If you meet me in person, you would have assumptions of who I am. You would think that I was old, boring, and not really very much fun. But the truth is that I’m not any of those things. I have never felt my age and I know I’m not boring but I am excessively introspective and sometimes confusingly introverted. Some days I feel extremely extroverted. On other days, I cannot be around other people. It’s too hard for my brain to process noise I am not in control of. Other days I need more noise and stimulation.
I was always a hyper kid. My brain had always been scattered and overwhelmed easily. I tried to clean my room and I would pull everything onto the floor and try to put it all away nicely. But then I’d get really bored and just leave it all there on the floor, in a huge heap. I got yelled at all the time for leaving a big mess.
Fast forward to this past weekend. We spent some time cleaning and going through papers. I had a stack of papers I was trying to sort out into medical put away, shred, recycle, drawer storage, special area storage, and something else. Every time I put a pile down, I forgot what that pile was. So I was picking up the piles repeatedly and not knowing which was what. Eventually I burst into tears and sat in the middle of the floor crying. I felt lost, confused, stupid, and hopeless. Who can’t organize 15-20 pieces of paper into a couple meaningful? Well, I can’t. Even with adderall, I still struggle to manage basic things. I forget things all the time. I can look through my clutter but can’t handle seeing it at the same time because it’s distracting. I can’t explain how one day I can handle getting housework done all day and the next day I’m stuck on the couch sobbing because I can’t get anything done. I don’t understand it at all. I definitely don’t understand why I can’t do things I want to do sometimes.
Being a perfectionist adds a huge layer of challenge to this neuro-biological struggle. I want to get everything done all the time. I want to get ahead of my perpetual to-do list and not always have a list of tasks hanging over me. I want to put my phone down and stop playing candy crush to get things done. This lack of control feels intentional, like I could just will myself to get up, put the phone down, and tackle everything right away. I feel lazy, unmotivated, scared, and uneasy all of the time because I’m constantly behind, late, unprepared, or unfinished. This ruined my military career. I could handle the fast tempo operations of my job, but not the incessantly boring paperwork parts. That, and my lack of ability to organize my thoughts to actually document everything I was doing kept me from writing interesting and impactful annual reports. I have regrets on this, but I am learning to let that go. I want to understand that I had no support, no medical help, and no one to even understand that I wasn’t a bad or lazy person. I could not understand it myself.
I struggle to see what I’m good at most days. I struggle because I feel like I’m not finding my life’s purpose. I’m meant to do something more with my life and not just languish like I feel like I’m doing. I want to inspire people and make them see that they are amazing and loving and they don’t need anything to be happy. I feel like I can see people how they really are inside. I can see what makes them tick and how they fit into this world, even if they don’t see it. I feel like I always get along with the “difficult” people because I understand all the ways they are misunderstood.
I’ve been told I have an infectious smile, happy eyes, and an energy that is inspiring. But I don’t see those things. I see the monster inside who had struggled with organization, academics, life, and all-consuming anger. I see someone who was emotionally stunted by trauma, sheltered as a child in all the wrong ways, and left to figure things out before I was ready while also being parented way too long.
I’m hoping that this blog can help me sort this all out in a way I haven’t tried before. It’s time for me to see what everyone else tells me they see.