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Dear ADHD

Blinds symbolic of what it feels like to be labeled by a diagnostician.

I never got to thank the person who introduced us. It’s someone on twitter, and I’ve been too shy to tell them. Also because it happened years ago, and if I tell them now it’ll look like I’ve had this gratitude for them kept hidden for so long – it’s almost stalkerish and… WAIT.

This is not central to what I wanted to tell you. I think. 

Because I am not sure what I wanted to tell you. I saw this post on Facebook about writing a letter to ADHD and I thought it sounded great, since, I mean, I’m a writer and I have ADHD and I also happen to study creative writing as a learning and therapeutic tool so that’s, like, right in my corner!

Also it’s 3:45 pm and I’ve basically only had breakfast and sent out 4 emails today, and I can’t seem to be able to start on any meaningful task so maybe doing this can save the day?

Anyway that is to say I haven’t really taken the time to think about what it was I would tell you about in a letter.

It’s funny we’ve been formally introduced so late in life. You knew my brother first, over 20 years ago, when he was 7 and I was 9. We came really close to meeting back then – at least physically – I was just out there in the waiting room at his psychiatrist’s office. What if we’d been introduced then?

It wasn’t easy for my brother. Not since, like, school began. He’s doing great now – so great! Not in a classical way, don’t get me wrong. He’s not rich, nor does he have a fancy job. But he’s grown into a resilient, reflective, creative, curious and – frankly – extremely hard-working human. If more people were like him, or more accurately, if more white cisgender, straight dudes of the western world were like him, this world would be a lot better. 

It hasn’t been easy for me either, mind you. I was good at school, yes. I would say I was a little too good at school. Kind of like it was the one thing I had going for me. Which it was. Because I was an awkward and anxious kid with existential questions and no one to help me out with that.

I mean I knew I was an awkward, anxious kid with existential dissatisfaction back then. But I didn’t realize that there might be someone to help me out with that – I also didn’t know it was an option. I also didn’t know a couple of other important things – I didn’t know I was queer, nor did I know that I was neurodivergent. I didn’t know you personally, yet : ADHD.

So, when things kept getting harder for me, I blamed the one thing all of these things had in common. I blamed me, and I tried to fix the problem : Me. I tried very, very hard to fix : Me. And how does a teenage AFAB person fix her*self , you think? Well, yes of course : Dieting. Dieting harshly. Dieting to counteract my use of food as a source of dopamine (something I know now but didn’t know then). Dieting to look more like the girl I was sure I wasn’t good at being. Dieting to prove to myself I could have control over my life. See : Dieting was the obvious answer to just about all of my problems.

Now, ADHD, you and I both know how things lead to other things. You and I also both know how to take things a liiiittle bit to the extreme. So, it shouldn’t surprise you too much when I tell you it took only about 3 weeks for the dieting to go full-blown Anorexia.

Cue my first very-own psychiatrist. And then another, and then another, and then another. That is not when we met, though. Not in a psychiatrist’s office albeit the very place one might go to find you.

We met like one meets in the 21st century : WE MET ONLINE. Through the tweet of an internet’s intimate stranger. We met long after my eating disorder had resolved, leaving almost no trace. We met after I lost jobs, dropped out of colleges, after I had almost given up on long-term partnerships. We met after I came out. We met when I had nearly exhausted all possible ‘fixes’ to the problem that was : Me.

We met after I had NOT grown-out of : constant overwhelm, late payment fees, library fees; forgotten this, forgotten that; super dramatic love interests(do-pa-mi-ne!); missed deadline, missed deadline, missed deadline; shame, shame, shame; and loneliness. 

We met when I was about to turn 30. Like, literally – I started the day of my 30th birthday with yet another psychiatrist appointment. And then – do you have time for another plot twist??

Okay. And then, I dropped out of appointments with her, because I was deep in administrative procrastination and couldn’t deal with my health insurance card renewal! Of course I was ashamed to tell my psychiatrist’s assistant, so I lied about what was wrong with my card, and at some point became too ashamed to go back there… Yes, I was paying for that health insurance but no benefits at that point in the game.

I was in quarantine with all my flatmates in April 2020 of the corona-era when my (6th, I think?) psychiatrist called and woke me up to let me know : all tests confirmed the suspected diagnosis. I had – well you know already, and so did I. I had you – ADHD. .

It was the second day of quarantine and the world outside, out of reach, was slowly realizing what the heck it was in for. At that point in time, I was worried about my sick flatmates. I was scared of getting sick myself, even if I was just 33. So I didn’t cry of relief that day, nor the day after, nor the day after, and so on, and so forth. I didn’t celebrate this reckoning then but, maybe, hopefully – I will, someday soon.

The meds are helping. My life is some kind of a mess still, but I am not. And I know now – with certainty : I am not.

I’m doing great. Not in a classical way, mind you. I am not rich nor do I have a fancy job (not anymore, at least, and probably never again). But I believe that, if more people were like me, or – to be accurate – if more AFAB white people of the western world were like me, the world might be a better place.

Nice to have finally met you, ADHD.

Unidentified Gender, Age 34
AD/HD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Eating Disorder : Anorexia Nervosa

Dear Diagnosis Affirmation Key

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