The beginning of my story is a lot like the others here. I was diagnosed in the first grade. My teacher noticed I was speaking a high level, but couldn’t do the work. I had troubles with boundaries and relating to the other children. Sure enough, after being in several psychologists offices I was diagnosed with NVLD, and ADHD.
My childhood years were pretty uneventful from a scholastic perspective. I received low or barely passing grades in most classes, and I squeaked by. The kids were a different story. I didn’t understand. Jokes that were in good fun made me cry, or angry. Being the square peg in a round hole in essentially every social situation made me a good target for bullying. I made a few friends here and there as best I could but even if someone liked me, I never felt “with” them. Just sharing space in the same location.
By the end of middle school, some of the great teachers I had managed to get me into a pilot program in high school to help me. This is where everything was turned on it’s head.
Alone in a new high school outside of my district. I remember a lot of crying at the thought of the massive change, and leaving what few social connections I’d ever been able to make. Being an overweight, social misfit made me a target and at this point in my life I didn’t even know what I had. It had never been explained to me. I knew I had troubles learning, but as far as I knew I was just bad at math. As I got older the sense that I wasn’t like everyone else became larger. This is when my lifelong issues with my mental health started to become a problem, and when I finally started to learn about what was really going on in my upstairs wiring. The feelings of isolation and depression worsened throughout highschool even though I had found some solace in music. After I started singing and performing a lot of the bullying had even stopped, but even though people had stopped taking every opportunity to get under my skin I could still see how differently they all reacted to me. I finished highschool thanks to the support of some wonderful teachers, and I managed to get enrolled in college for vocal music.
My scholastic issues never felt so heavy. I realized that outside the public school system, there wasn’t a lot of accommodation for me. This was compounded by the fact that the college mishandled my intake, and I received no help. Professors and administrators looked at me as though I had rocks in my head because they had no idea I had problems. During this time I worked 2 jobs, slept rarely, and pushed myself. I still came up so far short. My 3 year program soon became 4. My ability to keep up began to diminish until after a teachers strike, when the college compressed the semester into a short time, my gas tank was empty. I left college feeling defeated. In this time the stress and some dental issues caused tmj issues, and my ability to sing at all has been greatly effected since. Kind of like losing an old friend.
Through so many of my relationships, save for maybe 1. I’ve had to experience so much of these hardships alone. I know others care about me, and I them. But when your perception of everything is so different it’s hard to feel connected or that you’ve even expressed yourself in a way people can understand. I’ve never felt like I’m really with them, even when I care for them. It can be such an isolating thing to experience. We won’t even touch on the can of worms that is dating. There’s a special loneliness that’s hard to describe about my experience. Like an empty space that nothing fills. Wanting to connect so badly in friendships, and romance, and drawing a blank whenever you try and figure out how. You watch, and try and do what other people do but it’s so hard to grasp, like trying to imagine what 1 billion of something really looks like. It’s something that I still have so much trouble conceptualizing.
As an adult I’m proud to say I’m independent. I fix tools in a factory, and I’m trying to play shows and fix my jaw so I can sing again (I was pretty good too). I even used to drive for a living and still enjoy driving. Something we’re famously bad at. My mental health is still very not good. I struggle with panic attacks and depression. However I’ve built a good life for myself and I do my best.
My adult life is hard to navigate. Taking care of myself while managing adult responsibilities can be quite a tall order most days. I’m far better at masking and interacting with others but it’s big weight to carry around and it leaves me feeling very loney, very often. I won’t sugar-coat anything and tell people I’m a good example of a well adjusted person, but I wouldn’t trade how I am for being “normal” either. I’m affectionate, loving, boisterous, and pretty ingenious when I have to be. I have managed to make a friend who fills me with happiness beyond measure, and what we’ve built together has given me things I thought I’d never have.
My story may not be the most uplifting, and as an adult I’m still having a lot of trouble. But it’s mine and I’m still here. You’re no less valid because you can’t fix yourself. You’re no less of a person because others can’t see life the way you do, and people need to understand that sometimes getting better just means traversing the next rough patch and enjoying the happy spaces between them. That just being able to manage and carry on is something to be proud of. What you learn in the search to find ways around roadblocks is worth it, even if there’s sometimes not much solace on the other side. It’s okay not to be okay, this is something that follows all of us. It’s not often easy and there’s no one size fits all solution.
I was diagnosed in the 1st grade. I live in Canada. I studied music in college, and I fix tools in a factory. If it were up to me I’d live next to lake Superior and spend most of my time in nature.