The Best Intentions
Growing up I was constantly hearing things like, “What do you think you’re doing?”, “Why are you doing that like that?”, “Where is your mind at?”, and worst of all, “I hate the way you do things.” This is what I heard from adults no matter where I went. I didn’t get it at the time. Of course when you’re a child and you hear those things all it does is hurt your feelings, but as an adult I can really see where they were coming from. Now, that doesn’t make it acceptable to say things like that to a kid, but now that I’m older I don’t take it to heart because I know that all of those questions and statements were kind of warranted.
At eighteen, when I went to go live with my aunt, I was forced to take a test to see whether or not I had ADD. My aunt was convinced that my behavior was not normal, that my brain didn’t function at 100%. I always forgot things, couldn’t process things. I’ve always had to work twice as hard to get average results. It frustrated her so much that she drove me to the next town so that I could be checked, but that sort of thing isn’t easy to diagnose and initially the test came up inconclusive. This bothered her a lot more than it bothered me, but I was too complacent to say anything so I let her drag me back to the psychiatrist. After a long conversation he told me I definitely had ADD and prescribed me Ritalin.
I was already wary about taking medication since one very rare side effect of Ritalin is sudden death, but my aunt was convinced this would help me. This would make me feel normal. So I took it. I took it for a while. But the longer I took it the more I noticed certain things about my aunts behavior toward me. Suddenly I wasn’t myself anymore but a byproduct of the medication. Everything was “You must not have taken your medication because you seem really out of it” or “The medication must be working because you’re really on your game today” and when I’d get upset with her for it it was always “Maybe we should go back because I think these meds are making you moody”. Despite her trying to single me out as the faulty human in the house, every time she did something wrong it was always, “You know, I also have a little bit of ADD.” It was frustrating. I felt strange. It wasn’t me. So I stopped taking them just to see if anything would change. She didn’t notice.
I realized after a while of this that the only thing that changed with the Ritalin was my aunts perspective. It had to have been doing something to change me and so everything I did was a result of the meds. I wasn’t okay with that. If I was going to grow or better myself I wanted it to be out of my own effort. That was a turning point. That was the first time I had ever thought something like that. “I can make myself better.” There are things you can do to help yourself and become better so you should try! Even if it’s difficult you should do it. After all, if you never try to move forward you’ll always be stuck where you are.
Eventually we talked about it and agreed that medication wasn’t the answer. I would just have to learn how to deal with it. Sometimes it’ll be hard to think or notice things and sometimes I’ll forget what I was doing or saying because I got distracted by something minuscule. I’ll have to struggle to concentrate. That’s just the way things are, but you know what? I’m okay with that. And after everything that happened, I’m not mad either. I was angry with my aunt for a long time about this, but the fact is she’s the only one who paid any attention to it. All of those things that adults said to me as a kid were just them resigning themselves to the thought that I was hopeless. That I would always do stupid things and have no explanation for it. They never took the time to think that maybe I was bad at school because it was hard for me. Maybe I needed some help. Maybe my brain didn’t work the way other kids’ did. My aunt did and said a lot of things that upset me while we were figuring this whole thing out, but I’m not mad anymore because it makes me happy to think that she tried for my sake to help me get better. Maybe medication didn’t work, but I’ve learned how to live with this because of that and even though I don’t agree with the way she went about it I know that she had the best intentions.