Shawna’s Story

When you have ADD, the most nominal things can make or break your perspective on who you are, where you are going, and how well you can deal with the punches of life. For example, this morning I was a completely stable, functional 18 year old teenager. This afternoon I feel as if my life is a proverbial whirlwind. I feel as if I am swirled in a tangle of emotions, ideas, and minute pauses of understanding- minute pauses of sanity.

This morning I knew that I wanted to be a writer. Actually, I knew that I was a writer. Writing has always been my scapegoat for the more incompetent parts of me. I fail a test, and I blame it on working late. Does it really matter that I failed a test in the scheme of things if I am a writer? Do I have to bang into my head over and over again facts and theorems that will increase my score for college? Do I have to go to college if I already know what I love and how it will save me from depression?

Later, I will will sit at my computer, throw back my heels, knock out my anxiety and emerge in a non-conformist world of my own. Punching away at the computer, I no longer have to face up to society. I do not have to struggle to with the 65 I made on a test while fifteen students stand in front of my english class and beg their 92s up to 96s. I do not have to waste my time on beating myself up for burning a hole in my floor, spilling a cup of coffee all over my sweater, or forgetting my orthodontist appointment for the third time in a row. While writing I am free from the power struggle with my dad over my untidiness. Everyday when he hits me verbally or physically I will yell at myself in black regret that I have failed him once again. Or perhaps I will be excused from someone gave me a job, task, or instruction to do something and I completely missed the point altogether….

. What exhilaration comes when I can put these faults aside! Because when my fingers clock down their day and break open my inner child like so many whimsical storytales, I am free. I am free from standardized eyes, my own and the world. I am free to read this life like a book. I can place meaning to the pages I want, analyze it according to my eccentric personality, and can leave out the parts that I can’t grasp rationally.

So, I am down today because my english teacher confirmed that I should try to grasp reasonable dreams. I was told I did not have the skills to be a writer, because writing was organization and clarity. And I guess she is right. I guess that I will never make it a career because I am not clear or organized. Was she then saying that my thoughts are meaningless because they are scattered? I know that the good tidbits of compassion, wonder, creativity, and determination are hidden in the midst of our lives. Then should I only relay to her what is clearly layed out? Does she really have to know that her opinion can break my perception of who I am?

OF my select memory, I can recap most all of the times that I have felt completely invaluable to humanity. Simple things. Like in fifth grade, I was asked to write a paper and I didn’t bring any materials to class. And so I borrowed a sheet of paper and a pencil from the girl across from me. But I did the assignment wrong- we were supposed to write about a gift that we received and I wrote about a gift that I gave. So when my teacher came around to take up our papers, I was excited for her to read mine because it was so good. As she took the paper, I anxiously turned and faced my desk. Boy was she going to be impressed! Instead she layed the paper back on my desk and told me to fix it. All thirty two fifth grade eyes turned on me and I stared at it in blind disbelief, with eyes suffocated with sour tears. And because I didn’t have any materials, I erased the entire white paper until it was one gray smudge. I didn’t understand why she sent me out of the class for being “too sassy and unprepared.”

This is a fraction of the key to the hole that opens up 18 years of mistakes I’ve made because of ADD. Eighteen years I have spent scourging over what went wrong until I recently found out that there was a name to put to the life I’ve led. There is a name for all the wrecks, the alcohol, the sensitive feelings, the failure. God, the failure.

The other day I found a guide for parents of ADD children. I had always thought that there was something different about me. And now I know that in fact, there IS something different about me, as there is in every person. But now I can stand from the outside of the door that locks ADD teens from the outside of the world, look at my flaws, nod and grin. Sometimes I can even make out some good parts about myself. I can see myself singing aloud in a crowd of people; I can see myself twirling like a little girl, lost in hope.

I want to write it all down.