Sorry in advance. I don't know what I'm doing here. I apologize if this is wrong. I had a really abusive childhood, so if you don't want to hear a little bit about it I think you should probably stop reading this now. I guess you can call this a warning that it might get a little uncomfortable. I'll try not to get too heavy but I kinda want to be honest a little bit and say some stuff I've never told anyone before. I'm not trying to break the rules and I don't think I am, but if I am all I ask is that you please don't ban me. I promise I'll take this down if it's not ok to say this kind of stuff. So I'm really sorry in advance. I'm finally diagnosed, but deep down I always knew. I remember when I took AP Psych in '03, we got to the section on Asperger's and it just clicked. But then my defense mechanisms kicked in like they always do, and I just pushed it way deep down. It can't hurt me if I don't acknowledge it. I would make jokes at my own expense to throw people off the trail. I would do funny impressions like Dr. Evil and Austin Powers having a lively conversation with each other. I masked (which is a marvelous term I learned recently, evoking Greek theatre). I acted "as-if." [(Ben Affleck, Boiler Room)] Socially, I pretended. I took drama all 4 years of high school, and treated every class like I was learning the esoteric secrets of the universe. I tried to be just like Brando, because I knew he was just like me. I acted like I understood what was going on around me. I constantly quoted dialogue from obscure films. The more obscure the better, because obscurity was negatively correlated to being "discovered." I got a high school job at Hollywood Video and I watched...studied...everything I possibly could. I consumed music and film insatiably. I spent almost all my free time at a declining 8-screen multiplex where the staff would let me walk behind the concession stand and refill my Mountain Dew when it got low, soft tacos from The Bell stuffed into the side pockets of my cargo shorts. I eventually had so many ticket stubs they would overflow from my desk drawer. Deep down I still feel like a Martian who's studying human behavior to more seamlessly assimilate. I don't understand what "common sense" is. I know what it *means*, but I don't *understand* it. I've gotten in SO MUCH trouble for reflexively repeating a phrase in the exact same cadence and tone as my Greyhound Bus driver, or my work colleague at an all-hands meeting, or a random person in the produce section at the grocery store. I don't even realize I'm doing it, and it happens instantaneously. I'm not doing it to mock or be mean. In fact I'm not even trying to do it at all. --"Why am I so weird?" --"Why cant I just be like everyone else?" The first time I watched The Matrix and Morpheus did the " a splinter in your mind" bit, it was like he was speaking directly to me. --"I know I'm different...I just don't understand how." I was born in 1987. The official diagnosis made by my stepmother was "He's just going through a phase." The appropriate course of treatment, naturally, was to brutally and mercilessly abuse me to the point that I'd defecate myself out of sheer fight/flight/freeze panic right as school was ending. Then she'd smear me with it. She would take great care to smear it all over my tiny body. I was 6. You tend to remember stuff like that. It tends to stay with you. I learned terror at an early age. I'm 36 now...I suppose I must be going through the longest "phase" in recorded human history. ["It's just a silly phase I'm going through." -- 10cc (I'm Not in Love)] I logically understand why none of the teachers or grownups helped me. It was the 90's. They didn't understand why I "couldn't" wear shirts with buttons. My dad was an attorney, a shark, with piles of money to burn. He'd threaten to sue anyone who looked in our general direction. I remember in 6th grade, my teacher must have noticed something, and she tried to intervene. After a meeting with my father she basically didn't speak to or even look at me for the rest of the school year. Tomorrow, if I accidentally touch velour fabric, my brain and nervous system will instantly become an old TV tuned to static with the volume on full blast. It's unbearable. The only way to make it stop is to clench and unclench my left hand, while I twitch and shiver uncontrollably from the sharp electricity radiating outward from my spinal column. Since I'm just beginning to dip my toe into this universe, is there a name for what that is? I forgot to ask. The overwhelming "static", the sharp "squealing" coming from my spine, the fist-clenching and uncontrolled shivering/twitching? Because when I was a kid it just meant I was "stupid or something" (a favorite phrase), and the issue could be solved by immediately vocalizing that magical phrase while simultaneously inflicting physical pain. But there has to be a name for it. I still don't know my times tables. To this day I sing "4, 8, 12, 16" to the tune of "Row Row Row Your Boat" (of course now I sing it within the comfortable confines of my skull, but the process is essentially the same as it was for me in elementary school.) As far as division