hyperfocus on easily anymore, they are not things that happen the way I want them to happen.

In 2008, I weighed 255 lbs. When I got married, in 2010, I was about 245 lbs. Since taking up running last spring, I’ve lost 20-25 lbs and plateaued. I still run. I am still hopeful that I will lose more weight and manage to get back below 200 lbs someday soon. I am beginning to wonder if that will ever happen. I’m pretty sure that eating too little due to Adderall-induced indigestion is not going to help matters.

I’m very tired, you know.

I’m tired of trying so very hard. I’m tired of working so very hard. I’m tired of expending so much effort in order to meet expectations. Not just others’ expectations, either; I’m tired of my own expectations, too.

I’m not “strong.” Never tell me that I am.

I am a broken person. Not because I have ADHD, though it is obviously a disability and some people would say that it means my brain is broken. But because everyone is broken in some way. Because other people have broken me. Because I have broken myself.

Yet on I plod, pushing myself to keep going, to be successful, to figure out what success means for me so I’ll know when I’ve achieved it.

I’m not “strong.” Strength left me a long time ago; it was beaten out of me years back. I’m determined. I’m stubborn. And determination and stubbornness will get me where I want to be, where strength never could.

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I want to write about this more. (October 4, 2012, Tumblr)   1 comment

I posted this as part of a reblog of this post.

I think that a lot of these books (and the professionals we go to for help) don’t give us enough credit. I want to learn something new when I read one of these books, not have all the same old stuff tossed at me yet again. If that same old stuff worked, I wouldn’t be reading yet another book, now, would I?

And I think part of the problem is that they’re approaching the problems we have from the point of view that we need to find ways to make our lives function the way others’ lives function.

That makes absolutely no sense.

Aside from the need to be places on time (like work) and keep a job, why does everything about my life need to look and function the same way a non-ADHDer’s life does?

The answer is: it doesn’t. It really, really doesn’t.

Figuring that out has really opened up my eyes and given me a lot more positive outlook. Finding ways to force life to bend to my brain (instead of the other way around) has been challenging, and I haven’t quite succeeded yet. I still do a LOT of brain-wrangling (read the post I made last night to see how bad it can be). But I have far more successful days than I did when I was trying to make myself fit into a set of expectations that were unrealistic and didn’t make sense given my particular neurology. And while I do think that being able to stay home has had a big impact on that, I don’t think it was vital; since figuring this out, I’ve had plenty of successful days while working full-time (in an administrative position), as well.

I think that we are capable of figuring out how to bend life to suit our brains and still fit into society’s general expectations of “success” and “adult”; we’ve just been taught to think otherwise, because there’s an entire industry that hinges on our need for assistance. I think we can help each other in this pursuit, and we don’t have to spend anything to do that except our internet fees, which we would be paying anyway.

I want to talk about this some more. Because it’s something I only just found the words for today, so now I want to keep adding more words.

I want to talk about how I’m a “strong person.” I lived for 28 years without knowing I had ADHD, and even though I couldn’t figure out how to adult, I somehow managed to achieve “success.”

I want to talk about how I don’t feel strong a lot of the time, and how I spit out the phrase like it’s poison, because it’s something I feel I have to be, not something I want to be or even really am.

I want to talk about how I’m a “successful person.” I have a university degree and completed the coursework for a second, and I worked full-time (or something resembling it) for nearly a decade.

I want to talk about how I have never really felt successful, and how I never feel like I deserve the praise I receive from people for the things I do, even though I know that I do those things well and worked hard to do a good job.

I want to talk about how there’s this thing that happens with some disabilities, where the people who have them are expected to just try harder and be like everyone else. We’re expected to learn to pretend that we aren’t the way we are, and there’s an assumption that this pretending won’t naturally take energy and impact our lives in a negative way.

I want to talk about the other thing that happens, where people refuse to claim the word “disability” and insist that they’re just “different.” I want to talk about the disservice this does to those who are truly disabled by the same thing. I want to talk about how this doesn’t help people who don’t have the disability understand what it is and how it affects us.

I want to talk about how focusing on ability is damaging, too, because there are people who struggle with everything, and people who can’t even begin that struggle, and those people are still valuable as people. And because people change over time, and they learn new things, so condemning someone to inability due to how they present as a child is just as bad as expecting someone to do more than they are currently able to do because they did it before so it’s something they can always do.

I want to talk about how the medical model of disability is awful because it assumes that disability is automatically “bad” and needs to be eradicated. I want to talk about how the social model of disability isn’t much better because it assumes that people are really only disabled due to the expectations society has of us.

I want to talk about how everybody is different, and how that means that the solution to a problem that worked for one person isn’t necessarily going to work for the next person, even if they have the exact same diagnosis. Even if they take the exact same medication at the exact same dose.

I want to talk about how changing my environment and my life situation to better suit my brain hasn’t cured my ADHD. About how all those “experts” who say that ADHDers find it easier to focus on things they enjoy and things they’re interested in are full of shit. About how hard I’m working to get my house in order, because I want it to be comfortable and I want to be able to redecorate and I want to be able to finally organize our books and things like that. About how much I hate my medication right now because it’s making me miserable physically due to indigestion, but I can’t stop taking it or I’ll eat everything in the house and regain all the weight I’ve worked so hard to lose over the last few years.

I want to talk about how disability isn’t “bad,” it just is. Like emotions. Emotions aren’t “bad” or “good,” they just are; it’s what you do with them that matters. Disability exists. People legitimately can’t do things because they are disabled. That isn’t a bad thing, unless the things they can’t do are things they want to do for themselves. And that’s when amazing things are invented. That’s how amazing things happen, how great ideas are born, how movements gain momentum.

I want to talk about how we’re encouraged to go to these professionals, and to read books by “experts.” How this is all geared toward “helping” us act like we aren’t disabled, like there isn’t this thing about us that makes us different, that makes it so certain things are incredibly difficult and others are truly impossible. How people who have our disability and achieved “success” are held up as amazing examples we should try to emulate. How those people are sometimes framed as having achieved what they have “in spite of” their disabilities and sometimes framed as having achieved what they have “because of” their disabilities, and that is really confusing and unhelpful for everyone.

I want to talk about all of these things, and probably more.

I might reblog this and expand on some of these points later on. In the meantime, here it is for everyone else to read and respond to, if you like.