ADHD/PTSD in the Office

by Lindsay   Aug 7, 2020

*Alarm, snooze.*
*Alarm, snooze.* *Alarm, snooze.*
I need to get up or I will be late!
I'm not late. I never am.
I rush in the morning.
Crap! I forgot deodorant.

Okay, focus. Work time.
Everyone is sitting down. I am too.
My foot is shaking. Oh, I am the one shaking it...Stop it.
Just act normal.
Boss says good morning to me.
Okay, casual talk. Don't over do it or you will say something impulsive.
Maybe she thinks because I did not say good morning first I am stuck up?
I say, "GOOD MORNING " way too loud and cheery. Almost forced.
At my desk I am nervous. Why?
Oh great, an invasive flashback.
One minute later my conscious welcomes me back.
When are they going to page for a patient? It is almost 8:05!

Pager rings.
Not even a second later no one seems to notice. I do.
I observe every one in the room sitting half asleep at their desk.
I immediately jump out of my seat and run to grab the patients slip.
Without further thinking I miss over things during the exam.
I guide the patient into the next room and seat them.
Now I go back and grab the items I needed in the first room to complete what I missed.
My coworkers watch me go back and forth and whisper.
Rushing to get back to my patient I see the Dr. in the hall.
Okay. Slow down, smile and greet him.

After my patient I can't seem to sit still at my desk.
I glance around the room to peek at my coworkers still half asleep and barely moving.
How can I possibly be as slow as them? Won't they complain or think I am lazy?
My heart begins to race. My mind. My leg is shaking.
What is wrong with me?

Water. Just drink some water.
I keep a big gallon in my desk.
Go slow. Repeat this to yourself or you will spill it.
I pick up the water jug and my body betrays me.
Water soaks all over my scrubs and trickles down the floor.
Everyone stares with awkward expression.
"Hah, whoops!" I casually laugh it off.
Idiot! I think.
My boss comes over and talks to me. I interrupt and finish her sentence.
I never mean to interrupt.
Now I am talking way too fast because I realized I interrupted.
She is annoyed. I am way too excited for everyone.
Why is it always like this?

Moments later I am no longer excited. My heart slows down and so do my thoughts.
I begin to feel anxious. I move around. I can't just sit.
It may seem unproductive, but isn't everyone else just sitting at their desk?
Pager rings.
I jump up way too fast and grab it.
With this patient I talk too much. I am too friendly. I lose focus.
How long have I been distracted? I have lost the time and put Dr. behind.
I give patient slip to the Dr. and he notices some charting mistakes.
I spend the next hour knowing what I failure I am at this job.
Visioning more mistakes I have made in my head.
Hello domino effect.

Am I the only one making mistakes?
I would kill for a cigarette. I bite the inside of my cheeks and lips instead. Pick at my nails.
You are such a freak, I think to myself.
Bored now.
I try to focus on doing something productive, but failed to prioritize the task first and get coached on something else.
My shoulders drop. Shame sweeps over me.
Everything I do is the wrong thing to do.
While everyone else is fine sitting at their desk texting or eating a snack.
Don't they want all the paper shredded, boxes downstairs, revenue unpacked, notes scanned in, trash emptied, fax machine cleared?
I try my best to stay busy.
Wanting to blend in, be confident and productive.
Everyone must see this crazy person who can't sit still at her desk.
Truly I want to work.

Willing myself now to sit at my desk.
Forcing every ounce of my being to calm down.
It is exhausting.
When everything is screaming "MOVE, MOVE, MOVE!"
If I sit still too long I have flashbacks.
If I move too much I can't slow down and then make mistakes.
Nothing feels right, but I can pretend long enough most days.

I'm scared to talk.
Normal people have conversations I remind myself.
My team is talking among themselves.
What if I over share or say something inappropriate?
I have before. Many times.
Look where that has gotten you.
Yet all my stories seem normal to me.
Raised in the system and my last job was law enforcement. Big mistake working there.
My fear of talking rests.
I will at least try to focus on what they are saying.
I hear trivial mutters and frivolous chattering.
Nope, I think.
No way in hell I am conversing today.

I lose everything.
My pen, pager,
patients slip that was just in my hand a second ago...
Now I have the attention of my boss again.
She casually mentions I should see a therapist.
Where did that come from?
She trails off about how she takes a happy pill everyday.
Ahh. She thinks I need medicine.

