ADHD & Coping

Growth & Resilience
15 min readAug 1, 2023

I’ve coped for the past 29 years without supports and this year has been unusual and not like most years. I’ve somewhat stepped out of my shell and instead of solely relying on anonymous Twitter for support, I rely on professional supports in real life. I currently see a trauma therapist and my next scheduled meeting is tomorrow at noon on August 2nd. I actually look forward to my session and I journal certain prompts to help guide myself throughout and I find this helps a lot. As an autistic/neurodivergent person, I find that having a journal or a notepad can tremendously help when our thoughts are scattered.

I know for myself, I have the tendency to jump from topic to topic so that’s why I need this journal to structure which particular topic I can talk about for each session. Last session was last week on July 28th and we talked about co-dependency. Discussing this with a professional whom I realized has their own experiences with this topic and I’m not surprised because, in a sense, we all have co-dependent issues, especially as professionals, and it is about acknowledging that through self reflection — That’s how you become self aware.

Co-dependency can look like attaching yourself to others and trying to people please to close people but knowing that you have to try to just please yourself. I’ve been wanting to post for a while on this particular topic but I never have the right words and I do believe writers block in terms of someone with ADHD and on the spectrum actually exists. We freeze up with our words and we’re unable to get what we want to get out into proper words. We’re unable to communicate certain concerns and this gets to a point where our interpersonal relationships are impacted.

I’m largely co-dependent and even through therapy, this will take time to work through. As I recently disclosed in a recovery meeting and on their group page, I have unhealed childhood trauma and this results from growing up through years of abuse, neglect, and not having the proper support systems. When I say support system, my parents were never there. My mother was there and, yes, she tried her best to navigate the role of both parents but she was not actively present and I remember sitting by my bedroom window which overlooked my drive way — I would watch my Mom’s car drive off every morning when she went off to work or wherever.

When I first started school, I was that child that would sit by the classroom door and cry for my mother. When I worked at schools previously, I encountered a six year old boy and he had obvious behavioral concerns including emotional dysregulation, cursing, biting, and aggressive behavior. This kid was the sweetest kid when he wasn’t displaying such behavior and we had great interactions. Upon working with him, I came to realize that there was a lot more going on at home and social workers and the school were actively investigating this. This particular child reminds me of myself as I saw myself in that child. I was emotionally dysregulated and I displayed a lot of behavioral concerns but received no supports growing up on top of being bullied for being socially awkward, having a lisp/stutter, and for biting my clothes up until grade eight.

Throughout my childhood, my Mom was there but was not there, and my father was a bitter and an abusive alcoholic. I try to, every day, not be like my father. I was in a recovery meeting this morning and the topic was on family — The topic during the next meeting moved onto loneliness — These topics were a hard hit and I tried to hold back my tears and, as much as I wanted to openly share about my personal experiences, I felt afraid to. I’ve always been that timid and socially awkward person that’s been difficult to get through to. It’s not that I’m doing any of this on purpose; I’m largely closed off and this has to do with my past and recent experiences on top of having a lot of mistrust with people we assumed were trustworthy at one point and have proven otherwise.

My father abused alcohol and was just very negative in nature in terms of uttering racist and ableist slurs towards myself, my sister, my mother, and towards random strangers in the community. He was also very abusive and on top of the bullying at school, I was bullied by my father physically, emotionally, and sexually. I’ve attempted many times to talk about this in therapy with some success but to talk about this, it’s not easy. I’ve asked myself why all my life and I still would like the answers to that. I still crave to have a fatherly figure in my life but that’s something to work on.

I remember taking care of my father and acting as the sole parent for the particular situation. While my father would be on the floor inebriated or high off of soemthing, I had to haul him to bed and make sure that he was okay. I was always the one taking care of my parents when I needed to be taken care of the most. I sit here as an adult these days and I’m questioning my existence because, as a result of these experiences, it’s made me attract narcissistic individuals who have detrimentally destroyed my life. Being codependent on someone else who is toxic can be challenging to get out of that dynamic and it’s their narcissistic charm which gets in the way. These days, I attract other narcissists in order to feel valued, cared for, and loved. Realistically, I need to be loving myself more than anything. This is co-dependency and it’s quite hard to overcome this especially when one has gone through years feeling unloved and uncared for.

