Right now, emotionally, I’m in one of the strangest places that I’ve ever been in. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s like I’ve landed on another planet. An alien landscape. Unrecognizable food. I can’t understand the language.
I’m not sure if I can trust my memories. Is it true that only 14 months ago I was still in North America? That only 3 years ago I was still living in San Francisco?
It feels like I’m processing the last 10 years of my life all at once, with the added challenge of coming to terms with (and learning about) how my brain actually works – after a lifetime of inaccurate information.
Don’t get me wrong: the last 10 years have been mostly fucking great. Aside from a scary bout of chronic illness and a global pandemic, shit’s been pretty stellar. I’ve lived in other countries, I’ve traveled, partied, connected, disconnected, had mind-melting experiences with heart-melting people. I’ve seen and done things that are hard to put into words.
God, I’m lucky.
Lately, I cry more. It feels like I’m crying all the time. I’m feeling more, and feeling everything more deeply. The good, the bad, the scary, the beautiful, the gratitude – it’s all amplified. (I didn’t think that could be possible. I’ve always had a super intense inner emotional life, which frequently borders on unbearable. Existing inside my head has always been an overwhelming experience, and only now am I starting to realize that this isn’t what it’s like for everyone.)
But getting a surprise ADHD diagnosis, coming off SSRIs for the first time in 16 years, and switching to stimulants has dramatically adjusted how I process these major feelings.
I’ve discarded most of my masking and learned how to communicate in ways that feel real. The new medication is tempering impulsivity, which means rash decisions are less frequent, I spin out of control less often, and I’ve finally been able to consider my words before I use them. So, even though I’m feeling more intensely and occasionally being knocked off my feet by those feelings, I’m somehow coping with it better than I thought I ever could.
Look at me up close, though, and I’m all over the place. It’s hard to know when I’ll be overtaken by a bout of weeping, and it’s sometimes hard to know what triggered it. It kind of feels like I’m being ripped apart and slowly rebuilt – but this time, the builders are doing things in the right order, and putting all the pieces in the right places. Therapy has been instrumental.
Sometimes, 36 feels too old to be going through this process. But then I remember that some people are born, live, and die having never really figured themselves out. So many people live most of their lives inauthentically, not even realizing they’re living inauthentically, and I remember: it’s never too late.
This is hard. Being ripped open, reevaluating what I know, changing the chemical support structures I use, learning new things about my brain, and how my upbringing and conditioning contributed to what I am today – and then rebuilding from scratch? It sounds like nothing, but it’s everything. And it’s hard.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it. Like last night, when I just sob, and sob, and sob, and everything comes to the surface. My fears, my worries, the constant reminders that I’ve been forcing myself to behave in ways that make me pass as neurotypical for most of my life…
…I hate these cracks, and yet they seem somehow necessary. Because tomorrow I’ll wake up and feel a little bit better. I’ll feel a little bit more free. And yeah, I’ll cry again, and that’s fine, but… I’m getting there.
I feel more like myself than I’ve ever felt before, and yet I feel more emotionally vulnerable – more cracked open, broken, at the beginning of the repair process – than I’ve ever felt, too.
I’m scared, because I’m in a weird and unfamiliar place. But I’m pretty sure this place is just a layover, and I’m still on my way to the destination.