ADHD and grieve – how not to do it.

Death has always scared me, it has always make me feel really awkward. I had never been able to look at a dead body in a coffin. I never knew what to say to or how to behave around people that had lost someone, so I just avoided them. And I had never allowed myself to think about a person that had died. When it comes to death, I had always ignored everything that has to do with it, until death came so close, I could no longer hide, I could no longer run away.

When I found out mu grandpa would die, I know I would never be able to forgive myself if I would not have been there. I knew that running was not going to be an option this time. I knew that I wanted to be there, before he died, the moment he would die and even after he had died. I knew I could not miss a thing without having any regrets. I knew I was going to be confronted with death, for the first time. Before the day my grandpa died, this did not seem so scary. Yes, I cried a lot. Yes, it was extremely hard to see his sickness taking over his body. And yes, saying goodbye to him without knowing if he would make it to the next day, for more than 6 months, was extremely sad. But in all these months, in all these moments, I was with the one person that truly understood me, that the one person I could tell everything. So the real though part started when he was no longer here, the moment I discovered I had to do it all by myself. And this is when everything went completely wrong.

Because of my ADHD, I have an extremely low level of self-esteem, I am extremely insecure, and this makes me act like the complete opposite. As a child, I have learned that my emotions and feelings are often wrong, and showing them was almost always punished. If I would show any kind of feeling when my parents where around, I was beaten. If I showed excitement or sadness at school, I was told it wasn’t true, I had to let go of the feeling and focus. My extreme ADHD emotions have never been allowed, and this made me feel like all my feelings and emotions are not allowed to be there. To give an example, if I talk to my mother on the phone and I am super excited about something that had or will happen, she will ask me if I forgot to take my medication. Emotions are bad.

My feelings have never been allowed or accepted, by any person that is not my grandpa. Because of this I have taught myself to never allow anyone to notice my feelings, and the only way to do this, is to hide them from myself as well, because if I don’t hide them from myself, I will not be able to hide them from the world around me, because I just can not control my expressions when it comes to feelings. When my grandpa died, I started to feel extreme feelings of sadness, but because he was not there, I did not have anyone I could express them to, I did not have anyone to talk with.

I wish I would have known my boyfriend a year ago. With him, I could have spend a week or two crying, telling him how much I missed my grandpa, how much it hurt. And after a good amount of tears, I would have been able to continue my life. Unfortunately I had not met my boyfriend yet. Unfortunately, I did not have anyone in my life I trusted enough to open up to, so I started hiding, I started running away.

I remember the first morning after the day my grandpa had passed away. I woke up on the couch he bought me a few months ago. When I realized what had happened the day before, a panic attack started. Hyperventilation and big tears. Extreme sadness. Now I can see how appropriate this was, less than 12 hours after I lost my grandpa, but on this morning, one year ago, I did not allow it, I could not give in. The emotion was so strong, so extreme, I figured it had to be an ADHD induced emotion, an emotion I am not supposed to have, an exaggeration made by my ADHD devil. I took my medication, got dressed and went to the office.

In the first 2 to 3 months after my grandpa had passed away, the panic attacks would continue, but every time one started, I did not let it finish. I never allowed myself to cry. I figured I had to make my life as busy as possible, to prevent myself from feeling, to distract my ADHD devil with as many things as possible, to forbid myself from feeling the sadness that had taken over. But the truth was, no matter how hard I tried, the sadness remained present. No matter what I did, now matter how deep my hyperfocus was, everything was covered by a blanket of sadness. A sadness that did not allow me to feel any joy or happiness. A sadness I could not control. A sadness I did not allow but had taken over everything.

I started to get angry. An all consuming anger that would cover up the sadness, an anger against everything. I was not angry because I felt angry. I was angry because I could control my anger, and I could use it to cover up my sadness. If I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the time with my friends, I would use my anger, I would yell at them about how they did not understand anything, I would tell them how stupid they were. If I would not be able to enjoy my work, I would yell at my boss, about how boring and stupid the project was, how annoying the client was, or how incapable my colleagues were. I started yelling at everything and everyone. I lost my friends and at work there was no one left that dared to talk to me. I even stopped paying attention to my bunny. The sadness had turned me into an angry scary monster everyone was afraid of, in a way I had pushed everyone so far away that I would never have to open up, I would never have to reveal the sadness inside me.

I have been extremely angry since November, extremely angry for 8 months. I am not sure how my anger disappeared. Maybe because I was working out at least 2 hours a day, including boxing. Maybe because I was finally able to hide my sadness from myself. Or maybe because I started to spend more time with my boyfriend and this made me open up a little. When my anger disappeared I thought I was going to be better. I believed good things could happen again. I figured I was done with my grieve. But off course there is no way to grieve without any tears. Off course I had still not found a way to deal with the loss of my grandpa. Off course I was still not ok. I had found a way to hide it, I had created a life that was all about running away and that’s why I thought I was ok, when I was actually far from ok.

After some weeks of being just ok, I started changing. I started to experience joy again, but not without a price. By feeling joy and love, by opening up, to the good feelings, I had started to open up to the bad ones as well. At first I did not notice, but slowly I started to cry more, slowly the sadness started to return. After my holiday, my week of complete enjoyment and relaxation, the sadness had taken me over again, completely. I started crying without a reason, at the office, in the supermarket, at the gym and when I was surrounded by other people. After a year, the sadness and the panic attacks were back. Luckily this time I had my boyfriend. Someone who told me that what I felt was normal, someone who allowed and accepted my feelings, someone who told me its is normal, it is not strange or blown out of proportions by my ADHD, someone I could show my true self to and someone who supports me in showing this person to the rest of the world.

I feel like now, a year later, I will be able to grieve properly, to feel properly. Finally. But this yeas has showed me that I have developed all the wrong methods when it comes to feelings. All the rejections, caused by my ADHD, have fucked me up. They have caused me to hide, to pretend, to wear a mask. All in order to fit it. I have been so focussed on trying to be normal that I have lost a big part of myself. I have been cutting, scraping and reshaping myself to fit into the mould my parents and teachers wanted me to fit in. But by doing this, I have lost so much. A few times in the last few weeks I have noticed some true excitement from myself, a kind of childish playful passion that is created my by ADHD. I love this, I enjoy feeling like this, it makes me unique and creative, it makes me the way I am. But before there few moments, I haven’t seen this part of me for over a decade. It was part of my ADHD so it did not belong, it was not allowed.

This counts for many, many things. It is time for me to stop hiding these things, to stop hiding me emotions, feelings and impulses, because they wouldn’t fit in the mould that was created for me. No matter what other people think, they are a part of me, which makes them allowed to exist. The past year has shown me clearly what happens when I ignore things. It showed me how ignoring is not a solution, how things don’t magically disappear when I hide them. They stay. Everything stays, and there will always be a point were I loose control and everything appears. The only way to move forward is to accept everything, let everything be there, no matter how strange, scary or sad.

2 thoughts on “ADHD and grieve – how not to do it.

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