To my surprise, I was never thoroughly assessed when I should have been. It took years to actually have a psychiatrist start the process and be like, “you have ADHD.” Again, in case anyone is new to this community, ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. According to my psychiatrist and I absolutely agree her, I have the impulsivity and hyperactivity traits with this disorder. I can send massive text messages or call someone many times, and instantly regret this after wards. We are self aware of these behaviors or at least I am very much aware that I do this and these are other behaviors I am trying to work on this outside of my anonymous Twitter. Hyperactivity can look like not being able to sit still and you are driven to always have the need to do something or to have something in your hands. I know that when I’m watching a TV show or a movie, I have to be doing something else. There has to be something in my hands at all times.

I incorporated a lovely image for further insight and knowledge.

My thoughts right now are scattered and you know, they typically call us scattered brains which is very true but also don’t really like it because I’m not that scattered — I just have a lot going on inside my mind. I don’t think that’s a terrible thing! On top of having a lot going on, this helps with my creative side as I can start and eventually finish a project or task — I can implement some art piece and whether or not this takes months to years to complete, I started it and it’s the effort that matters. ADHDers do have a creative side and that’s known to a lot of us. I can sit there and color and/or draw out a mandala for hours; I also paint and I paint creative and inspiring quotes. I’ve hung up those quotes around my place and when I had the officers in my place a few weeks ago, that’s what they pointed out to make myself feel better.

“Do not stress over the things you cannot control.”

“You are loved — You matter — Believe survivors.”

I find I understand imagery a lot better in a way where I can describe myself and the traits that possess and somewhat take over my life.

Have you ever lost your keys to realize you’ve left them either on the bus or hanging on the inside of your door? This has recently happened to me. I recently lost, or rather, left my keys on the bus on my way home from work. I remember pausing at the bus stop and being unable to find my keys. I had my bus pass, a friends key on it, and my house keys on it. I was in full on panic mode and so I ubered home that evening in a literal panic and unsure what to do. Coping through losing things like this can drive us into a crisis state of mind or at least for myself. I’ve lost my keys on many other occasions where I had to call a lock smith professional to unlock my door — Let’s just say, lock smiths are costly and I’ve tried recently not to make the same mistakes again. These days, I wrap my keys around my arm through a bracelet/waist band thingy and I find it helps a lot. I can’t afford the cost of another lock smith especially living pay cheque to pay cheque.

The emotional dysregulation is a huge one for me and this ties into other personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder. I also have borderline personality disorder (BPD) and it’s quite chaotic to mix ADHD. When I’m in emotional mind, I do not want to be here and everything turns black and white. This sort of thinking can impact ones interpersonal relationships in a sense where you have all of these people checking in and trying to reassure and validate our feelings — As a result, we end up pushing away certain people and then we’re left to having nobody all over again. When you mix BPD with ADHD traits, the emotions can heighten to a point where our crises’ can last for hours. I’m speaking from my own personal experiences. I’ve recently pushed others away as a result of my heightened emotions and I’ve been called dramatic, attention seeking, a liar, and how negative/toxic I am. No. I’m just someone who is vulnerable every day and trying to seek out the professional support as much as I can — One day at a time! As the other participants say in my recovery meetings, one day at a time and keep coming back.

The inability to concentrate on multiple tasks but the determination to try and fixate on a task with the attempt and willpower to not give up. My ability to keep coming back to these recovery meetings even after being wrongfully removed has to do with my resilience and my will to gather inspiration, seek the support needed, and to maintain sobriety. That being said, I will be a month sober as of August 5th of 2023; I will be blogging about this experience!