goes, I cheat. I pull the rectangle out of my pocket and use the calculator. But I also have all the basic ones memorized, all the ones I actually use on a regular basis. I know that 2 and 3 and 6 go together, and I know how they all "pair up" with each other. I *know* what division is, but I don't *understand* it. All mathematics takes place in a locked room in my mind that I've never had access to. My process is to shout a math question at the door, and then someone on the other side slips a sheet of paper with...something...scrawled on it. Occasionally it's the right answer, usually it's not. And I have absolutely zero control over it. Which is all a very fun, very roundabout way of saying, "Today I learned the word 'dyscalculia.'" Turns out I'm not "stupid or something" after all. I'm also diagnosed with ADHD. I honestly never saw that one coming. My stepbrother had ADHD growing up. The first time I met him he stuck a garden hose down the back of my pants. He used to run around, release his noxious 'gases' in people's faces, and then triumphantly exclaim, "I'm Fart Simpson, you smell like baloney." So to me Fart Simpson was ADHD, and so I couldn't possibly be further from anything than that. Now let's fast-forward to September 2023. Over a 4-day span I am unable to read more than 3 paragraphs from a book I DESPERATELY want to read. I want to read this book more than anything else I got going on in my life right now. It's jam-packed with invaluable information. So I start reading. I get roughly 10 words in. I blink. 2 hours have gone by and I'm lying in bed thinking about the 2020 Beirut port explosion. I decide to refocus and start again. Same 10 words. I blink, it's an hour later, and I'm on my phone looking at google satellite images of Baku. This sequence repeats ad nauseum for 4 straight days. What is happening to me? "No, seriously though, what's happening to me? I quit smoking weed last week but that doesn't matter……right??? It's like I had a stroke. Am I still literate‽" My amazing therapist replies, "Well? I got good news and bad news for ya. Good news is you're literate. Bad news is you have a condition called ADHD. To which I (brilliantly) reply, "Yeah but that's ADD, that's not ADHD. I'm not even hyper. I don't jump off the walls and stuff." And to buttress my point I tell her about Fart Simpson, who as a kid enjoyed nothing more than stabbing the other children in class with his geometry compass. My therapist is so patient with me. She is downright saintly. She actually listens to me. She doesn't fixate on my word choice or diction, but on the overall message and spirit. I tell her I started using cannabis in high school. She asked me to describe how I felt when I smoked it for the first time. I tell her the first thing I remember was SILENCE. Everything instantly went quiet. [There are some massive problems with this "solution": 1) Cannabis is profoundly illegal, and 2) I despise smoking.] I enjoy breathing air; the fresher the better. But that awful smoke made everything quiet. I could focus. I was never a "drug guy." Maybe if I had thrown caution to the wind just ONE TIME and accepted one of the million Adderall pills somebody offered me...maybe I would've made the connection. But I'm not a "drug guy", so I didn't. I apologize if any of what I said goes against the rules. I don't know if saying Fart Simpson is offensive. I know cuss words are bad and it's wrong to say mean things to people. But I honestly don't know how any of this works. I'm not even sure what this disjointed rambling is supposed to accomplish. It's 7:30 AM right now. I should've been asleep over 7 hours ago. I can't live like this anymore. My brain is on fire. Unfortunately I'm in a unique set of circumstances. Because I have a Class-A CDL, I have to physically return to the state of issuance. Once I'm there my primary care physician will be able to prescribe me Adderall in person. But while I'm there in Florida I'm also going to relinquish my CDL because 4 years of OTR truck driving was the worst thing for my health. I was mentally and physically dying. I will never run another load another mile in a tractor ever again. I already got my oil changed, although I forgot to buy a New cabin filter off Amazon. Today I'm cleaning my room with the help of, which might be the best 99¢ I've ever spent. I have meticulous routines set up for cleaning my bedroom, as well as laundering all my clothes and bedding. Once I'm done cleaning I'll start packing. Then on Wednesday I'll wake up, I'll drive 850 miles to pick up my girlfriend, and then we'll do the last 360 miles to Miami together. My brain is a Formula 1 nuclear rocket sled with a highly distracted driver. All I want to do is drive straight and stay between the lines. I just want to tell my brain where to go and have it listen. I want my brain to work for me, not against me. If you've read this far, I want to sincerely thank you. Thank you for investing your time and energy into me. I always thought I was alone. Knowing there's other people like me out there is so validating. I don't know how to end this. This is the end.

Posted by michaelpaulwilliams at 2023-10-08 11:51:07 UTC