ADHD, Anxiety, Psychology

I AM my scars

When a video game cutscene makes you reflect on your own life, you know it’s good. I was playing WoW and watched this cutscene. In short, this goddess of light (Xe’ra) offers to “heal the scars” of Illidan (more emotional than physical), and he declines, saying “I AM my scars”. He has an inner demon, which constantly torments him emotionally, in a struggle for control, but which also gives him powers to defeat the invading demons.

I first saw this when it came out, and thought “what an idiot, I wish someone would offer to make all MY struggles go away. All my anxiety, my ADHD, just gone, allowing me to reach my full potential”. It’s something I had been dreaming of all of my life, how could anyone refuse?

A while later, I saw this talk by Kelly McGonigal titled “How to make stress your friend”. She shows us various studies which found out that stress is actually super helpful, if made use of correctly, and it’s only detrimental to health and performance if we worry about it.

Recently, I saw that cutscene again, and I thought “maybe he isn’t an idiot after all”. Yes, his inner demons cause him suffering, but it also helps his drive to defeat the invaders, as well as giving him extra tools to do so. Without them, he may not be as willing to sacrifice everything for his goals, he may become an entirely different person, not to mention that all his previous achievements and struggles would be in vain. So why would he trust this creature he just met to change the core of his being? “I AM my scars”.

I am not the kind of person who says “ohh ADHD is a superpower!” because it’s not. It really isn’t fun having it, and my life would definitely be easier without it. But is it worth dwelling on wishing it away?

It made me reflect on my anxiety, my biggest inner demon. Like that guy in the game, it’s a constant struggle for control. If I let it overwhelm me, it will sabotage everything I’ve worked for. But I can also use it to work towards my goals. My extreme anxiety was a useful coping mechanism in the past, when I didn’t have any better tools available to manage my ADHD. And even now, I can use it as an indicator to notice problems and estimate how important they are to me, and use the energy and motivation it gives me to solve them. I just need to not let myself be overwhelmed by it and run away from everything. The most important step is to accept that it’s there, and stop generating more anxiety by worrying about it and wishing it away. I AM my anxiety!

The same goes for ADHD. It may not directly offer any advantages, but it made me who I am today. It forced me to find creative solutions to problems that other people don’t even have. That taught me to never give up, because I will always find a way. It instilled in me some healthy coping mechanisms that give me an advantage over people who don’t have it. For example, I take notes of everything when talking to people, because I know I will zone out or forget what they said. This actually helps me remember more from talks with my clients compared to other freelancers, who rely on their memory, since it usually works for them, except when it doesn’t.

While I will continue treating it with medicine to reduce my symptoms and help me control it, I vowed to myself to take advantage of my ADHD, and what resulted from it, to become a better person and reach the goals I set out for myself. I will stop dwelling on “where I could have been now if only I didn’t have ADHD or got diagnosed earlier”. I AM my ADHD.

For any part of you that you don’t like, see what opportunities it gives you to grow as a person. Be proud of what you achieved in spite of it. Stop wishing it away, and see how you can control it and make use of it. Embrace your inner demons, but don’t let them control you.

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