Let’s get personal : I Have ADHD.

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Dear readers,

Sorry what? I said I have ADHD. You have AD what D?

A.D.H.D means Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. I know, I know you might wonder what the heck it is? Well open your eyes, take a seat and pay attention because it’s gonna be a long one.

What’s ADHD?

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The prefrontal cortex is the area responsible for taking decisions, the regulation of the emotions, impulse control. It’s the chief of the brain.

Let’s make things clear here ADHD is not a new thing, professional had been written about children with ADHD since the 18th century, but it wasn’t called ADHD at this time. It had different names like brain injured. It’s in the late 19s that it became ADHD (or ADD).

The doctors can’t really explain what causes this disorder, but they do explain what’s going on in our brain. First of all, let’s welcome Dopamine : a chemical messenger that plays a role in feeling pleasure. It’s a big part of the human unique ability to think and plan. It also helps us strive, focus and find things interesting. The problem with us, is that our brain doesn’t seem to hold into it for too long, for dopamine to do its job, which is annoying.

Then came Serotonin, Serotonin my readers, my readers Serotonin. Why it’s here? Serotonin which is also a neurotransmitter helps reduce depression, regulate anxiety. At the same time it helps with sleep, happiness and our mood. An ADHD brain lacks serotonin.

And last but not least Norepinephrine. This one stimulates activity in the brain, and boosts the function of differents cells to keep our brain to run effeciently. Low activity can causes memory problems, lack of interest, being unmotivated and many others symptoms. I think you understand that yes, the activity of Norepinephrine in my brain is unfortunately low. ADHD sucks.

My story :

As a kid, I knew I wasn’t like the others. My mother knew it too. It caused me a lot of shame and sadness because being different is never funny. I was so socially awkward, I had friends but I was this weird kid who was doing too much all the time. I couldn’t stop talking. The silence was unbearable to me, so I had this inexplicable (now explicable) need to talk. But I never really enjoyed it, each time someone was complaining about my big mouth it made me feel so bad (it’s still the case). I stopped talking, beating myself up because I couldn’t shut it.

I was very loud too even if for me my voice level was normal. No one in my family is as loud as I am. I also had to constantly move. Dancing everytime. Writing those few lines makes my heart ache for the young Arba, she knew she was different but she had no idea how and why.

The feeling ADHD gave me sometimes.

Let’s fast forward in November 2019 a Sunday morning. I was on my phone, scrolling on a social media when I saw someone talk about how she can get obsessed over something. Buy every supplies she will need and one day just forget about it. I laughed very hard, because it’s the story of my life. Among the comments one of her follower asked her if she’d ever heard about ADHD? The comment wasn’t for me, but it sure got my attention. With my eyebrows frowned, I opened my good friend Google, typed ADHD and read the first article I found. I was flabbergasted. There was a list of symptoms for this disorder,in which I found myself.

Being forgetful is my brand. I’m not talking about the little “Oh, I forgot this or that” it’s the kind that makes your husband and family say that something is wrong with you. It’s the one that have you come at an appointment one week early, or makes you miss a lot of them. That causes you to search for your keys or phone during minutes, sometimes hours to find them in weird places.

Having a hard time focus on a task or a conversation. So much that people often think you don’t care about what they are saying, while it’s just your brain that disconnected for a moment. Or you are wondering if you closed the door when you left your house. I care I assure you, I just struggle to stay into the conversation. I can brush many subjects in one conversation because my brain is thinking about this, that, and then oh yeah seeing a baby makes me remember about this story. And of course I already told you about it, I forgot. My husband heard the same stories many times, he’s tired.

Being desorganized. Planning isn’t easy for me thanks to ADHD. It’s very hard for me to finish something, I have a lot of planners I filled for 2-3 months and just stopped writing in it. And you know why? Because I forget it ever existed. I abandoned a lot of challenges in the middle. I have a huge collection of to do lists, from which I only managed to do 2 or 3 things. Every night I would go to bed, praying and swearing I would start this new schedule tomorrow and stick with it until the end. Just to fail over and over again.

I can be excited about doing something, and get bored out of sudden. Doing one million things at the same time? That’s my thing too. Watch me working on my homework, then being in my kitchen to eat for me to notice something off and spend hours clean it. Once done proud as a peacock, I return to my room, smile disappearing because I remember I didn’t finish my homework. My sense of priorities is so weird. And I love a little bit too much take last minute decisions, without checking if I have enough time because I’m time blind. 10 minutes for me are like 30. And something that you can do in 30 minutes, can certainly be done in 10, right?

It’s either I give everything I have in a task, I don’t even stop to eat because I know if I watch at my fridge I can be distracted. Or I do nothing, like literally nothing at all. I always described myself as lazy (despite the millions of things I’m doing) until I read that adults with ADHD as often seen as so, because of our lack of motivation. Once again caused by the fact that our brain doesn’t work as it should (low activity of Norepinephrine). Yet ADHD people have a ton of ideas, things they want to do I feel like I have 50 tabs open in my head, but unfortunately there is a continent between the idea and the execution.

When I was younger I wanted to be a teacher, then an English one, after a French one. In between an actress. A historian, archeologist. After that a lawyer, a writer, a criminologist and at 18 years old when it was time to decided I wanted to be nothing I had no idea what to do. Because to me this continent between what I want and what I have to do? It’s impassable. If you decide to do something and actually do it and keep doing it well you sure are lucky. God blessed you with something others struggle with.

Remember what the woman said on the social media, what caused me to look up at ADHD in the first place? It’s called hyperfocus, it’s a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I’m motivated, put all of me into something I love and believe. I spend all my time and my money, I talk about it with everyone. A curse when one day I wake up and lost all interest, just like this. I never talk about it ever again, I got rid of everything I bought it’s like it never happened. Everytime I love something new I pray I don’t hyperfocus on it, because I want to keep loving it. My family and friends are in the corner waiting for my next obsession.

I’m really good at school, get good grades. But outside of it structure I struggle, I’m quickly overwhelmed and feel like I have too much to do, but that’s not the case. The day of my appointment with a professional, I had to fill a test with my mother. It was such a good moment, reminiscing the past. And that’s when it really hits me that I have been that way all my life, I have a lot of cringey childhood and teen years memories. My mother did what she could with an undiagnosed child. I hope I’ll do my best if my kids have it too (ADHD is hereditary in a lot of cases). My husband was relieved, we finally had an explanation that we could work with.

Before my diagnostic I used to cry a lot, I just wanted to sleep early, finish something I started. For this planner to be the one, this challenge to cure me, to stop being me. My brain isn’t normal, but that’s okay, I’m more comprehensive with myself, I know where to look, what I have to do. Some days are very good, others so bad. But I’m still breathing and as long there is life, there is hope. Like someone perfectly said : My God is greater than my problems.

For people with ADHD, I just want you to know you are not alone, you are not lazy, keep trying don’t give up. Even if things seem complicated, you got this. We got this.

With love, Arba.

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