This is the first part a new Ghanaian series which will run every week on Myjoyonline. It's the story of a teenager trying to find himself.
In the year 2008.
Why can’t I just be a normal thirteen-year old? I am not asking to be ordinary, if that is what you are thinking. I have heard a thousand and one lectures on how unique everyone is and so on. Sometimes, I wonder what I have become and how I got here.
Probably, this would be the last time I would pour out my soul in such a manner.
I have found solace in my diary. Thanks a lot dear diary! You are the only one who understands me and never asks questions when I complain. Unburdening my soul in your pink sheets makes me feel better. It’s confession time again.
Back in school, I always liked doing things in excess. You could say I exhibited hyperactivity. During one Physical Education class, I was asked to throw a ball. The force with which I threw the ball was so much that it ended up breaking the glass window.
I bet you may be thinking that this is perfectly normal because accidents are bound to happen during any game, right?
Well, that was not all. Miss Mensah, my teacher, noticed something strange about me; unlike the other children in her class, I could hardly sit still (not even for five minutes).
I would either be caught fidgeting with my pen or found staring out the window. Just like Alice, my mind was far away in Wonderland. Miss Mensah took me to the counsellor’s office where I was later directed to seek medical attention from a psychologist along with my father. I went through a series of tests and I was eventually diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
But before that, there is something I forgot to tell you. I had a brawl with a guy named Dan for referring to me as a little boy. I just could not control my anger especially for certain things that others deem petty. Well, I would not deny it. I had a rage.
I also remember throwing a tantrum at the mall because my father refused to buy me those blue shoes. His reason was simple – “Son, you already have a similar one of a different colour.”
Immediately, I started screaming like I had just been shot in the foot. I brought down the rest of the shoes on the shelves with a single kick and sat my- obstinate- self down on the floor, inviting a crowd of shoppers who had come to behold this little spectacle.
As for me, the word ‘boundary’ does not exist in my dictionary. If curiosity could kill, then I am that cat with more than nine lives. I was told not to do so many things but I could never adhere to any of these instructions unless I discovered the reason through personal experience.
There was a time when Grandma asked me not to play with the knife on the kitchen table. Typically, I never listened to her reasons because I wanted experience to be my teacher. I used the knife to sword-fight an imaginary opponent and I ended up cutting myself. These are a few of my escapades.
Sadly, I do not have anyone to call a friend. My own family does not understand me anymore. My father employed a psychologist with the hope of correcting this anomaly. Though it may seem funny, I cannot hide the fact that I run away from my psychologist. Oh yes! As intelligent as I was, I managed to learn quite a lot from him before I eloped. Some of which I intend to share with you.
First of all, I was told that my disorder had no particular cause. The most discouraging remark I had ever heard was that the disorder could have originated from my genes and the part of my brain which is responsible for attention may have relatively thinner tissue. However, it may reach its normal thickness eventually as I grow (indicating a very slim chance of normalcy during my childhood).
He also ruled out certain factors which may have caused this disorder. Such factors included : smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy (because my mother was a strict teetotaler and allergic to smoke). Also, I never had any brain injuries and my father ensured that I always ate healthy food.
I recall having an argument with my father because I broke all the rules concerning my therapy. That is typical among people of my kind. Yes, we are described as rebellious and obstinate social misfits.
Even though I had severe mood swings and Tourette Syndrome ( which causes repetitive mannerisms like grimacing and eye-blinking), there is this symptom that I refused to emulate. I am very happy that I never had any learning disability. My recollection rate was sharper than iron. As a matter of fact, I have always been among the top three students in my class.
Let’s go back to therapy. I was given a very long list of stimulants. These drugs were supposed to calm me down during my ADHD moments. I thought that was the last of it. Unfortunately, medicine could not solve my problems.
Just as Newton’s Third Law of motion depicts about action and reaction, I began to experience the side effects of these drugs. I lost appetite, exhibited some strange movements (which I later got to know as ‘tics’) and developed sleeping problems.
Eventually, I stopped taking the medicine because I felt it was doing more harm than good. And by the way, I left before the psychotherapy session; I felt there was no hope. I still feel that way now.
I am tired of being described as the indiscipline little child. Enough of the judgment! I think I need help more than ever but I just don’t know who or where to turn to. Someone once suggested a psychiatrist. Could that be the answer to all my woes?
Naa Adzoa can be reached on email@example.com
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