Every thought that runs through my brain is like a sounding gong amidst all the background noise of life. Dog’s snoring, the kid is crunching her bedtime snack, and the air just turned on.
How can I write anything worth reading when my thoughts are swirling along with the loudness that is my life.?
I don’t know how to soften the volume. I wonder all the time if I am the only one with a running narrative in their mind that feels like a punk rock show from the late 80s and early 90s. It only took me three entire decades to learn that this tornado of thoughts rarely happens to other people. It is unique to a wonderfully blessed group of individuals with a neurodivergent brain. The sounds are maddening at times, other times I find it comforting because silence doesn’t sit well with my always-moving brain. The older I get, the more I understand my brain works differently than the people I encounter every day. In passing work conversations, I find myself hyper-focused on a topic while the others within the conversation have moved forward to the next subject. I often pick up my phone to research information just to add to the conversation. But, by the time I have found my overwhelming contribution to the conversation, I realize everyone is approximately three stories passed the initial topic I just spent two minutes researching.
I live in that weird gray awkward space. Where things are grossly awkward or completely hilarious. This makes wonderful entertainment for others, however, sometimes it makes connecting with others difficult. How can I make friends when I can’t even follow along in a conversation? If I had a dollar for every time I have over shared information just to fill in that small silence in a conversation, I would likely be able to pay off my student loan debt and afford more therapy. I think this is also why I find socializing to be both wonderful and exhausting. It’s like my heart thrives on the beauty of connection and conversation while my brain does a tailspin with every passing topic in an attempt to take the next off-ramp. This makes for some interesting conversations…
For years, I masked it. I played off my lack of attention as me just being energetic. I’ve excused my behavior as “mom brain.” No one could argue with “mom-brain” when they were fully aware you had multiple young children at home. But something just didn’t feel right. I was behind at work, at home, and basically in life. I had often joked about my ADHD brain, yet I had never once thought to seek an actual diagnosis. It wasn’t until I was sitting on a cold exam room table with only a gown covering me that I heard my OBGYN say, “Have you ever considered that you may have ADHD?” She and I had talked the previous year about trying a new medicine for my anxiety. We discussed therapy and other ways to help my mental health. Yet here I was a year later, sitting on the same cold exam room table, discouraged that nothing had changed despite my efforts and her guidance. Then she mentioned ADHD. She talked about how many women my age were misdiagnosed. I almost cried. This lady knows me well. She has been treating me for years. She has delivered my babies. Not only does she know me well, but she is excellent at her job. She knows her stuff. So, when she talked about attention-deficit, it confirmed all my inner thoughts over all the years, and I felt a tremendous sigh of relief. She asked if I had ever considered seeking an ADHD diagnosis or trying medication for it, and I felt like a 1000-pound weight had been lifted off my shoulders. For a moment, I heard silence and felt peace. Sitting there naked and cold, I’ve never felt more comfortable in my own skin.
Thankfully, my journey to an actual diagnosis only took around six months. The first time I took medication for ADHD, it felt as if the Rolodex of thoughts slowed down to a manageable speed. The sounds all around me seemed softer. My thoughts were clear for the very first time… like ever. I am not going to say that only medication has been my saving grace. NOPE, I see my therapist weekly, and I use (or attempt to use) healthy coping skills. Meds, therapy, and an extra measure of grace for myself have been transformative in my journey. So, now I know why everything is so loud. Basically, my brain is like a supercomputer that only processes things at two speeds: fast and faster. So, I am learning about myself, learning how to give myself grace, share when things are overwhelming, and speak up when something just doesn’t feel right in my head. I do, however, still tend to over share in moments of silence. Maybe that’s just a part of my personality now. Awkward and weird are just common traits I now wear as a badge of honor. So, if you ever have the privilege or punishment (whichever you think fits) to meet me and I over share about my ADHD or my therapist… just know it is me, being my true authentic self.
It’s still awkward, right?