The Lost Generation & ADHD

ADHD Lost Generation  

According to most sites, I’m part of a “Lost Generation,” caught in limbo between Gen X, Gen Y and Millennials. So, my otterly awesome people, since you already know the disclaimers, we’ll skip those today and get right into it.

As I was getting prepared in my head for this post, I asked our soon-to-be-Google-overlord, I mean my Google Assistant, “What generation are those born in 1975 a part of?” To be fair, I have a Motorola phone, and Motorola is a Google company.

I’ve never had an issue about my age. I’m 42. Best thing, according to “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” I’m the answer to the Universe. But, I digress, back to my point. Depending on what site you look at, I’m possible Generation X (Baby Bust), or a Xennial (sorry, but WTH is THAT?) or from the Cross Over Generation. My “Lost Generation,” is caught in limbo somehow.

Ok, let me give you some perspective on this. According to “most sites,” (not all) my parents are Baby Boomers, of course. My estranged husband (over 9 years my senior) is Generation X. Mayhem (18), my eldest, is at the end of the Generation Y and my youngest daughter, Chaos (14) is a Centennial or Millennial.

Lost Generation?

I think “my generation” was lost in more ways than one. This generation is described as those born between 1975 and 1982 to 1985. Who knew the internet could be so conflicting, huh? Wait until I post about all the things I didn’t have as a kid! HA!

We were caught in a weird technological time too. My graduating class (1993) was one of the first classes (in Minnesota anyway) that had the Apple II-C and Apple II-E’s in elementary school.

We were caught in a weird technological time too. My graduating class (1993) was one of the first classes (in Minnesota anyway) that had the Apple II-C and Apple II-E’s in elementary school. We had the first Mac’s in school. Oh Oregon Trail! How I miss thee! I grew up middle class, so we had them at home too. (Mom’s a retired teacher). Scary fact: between my phone and the external storage I have in it, I have 92 gigs which blows away those first Personal Computers!

By the time I was in Senior High we had computer lab. We had dot matrix printers, and the internet was just a baby. Dial up. Hey yougin’s, think of all the time we had to wait connecting with a land line! And no one could use the phone then! No cell phones either! The horror! I would not want to be my girls’ ages with the electronic connections we have now. As a good childhood friend put it, at least we knew the bullying would stop once we got home.

I was tested for ADHD (then just called ADD) in 1985 at age 10. Nope! They told my parent’s I didn’t have it. Now, when I was diagnosed at age 34, my psychiatrist explained what they knew then as opposed to now. Let me tell you, there was a large information gap. I, like many adult diagnosed ADHD’ers, was diagnosed after my daughter was diagnosed in her 3rd grade.

Ok Alyssa, interesting factoids, how does this connect?

Living in Minnesota (aka flyover land), I didn’t know how much “leading edge” research was being done on ADHD. This is what I know about myself and a lot of people my age with ADHD, regardless of when they were diagnosed or if they felt that there was something fundamentally wrong with their character. We could be nearly manic with optimism at the beginning of the school year, but at the end of the first quarter, something would happen that would make us feel like “F*** it! I’ve already messed this up! There is something so wrong with me!!!”

When we were that age, we didn’t realize that adults, especially doctors, didn’t always have the answers. In fact, it wasn’t until I worked in the call center of a Federal Student Loan Servicer talking to new Resident Doctors, that there’s a reason we call it Medical “Practice”.

My mom is a retired teacher, one who took on the fight for Special Education students when they started being mainstreamed with their peers. Don’t get me wrong, my parents did the best they could with what they had, but the problem was, they had the wrong information. And it’s very disconcerting when you realize the adults around you don’t have all the answers.

History repeats

I can’t tell you how many times I heard in my life, “She’s very bright and capable, she just doesn’t apply herself!” The teachers meant well, but I still grit my teeth and bite my tongue when I hear this said by my daughters’ teachers.

I feel like we were caught in a time where the medical community was gaining understanding about ADHD, or the “Weirdly Wired Brain” (I say that with pride!), but we were the ones who slipped through the cracks. We talked loud and fast, were easily distracted (Hey, I still pull out an “oooh shiny!” or a “SQUIRRELL!” on occasion!), were perceived as under-achievers, even as narcissistic.

The truth was we were from an age where we couldn’t articulate what was wrong. “I’m overwhelmed by the amount of late homework I have,” “I don’t know where to start cleaning my room that looks like a tornado hit it!” “I hate myself because I feel like there is something wrong that, no matter how hard I try, I can’t fix.” “I know it’s not easy to be friends with me, let alone be related to me.”

