I wonder sometimes, when was my first realization there was something wrong with me? Could it have been when I was 6 or 7 and my parents brought me to that weird doctor’s office (though calling it a Doctor’s office is a stretch) and let him put suction cups connected to some weird machine all over my chest, neck, face and forehead, and tell me to go to sleep? Only I couldn’t go to sleep. What the hell was that all about?
Could it have been my first go round in 3rd grade when my teacher had literally built walls around my desk so I couldn’t see or interact with the other kids? My parents were none too happy when they came into open house and found my desk cordoned off like solitary confinement in some prison.
Maybe it was in 4th grade when I was sent to the principal’s office for asking my teacher what a vowel was. I mean did I know of A,E,I,O,U? Of course I did. But the way my brain sabotages me when it needs to come up with quick answers and decides to forget everything I have ever learned. I just didn’t understand what she was talking about. So I was the youngest person in the history of Plymouth South Elementary to have an in school suspension.
Or maybe …
… it was when I first took Ritalin <queue dramatic music>
My parents had taken me to see a neurologist in ninth grade and I’m sure that Dr. realized he was dealing with someone “special” because we left the office that same day with a prescription for Ritalin.
I had already started my freshman year and like every other year before it, it started as an absolute disaster. I was a shy, weak little kid still, without many friends. Its 9th grade I thought, no one is going to pick on me anymore, shouldn’t they have grown out of that? Well, no, apparently they hadn’t. I was still being picked on every day and had sort of accepted my fate, which seemed to be that I would just be a miserable loser forever.
I remember it like it was yesterday, which is funny because I can never remember what happened yesterday. Anyway, I was in my homeroom class and I had taken maybe my second dose of Ritalin. I began to feel different, which was weird because different, at least for me, is good. It was like someone had turned the switch in my head from off to on.
It’s a hard thing to explain really. Think of yourself walking through a fog your entire life, then suddenly, the sun is shining, and stuff you never noticed before is now front and center. For me it was like I’d taken my whole life for granted and the smallest things now mattered. The pen in my hand, awesome! The teachers tie, what a brilliant blue it was. The sounds of people laughing, well I want to laugh with them.
Now before this I never really spoke to anyone without being spoken to first. Usually when someone was saying something to me it was to make fun of me. For some reason though, I started talking to the girl sitting next to me. Marianne. I don’t even know what the hell I was saying to her but I mean who the hell cared really. The fact that I was having a normal conversation with another human being was weird and delightful.
For the first time that I could remember, I actually felt happy. And not only did I feel happy, but there were other strange side effects of the Ritalin.
NOT GIVING A CRAP
The days moved into weeks, then months and you know what happened? I just stopped caring. Not about the things that mattered but about the ones that really didn’t matter. People don’t like me? Meh, I don’t like them either. People make fun of me? Go ahead, make fun of me.
It was like I had built this cocoon to shield me from the usual onslaughts I dealt with on a daily basis. I didn’t hide in my cocoon though. It protected me for a while, but I grew out of it and into a pretty butterfly. Sorry, it’s the best and worst pun I could think of.
I began to reach out to people, people that I would never have talked to before. I was able to have real, meaningful conversations with classmates and teachers. It was amazing. words that had been stuck in my head, words that couldn’t get from my brain to my mouth, now flowed freely.
Another odd thing started happening. School, no longer seemed like a torture chamber where it would only be a matter of time before I cracked. Before, I cracked often. I stopped staring at the clocks and started paying attention to what my teachers were trying to teach me. Wow, what a concept.
So all in all, it probably was the Ritalin that made me realize that there was “something wrong” with me. The thing is though; I realize that there is nothing really wrong at all. I’m still the same person that I was before I ever started taking medication.
Medication doesn’t stop me from tapping my foot or daydreaming my day away. What it does do though is remind me, a sort of gentle mental nudge, that I’m kind of being a spaz and maybe I should stop.
Sometimes though, I still don’t care.
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