Different or normal?
Even as a child, I was 'different'. To this day, I hate that word in this context. Different - what is different? And does different mean something positive or negative? And what then is 'normal?' So when do you meet that normal standard?
I grew up with a sister and a sibling. And I was obviously so 'different' from them. I flew back and forth in my emotions, was easily distracted, but was unstoppable once I found something I liked, was always losing everything and my room was always 1 big mess.... My parents soon noticed this. But they always let me be myself; they would seek help if I got stuck in my life because of being different. I am very grateful to them for that. It did bother me that they laughed at me a lot. Not even laughing at me, but more because of the crazy things that could only then happen to me again.
School and study
I was in a small primary school in a small class. I felt very safe here. It was structured and clear. I also performed well at school. But I was a bit sloppy, messy and wanted to finish everything quickly. I read a lot and could get lost in books.
In secondary school, I was able to keep up reasonably well. I did start at HAVO but went to VMBO after 2 years. I got my diploma and went to college. As a 16-year-old adolescent, I couldn't cope at all. This was partly down to me, but also to the study programme at the time. It was very badly organised and there was no structure. I couldn't cope with that at all. I played truant, didn't do my homework and didn't feel good at all. After one year, I quit the course and went to another school.
Diagnosis of ADD and medication
My parents decided that this was the moment to seek help for me. I ended up seeing a psychiatrist through my GP and soon the results came: and if I had ADD. On almost all characteristics of ADD I scored positive. I went into therapy and received medication.
After therapy and some fiddling with the right medication, I managed to cope pretty well with the symptoms of my ADD. I decided that it was also time to stop laughing at me; laughing in my head meant that I had done something wrong. I made the choice to make sure there was no more room to laugh at me at all; everything had to go right. And that went pretty well because of the tricks I had learnt in therapy. But what I didn't learn; how do I accept my ADD? Why am I ashamed of it? How do I share people in my struggle with ADD?
I tiptoed around the house and hid all the traits (as far as I could) of my ADD. I was not different, I was 'normal'. Everything had to go well, I would no longer give anyone a reason to laugh at me. I kept this up for a long time. I got my MBO diploma on my second course (which, by the way, was 100 times better organised than the previous course), found a nice job and liked everyone around me, but still kept my distance from friends when things got too close. Together with my boyfriend, we decided to take the next step and move in together. We bought a house together and renovated it together. And then my body was completely done with the perfectionist stuff.
I got a lot of abdominal pain. During the day but a few times at night it was unbearable. So much abdominal pain that on two occasions I begged at the GP's office in the middle of the night for the pain to stop. I broke down in pain and really screamed at times. I was given morphine on these two occasions at the GP's office and on the other occasions I suppressed the pain with the painkiller diclofenac. After all these tests by different doctors, the result was always that I was healthy. Maybe it was stress, the doctor suggested. It looked like that from my blood (I had too many white blood cells in my body; this could indicate stress). I knew all along that this was obviously the reason. But I didn't want to admit it.
Learning to accept
After the second time I had a morphine injection for abdominal pain and many conversations with my boyfriend, I decided that this could not go on. I was 22 and spending whole days in bed with abdominal pain from stress! I sought help through my GP and got in touch with a psychologist. After some conversations, we found out that I was not doing well at all. I wanted to improve my quality of life and the only one who could do that was me. I had to start learning to accept myself, with the ADD.
And it is going very well now. It goes in steps. Now I can laugh along when I'm cooking and the kitchen has exploded completely and my boyfriend laughingly asks if a bomb has exploded. I no longer get angry when I can't do the housework, but tell myself what I have done and that relaxing is also important. I no longer lock myself up on Saturday evenings because I think I have to be fit for work on Monday. I no longer feel rejected when I blurt out something that makes someone else laugh. I try to open up to friends, to let them into my home, literally and figuratively. I'm writing a blog about my ADD and will pass it on to my dear family and friends, instead of always pretending my ADD doesn't exist. And maybe if I am very brave, even share it on Facebook. Gradually, I am becoming more and more proud of what steps I have made and that I have ADD. In other words, I think I am allowed to be there.
And of course, sometimes things still go wrong. For example, I also find this very exciting, that anyone can now just read this if they want to and then know this about me and form an opinion about it. And then I can get panic and stomach ache again. And if I don't manage to tell myself that one time, I have all kinds of sweet people around me who remind me that I am allowed to be there. Without me having pleasured them for it. ;)
I'm very curious how you experienced this. Were you okay with your diagnosis right away or did you have the same as me and fight it?
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