My stomach fluttered with a mix of nerves and excitement as I sat down in the familiar office. What I found out in the next hour could change my life and the way I see myself—past, present and future.
Over the past few years I have seen articles that started me on this path. Then a few weeks ago, I colored in hundreds of circles, reminding me of all the standardized tests from my school days. Today was the day the tale of colored circles, now tabulated, would be told.
My counselor laid the result chart out in front of me, and the answer was clear: I have ADHD.
I am 44-years-old, and though I had all the indications during my school years, nobody recognized the situation for what it was. It was the 1980s and the poster child for ADHD was little boy who went 100 miles an hour all day long, disrupting his class with his boundless energy. The little girl who always had her desk by the teacher’s was just seen as chatty. I spent half of my elementary school recesses indoors writing sentences, as if that would teach me to keep my mouth shut and my hands to myself.
After school conferences, my mom would sit me down to say, again, that all my teachers said that I was smart, but . . . The blank would be filled in with words like lazy or unmotivated. They couldn’t understand why I didn’t perform up to my obvious intelligence. I resigned myself to the punishment meted out and tried extra hard for a few weeks before entropy set back in. No matter how hard I tried, it was unsustainable, entropy always won.
Nothing has changed in the decades since, except that there’s nobody to ground me anymore.
My husband, God love him, has set up organizational systems for me; he writes me to-do lists, he reminds me to check my calendar. He does it all lovingly, faithfully, relentlessly. I fear I’ve turned him into a nag. He patiently endures my perpetual entropy, and is it ever humbling.
Perhaps the worst of it, though, is watching every other woman in the world (or so it seems). Women whose organizational and planning skills come naturally. I still feel the sting of humiliation from the time I worked all day at setting up a combined garage sale at my house with a neighbor only to have her roll in at the end of the day and transform my chaos into a cohesive thing of beauty in an hour. At work, I am always the idea person with passion and excitement who falls apart when it comes time to put the trees into the forest and bring my big ideas to fruition.
The impact on my psyche from these years of falling short has been profound. I’ve never stopped being the student who is smart but . . . The employee who is smart but . . . The mom who is smart but . . . The volunteer who is smart but . . . The woman who is smart but . . .
And that but . . . is humiliating.
After careful review of my results, my counselor recommended treatment with medication. By her assessment, I have made use of any and all of the tools at my disposal, including depending on others to fill in the gaps, but the entropy still wins. She thinks that turning the tables on the entropy and deleting the but . . . will change my life.
I find it unfathomable that taking a pill in the morning could actually make a difference. Could it be that after all these years of struggling that a prescription could make the difference? I can only imagine what would happen if I could stave off the entropy, if I could take that nasty but . . . out of my sentence.
It’s almost frightening.
I’m going to give it a shot. I’d like to meet the woman who is smart and . . .