Another example has to do with doing research on a particular topic and you end up researching on another topic of interest because let’s say a friend recently spoke on this topic and you want to learn more about it. Soon, you eventually have about 3434395+ tabs opened in the background. After a few hours to the next day, you come back to your computer to ask yourself what you were doing a few hours ago and then you close all of the tabs and start over with a new piece of research. Sorry for the run on sentence there but my explanations are detailed and I strongly believe this is an ADHD trait — I actually know it is!

I cope through excessive fidgeting and squirming. As I type this, I am squirming/fidgetting right now. I can never just sit in silence or be still. I’m always driven by some motor. I remember at my Full Time job, I would constantly move seats or just move positions in my seat. I was doing overnights at the time and I think I annoyed my colleagues by my constant movement. I soon realized that overnights were not for me especially given the lack of sleep, poor dsyregulation with my sleep and appetite, and my mental and physical health were largely impacted. I do not recommend overnights for anyone with ADHD or on the spectrum. Early last year in May of 2022, my mental health breakdown was a great example and I fought for my case too. I fought for my job through being on a leave of absence and attending multiple grievance hearings. In the end, I disclosed my mental health diagnosis’ on top of having actual addiction issues. I fought my case through blood, sweat and tears. In the end, it was a human rights discrimination or whatever you call it. You can read about this more in the Arbitration entry through my blogs here.

The desire to hyper fixate on one particular object, thing or person, and not know why you’re doing it but you’re also doing it. When you have BPD on top of ADHD, the hyper fixation can somewhat turn into having a favorite person where you attach yourself to people and they’re your role model that you look up too. Today, I do have a few favorite people but I cannot specify.

They are the most important people in our life. When this person leaves and I have a few of sweet, older females who have left because my hyper fixation and attachment issues that got a tad bit too intense. I’ve learnt throughout the years to control my emotions, impulses, and moods. These days, I’ve been trying to work through my co-dependency and attachment in therapy — My therapist told me this, “try to love yourself. Try to attach yourself to yourself and yourself only.” That has been the wisest advice that anyone has ever told me to do. I’m blessed.
The love to hate dynamic here actually exists. Our thinking can become quite impaired especially when we start to devalue our favorite person. For myself, when my favorite person does not give me the reassurance, attention, and validation needed, I do lose it and this sends me into a spiral. After a few hours, I come out of emotional to rationale mind — I ask myself this, “why am I relying on someone else’s validation and reassurance when I should be ultimately relying on my own love and care towards myself?” For anyone with borderline personality disorder, ask yourself this too. I’m still working on this through therapy and it is possible to heal and get through these issues over time.

I used to hyper fixate to a point where I would self rely on that person altogether — I have to constantly remind myself to rely on myself and only myself because, at the end of the day, I control and make my life. I cannot allow others to control and make my life for me. This all takes time to work through and this will not take a couple of months to work through. This takes a lot of constant effort every day to better manage the traits of BPD.

In the iceberg depicted above, the image talks about the inability to follow and maintain basic instructions. Throughout my life and even today, I’ve navigated conversations with no clue as to what was being said to me. To avoid being rude, I would nod my head in agreeance but that doesn’t mean I understand what’s being said. When I put myself through postsecondary, I remember my professors asking whether or not I understood what was being presented. For some reason, I apparently have this confused and timid look on my face. I apparently look frustrated or that I’m holding in a fart when I’m just incredibly anxious in a classroom or public setting — Hence, I was also diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

I used to be on anxiety medications but the side effects for a lot of those medications made me incredibly ill. When I was on the medication, Paxil, I remember being on my way to work one morning and pausing at this busy intersection and many cars stopped to inquire what was going on out of concern. I not only paused but I fell to the ground and started throwing up. That was a very negative experience on Paxil and I will never go on anxiety medication again. I was on Cymbalta and I experienced heightened depressive and suicidal thoughts to a point where I wanted to unalive almost every day. As well and if you do your research on this medication, Cymbalta has a detrimental impact on the liver and its functioning — Hence, if you put someone who drinks alcohol occasionally while taking this medication, there can be terrible side effects to ones health. I am unsure why my psychiatrist felt the need to prescribe me with this.

