At the end of my second semester of graduate school, I was so frustrated because I struggled so much to sustain attention in my classes. Throughout the day, I’d have to drink cups and cups of green tea (because I can’t drink coffee) just to stay away during lectures. I was bored to tears because social work is pretty boring shit sometimes. As a fucked up person who thrives on dark humor, I found all the warm and fuzzy stuff super annoying. I like to think I’m a kind person. I try my best not to be a cuntasaurus to people. I just don’t really buy into fluffy PC bullshit and it was a pain in my fucking asshole crevice to feign interest in textbook definitions of generalizations of humanity.
ANYWAY. In addition to figuring out I may not be a good social worker because I don’t like bullshit, I became really depressed because I was so under/overwhelmed with my school assignments. One of my favorite classmates shared that she has Adult ADHD and suggested I see the campus counseling office to have a proper assessment.
My doctor was awesome. She asked me about my childhood during the interview (because it’s usually presented early in life) and I shared that I didn’t do well in elementary school. My Mom used to think I was stupid because I would always come home with “satisfactory” or below grades with comments like “Diane daydreams a lot during class”, “Diane gets distracted easily”, “Diane always asks to go to the bathroom”, “Is Diane getting enough sleep at home?”, “Diane is really lazy and messy”, etc. Children are very impressionable and spent most of my life feeling very insecure about my intelligence. One of my triggers used to be when someone called me stupid because inside I always felt like a dumb fuck.
My doctor prescribed me Ritalin and it changed my life. I got so much done and I started losing a lot of weight because one of the side effects is a loss of appetite. I was skinnier and less sleepy. I was still bored of social work, but I could at least get things done. After about three months, I needed more and more Ritalin to sustain the same “high” (it’s basically Schedule II Meth). At some point, I started feeling like I wanted to die. I didn’t want to harm myself or others. If I saw a facebook post chain letter saying something along the lines of “share this shit with 20 people or the world ends tomorrow”, I’d be happy and spend the next 24 hours drinking moscow mules with my favorite five people waiting for impending doom.
My last year of the MSW program was absolutely miserable. I had so many beautiful opportunities and I was immensely frustrated by my inability to perform well. I landed an amazing clinical practicum at the Tripler Army Medical Center (TAMC) and was supervised by the most amazing clinical social worker. A lot of my classmates were jealous and I didn’t understand why he chose me because I wasn’t smart like everyone else. I had met my mentor at a National Association of Social Worker’s dinner when I received the 2015 MSW scholarship for $1,500. I was also selected to be a trainee with the Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and other related Disabilities (MCH LEND) program. A lot of awesome things happened, but I was so engulfed in insecurities and entered my worst bout of depression I ever endured in my life.
This was everyday for nine months:
4AM – Wake up. Feeling like I want to die.
4:10AM – Shower. Still feel like I should just die.
4:45AM – Take Methylphenidate 10mg.
5:20AM – I don’t want to die as much. Ooooo I feel like I could run against Kanye West 2020! #FuckYeah!
5:20AM – Write stuff because people keep telling me to write again. I didn’t post any of this shit because it was mostly garbage since I wasn’t having enough sex during graduate school.
6:00AM – Force feed myself crackers because it’s the only thing that doesn’t make me want to throw up in the morning.
6:10AM – Leave for TAMC so I can find a parking spot.
6:45AM – Cry in my car and convince myself I am a piece of shit who doesn’t deserve nice things. Pleading with God, Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, Pema Chodron, Gabrielle Bernstein (even though I don’t believe in organized religion) to help me out of feeling like I want to die everyday.
7AM – Telling myself to stop being such a little bitch because it was finally late enough to get into the developmental pediatrics department.
8AM – 3PM – Trying so hard not to have a meltdown in front of my clients. I absolutely loved working with children with special health care needs. I always thought I was horrible with kids because I was an only child. Being surrounded by them for months made me love kids, especially the ones who were ADHD because I saw my inner child in them. I also loved working with the parents because I wish someone had told my parents how to love a child with ADHD. I also assured them consistently that in addition to medication, there are tools that will make their children very resilient.
3PM – 6PM – Writing my clinical notes in the TAMC Medical Library. I don’t know what the fuck happened, but I just couldn’t remember shit. I struggled so much because I was so fixated on my insecurities and stopped listening to people when I felt judged. I also felt so horrible about disappointing my mentor because I consistently manifested my unworthiness and it was probably for him. He said it wasn’t because he’s the coolest guy in the world, but I knew I was fucked up and stupid.
