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Health & Fit When Your ADHD Hides Behind Complex PTSD

03:10  16 november  2021
03:10  16 november  2021 Source:   themighty.com

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Since early in life, I knew I was different from other people. I always assumed it was the result of the trauma I have continuously faced in my life. Being economically poor in my younger years made me a candidate for bullying. I didn’t have any new clothes. I thought the reason I had lice often was also because of this. I went so far as to beg to have my head shaved, and then I wore a raggedy wig instead. Of course, that didn’t go over well with the other kids. They thought it was hilarious to torment me. I don’t remember being a kid like that, with the desire to laugh at others’ pain. There were many reasons for other children to attack me and not like me, but I never considered it could be a result of an actual biological difference.

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As my economic status changed, so did my social status. I had friends who liked the way I dressed, and I never had lice anymore. The other children thought I was funny, and because I was a foster kid, I was somewhat mysterious too. The boys started having crushes on me, and the girls either wanted to be my friend or felt angry at my newfound popularity. They could tell I was “different and weird” because I didn’t understand the social norms that came with that age.

I was only 9 years old when my status changed from reject to new girl in the blink of an eye, and I had no idea how to adjust to it. So I tried to learn from the other kids. I learned to gossip, compare, and think I was better than others because of my grades or my looks or my status. I became the bullies that had tormented me when I had less than them. The difference was, those children had no idea what it was like to be the ostracized child, but I did.

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When my adoptive mother explained to me that I was causing emotional pain for these children, I suddenly was snapped back to those days where I would cry myself to sleep, because I just didn’t understand why everyone hated me. Although my nature was still mostly kindhearted, I had fallen prey to what we all do at times, the desire to avoid social rejection at all costs. One of the ways to do that was to switch the focus onto someone else.

Once I had been reminded of that pain though, I tried my best to stop it. Who was I to cast out other people who just wanted friendship and love? Why was it OK for me to say mean things about them? Were my friends doing the same thing to me? The answers were pretty simple, I wasn’t anyone with a right to do that, it was never OK for me to be mean and petty, and my “friends” were absolutely doing the same thing to me. Every girl was waiting for the queen bee to fall. My popularity was short-lived. I got two years of it before I realized it just made me a different type of target.

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I am the kind of person who analyzes every interaction, and everything that I said, and what the other person said, later when I am alone. This has caused social anxiety. As a result, I learned to mask those symptoms with alcohol and drugs. People would always say to me, “you really know who you are” or “you are so extroverted, I wish I could talk as much as you.” I didn’t realize I was a novelty to them. They knew I wasn’t like them. They knew I was different. That was why it was so easy for all of them, even the people I thought I was closest to, to reject me again as soon as my behaviors became socially abnormal.

I have never understood social cues. I am fascinated with behavior and emotions. Not because I am so adept at them, but because I could be consumed by trying to understand others to keep myself safe from them. I once had a “friend” tell others, “Oh she doesn’t have any hobbies, her hobbies are whatever everyone else likes.” She knew me better than I knew myself. I was hiding behind a false bravado of feeling like I knew it all, walking all over other people, and drinking or drugging myself into oblivion. I hated everything I was doing, and everything I was becoming, again.

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I wish I could say that each time I realized I wasn’t myself, I got better. That would be a lie. I spent two decades of my life trying to fit into a society that never liked me, never understood me, and spent every moment judging the person I was. I began to struggle with mental health issues in an obvious way when I was in my mid-teens. It was when the self-medicating and the drowning of myself began. I was told I was anxious, that I was depressed, that I was prone to histrionics, and with a history of sexual abuse, it made sense that I was promiscuous. I was “just lucky I hadn’t gotten pregnant or sick.” I started hearing about how my life had made me who I was. That I was lucky to be alive and not a prostitute. I should be happy with what I had accomplished despite the trials. I wasn’t. I had expected more from myself. I wanted to be perfect. To be liked and loved, and removed from who I was. All of this just made me feel more like a failure. To top it off, I had dropped out of high school, and I was going back and forth among different jobs and possible futures. I was trading sexual partners and friends like they had expiration dates. If I couldn’t be “normal,” I was sure as hell going to make a mark. I would be everything but normal. I would take pride in my faults and wear them like armor.

The truth was though, I hated myself so much. It came to head when I met a boy who saw right through me and knew it would be easy to manipulate someone like me. I had just come home from a year in another province, where once again I had failed to assimilate. I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, I was judgmental, promiscuous and hard to deal with. I spent nights crying in my room again, and eventually, I wanted to kill myself.

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To try to avoid this, my adoptive parents came and took me home. I found a job selling car wax. This is where I met him. I could tell he was full of nonsense the second we started talking, but I didn’t have a real understanding of the cycles that can occur between a very disturbed individual and a mentally ill person. He began the love bombing, the gaslighting and the “crazy-making” behavior. He would never respond to text messages. I was expected to always be around him, or else I didn’t exist. I didn’t understand how easy a target I was. I was too smart to get pulled into this. Before I knew it, I was living with him, I was broke, I was being mentally, physical and sexually abused, and I thought I was in love. If I had been a shell in the past, the boy dug out anything that was left and helped me to turn into the scariest monster I had ever been. I checked out mentally and was willing to do any of the things we talked about in private. I did not recognize until years later that these were all signs.