Later a co worker pulls me aside and apologizes.
States my boss was out of line for what she said.
I shrug it off. It didn't bother me.
The co worker still expresses concern and gives me a lot of positive feedback.
I like Judy. She is our insurance lady.
I wish everyone here was Judy.
Always professional and considerate.
I admired her above the shoulder hair cut and circular glasses that fit too big on her face.
She wasn't very tall either. An adorably mature woman.
Work was her priority, but she was always kind to spend a few minutes out of her busy day to check on me.

It is Friday!
Everyone is in a good mood. Almost the weekend.
I like Friday for other reasons.
People seem more excited and less like grumpy sloths.
More pleasant and curious in nature.
Anxiously doing things in a hurry. Distracted.
That sounds familiar.
At least I will blend in today.
My hyperness kicks in.
The day goes by fast. No one seems to point out all my mistakes.

Kate wants me in her office.
Uh oh.
Kate is our human resource lady and never has time for everyone.
I follow along and try not to focus on the sweat under my arms and the shifting weight of my body.
My year review.
I don't retain enough information and fail at completing tasks. Forgetful. Too many complaints.
All fair statements.
Now i'm given 30 days to improve.
Shame again sweeps over me. I know deep down I will never be good enough here.
I consult with Judy.
Change needs to happen. I don't disagree.
My impulsiveness drives me to write a letter of resignation.
Typed, dated and in proper format.
They were going to fire me anyways, I think.
I placed it on Kate's desk.

Time to seek therapy.
It has been awhile for me.
Sitting on a cozy couch with inspirational posters everywhere. Maybe a small plant tucked in a corner somewhere.
I spent years in foster care with multiple therapists. I know the drill.

My therapist is an older man with a beard.
He could have been a mall Santa Claus at a previous job.
I try to picture what he looks like after work.
We sit in silence and stare at each other.
He scoots his chair up close to the couch where I am sitting.
His slacks are tight and revealing, complimenting his shape.
I shouldn't have looked.
He fumbles with his beard.
"Did that make you uncomfortable just now?" He asked.
I bite my lip and try to focus on his question. "Did what?" I ask.
There was a blinking light on his computer monitor that grabbed my attention.
He seemed to notice and covered it with a piece of paper.
"When I moved closer to you." He responds.
My heart beating a little faster now I muttered a quick lie, "No."

"So what brings you here?"


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Latest Comments

  • 3 years ago

    by Once an Angel

    THIS! A thousand times THIS! Reading this, it was so amazing to feel understood, to hear that someone else's brain sounds so much like this all day. This. Thank you. In finding words for you, you found them for me, too.

  • 3 years ago

    by Aiko (Dreamsurfer)

    Long but compelling, ADHD sounds like it can be a Medical TV station for Health Videos, am not joking...

  • 3 years ago

    by Aiko (Dreamsurfer)

    The writing drew me in, I felt like the character with PTSD. Your writing is very descriptive, made me nostalgic about my younger years when I wanted to grow up to become a doctor like most of my best school friends wished. Also reminded me of Grey's Anatomy Series...

  • 3 years ago

    by Poet on the Piano

    First, I want to say welcome to the site, Lindsay!

    Poems like these, kind of the stream-of-consciousness, can be the most vulnerable and emotional pieces. They're also my favorite, in writing and reading, because it can be extremely cathartic. And I hope it was for you. All of the images, feelings, pressure, tension, anxiety.... all of it set me on edge just as the reader, and if I even have a glimpse of that, I'm sure it was much bigger for you. Thank you for sharing everything with us. I love how you shared the insecurities and questions of "if I do this, will I be seen as normal? will I blend in?", and wondering constantly if others are scrutinizing you. It's so human and raw and honest. Someone could appear on the outside as confident, yet be trembling in uncertainty. The details make your voice in this piece even more sincere, and even though I don't know you, I felt the continuous questioning of self-worth here. I over-analyze my actions and it can be impossibly difficult to find balance, to not let things trigger us or the memories consume us in daily life... to have that desire to be perceived as hard-working and apt.

    Ending with that question, that question that serves as kind of a jumping-off point, gave me chills. I've been in therapy too, and it's such a big question. Sometimes intimidating. Because, where do you even start, you know?

    Love this piece so much and I can't wait to read more. Take care!

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