As long as I can remember I've believed that I was to blame for my shortcomings of which I believed to have many. I was lazy, I wasn't good enough. I was just not trying hard enough.
How come other people had no problem passing their driver's test yet I had to try four times? Obviously, I wasn't trying hard enough. And why was I still such a bad driver after years of practice? "Concentrate, child", I hear my mother's voice from the passenger seat of my life.
Trouble concentrating? Not trying hard enough.
Problems getting into gear especially in the morning? Lazy. Couch potato. Clearly.
Interrupting people or blurting out things? Just plain rude.
Constantly late? Like everyone else I assumed I just wasn't - wait for it - yes, trying hard enough.
Not trying hard enough.
Not caring enough.
Not engaged enough.
I tried to organise my life about 20 different times enlisting about 15 different methods and approaches. I tried "Getting Things Done". Didn't even finish the book.
I worked hard at biting my lip, to filter, to just shut the hell up. Still, I was regularly accused of lacking tact. I really worked hard at getting out of the house in time for school/work/meetings. Always rushing, always running, always out of breath. Inside I tried so hard to change while on the outside my efforts just didn't reflect. Maddening, is what that is.
Finally someone recommended the book "You mean I'm not lazy, stupid or crazy?" to me. (If you happen to read this, Dana McDougal from the NBC store who I can't find on Facebook: I am eternally grateful to you for that tip! Thank you!).
This book is fantastic. I am not yet done with it, but it's the first non-fiction book I can stand to read at all because it is written for people like me. Reading about other people's stories, getting the medical info, learning about symptoms and how to cope with them has been amazing so far.
And then there's the psychological side of it all. The book is pure therapy!
Because, one night, while reading, I finally forgave myself.
Just like for so many other ADHD adults who've read the book it has been a journey of forgiveness for me. And oh my gods it feels so fucking good to just let it go. I am finally shedding my lifelong feelings of blame like a heavy fur coat at the end of winter. And just like spring it feels wonderful.
I'm not saying that from now on I will just shrug my shoulders when faced with my flaws. I will continue to work hard at being a better version of myself, especially now that I'm learning how to do it, but the difference is that I now know that it's not my fault that my "lapses" happen. Because there is something wrong with my brain, on a neurobiological level.
And people who don't have that have no idea, no idea, how much effort and work someone who has ADHD has to put into appearing even remotely normal. I was doing fine for 25 years, I compensated with intelligence and hard work. I compensated like a motherfucker. Until my body basically told me to go fuck myself (burn-out, depression). The reins to my life were gliding out of my hands and there was nothing I could do about it.
It's a good thing my iron grip failed. Now I'm figuring this shit out. Better now than in 10 or 20 more years. Because here are ways to get help. Stimulants for the ever stimulation-craving ADHD. Specifically ADHD-tailored methods of organisation. Tricks to using the crazy for positive things like creating.
The book is really helping me understand what's going on in my brain with all it's misfires and sudden crashes. It explains why I'm a night owl and why it takes me forever to get started in the morning (sometimes even until noon) and why I am exhausted in the afternoon. It also reallya helps that my wife is reading a book for people with ADHD partners and that we're talking about it, trying to untangle the mess from two sides.
So what if my brain fires fast and it sometimes quite randomly? I just need to learn how to focus it on something productive and how to shift from one activity to another without getting distracted.
So, I used to think I was just a bad driver by default but the book has made me understand what's actually going on when I drive:
I suck at spatial stuff. For instance, after six years with Finn I still fret when I'm driving to her parent's house alone (like I did today). I have made a point of remembering some landmarks that remind me of when to take a turn. That took a while because it's boring and my memory sucks at boring things. However, if too much time passes between two landmarks I fear I might have gotten lost. There's no way I could recount the route or the landmarks to you neither before nor even right after I've made the journey. I don't know how to describe it better but... stuff in between just gets lost in my memory. So I'll remember the gas station where I have to turn left and the reddish house (gods forbid they ever repaint that another color!) where I have to take another left and the big shopping place where I have to take the third exit but I can't actually tell you which order they're in and how many in between I forgot. I'll only know when I see them, which makes driving pretty stressful for me because I still have to focus on the regular car-and-traffic-things and keep my mind from wandering.
Plus: Being bad at decisions also reflects in my driving where split decisions are high in demand. Green light blinking - continue or stop? It just takes me to long to decide.
BTW you don't have to be afraid of me on the streets. I drink my coffee and turn on music that helps me stay on task without getting bored. And I don't drive when I don't feel up to the task :)