Growing up at a young age with ADHD can be a lot of fun. Everything just becomes that much more interesting. The sky seems so vast and every single blade of grass looks just as interesting as the one right next to it. My mind raced with questions every single second. I felt the only way to express it at times was relentlessly running around, as if every step I took gave me a satisfactory answer to each question I thought about; which was ultimately a lot of steps. It would be enough to drive most people into a state of madness. Not me though, I swore to the heavens I’d have every question answered. Because believe me, the seconds would feel like hours for every moment I didn’t know just how much wood a woodchuck could chuck.
Here’s my perspective; Thoughts in general are like the light from the stars that always shine the same brightness throughout the day. They are always there. Existing, even when you can’t see them. At least that’s how it is for normal people, you get the grace of day to nullify the shining of the light from those stars at times when it can be overbearing. You get a break. If I could describe what it’s like to have ADHD, picture your mind never turning off. It is always bright for me, and there is no dawn or day to alleviate my eyes from the galaxy of lights I see. It’s a beautiful disaster. You’re always thinking out loud to yourself about everything around you. When thinking about the concept of having a conscious and subconscious, you don’t even believe in the separation of the two. You think so much because of the energy flowing through your nerves, that there could be no way another part of your brain retains knowledge you don’t already consciously know. There’s so many questions every single second, that there needs to be some sort of way to express it. Mine would come through continuos questions and obviously, a lot of running around.
I guess I didn’t understand much about people back then, though. I was too busy exploring my mind and all the ideas that sprouted within it every second. I never thought it could be a bad thing. My father seemed to think differently at times.
The worst part about having an overactive thought process, is not being able to express it. Those thoughts have to go somewhere; and if they don’t, they build up in a *** on a back burner until the lid finally blows off and explodes as some type of extreme emotion, from anger to sadness.
As a kid, I have too many memories of confrontations with my father when I said something he didn’t agree with. Almost as if he thought I was overstepping my bounds as a male in his house by only talking about what was on my mind. If he didn’t like what I said, or if he didn’t agree with it, “I was an idiot.” It didn’t stop there either.
Conversations about things I’ve learned had to be defended with the words, “But dad, my teacher just taught us this today in class!”
“Well then, your teachers an idiot.” he would respond. It seemed like he knew the answer to everything. Even after I went to school and got an education that his tax dollars were paying for, it wasn’t enough to get him to agree quickly with things I said. It seemed everybody was an idiot, and as a kid, I almost thought it was normal to be one at a point. Everybody seemed to be doing it.
But even the innocence of a kid knows when something feels wrong. It didn’t take much of looking at his gritting teeth and clenched jaw to know either. I would watch the muscles in his cheeks and forehead pulsate with blood every time he squeezed his fist in stubbornness; as if his fists were his heart in that moment
I guess what hurt the most about the confrontations, was the awareness that he was not always this kind of man. I’ve seen him in different lights before. Brighter lights, where his happiness rained in a room and brought joy to everyone. Times where you’d never think the same man was consumed by a darkness that made him blind to reason. The pain came with knowing I was fighting to express myself to the same man that would make me laugh till my ribs felt weak. The person who I loved seeing happy, that much more because I saw how the shadows of the clouds he carried with him, darkened his spirit.
His alcoholism and addictions didn’t help aid his perspectives for the better either. Bottle after bottle I would watch get consumed, all the while his fuse grew shorter in those moments as his BAC grew higher. Cigarettes on the daily, pills and ***. Anything to escape the pain he harbored like a shipyard.
I started keeping my thoughts to myself more. At that age, I was innocent enough to believe I was wrong for having an opinion, or speaking my mind. I thought it was wrong to think the way I thought, so I maliciously put those thoughts on a back burner; And that’s when it started.
The silence, or I guess people would say, “the introvert,” found its way into my life. It’s such a tragedy of irony. The person who always thought a mile a minute, and still does, now barely says a word. Keeping himself locked away in his brain because there’s no key that could unlock him from the darkness of judgement. I was told I was an idiot and that I was wrong so many times that I never wanted to be those things again. If I never spoke, I never had to worry about hearing it.
