Speaking of therapy, I say, as though we’re old friends, and you’re not a stranger trapped in this metaphorical elevator with me and you can hear the suspension wires starting to fray.
I’ve been doing a lot of work recently that’s focused on imposter syndrome and the feeling that no matter how well or how much I do, I’m not good enough. That I’m somehow tricking everyone into thinking my work is actually good.
Some days it’s a minor niggle in my head that I can gentle and soothe with logic and affirmations. Or smother, depending on the mood. Other times it’s loud and all-consuming and the mental anguish it causes me is so real I can feel it twitching in my muscles. This desperate fight-or-flight instinct with nowhere to go and nothing to fight but myself.
Anyway, because I’m several types of Mentally Unwell™, I was switching between workshop sheets ahead of next week. Filling in different forms.
(Trying to get a good grade in therapy)And I got my “recognize your harmful ADHD coping mechanisms” worksheet mixed in with the “you’re not actually lying to people, you just feel like you are because your brain is full of weasels” worksheet, and seeing them side by side made something go topsy turvy in my head, and I just had to sit and breathe for a couple of minutes until the urge to scream passed. Because it clicked, it all suddenly clicked.
The reason the imposter syndrome workshops and therapy sessions aren’t sticking was because I do routinely trick people into thinking I’m someone I’m not.
Because I’m masking my ADHD for their convenience.
I’ve always known there was something wrong with me. My neurotypical peers made it abundantly clear I didn’t fit in or was failing in some way I couldn’t see nor remedy, no matter how hard I tried.
So I compressed myself into a workaholic box of hyper-competence in the hopes they’d stop noticing the flaws and
exploitlike me instead. And then subsequently lived with the daily fear that if they looked too close, they’d realize I’m a monumental fuck up with enough personal baggage to block the Suez Canal.
If you ever need someone to burn themselves to ashes for your comfort and convenience, I’m your gal.
Or I used to. Until I had a bit of a breakdown, and the rubber band holding my brain together snapped and pinged off into the stratosphere, never to be seen again.
Unfortunately, the trauma of living like that didn’t also fuck off and instead left a gaping maw where my personality ought to be, so now I get to deal with that aftermath.
And it’s that aftermath that’s affecting the imposter syndrome shit. Because yes, I am hyper-competent and good at what I do– but it doesn’t feel real because that is how I mask.
And the truly frustrating thing is I am good at what I do. I am not pretending. I worked hard to be good at this. It just feels like I’m dicking around because 90% of my personality turns out to be trauma masquerading as humor in a trenchcoat, and having people genuinely like something weird I’m doing is so foreign my brain has decided it’s just another form of masking.
I’m pretending to be a good author so people will think I’m a good author, and my brain thinks we are in Danger of being found out. We are in Danger, and writing is Dangerous because then people will know I’m Weird and not whatever palatable version I’ve presented myself as for their NT sensibilities.
Like the neurotic vampire with a raging praise kink wasn’t an obvious giveaway.
Anyway. I got nothing else. Thanks for listening.
I’m going to go be very normal in another room and not stare into the abyss of my own soul for a bit.
I brought this post up with my ADHD therapist today (who also has ADHD), and she got so still that I thought our Zoom call had frozen.
Turns out she just needed to stare into her soul for a bit and it looked like this: