A New Beginning
My impression of people with ADHD used to be that they all have their knacks for certain things, despite having some difficulties socially. I also saw people with these qualities on TV. They all seemed to thrive...
Last summer, I found myself completely incapable of doing a task that was given to me at my part-time job. No matter how many times my colleagues explained the steps to the simple task, I was unable to follow the procedures. I felt lightheaded—almost as if I couldn’t breathe. Instances as such happen often. When overwhelmed with nervousness or frustration, my mind goes blank and tears fill my eyes. At a certain point I couldn’t figure out how to breathe anymore, and I kindly asked my colleague for a break.
My colleague was teaching me the “simple” task of bending a pair of glasses. That was all. This was considered unchallenging at my workplace. I watched another part-time worker, who had also just been taught the process, bend the temples of a pair of glasses with ease.
I was unable to find the right touch—no matter how many times I bent the temples.
“Don’t have much grip strength?” My coworker said, jokingly. These words of sympathy stabbed my heart to the core.
When overwhelmed with nervousness or frustration, my mind goes blank and tears fill my eyes.
I was filled with shame and frustration on the way home. In moments like these, I always search “can’t do simple tasks” on the web. After every search, the top hit is an online ADHD test. I check off the qualities that apply to me. The result is the same as it always is:
“possibility of ADHD: likely.”
Following the test results, advertisements on the top of my smartphone screen are all for ADHD clinics, without fail. Until now, seeing these ads never prompted me to see a specialized doctor, and neither did they give me the desire to go. But this time, for whatever reason, I felt I could give an ADHD clinic a chance.
To others, not being able to bend a pair of glasses may seem insignificant—but I took the reality hard. I was struck by what I thought was the limit of my capabilities — that I could do nothing more than “simple” procedures at part-time jobs. At this point in life, I was left with two options: to come to a complete halt, or to take new steps and move forward. “I can’t keep giving my peers trouble,” I thought. So I decided to start walking; I made a reservation for a check-up at a clinic that specializes in adult developmental disorders.
At this point in life, I was left with two options: to come to a complete halt, or to take new steps and move forward.
I did not feel especially different on the day of my first medical examination. I calmly took a train, got off at the most convenient stop, and entered the small clinic inside a building near the station. Inside, I had to explain my life in detail. “This again…” I thought. I had visited several psychiatric clinics before. Every time, I talked about my life with tears running down my face. “Why am I crying?” I always asked myself. Whenever I talk about myself, I end up crying. I never know why, but the tears unfailingly flow.
Everytime I see a psychiatrist, they diagnose me with a different illness. At first, I try to accept the diagnosis, but after a couple of days, I end up telling myself: “I couldn’t have that illness.” Then I look for another psychiatric clinic, and this cycle repeats. This examination at the ADHD clinic started just like any other; it was just talking. But the next week, the clinic separated itself from the general psychiatrics by giving me a writing test. Approximately two weeks later, I heard back from them with the results.
I was my same usual self on the day I went in for the third time. The doctor handed me a sheet of paper and said, “We see symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD, Asperger's Syndrome).” The words flowed nonchalantly, and the doctor thoroughly followed them with details. I don’t remember much about the detailed explanations, but I do remember one thing;
I found peace when the doctor diagnosed me with ADHD. I never felt anything in particular when I visited psychiatric clinics in the past. This time, however, I was examined by an ADHD specialist, and was given a certain diagnosis. This was a freeing moment; a small flame ignited in the depths of me.
Some might find it strange to find comfort in such diagnosis, but I had long suffered from never being able to do “easy” procedures “easily.” This result from the doctor finally clarified the reason behind my hardships.
I’d like to revisit some events that occurred some time ago. I was treasured at a part-time job I started working for when I was in high school.
“Having you around really helps,” I was told. I was given raises. In the midst of all the success, I had to learn the last task that a part-time worker was taught: making sundaes. I made sure to memorize the steps, but I just could not make one as I was taught. No matter how much I reviewed the steps, I was never actually able to make the sundae. A colleague, who started working well after I did, had to fill in the role of sundae-making to cover for my inability.
“Sorry! I’m not too great with meticulous stuff like this,” I would say lightheartedly to the colleague. But I would honestly ask myself: “Why can’t I do this?”
“Why can’t I do this?”
When I was in college, a clothing brand I admired was looking for part-time workers via social media. I immediately sent my résumé, and was cleared for an interview. Our first meeting went well, and one of the interviewers said to me: “I feel your enthusiasm. I look forward to working with you.” Then he continued, jokingly: “Well, you still have to take a simple paper exam, but it’s very easy and it shouldn’t be a problem.”
The paper exam tested the problem solving skills of spatial diagrams. I could solve none of it.
I scored a zero.
“I can’t do this,” I thought the moment I saw the problems on paper.
“This is… uhh… We’ll discuss this and get back to you, alright?” said the employment manager, looking at the results. I heard back from them within a week; I was not accepted. On the way home from the last interview, I bought a bottle of water at a convenience store, and chugged it entirely. My body was burning hot with shame. I wanted to fade out from the world if that was possible.
I bought a bottle of water at a convenience store, and chugged it entirely.
I wanted to do my best, but forming geometric diagrams in my head had given me trouble since middle school. I was able to learn everything else at a decent level, but I always scored zeroes on geometry tests. I remember my teacher saying these sad, pitiful words: “You can do everything else pretty well, but this… I wonder what would make you understand.”
I recalled these things that had happened in my life as I walked home from the ADHD clinic. Along the way, I bought a bottle of water at a convenience store. A bit of water fell from the side of my mouth. “This happens all the time, too,” I thought.
Onwards, began the days of wondering if certain things happened because of my ADHD.