6PM – 6:45PM – Drive home in Honolulu traffic. This was my favorite time of my whole fucking day because I was alone with loud music. I feel most at peace when I listen to loud music. I love my family, but they ask too many questions and all I want to do after a long day taking care of other people is to just be alone and decompress. Most clinicians understand this well, but sometimes their partners feel insecure and get upset. My parents were concerned about me because I stopped eating and I’m sure my Mom heard me cry in the shower all the time. SO there’s that.
6:45pm – 8PM – “Romance” (not about romance with men, romance with each other) talks with Honey Ball (my Mom). My Mom and I don’t always get along, but we’re best friends. My Dad is sweet, but he hates hearing people talk. He’s like a grumpy Englishman who lives in the countryside by choice. All he’s ever wanted in his life was a big TV and silence. Living with two Korean women was by far a really poor decision given his wants in life. He loves us unconditionally, but I know we’re really annoying.
8PM – Shower and cry.
8:30PM – Sleep.
…same fucking thing all over again.
Shortly after I graduated, I finally had time to talk to my psychiatrist about feeling suicidal and asked her if that was normal. She said no. I switched to Adderall and didn’t want to die everyday anymore. I also investigated how to treat ADHD through diet and homeopathic medicine. Since I’m not a scientist, I didn’t do this well. I also met with a “peer counselor” who taught me how to be more organized. She was awesome. Very organized like Sherry Tanaka, MSW and I started getting obsessed with keeping things organized.
People with Adult ADHD are commonly very successful because they learn a lot about resiliency and multi-tasking early in life. They also have a lot of anxiety and do shit really fast because they’re in constant fight or flight mode. Anyone who knew me before I moved to LA knows I’m all over the fucking place. I also don’t give a fuck about what people think when I’m keeping myself busy. I need to be constantly stimulated or I’ll fall asleep or do something impulsive like binge drinking and casual sex.
Once I recognized why I needed all of this stimulation, I felt less horrible about being fucked up. There’s something amazing about being able to identify the core issue of why you’re fucked up. It also helped that I’ve worked in so many different industries. I was able to capitalize on my impassivity from my experience in social work. As a person driven by taking care of others, I am most happy when I’m in a position of service. If I thought I was beautiful, I’d surely be a high-class escort and just make thousands fucking people for money.
With the exception of prescription drugs, LOTS of alcohol, marijuana (I’m from Hawaii, that was inevitable), I’ve never experimented with drugs. I have a very addictive personality so I try my best to maintain balance through keeping myself disciplined. I will buy a bag of Oreos, eat three to feel good and throw it in the trash chute so I don’t eat the whole bag. I tried hiding it on a high shelf, but I almost fell off my counter trying to eat them again. During graduate school, I stopped going out a lot because I didn’t want to be compelled to drink alcohol. That helped out so much because I was starting to feel a lot better. I also started eating more protein versus starches and that made a noticeable difference.
For two months, I had a horrible cough that I thought was asthma. Nothing worked. My Albuterol didn’t do shit. I went to all sorts of doctors and no one knew what the fuck was making me cough. I was miserable and felt so guilty for wanting to die for nine months because I was pretty fucking sure the end was near. In Korean culture, there’s something called the “100-day cough” which I get every July for some reason. It’s so painful and exhausting.
My health became progressively better when my friend Michael referred me to Dr. David Katz. Instead of working on the manifestation of the core issues (mine was an overgrowth of yeast from years of antibiotics and steroids), he works with eliminating the core problem to allow for long-term healing. My scientist #PCF thinks I’m crazy and should see a “real doctor”, but I feel better and that’s all that matters. Chemicals have fast results, but homeopathic medicine takes more time. In the long run, In addition to weekly visits, I’ve also been eating a lot healthier because I currently spend more time with other gluten-free friends. It’s so much easier to be healthy when the people you spend the most time with are also fucked up and can’t fucking eat break and delicious gnocchi. #FuckUsAll
When it comes to loving someone with Adult ADHD (or anything in the DSM-5) or even your kids, stop trying to make them someone they aren’t. They likely spent most of their lives feeling like shit and outcasted by people who thought they knew more things (fuck off, you don’t). Don’t criticize them for being weird or my worst thing ever, “unstable”. Educate your damn self about whatever the fuck your loved one has going on. Don’t waste our time with your “Adult ADHD is just an excuse for lazy people”. It really hurts my feelings and I decide at that moment that I’m over that person. What’s the point of being friends/lovers/whatever with someone who thinks you’re a lazy piece of garbage? #SorryNotSorry but I’m not going to expend any energy trying to justify myself to someone who won’t even bother to open a fucking book to learn. THAT, in my opinion is lazy. Go fuck yourself! Okay, I’m done now.
Love & Cuddles,
Diane Kawasaki, MSW
Person who happens to have Adult ADHD and doesn’t give 1/16 of a fuck if that makes you uncomfortable.