I had a contingency plan for getting things finished, but not for getting things started. And I’m starting to get worried.
Going into the new year, I made it a goal to chronicle my goals on this blog (since keeping it active was also one of my goals – goalception!) I know myself well enough to have gone into this cognizant of my own short comings with regards to goal-setting – namely, I am incredibly good at not following through with the things I start.
I figured documenting my goals in a public forum would be useful in the journey towards seeing them to completion. It would be a written record that I could use to track personal progress, and the sense of having an audience would hold me accountable – after all, people would be watching, and they’d have expectations. I really thought I had it all sorted out.
As it turns out, finishing projects isn’t my only hardship.
Starting is a massive pain in the ass, as well.
I’m starting to think it’s not just a quirk of my personality. I’m starting to think I might have a genuine problem.
Well, “starting to think” is deceptive. I’ve been saying it for ages, but no one has ever listened.
I have a terrible time starting projects, and a worse time staying organized when I do. When I sit down to try to get something started, I hit roadblocks that manifest as physical symptoms, like a racing pulse or crawling skin – I get to a point where I just have no clue what to do next, and no resources to get around that block. I have trouble keeping up with and on top of even the most basic responsibilities – I mean things like, did I remember to take a shower today? Did I remember to bring my lunch/medication/wallet with me? Did I turn the gas off? Where did I leave X,Y, or Z (something I had, put down, “lost,” found again, put down, “lost,” ad infinitum)? Did I remember to give Bear his nightly milk? Did we brush his teeth? Did I pay my bills? Literal hours get away from me, and it’s… it’s not like a black out or “lose time” in that sense, but like, I can’t actually account for how much time is passing when I’m literally doing, just, nothing. I can’t start anything, I can’t focus on anything, I can’t get anything done.
The sheer, pure, real want to accomplish something is not enough to make my brain click into the “Engaged”position, and I’ll just idle, feeling physically uncomfortable, just thrumming with this awkward, frustrated energy that just has nowhere to go, and I get increasingly angrier at myself. I put off and put off and put off, to the point where things seem insurmountable and the thought of trying to conquer it hangs like a noose around my neck, and I shut down.
I’ve said for years I probably have ADHD. I did well in school, though, so no one ever bothered testing me (even though doing well didn’t preclude literally skimming whole novels the night before a test/essay was due, and literally having screaming, crying panic attacks while getting every major project done at the last minute). I went most of my life convinced that, because the end results were “A’s,” I couldn’t possibly have an issue. I was just lazy.
A few weeks ago, after a particularly frustrating morning, I was crying in the car asking my husband (rhetorically) why I was such a screw up.
“You’re not a screw up,” he said. “You’re just not neurotypical.”
It was the first time someone said something – anything – that suggested they believed my problems could be anything other than a failing of my character. I’ve said for years that something was off, but this was the first time someone gave me a reason to finally feel like it wasn’t just something that I was making up inside my head – it was something that he had noticed, that he had seen. It was something observable.
I don’t mean to suggest that struggles, issues, or illnesses, mental or otherwise, have to be visible to be real, because of course they don’t. But when you spend your whole life surrounded by people who demand proof for what you are insisting is your lived experience, it’s vindicating when someone finally goddamn notices.
I just want to know that I’m not imagining this. I want a definitive name to put to what is going on in my head – I’ve had anxiety issues my whole life, attentional issues for as long as I can remember, social issues since I was a kid. I fit some criteria for autism, a hell of a lot for anxiety disorder, a ton for ADHD. I can theorize and postulate for days; I just want to know. Then we can talk strategies. Then we can talk unpacking all the baggage weighing down my self-esteem my whole life. Then we can talk moving forward.
I just want a word for my experiences. I just want to give it a name.
Does anyone have advice or suggestions on going forward? I am insured through my employer and live in MA in the US.