For years I stayed quiet about the things that went on inside my brain, and it literally killed me. I felt like I was being robbed of my imagination, or rather I was robbing other people in this world of my imagination. Simple and plain, my thoughts weren’t being put out there. They continued to boil on my back burner, occasionally exploding every now and then into anger and depression. All of those amazing thoughts I used to have, now felt like fire burning through my veins for every pulse that kept them there to never be released.
I resented my dad, and won’t forget the day I told myself I wouldn't become him. I never would of imagined that that would be the day I put an invisible blind-fold on. Because I had swore to myself I would never act like my dad, my foggy eyes would never catch the times that I did. There was just no way I would or could be like him because he character caused me too much pain.
Conversations with other people started becoming more debate-like, I was always quick to defend my point because I didn’t want to be wrong. I talked more than I listened. If you didn’t know what I was saying, you just didn’t understand where I was coming from. I kept and thought to myself all the time. So much, that when I finally did release what was on my mind, it had to be right because I spent enough time to myself analyzing it. Other people just couldn’t understand that. They couldn’t.
Remember that boiling *** on the back burner; that occasionally explodes? Well, now it was now on the verge of imploding. I was so fixated on never being wrong, it was almost like I was never wrong. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Yeah it did to me too. When I noticed it, that’s when I imploded.
I couldn't believe I became exactly what I told myself I would never become. All of those past thoughts and hatred imploded in my brain and trickled down the inside of my body, burning me. I burned, but not with anger, I burned with depression and more silence. It was a vicious cycle. Speaking, especially to other people, almost became taboo to me. It seemed weird and out of place because it involved more emotions. I was kind of tired of feeling at that point. I had already felt enough through all of the episodes I would have from my explosions. Not to mention, I couldn’t live with myself knowing that I was my dad spitting image when I talked to other people. Depression can really be a vicious cycle, and I remember how much it would recycle itself in my life.
I would spend hours in school, with a million thoughts to say, but never spoke out. I hated myself for it, which would get me depressed. Which would then get me depressed for knowing I was depressed; making me depressed because I was depressed I was depressed. There seemed to be no escape.
I started abusing substance, from alcohol to ****. My abuse, came from the justification that I told myself I was doing it to understand perspective. I wanted to explore the same world of addiction that my dad did. I wanted to come to understand what it’s like to live in a world of dependency and escape. Boy did that backfire on me. I went into it thinking I could just jump right back out of it; that’s not what happened. I was quickly consumed with darkness, escape and depression. Anxiety got the best of me now, because I felt trapped in this world of rumination and hopelessness.
What was depression for me? Its was being stuck in a dark room, separated from the light of happiness by a cruel lock door. A locked door that had a small viewing glass for you to see what lies on the other side of it, within your reach. It was having what seemed like an entire ring of keys to open the door with, yet they’re all the same key. Depression was refusing to stand up, to take advantage of the little bit of light that shined through the viewing glass for me. The little bit of light that would of shown me I was recycling the same key, over and over again. All because I tried to use the dark to see.
I felt that my voice was unheard and I finally got to the point where I didn’t want to live anymore. I used to wish and pray that I’d contract a horrible disease or illness cause I thought it’d be the only way for people to truly hear the words I had to say. It’s a shame that I would even think this. But what even more shameful than that, is how much more words really are cherished after someone has died, or is dying. I had a one track mind for sacrifice, and was hell bent making it happen. I smoked **** by myself; occasionally drank in my lonesome; compulsively ate more than I should; anchored myself to be a sloth in my bed, slaved away to TV and constantly stressed myself over the little things I did. Anything that would speed up the process of my downfall, I did.
I still felt empty though, my collapse wasn’t happening as instantaneous as I hoped, which gave my relentless mind more time to think about it. I did want to live, I didn’t want to have to be this sacrifice to get my point across. “It’s such a cop out," my mind would occasionally blurt out to get my attention. “So what if I’m like my dad? Shouldn’t that be more of a reason to be able to empathize with him when he gets the way he does?"
