Neurodivergent Happiness is Onerous, However So Wholesome: ADHD Essay
I’m not neurotypical. But I want to be. Gosh, I want to be neurotypical so bad.
I want to be able to see that a school assignment is worth a lot of points and feel motivated to complete that assignment. I want to fall asleep at 11pm and get up at 6am. I want to see all those little cues that other people see when they interact with their peers. You know, the ones that show how the other person is feeling and how they are reacting to you? I’ve been told these clues exist, but I don’t see them.
Sometimes I want these things so bad it hurts physically.
I’ve wanted to be neurotypical since I was old enough to realize I wasn’t — and I spent the next two decades of my life mentally and chemically forcing myself to be as neurotypical as possible. I sat for hours staring at a blank document and kept reminding myself of the importance of the task. I forced myself to be friends with people who were angry at me for not being able to read social situations because I was sure that one day I would see those cues. And I would take a sleeping pill at 10:50 p.m. every night so I could fall asleep at 11:00 p.m. like everyone else.
Sometime in my early 20s, I noticed that I was getting sleepy during the day. Things came to a head one day as I was driving on the Autobahn around 2pm; Traffic was moving at a comfortable, fast pace when I realized I was struggling to keep my eyes open. I turned up the music. I was still fighting. I hit myself. No dice. Eventually I pulled up to the side of the freeway, took a 20 minute nap, and then immediately drove home.
[Get This Free Download: How to Sleep Better with ADHD]
That day I realized that the medications I was taking each night to help me fall asleep were negatively affecting my waking hours. This was the catalyst that forced me to face the fact that my desperation to be neurotypical would not only never bear fruit, it would actually harm me.
Despite my best efforts, I have always been neurodivergent and always will be. So, since that day, I’ve put a lot of effort into being neurodivergent happily instead of being neurodivergent miserably. While I consciously knew that giving up my neurotypical mission was both not my fault and very necessary, it felt terrible to give up something that I had pursued my entire life. I felt like a failure.
However, after weaned off the sleeping pills (with my doctor’s approval) I began to follow my natural sleep cycle and naturally fell asleep around 3 or 4am and woke up at 11am and I can’t describe how much better I felt, both physically and mentally, after that single change.
It has empowered me to make other changes in my life. I found a new job that allows me to work from afternoon to late at night. I switched to the online school so I can take my exams at 2am when it’s ok with me. I stopped trying to see the social cues I was blind to and just started asking people, “How are you feeling?” My relationships have actually improved!
[Read This Next: Secrets of Your ADHD Brain]
I’ve let down people who were mad at me for what I’m missing and found people who think I’m funny and quirky. Most importantly, I’ve learned to show exactly where the door is to people who have insisted I’m neurotypical.
It’s taken me years to get to this place where I’m happily neurodivergent, and I know not everyone will be able to get a new job or wake up at 11 a.m. every day. However, I encourage those people like me—who are doing miserably their best to live a neurotypical lifestyle with a neurodivergent brain—to find ways, big or small, to embrace who you are as you are.
Neurodivergent and ADHD: Next Steps
Thank you for reading ADDitude. To support our mission of providing ADHD education and support, please consider a subscription. Your readership and support help make our content and reach possible. Thanks very much.
Save on computer