• belindaleon

Shame spirals and ADHD

I don't think I realised until recently how much shame I had internalised. I don't think it occurred to me that it was shame, because every time I started to think about anything that triggered the feeling, I would bury it. It means that I've never really dealt with it in my psychologist office because I've never really acknowledged it. Getting my ADHD diagnosis and reading lists of symptoms has made me really aware of how much shame I've been feeling on a daily basis.

I don't have answers for how to get rid of shame, this is something I'm actively working on, but I thought I would write this post as a way to help me unpack shame and its impact on me, and how ADHD has contributed to it.

For me, shame is something that slides around the corners of the house. It's why I quickly turn my gaze away from the pile of dishes in the sink. It's that voice that whispers in my ear "how come you let the dishes get that bad, and why didn't you just go deal with them? You must be lazy and a dirty person to let that happen".

It's the voice that tells me that I deserved it when my ex-husband gaslit me and emotionally abused me. It's the voice that sneeringly points out all my failures and tells me that I'm a fraud and going to get found out any minute. It's the voice that tells me that my best is not good enough, and I still don't measure up, and I need to be better. Do better. I need to have more perfect skin - but how frivolous to be spending so much money on skincare. Also, look at how badly you eat and your lack of exercise? So lazy and gross. It's the voice that tells me that no matter what I'm wearing, it's not quite right. I don't quite fit in. I'm too loud, too quiet, too much, not enough, too weird, too basic, too….WRONG.

It's being a square peg in a world with only round holes around.

Before I knew about ADHD, I thought all the things I struggled with were fundamental personality defects. I would beat myself up from a young age about my lack of self-control. My lack of self-discipline. Finding out about ADHD has been freeing, and I'm learning to let go of all this internalised shame, but it hasn't come easy and it hasn't come straight away.

The truth is, I'm still figuring out how shame permeates and affects my life. I'm still trying to uncover the shame tentacles that are hidden in the dark corners of my psyche. It's been two months and two days since I was diagnosed with ADHD, and 30 something years before that of living with it and thinking that I was just a dickhead for struggling with basic things. It's going to take time to unpack that and rewire my brain settings. It might take a really long time.

But knowing I'm not alone has helped a lot. Knowing that it's not just me that struggles with these things has been liberating. Knowing that there are biological differences in my brain that means I'm hardwired TO struggle with these things has helped me take some of the pressure off myself.

I have a long way to go, but I'm just at the start of my ADHD journey. It's terrifying to open up about this stuff, feels like I'm exposing myself and all the things I hate most about myself. But learning to love myself and understand myself and the role that ADHD has played in shaping me means that being honest and vulnerable is important. And I think authenticity is critical if I want to have an impact and help others who are on this journey too.

So this post doesn't have any answers. I'm going to find some more resources to deal with this. I will share what I find with you, and hopefully be able to share what I learn and help free myself from the shame that is holding me back

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