It wasn’t until the day I got the brilliant idea that maybe I should speak what’s on my mind, that I saw how powerful I could feel. I’ll tell you something though, fighting through the agita you get in the back of your throat is hard. It literally stops you from talking. You know what you want to say, and exactly how you want to express it, but you overthink it and think you’re going to mess up expressing something you know is simple. That agita is the fear in the back of your throat that reminds you of why you feel that way. I didn’t want to result to the back burner again though, so I fought through the pain no matter how bad my chest hurt.
Eventually, I stopped resenting my father. I took it upon myself to sit down and throughly write him a letter, expressing the way I felt about our relationship. About how all I wanted was to see him happy, I was very blunt about how I felt. This is a part of that letter:
"When I think about how long it took me to write this, it’s pretty sad really. And it’s not even because my writing skills we’re slacking, the sad part is what I thought I had to do in order to write this to you. Every day that I would try and write this, I would put alcohol and drugs into my body because I thought it would aid me in my creative writing. But instead, pretty much the opposite happened. I sat staring at a computer screen ruminating about my own troubling thoughts and personal anger. So I sat even longer staring at that screen thinking I needed more substance in my body to awaken the thoughts that I so longed to express. I used and abused until I just got too tired of trying to write and passed out. My point is, I made excuses to take in substances for my own personal benefit because the whole time I was really trying to run away from the problem instead of facing it. When I really sit back and analyze myself as well as you, I see a huge correlation between us. And to be honest, I think it’s a big contributing factor to my depression. Not because me and you are similar, but because we’re similar and you think you’re so different. Do you want in on something I’ve never directly told you? Growing up, I’ve always had persistent urge to make you a happier person. Ever since I noticed how depressed and upset you were, I told myself I would stop at nothing until you saw the good that life has to offer. I didn’t realize how high I set my expectations until they were ripped out from under my feet. My interventions got me nowhere but further into a rut with you, not to mention they were labeled as girlish emotions to have. It’s funny how fast you can go from being helpful to being angry, which is exactly what happened to me. I became so obsessed with trying to make you a happier person that I started becoming angrier that nothing was working. My anger turned into depression and I started smoking **** significantly more to run away from the fact that it seemed like there was nothing I could do to help you out. I started seeing all the negative aspects of life and didn’t want to go out and have fun anymore, so I started compulsively eating and religiously watching TV. Not to mention, I would spend an abnormal amount of time on my computer. I went to the doctor 2 weeks ago, and since the last time I went there which was less than a year ago, I put on 20 pounds. I feel like ****, but I lie to everyone because I don’t want them to see how much I’m suffering on the inside. You know, there was a point a few months ago where I didn’t care if I died or got extremely sick, I actually hoped for it. I looked at my life as a sacrifice for the well being of other people, as well as for my own benefit. If I had gotten really sick or diagnosed with a horrible disease, I knew people would pay more attention to me. I knew that people would listen to my opinion more because it was more “influential” on them because of the fact I was probably going to die. I kind of counted on pity to be an influencing factor on me being influential to others, which is kind of like giving up. It’s kind of strange that you hear that coming from me, huh?"
I took the burden of my father off my shoulders, and I must say we get along a lot better today. He never thought I'd be able to relate to him in the ways that I did in the letter I wrote, and he broke down in tears to me. I never chose to give up on the thoughts that went on in my mind. I still struggle with expressing how I feel at times, but it’s not stopping me from trying to fight past it. I know I can relate to him if I allow him into my life instead of shutting him out indefinitely.
I have this belief that traumatic experiences can be the gateway to self-change. Trauma happens to us all, and it can be the very foundation of a person’s character. It can be what shapes your fears, develops strengths or weaknesses to certain situations and can overall can be a burden-like thought that you carry with for the rest of your life. Trauma’s have their ranges of impact and can even go as far as sending a person over the edge to end their own life. One that has stuck with me my whole life, which most people wouldn’t guess to be, was disguised in silence. People that go through traumatic experiences don’t always have crazy superficial cuts and bruises, a lot of the scars of their traumas remain on the inside, hidden away from plain view.
This was an assignment I had to write for my creative writing class, let me know what you think!