I have always had unconditional love and unconditional acceptance in my life (the bullying post will be another time). What most NT’s and people that have different mental health issues don’t understand about ADHD is, it’s not that we are narcissistic (well, there are exceptions of course). Typically, our brains are on Fast Forward multiplied by 4 and we are so overwhelmed by our own lives and a world that is NOT ADHD friendly (look at everything trying to get our attention all the time), we simply cannot see past our own lives.  It’s not that we don’t care about those around us, it’s that our natural intensity with emotions makes it hard to see the forest for the trees.

Now, while I also have Chronic Depression and Anxiety Disorder (typical in women who weren’t diagnosed until adulthood, though I don’t blame my ADHD for that, they both run in both sides of my family, no escape!), I never gained coping skills to deal with the intensity of my feelings. When I love, I love with all my heart. As I’ve said, I have no poker face. I gave up lying in my early teenage years when I realized I suck at it. But even into my 40’s, I didn’t have the skills to deal with my intense emotions. (I’ve been called hysterical and histrionic more than once, by those I love).

When I get hurt, I feel it physically, not just emotionally. So in my 40’s, I had the coping skills (or lack thereof) like my teenage daughters; a little stunted for my age. I’m not always perfect at it, but even not practicing DBT regularly (that’s got to change too), I’m still engaging my “wise mind” and allowing my brain that moment to think things through (for the most part, I was born to be awesome, not perfect) before I open my mouth. I still get that knee-jerk reaction to have claws out, ready to defend myself, because honestly for the last 20 years (if not longer), I’ve had to defend myself and a brain I still don’t fully understand. It’s odd when I’m constantly defending myself and the person I’m with tells me it’s not needed.

So ultimately, I come to the issue that sparked this post. ADHD’ers tend to be “all or nothing,” and “black and white.” While we understand there are shades of gray, we rarely see them, they are too abstract. So how the heck do we find balance? How do we find peace? It’s such an abstract concept to me to this day, I’m struggling. (Word of the day, Abstract!)

How do I change my paradigm from looking at what needs to be done and not divide it by task or by time limit, but by my body that is in chronic pain and not push it past the point of pain I need day(s) to recover from. I’ve spent the last 5 & ½ years trying to ignore the pain and push through it.

How do I take care of myself and not see it as a selfish thing, but something I need to do because I can’t take care of my children if I don’t take care of me?

How do I love myself and not think of myself as a narcissist?

At this point, my otterly awesome people, I don’t have the answers. I’ve recently had a huge blow dealt to me and I’m struggling. Sometime, I wish I was an NT. (If wishes were fishes the whole world would be fed.) On the flip side, I love being weird, fun, creative. I just don’t want to go the way of Van Gough or other “mad, creative geniuses”. I’m struggling to accept and love myself, I’m learning how to take care of myself.

And hey!

I know you may have read other posts and might be thinking “she shares this information, why doesn’t she listen to it?” Because, I am weird and stubborn like that. Ask my mom (ok, not really, because a bunch of questions coming in might freak her out), I’ve had to learn everything through the “School of Hard Knocks”.

Here’s my goal people. I have a good friend who created a planner she would use. I’m her tester, so I will get planner pages she designs customized to your otter friend here. I would like to, at a minimum, be posting to my own FB blog and contributing to See in ADHD. Guys, I don’t think you realize, Jennie is one of the only NT’s I’ve ever met that has tried to understand us.

I count my blessings every day and count the friends and family that love and accept me unconditionally. (I have a friend in NC I call my “Southern Brat”. She calls me her “Northern Nut” and insists I talk funny. According to her, I “ain’t right, and I wouldn’t have you any other way!” For the record, I do NOT talk funny. I just have a LIGHT Minnesotan accent.)

It’s lonely out here …

I’ll tell you a secret though. Sometimes, especially when it’s cold and dark out, something whispers to me, reminding me, I have yet to meet anyone who truly understands me. Even your Otter gets lonely.

Could be worse, I guess. I could be without the neurotic pampered princess puppy, who is just as ADHD as her mother. My psych doc made Aeon an ESA (Emotional Support Animal) as soon as he found out I was moving to an apartment in 2015.

Until next time my otterly admired friends. Embrace your weird! Like the dark side, it’s useless to resist. Besides, we have cookies. Be otterly awesomely you!


Alyssa ‘Otter’ Sheldon

See in ADHD Mascot and goddess mother to Mayhem and Chaos

“Well, I was odd & I met your dad & he was odd, and we had you, an Otter, because you are otter (odder) than anyone I know!”
~ Her mom, when the Otter nickname was bestowed.




Amy Luschen

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