I have wandered aimlessly through most of my life wondering what the hell was wrong with me. I’ve been asked “what is your damage?!” I’ve been called a flake. I’ve been told I’m too young for all these problems, too smart to be struggling, that I just needed to “get my shit together.” “I, or they, or so-and-so can do it and they have x,y,z in their lives, why can’t you?”
For over 30 years now, this is how I’ve muddled along. Trying one thing after another. Having more dreams than my body can hold or that my mind could manage. Having a child young and the maturity to know I had no business raising her. Worrying my whole life since about disappointing her with my lack of success. Getting married. Having another child. Learning new terms related to atypical, special needs, autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Dyslexia. Delays.
Realizing we’ve got this, looking at that little boy and going oh-my-goodness-I-can’t-get-enough-let’s-have-another! Getting pregnant again. Learning what it means to lose a child. Getting pregnant again. Living in gut wrenching, blood freezing fucking terror that she won’t make it for nine months. Giving birth and bringing her home, then not wanting to do anything but love on and hold forever the only girl, of three I have carried, that I get to keep.
Learning more words. Defiance. Opposition. DMDD. Executive functioning deficits. And then looking at them, and looking at the man I love and saying, hey, um, I recognize some things here. Seeking more diagnoses, now for him. And then for myself.
And then, through relentless pursuit after so many years, we now both know why we couldn’t get our shit together. (Did you know that many adults seek and receive an ADHD diagnosis after their children are diagnosed? There’s a pretty great read about it here: https://www.healthline.com/health-news/parents-realizing-they-have-adhd-once-kids-are-diagnosed#9.)
Knowing your limits winds up making life a little bit more limitless. Through that relentless pursuit we obtained answers. And just as there are IEP’s in grade school, there are accommodations in higher learning institutions that are meant to help us succeed. It can be immensely frustrating to learn of a high mental ability in conjunction with a list of disabilities. These accommodations only allow brilliant minds (that appear to be) in “broken” bodies, to shine.
Now, he’s in his second year of college. And, although my physical and mental limitations mean that I am technically permanently disabled, I am starting two businesses. Because this time, we have the world on our side, because knowledge really is power.