Month: June 2016

And now for the silver lining

The last post turned out to be mostly about murk. But now I wanna do a brain exercise where I try to discern what this is all for. SO often writing a PhD with ADD feels purely like a ball and chain. An unfortunate circumstance I have to try to get the fuck out of as soon as possible. Now I want to think about what good has come out of not only the PhD but the battle of the PhD. The battle as battle. Yes, this is a Pollyanna exercise.

  • It has forced me to get diagnosed with, and get support for, adult ADD. This means I understand myself a zillion times better and even more, understand my mother and aunts and other ancestors who I have no doubt inherited it from. I also understand the impact on my relationships and can talk about it honestly and openly with Annelli.
  • I now know without a shadow of a doubt I can never do an unstructured academic project again. I know what can of work will make me happy and able to work with ease when this is all done.
  • I have a huge amount of compassion for people with mental illness, not limited to ADD. I didn’t have this understanding before when I was sauntering along without the demons.
  • I have a much more conscious appreciation for ADD gifts like hyper focus and wild creative thinking that I didn’t have when I thought I was just normal
  • I have been forced to find and learn survival strategies – walking, free-writing, artists’ dates, dancing and to be vigilant about actually doing them. I feel like now I’m able to survive almost anything.
  • I have awoken the fiction writer in me. The one who has tantrums when reigned in by academic prose. I’ve finally learnt to listen to her and let her write too. That had led to a sense of deep peace and simmering excitement.
  • I have learned how hard it is to be an academic with a divergent mind. (or even a converging one). That has led me to develop a whole exciting new strand of work about learning to be an academic and write with creativity

 

Murky silver lining

Speaking to my mom on the phone the other day, I started to tell her how I’ve been feeling really depressed the last couple of weeks – what I read is a “secondary” depression common to people with AD/HD who just get so fucking frustrated with the effects of the disability – the wearing down of small failures, disappointments, stress from bad planning, unreasonable expectations and so on and so on. I have also been reading about “high-functioning” depression and how invisible it is so that people who appear to be successful and together are not able to get recognition and support for also being depressed, how high-function and depression aren’t mutually exclusive.

With that in mind, it feels important to make visible my depression when it’s there. That has made for some awkward conversations. People most often suggest a fix. I don’t know what I want them to say, but it’s not that. I don’t want them to suggest things as if all I am is short on solutions. I am not short of ideas (no person with ADD is) but I am short of support. I think that what I want is for them to see the murky world I’m in, and to sit there with me. That sitting isn’t comfortable or easy to fit into conversational conventions and I don’t even know quite how you do it, but that’s what I want.

The other day I spoke to a very close friend who was feeling very bad. Having had this experience, when she told me about it I didn’t launch into my own list of fixer-uppers (and I have a few). Instead, I went quite quiet and then said, “I’m sorry babe. That sounds so hard.” She suddenly started crying, and I let her.