I’ve noticed that auditory processing disorder is in the image too and I’ll talk briefly on that. I’ve always had medical professionals suspect that I have Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) and I still need a thorough assessment. With CAPD, you are unable to follow and maintain conversations and have instructions delivered in a way where you can properly and accurately process these instructions. I once had my mother ask to go get her a pair of scissors and I came back with a banana. Throughout my life and even today, I struggle with processing and maintaining conversations and being able to follow directions and instructions. In real life, I present myself well and people make the assumption that nothing is wrong with me and that I am a functional human being especially since I can live on my own independently.

I want to add that even trying to pronounce certain words or sayings can be incredibly challenging and so I’ve been replacing these words with other words so I don’t look foolish in front of others. I used to be bullied for having a lisp and being unable to articulate most words — I’ve overcome a lot of this throughout the years. There are still some words that I cannot pronounce especially the big ones.

People do not see what occurs behind closed doors. I’m unsure if you’ve heard about executive dysfunction as this plays a huge part in my life and even as I type this out. Executive dysfunction for myself can include not being able to be productive or get particular tasks done because everything is so overwhelming. You’re allowing the overwhelming tasks to take over your life and you think of yourself as nothing so you completely give up, cry it out for hours, and give up even more. I have been experiencing this for the past few weeks and it’s tough to get out of.

Time blindness — This is a thing with ADHD and trying to make it to appointments or work shifts, and finding yourself either too early or late to these places. I try to be extremely early to work and I’ve had supervisors question why I‘m so early to my work shifts. When I did the 7:00am shifts, I would be at work thirteen minutes prior to my start time? I get this sense of anxiety and I go into panic mode even when I’m a minute late, and this has recently happened. I was stuck in traffic on the bus one day and I had an evening shift. I was freaking out and called the site I was going too to indicate that I’d be a few minutes late. When I finally got to work, I was only a minute late and my colleagues indicated how I was not late and we all laughed at this moment together. I’ve always been the type of person to laugh at my foolishness because it’s the best thing I can do. I cope through HUMOR.

The mood swings can be excessively brutal and, again, when you tie the borderline personality disorder with the ADHD into this, there will be chaos and it’s quite the challenge to bring yourself back from emotional to rationale mind. I’ve had people tell me, “calm down. You’re overreacting.” I personally hate it when people say this to me. Do not ever tell me to calm down in a crisis — I would prefer someone not to say anything and to rather sit with me in silence.

Most of these traits can blend with other mental illnesses which can be confusing when professionals throw a diagnosis onto us. That’s why I always advocate for thorough assessments to be conducted. I never understood why psychiatrists would diagnose someone with a mental illness without analyzing the bigger picture. To analyze the complexity of someone else’s life can take months to years to do.

Experiencing traits from borderline personality disorder to ADHD — These diagnosis’ are similar in characteristics and people can have both disorders. We do thrive and manage through traits of BPD but this takes a tremendous amount of time. To be a borderline, it’s unhealed childhood trauma which stems a lot from codependency, people pleasing, trauma bonds, and to poor emotional dysregulation. With the ADHD part, there’s also learning, processing, and executive dysfunction concerns to look at there. When you put all of this together, it appears chaotic and challenging to control life altogether but it is possible. I try to not let myself be discouraged especially with the way society operates.

There is a life worth living — We all deserve support. Reaching out for help is a sign of great strength.

Coping through ADHD and autism is challenging but we do it and as long as we keep showing up to do what we need to do, that is what matters. It’s not easy to manage and survive this neurotypical world when there’s so much shame against those who are neurodivergent and autistic. In order to eradicate the shame and stigma with being autistic and neurodivergent, we need to be having these open conversations. There’s others such as myself that used to be ashamed for many years to talk about these traits with similar, like minded people. I used to have people say, “you don’t look autistic” when I clearly am. These people do not live with and they’re not me. These people do not go through the struggles, barriers, and challenges I go through just to be with you guys today.

--

--

Growth & Resilience

If life were easy, we would not be living life correctly. Life is about constant growth & overcoming challenges and obstacles along the way.