I read a lot as a kid. I didn’t speak out of turn. People liked me.
Sure, I never knew where my school worksheets were. I was rarely able to turn in my homework on time. And, yes, my elementary school desk was always a disaster. I used to flatten myself across it, so people couldn’t see inside. Paper, crayons, pencils, and books spilled out onto the floor. It was embarrassing.
I lost things I couldn’t remember picking up in the first place. I couldn’t keep track of time; yesterday’s moments fusing to tomorrow’s expectations. I was bright. I drew…
If I just tried harder, I’d be more successful.
If I could just figure out what’s wrong with me, maybe I could fix it.
Life seems so much easier for everyone else. I must be doing it wrong.
These harsh words were my inner voice, my unwelcome mantras, for decades. They were the fallout from hearing, over and over again throughout my adolescence, “You’re just not living up to your potential.” If only my teachers had known that I couldn’t claw my way to my “full potential” by sheer will alone. If only I’d had the words to tell them.
I haven’t spoken much about my experience with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and recently I’ve been asking myself why. After all, without my ADHD, I wouldn’t have come up with the Bullet Journal Method. Maybe the best way is to tell my story is for me to describe what ADHD has been like for me. Of course, I can only speak to my experience, which may differ from others’ experiences.
Having ADHD is like trying to catch the rain.
Imagine you’re in a small hut on a wide-open field. As the storm approaches, you prepare yourself to head outside…
There are three cups perched on my windowsill, one half filled with ripening tea, the soy milk congealing and fluffy. I know it’s time to cart them to the dishwasher, I can smell the sweet-bitter scent of mold. I think about doing it. I will myself to do it. I want to do it. I’m… probably not going to do it.
It feels like being trapped under sandbags, or at least, that’s how I describe it to a friend. It’s like I’m taking out the garbage after a very long week, but the bag breaks, and I hate myself, so…
On the second-to-last day of fourth grade, my son came home from school, chewing on the collar of his blue T-shirt and scratching an irritated red spot on his leg.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. “Are you worried about the summer?”
“No,” he said, with another vigorous scratch. “I’m worried about next year. My teacher told me I might not be in Mrs. Troutman’s class. I have to be in her class. It’s not an option. Only she gets me.”
The boy was fixated on having Mrs. Troutman for fifth grade. …
When my son was four years old, he had a hard time sitting still. He was impulsive, emotional, and challenging. Preschool was, to put it mildly, HELL. The evil, preschool director had a life-sized likeness of my son on her wall with the words “MOST WANTED” printed below — or at least it felt that way.
One day, the director called me into her office and told me that Boy needed HELP and that he wouldn’t have ANY FRIENDS and that other kids WON’T LIKE HIM because he was a rotten, worthless little boy. …
“How is Jax’s anxiety medicine working?”
I nodded over to my son. See for yourself.
The prior sessions with Jax’s trauma counselor involved a lot of attempts to manage my son as he darted, verbally and physically, from topic to topic, corner to corner. He tried to climb onto the back of the overstuffed arm chair so he could touch the tallest branch of the artificial tree, he found hidden toys, tried to remove the batteries from the table clock, examined lamps and plugs and looked under the rug. He was constant motion. He is always constant motion.
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