I have been riding some ADHD rollercoasters the past couple of months, so this blog has fallen by the wayside somewhat. Well, totally, as you can see. I have still been reading, so a backlog of reviews are coming your way!
I think writing about what’s been happening is important, and will illustrate a lot of the emotional side of ADHD. Some adults have more what is called ADD, where it manifests as a lack of focus, inability to concentrate or organise. I have that, but I have the other aspects too, the emotional dysregulation and impulsivity. The story of the past couple of months will give a little insight into what that is like. It can be hell.
So, May. A job came up at work, a promotion. Basically, it was all the things I like about my current job amplified, and the things I don’t like about it taken out, plus they would pay me more money to do it. I knew the job would come up so spent the past three years volunteering for things at work, always with that job in mind, so when it came up I would be armed. It came up, I applied, (and spent every evening for an entire week writing and editing and agonising over my application) I got an interview. There were so many applicants, mostly external, that there was a two stage interview process. I spent an entire week agonising over the first interview, trying to work out what they would ask me and having my answers ready. It paid off, because the interview went well and I got through to the final stage. The final 5 candidates. I really started to get my hopes up, my incurable optimism and enthusiasm began to build, I could imagine doing the job, I could think of the ways I would do it, even though my rational brain was saying ‘steady on!’, my imagination as always was running away with it. There were 10 days between the first interview and the second. And for 10 days my life revolved around preparation. I designed the teaching session I would deliver, I roped colleagues into being my guinea pigs while I practiced, I tried to guess what they would ask me, and rehearsed my answers over and over. I was feeding the kids rubbish food because my food prep evening was gone, for two days I ate only toast, I couldn’t engage with anything in the ‘here and now’ because my mind was on the interview I had to do and the job I would get after it. The interview and teach came. They were tough, I’m not going to lie, but I felt at the end of it a quiet, nervous confidence. I knew I had done a pretty good job. I usually come out of these things knowing I fluffed one or two questions but this time, this time I felt I’d nailed the lot.
I took the kids to the park that evening and sat with my phone in my hand, waiting for the call. As time dragged on into the evening I began to feel increasingly uneasy. If I had got the job, then surely I’d be the first person they called. I treated myself to a hot chocolate with cream and sprinkles, and sat drinking it as the rain came down. Midway through I got the call “very very close second, very impressed with you, the other candidate just had that bit more experience”. And that was it. RSD central.
Over the next 12 hours: I physically threw up, packed the kids of to bed so I could curl up in a ball and cry, decided I was not suited for my line of work, was possibly not suited for any line of work ever as I was such a useless human being, drafted my resignation letter, decided my dream was to be a stand-up comedian, started writing a script and googling local places I might try to get a gig, thought better of that idea and looked into selling my house and buying a large camper van, the n wondered if I could be a performance poet…. Then came full circle, and realised I do like the job I’ve currently got, and I want my house, and I have been an idiot.
About 24 hours after the interview I was totally fine. But as you can see the whole process took over my life. It took my emotional energy, my time, and my executive functioning. It took pretty much all of it, and everything else in my life (my kids, my day job) was left with the dregs. But here’s the thing. I have been for other jobs, and I struggle to prepare, I struggle to revise, so when I turn up I have done pretty much zero preparation and just wing it. This has occasionally paid off. But I knew that for this job I wanted it so much and it was going to be very competitive so I switched into the only other mode I have. As I have mentioned before, ADHD for me basically means “all or nothing”.
I say I was ‘over it’, but I did feel an emptiness inside. I really felt I needed something to pick me up. This is where the next disastrous episode begins. I have been separated for three years, and the divorce is currently in progress (finally!). In lockdown I felt so lonely. I am pretty independent, and I like that I am solely in charge of my household, but how I envy those people with happy relationships, having that someone to tell things to, to joke with, to hug. So, in a moment of sheer madness, I decided the answer to my woes was to find a boyfriend.
Online dating, of course, is the only way to find a partner these days, and even more so in semi-lockdown. I have been there before, twice, and found it a stressful experience, an extreme version of ‘try to be someone you’re not so people will like you’. This time I was actually pretty honest in my statement. I started with two sites which had a reputation for being a bit more mature and sensible, (ie not match or tinder, neither of which I will go near), but they were so mature and sensible, every profile read ‘nice guy, likes chilling out, enjoys mountain biking’. Yaaaaawn. And I could never gain full functionality without paying them some money. With one site I caved in and paid, but all it gave me was 4 times more nice guys that like chilling and mountain biking, and are too slim and have no hair, and live miles away.
Just as I was about to give up someone recommended a third site which actually has decent functionality without the paid version. It’s like social media on speed with a dizzying number of profiles to click on, and then ‘bingo’ when you have liked each other’s profiles, and can then message each other. Messaging involves particularly excruciating small talk, often drawn out across several days.
A few conversations spark up, but it’s just conducting small talk over text, and it’s depressing. I had one evening where I was in five different such conversations, talking about bands, or gardening or where we live… but it’s impossible to get the essence of a person from that. I would get a glimpse of a guy through all the small talk and really like him, and imagine our dates, and imagine us dating, and my imagination would be running years ahead, and then he would say something that just didn’t chime with me and the whole thing would come tumbling down. In the end I realised that I was wasting my evenings on this nonsense so I stopped. And ever since I have used the time to read instead.
What is the lesson from all of this? There probably isn’t one, except that I need to slow down, curb my impulses and stop myself “getting carried away”. Story of my life. I guess the lesson is also that a boyfriend is rarely the answer to anything, but that books usually are.