Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"Sometimes it feels like there are two people inside of me."

Melissa W, age 16. Oregon.

"My story begins like anyone else's. I was born one evening in early March, a healthy baby girl. Our stories become a little different when I say that I was the first child in my family of four. Our lives become even more unique when I tell you that I have ADHD and an anxiety disorder.
Did I also mention that sometimes it feels like there are two people inside of me?
Meet Mel. She is the me without my ADHD medication.
Then, meet Melissa. She's me on my ADHD medication.
Sometimes, it frightens me that 50 MG of Vyvanse determines if I'll be Mel or Melissa for the day.

Ever since I can remember, I've been in a constant war with my ADHD medication. There was the one that made me 20-30 pounds underweight. There was the one that created suicide thoughts like demons, constantly tugging me towards on-coming traffic or to a razor blade. I haven't found one that's perfect, and I doubt that there's one out there that is. Even now, lack of appetite and a twinge of depression probe me with each pill.

For my whole life I've always known that I'm not a 'normal' person. And for my whole life I've tried to deny that. I spent my middle school years rejecting the entire idea of ADHD, all the while my fear of asking for help growing. My rejection continued into 9th grade, and my fear became a paranoia when I entered Algebra 1. When my boyfriend of three years broke up with me, I found myself alone and confused in a new school, all the while my fear of asking for help preventing me from moving forward. I managed to graduate 9th grade without asking for help directly, but I knew that I couldn't pull this off as a Sophomore. It was my first day of Geometry that following September that I had my first panic attack.

I can't breathe, I can't breathe!
I'm shaking, why am I shaking?!
This classroom is so loud, yet why is it so quiet?!
I feel like I'm going to throw up...
I'm so scared, I'm so scared...
Can't anyone else see this?! Can't anyone else see what's happening?! They have too!!
Am I having a mental breakdown?
What's going on with me?!
At 1:00 I was staring blankly at a Geometry work sheet. By 1:05, I had locked myself in a bathroom stall, teaching myself how to breathe, all the while sobbing. I remember I blamed my ex-boyfriend for this, I thought that if he was still with me, I wouldn't have fallen apart like that. It was all his fault, not mine.

After that, my attacks stayed more of when I needed to talk to the teacher alone. It got to the point where I needed 20 minutes prep time before I could even walk up to the classroom, let alone speak to the teacher. Even if I was successful in speaking, something inside of me felt that trying was futile. Thus, I failed to progress.

In the end, my math teacher began to break down my wall I built around myself. She let me cry in the empty classrooms, all the while sitting next to me. We would carefully go through my work, and I soon began to understand the language being spoken.

Today, it only takes me 10 minutes to pace outside the classroom. By then, I'll be able to talk to my teacher.
The attacks are still there. Sitting in my room at night, I'll stare at my math homework.
The pressure builds.
But I've experienced enough to learn to not let them consume me.
The ADHD continues, and it always will. I've accepted that I can do nothing to make that disappear from my life. It will always be apart of me, but I know now that it doesn't
define me.

I've learned to accept it. Mel and Melissa; I've learned to balance them out into me. ADHD isn't as bad as some other things. But, at the same time, people who don't have to live with it's effects don't take it seriously enough.
When I'm compared to another 'normal' person, you won't see much of a difference. But, that is where our similarities end."

1 comment:

  1. Ashley Lewis/Leslie AnnNovember 11, 2009 at 12:09 PM

    I know exactly what oyu are goign through and understand your thought. I am a lot like you but differnt. I too have Add and anxiety attacks. When I have the attacks thats when the two or more people inside me come out. You have good support with your teacher like me.

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