Lovebeat – The honest truth about love and ADHD

Love comes with many emotions and, at least for me, relationships have always proven to be the biggest struggle I encounter due to the ADHD devil that lives inside my brain. The phases I went through in my fight with the devil, are clearly reflecting in the way I behave in relationships as well as how I experience love. From the out of control devil before my diagnosis, to the ignoring of his existence in the years after, to the phase I’m currently in, in which I try to find balance. Love and the devil are strongly connected.

ADHD brains have a tendency to not deal with emotions in the way they should. The devil’s powers create extreme emotions where there is really no need for them and on the other hand, some emotions that should be there are covered by so much chaos that they become invisible. Emotional Dysregulation (ED) and mood swings are well known symptoms of ADHD, but what is often forgotten is how these symptoms effect the way we love other people.

Love comes with many emotions and, at least for me, relationships have always proven to be the biggest struggle I encounter due to the ADHD devil that lives inside my brain. The phases I went through in my fight with the devil, are clearly reflecting in the way I behave in relationships as well as how I experience love. From the out of control devil before my diagnosis, to the ignoring of his existence in the years after, to the phase I’m currently in, in which I try to find balance. Love and the devil are strongly connected.

Emotional heartbeat

As a teenager there wasn’t a week without me having a boyfriend. I couldn’t be alone, partly because that would mean I wouldn’t have a way to escape from my parents, but besides this practical benefit, I also couldn’t enjoy life just by myself. I needed someone who could make me feel, strong love in the beginning, pain in the middle and anger at the end.

I couldn’t be just fine, feeling ok was too boring for me, it felt like I wasn’t living. I needed extremes, a lot of them. Like a heartbeat, going up and down continuously my emotions needed to fluctuate in order for me to feel alive. Every tiny flat line felt bad, no matter how positive it was, I needed continuous change, I needed my feelings to rise very fast and abruptly drop extremely low. In a way, I was obsessed with extreme feelings, with drama and happiness. I was depending on the experience of a rollercoaster of emotions, addicted to mood swings.

Boyfriends turned out to be the perfect tool to provide me with an emotional heartbeat, to make my emotions more extreme, or give me a reason to experience my extreme ADHD emotions. They could make me feel a happiness if I would allow myself to open up to their love, but with my behavior and words I could trick them into create a low for me. I was always manipulating them into providing me with the change in emotion I needed, and when they would reach the point of being stronger than my tricks, I would just replace them with my next victim.

Flatline

Together with my ADHD diagnosis and my Ritalin, came the realization that emotional rollercoasters should not be a part of my life, I realized life shouldn’t be as emotionally hard as it had been till that moment. Partly because of the Ritalin preventing me from feeling, and partly because of this realization, I started a life without an emotional heartbeat, a flatline, without any emotions or relationships.

I stopped my carving for mood swings, I stopped judging the quality of my life by the amount of emotions and I switched, I directed all my focus towards performance. I stopped feeling based on other people and I started to be in control of my own emotions, only allowing them when they where based on my own performance. The only thing that could make me feel bad was a low grade or failing at something, nothing else was able to change my mood, I didn’t let it.

Emotional OCD

This is the time I started to expect myself to be great, to be better than everyone else. The time I stopped allowing myself any kind of distractions or even the slightest bit of fun. Within just a year I had changed from a mood swing addict to a person that did not feel. I completed my walls and no one could get close to me anymore.

In this period, that only ended a year ago, I did still date people but I refused to open up to any of them. I spend my twenties in meaningless relationships. I used the guys I was dating just for two things. They were good for sex and to make me feel better about myself. I choose the ones that saw a talent in me, guys that where jealous about a part of my life and wouldn’t stop talking about how great I was in a certain thing.

Again, I was using the people around me for my own good, again I did not consider the feelings of this other person and again I manipulated guys into doing what I wanted, into making me feel what I wanted to feel. But this time I wasn’t looking for any emotion, I was desperately searching for someone that could make me feel great, reminding me of my many successes without me having any emotional connection with this person.

Whenever someone would get close, whenever a guy really started to like me, I pushed him away, afraid of getting trapped in another emotional heartbeat I still associated with having a boyfriend. I did not allow myself to fall in love or even like a person. I refused any kind of emotional connection with an other person, afraid of losing control over my emotions. For years I just lived by myself, not opening up to anyone.

Forced to feel

But then, the year with my grandpa started and this changed everything. I started to recognize how alone I was, every time I returned home from a day with him, a day of saying goodbye and being confronted with death, I noticed how much I missed someone to talk to. I started to understand how letting someone close, could actually be a good thing. On the other hand, the approaching loss of my grandpa made me feel, it made me emotional in a way I had not been emotional for years. The idea of loosing him made me feel a sadness that was completely out of control.

I was alone and scared for the emotional heartbeat that came with the last months of my grandpa’s life. I was lost, I didn’t have any control over the way I felt and I did not have a single person that was close enough to me, I couldn’t share my fears with anyone. The more my grandpa approached his final days, the more extreme my emotions became and the harder I tried to regain control by focussing on my work and my body.

High walls with a tiny gap

This is how I completely lost myself in anger and greatness, because of the fear of feeling, the fear of loosing control over my emotions that came with the grieve after my grandpa passed away. My walls became even bigger, the distance between myself and the world grew even wider but what changed was that I felt like I needed someone, someone that would listen and help me to balance my feelings.

This someone, I found in my boyfriend. When we met, I was disconnected from everything by a huge and thick shield of anger, but he found a tiny gap in it and was able to get close to me, the real me. For months, I only saw him once a week but every time he was able to get through the shield and make me show him my true self. Every week he forced me to express my true feelings and slowly I started to look forward to our time together, the time with my true self.

By approaching me really slowly, I started to get used to opening up and letting someone come close. He gave me the time and space I needed to adjust to his presence and slowly we started to see each other more often, step by step, until we decided to start a relationship, my first real relationship.

Arrhythmia

In the beginning I completely opened up to the emotional high that I got from my boyfriends love, the happiness he had brought into my life, But soon I found myself afraid of the emotional effect he had on me as well as the feeling of missing the low. Life with him seemed too easy and too perfect and I was missing the lows I expected to experience.

Stupid as I was, I found myself picking fights with him for no reason other than to feel a low, to feel less perfect, searching for the rush of the heartbeat of emotions I expected to experience in a relationship. I almost pushed him away, I almost made us both crazy, but fortunately I realized what I was doing soon enough.

Love is not a heartbeat

Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you have to struggle, it doesn’t mean you have to experience mood swings or any kind of extreme emotion. A relationship means having sex with your best friend. Having someone you can share anything with, someone that will always be there for you and together you make each other’s life a little more enjoyable.

A boyfriend, or any other kind of person, is never there to create an emotional rollercoaster experience. Any person in your life should add something positive to it. But just a little bit, just a little push. My boyfriend isn’t there to give me an extreme high or any kind of low, he is in my life to support me in my good things and catch me whenever I fall.

It took me years to realize what relationship is about, and I’m afraid it will take me many more years to become good at it, in the same way as the fight with the ADHD devil continues. I still struggle everyday with my emotions and how my boyfriend fits into these struggles. It is hard for me to balance anything and the balance between myself and love is one of the hardest, and until now has always been completely disbalanced.

Love is hard, the emotions that come with it even harder, but love is also worth the struggle. Having my boyfriend in my life has proven to be the hardest and the most amazing thing, and now it’s up to me to learn, to make it less hard and enjoy every day we will have together.

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