I guess at this point I should introduce myself. Hello. My name is Stacey, and I am “twice exceptional.” Sounds fabulous, doesn’t it? I mean, not only am I exceptional, I’m twice exceptional! Don’t hurt yourself congratulating me. What it really means is that I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD[H]D), and I’m also considered “gifted.” It’s called twice exceptional because half of my brain is capable of astonishing mental feats, while the other half can’t even bother to lift its leg when it farts, which isn’t very productive, if you ask me. Yeah … try using that to navigate through life. It’s a mess. A person can be twice exceptional in different areas, but I was blessed with the above. And no, I don’t play a musical instrument, I don’t sing like a canary, nor do I ever stop midsentence and begin writing math equations on the nearest window. As a matter of fact, there is not one certain thing I can claim to be gifted in. I’m the proverbial Jack of all trades, master of none. All of the guts and none of the glory. None of the sugar and all of the shit. You catch my drift.
Normally when I’m meeting someone new, I immediately become self-deprecating to make them like me. “Nice to meet you … great party. Yes, my belly is hanging over my pants to my knees from eating so much. I hope my breath doesn’t kill you from the garlic dip. Is this crowd freaking you out at all? I’m sorry, what was your name again?” I know it sounds like I need therapy (and I do), but I kind of like that about myself. It makes people instantly comfortable, like they can scratch their armpits or pick the underwear out of their butts in front of me, and contrary to popular logic, that’s a good thing! Anyway, I’m pretty sure all of the above was enough to disarm you.
I’m thirty-seven years old. I have a husband, two kids, a dog, three cats, and about seventy-eight fish that hatched from our original two. I never meant to have a fish farm, but then again, I never mean for any of the stuff that happens to me to, well…happen to me. I started my own holistic pet health site, founded a holistic charity for sheltered animals (I’ve received three donations: the entire start-up cost from my father-in-law, one from my mom, and a five-hundred-dollar check that I lost), I have a holistic health blog for families, and I recently put together a program to educate families about the benefits of clean and natural living. I am my daughter’s homeroom mom, and last year I was on the PTA board, where I was in charge of the yearbook. (I’m actually still too traumatized to talk about that experience.) I keep all chemicals out of our house and feed my family only all-natural and organic foods. I buy only natural body products and detergents, and make my cleaning supplies with vinegar, baking soda and essential oils … you get the idea. As I read over what I just wrote, it makes me chuckle. It’s all true, but I still feel like a fraud, because if any of that makes me sound like I have my shit together, don’t let me fool you -- I’m a f---ing mess.
We live in a middle-class neighborhood. My husband, Dave, drives a ten-year-old bucket, which allows me to cart the kids and animals around in a big SUV, like every other mom in the carpool lane at my kids’ school. Oh, except for Trinity Jackson…she drives a big, white Hummer with a vanity plate that screams, “TRINSH2.” Don’t get me wrong. I like Trinity. I pretty much like most people I meet, and I try not to hold their vanity plates against them. All in all, we have a nice,
Though I was coined gifted as a kid, I wasn’t diagnosed with AD(H)D until I was thirty-three (after first being misdiagnosed with, and medicated for, bipolar disorder. Fun times). As giftedness can also easily be misdiagnosed as AD(H)D, I ran into the gifted concept a lot after researching my diagnosis. I hadn’t thought about my gifted side since I was a kid. You can imagine how shocked I was to learn that both gifts have a tendency to create chaos in adulthood. It doesn’t stop when you hit puberty, buddy. These are the gifts that keep on giving. I couldn’t believe it. There I was, in black and white. My entire being of weirdness, easily explained with bullet points listed under both “Signs of Adult AD(H)D” and “Signs of Adult Giftedness.” Double trouble. Twice f---ed, as I like to say. Getting diagnosed was definitely a mixed blessing for me. On one hand there was a nicely packaged reason for all of the things I felt were wrong with me. On the other hand, it was comparable to a mental-health death sentence. I used to say to my mom, “It shouldn’t be this hard … it isn’t this hard for other people … this isn’t normal.” I used to think I could just fix myself away with my little self-improvement plans. I still do, actually -- a different one every week, but getting that diagnosis meant I could do all of the self-improvement plans available in the universe, and I would still come out as messed up as I went in. No improvements for me. Sorry, Charlie. Shit out of luck, my friend.
I’ve always felt misunderstood. Though I was never at a loss for friends, I was always told I was weird, which I was totally OK with. Weird is a compliment, I think. I just didn’t really understand what people thought was weird about me. It could have something to do with the following, but I’ll let you be the judge of that. Thanks to my two gifts, I have a tendency to be anxious and depressed. I’m completely overtaken by the moods of others. I procrastinate. I can’t pay bills or keep track of finances, and I have no emotional ties to money. I don’t put effort into relationships, except for those with people who have grown to accept me and don’t try to change me. I don’t bond easily with most people. I constantly stress myself out trying to help everyone except myself. I feel a connection with nature in my bones, but almost to the point of pain. I get in a funk where I feel dead inside. I’m easily overwhelmed. I don’t like to be touched. The sound of a telephone makes me want to put my fist through a wall. I have a horrendous temper and can snap but then forget about it five seconds later. I have horrible word recall. I often forget what I’m talking about midsentence and have to ask the dreaded, “Uh … what were we talking about?” I don’t pay attention to getting to my destination when I drive and have ended up in the wrong state more than once. I love animals so much it can be painful, and I have the chips in my teeth from grinding them to prove it. I’m emotionally and physically affected by the sadness and heartbreak of others. I can barely sit still to watch TV, except for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia or my favorite paranormal show, Destination Truth. (Call me, Josh Gates. Your show is my new dream job!) Unfortunately, I never remember what day or time they’re on, so, thank you, DVR! Overhead lights bother me. A ceiling fan on my skin makes me crazy. Strong odors can make me throw up. I can’t make casual conversation on the phone; there has to be a purpose, such as scheduling. “What time do ya want to meet? Two o’clock? OK, bye.” I sometimes don’t understand people if they speak too fast, and then I have to read their lips, which can be awkward for everyone involved. I can’t maintain eye contact during a conversation, and if I try to, I feel like my eyes are going to pop out of my head. According to my hubby, I “have no regard for safety.” There’s more … a lot more, actually, but I think I’ll let you discover some for yourself. A girl has to stay somewhat mysterious, you know!
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