Through all of this, I struggled with my mental stability. I tried to kill myself a few times. No one knew how many times I tried or came close to it. I came to realize that he was just another attempt to make myself disappear. It was also a connection to a social group, albeit an incredibly unhealthy one. I didn’t know what love was. I was desperate for it, but not truly capable of it myself because again, I hated myself. So I started receiving more diagnoses. I was bipolar and needed all this medication, and the fact I struggled to take it was another sign I was bipolar. Then another doctor would tell me, no, I wasn’t bipolar, but I had a borderline personality disorder. Described to me at the time as just being a personality failure. No one had taught me how to properly socialize, and so I craved attention and would do anything for it. There was some truth to this, but it only sent me down a shame spiral. Again, I tried to kill myself. It took the social group I spent time with, literally separating the two of us, for that boy and I to break up. They realized we were going to kill each other, and maybe everyone else along with it. They knew that was not who I was, but I would do whatever he wanted, even if I hated him by this point. I was addicted to the pain and madness. I believed I deserved how I was treated. It didn’t matter that I was smart, I had no idea how to read the social cues around me, or see that I was the joke.

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I was one of the lucky people in this type of situation, because I got out, and met the love of my life. He understood I had a lot of traumas that needs/ed working through in all aspects of my life. He has been patient with me as I heal and work through all the events in my life. This short essay is only a small iota of it all, and I have a hard time focusing in a way that I could be truly concise about it all. What all of this did for me though, was give me time to see where the normal things were that I was struggling with. I became increasingly aware of different mental health issues, and then eventually, of neurodiverse individuals. I started reading as much as I could. I tried to absorb everything I could about being a co-dependent and how it affected my life.

I would like to say it was all happily-ever-after after I met my fiancé, but it wasn’t, and likely never will be. I have a life that finds tragedy no matter where I go. So even though many things were looking up, depression got me again, and due to the stress again of realizing I was different from others, and not knowing what that meant or how to accept it, I tried again to kill myself.

This time, an amazing thing happened. I got real help. I spent a few months working with a day hospital treatment program, even doing a small stint in the ward. Upon completion, the amazing psychiatrist I had met offered to continue the work with me. He saw something in me that said to him that I wanted to get better. I wasn’t just looking for attention, as is still a common stigma. I wanted to find happiness and understand how I got to where I was.

This doctor changed the way I saw myself, and the way I lived my life. I am still awkward, I talk too much, I cry often, I do not have many friends (but those I do love me unconditionally, even when I still struggle to love myself), and my family life is in relative shambles most days. But he worked with me for three years. He helped me to understand that happiness is not something to strive for and can never be expected to be lasting. He told me if I wanted to be mentally healthy, I had to learn how to cope with the emotions, the mental and physical pain, and to keep going and strive for more from myself and my life. I was able to have all the things I wanted in life, and I did not need to conform to have them. In fact, I would be much happier if I would let go of the “nice girl” act and let myself be me.

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That is much easier said than done, but I work towards that every day. I have not worked with him for over a year now, and it makes me sad some days, but I keep going forward and trying. He helped to remove all the previous diagnoses and taught me about complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and he believed it was what I struggled with the most. He helped me to get in control of the drugs and drinking, and to start to love myself.

The combination of this tireless care from him, and the support system I was able to create with my fiancé, helped me to get to where I am now. The whole point of all of this writing. The actual biological reasons behind my social awkwardness, my fast-talking and thinking brain that had always made me odd, my constant need to ask why to everything, and my genuine desire to understand others. Because many of my original stressors began to fall away, there was little left to look at as the cause of persistent anxieties and my struggles in the workplace, or why I would suddenly move all the furniture in my house around at midnight because I just needed something different. I went back to my research on neurodiversity and began taking online tests. I always scored high for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), mild autism and dyslexia. That all made sense to me. I loved to write and had a lot of ideas, but could never slow down for editing. I would get frustrated with pronouncing words correctly or spelling them right, and would just laugh it away, saying “Well that’s how I say it!” When I decided to enter university, these issues became pronounced. I finally sought treatment.

Today, I am just beginning my ADHD treatment, but I can say it has made a difference for me. I am not a different person, but I understand and love myself now more than ever. I see the things that make me different as little quirks that can help and benefit me. I may be very sensitive to my environment and the people in it, but that is a strength I can grow. The medication has helped to slow down the multiple streams of thought that often overtake my mind, and has helped to control the ruminations. This is something that none of the anti-anxiety, antidepressant or bipolar medications ever did for me. I can see clearer. Yes, sometimes I wish I wasn’t different from other people, but I am learning daily that there is a whole community of others who are like me, and whose experiences are not all that different. As we open and share our lives with the world, maybe little girls with ADHD will be diagnosed faster.

I was smart, got good grades, held conversations with adults that surprised them, and could finish projects faster than many of my peers. I always told everyone everything about me, even strangers, which was brushed off as me being extremely friendly and precocious. To me, these were all signs of the fact that I was different and possibly needed help understanding how to use my differences rather than allowing them to ostracize me later in life.

Being diagnosed on the spectrum of neurodiversity is not a curse or a bad thing, I am not mentally ill because of that (though I do still have severe social anxiety). Children and the public need to be more informed on what these differences mean. For some of us, they are debilitating and cause lifelong struggles with learning, and for others, it affects how we socialize and see the world. High functioning or not, it would have helped to have been truly seen as a child and not just passed along to be the next person’s problem.

With a Diagnosis at Last, Black Women with ADHD Start Healing .
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usr: 1
This is interesting!