Things I heard growing up:
Why did you do that (insert off the wall impulsive thing I couldn’t explain), Jessica?
It’s rude to interrupt people. Mind your manners please.
You have so much potential. You could do anything you wanted if only you’d (work for it, apply yourself, care)
I don’t understand why you’re grades are so bad, you’re a smart kid.
You’re just lazy.
You’re a daydreamer.
*doodles in class*
*doodles some more*
JESSICA, WHAT DID I JUST SAY?
Me: Uh, what?
By the time I was in late elementary school, my self esteem was in tatters. I was unmotivated and lazy. I didn’t care. I wasn’t living up to my potential. I was weird, stupid, selfish, inattentive, negligent.
But, I still cared. I still believed if I put the hard work in the things that seemed so easy for everyone else, math, science, social skills would happen for me too.
By high school I was certain they wouldn’t.
When I said something off the wall without thinking.
When I was late to a math final and decided you know what, fuck it, I’m not going to pass anyway.
Every time I decided I’d be happier hanging out in some remote part of the school with my friends instead of going to class.
Or, heaven forbid go make out with my boyfriend.
How I didn’t attend any classes in the month of November that year.
How I ran away.
Firmly believing, deep down that I was irresposnsible, lazy, unmotivated, disrespectful, damaged, bad.
I believed I was bad.
I went to my mom and begged her. Begged her to please notice that I having legitimate problems. (at the time I was sure it was depression. And it was, but not only, and my mom told me I was being trendy. That no kid of hers was going on psychotropics. That I didn’t need them I needed therapy.)
So it must be true.
I was trendy. Not sick.
Fast forward. I’m 25, not 17.
I’ve just come out the other side of a year, A YEAR, of postpartum depression so severe I should have been hospitalized. PPD so bad I’m lucky me and my kid are alive.
Have you always been depressed.
I dunno, doc? Maybe. I can’t remember.
He prescribes antidepressants. And they help, some.
But I still have memory problems, motivation problems, problems with initiative, inability to self start. I am lazy. I am inattentive. I am negligent.
I will never do anything with my life because I am incapable of getting it together.
My marriage suffers.
My kid(s) suffers.
We double my dose on the antidepressants and when that doesn’t work, or doesn’t work enough, we choose a different med.
I am sort of functional.
I can’t remember things. Even simple things.
I zone out in the middle of conversations.
I interrupt people.
I can’t self start.
I can’t get motivated.
What is wrong with me?
Does this sort of stuff happen to other people, or just me?
Meds don’t fix everything, you need to be in therapy to really tackle your depression.
Therapy is stupid.
Fast forward again:
7 year old son can’t sit still, zones out during conversations, is more interested in his tablet than the rest of the world. Learns nothing in first grade.
Googles. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
There’s a glimmer of recognition. Just a glimmer as I wrap my mind around memory problems. Adult adhd. The burden spouses face with partners who have executive dysfunction.
A light bulb goes off.
I am 36 and I’ve been treating my adhd for three months and this is the most consistently happy I have been in my entire life. Because the things that I hate about myself. The things I wish I could change and can’t because I’m just a terrible person aren’t flaws. They’re fucking symptoms.
And nobody ever noticed.
Not in 36 years.
And they say I have problems paying attention.