Should you walk into my house before I come home today, you would be able to retrace my every move by the debris left in my wake. My breakfast of eggs (soft scrambled), a side of avocado, and a violent shake of hot sauce. You would be able to tell if I had showered and if I had put a little (or a lot) of time into my appearance by the pale film of powder dusted across the vanity and the waxy lipstick left exposed. You would piece together the four outfits I considered, then haphazardly discarded.
Still, there would be questions. Why is your bra at the bottom of the stairs? How did one sock end up in the kitchen, and the other in the office?
I come from a family of tornados. It’s what I know; it’s so familiar it’s invisible. Since I can remember, my head has shared a likeness to a jar full of bees. A tiny cyclone of ideas and tasks and lists go Ping! Ping! Ping! against my skull, slowly swirling then picking up speed again. They whip around at an erratic pace contrasting sharply against the steady metronome of time. Tick. Tock. Tick. Sometimes, time stops and everything else falls away. I’ll hang on to one thought so long that nothing else can be seen or heard.
“Babe? Hi.” That’s Joe calling my name. He had been telling me about the Big Game last night, and I was hypnotized by a client’s email.
And so it goes. We whirl through life, bringing the ones we love along with us.
It takes courage to love someone for all their contradictions because if you’re loving fully and giving yourself fully, you’re going to encounter something that drives you a little (or a lot) crazy. Many times the hurdles are much bigger than dealing with messy socks and dirty plates. For Joe and me, acknowledging my predisposition to tornadic behavior is one step. We’re learning how to tame it and become better at forecasting the weather.
If you’re different, you’ve been called many things: quirky, aloof, special, a problem. Some of us outgrow what restricts blood flow to our prefrontal cortex, and some of us don’t. Some of us will find out why we’re different later on in life. Whatever makes you special, you don’t have to be a pop culture stereotype or clinical diagnosis. We’re a teacher’s challenge. We’re the life of the party. We’re dynamic and impulsive, sensitive and intuitive. We can do things many people cannot.
With all these complexities, it is helpful to remember you are not a problem to be fixed. You have an opportunity to turn what makes you special into your very own superpower.
And yet with all these complexities, it is helpful to remember you are not a problem to be fixed. You have an opportunity to turn what makes you special into your very own superpower.
It’s no coincidence the title of this blog post pays homage to Neko Case. Her willingness to wear battle scars as war paint is an inspiration to us all.
To Joe, with love: Your Tornado
Note: For all the articles written about living with adult ADHD, it’s been hard for me to find one that resonated with my experience. If you or someone you love has this “superpower,” I hope it helps you step into their shoes.
This essay is part of an ongoing series dedicated to wellness and mental health advocacy.
Kate is currently learning to play the Ukulele, much to the despair of her husband, kids, and dogs. Follow her on Instagram at @witanddelight_.
BY Kate Arends - April 7, 2015
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Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.
What a beautiful message. Lovely words as always. Thank you for sharing your unique thoughts and view points on a subject that doesn’t get as much coverage as it should.
Thank you for your support, Hannah! Hopefully someone finds this who needed it as much as I did!
I sure do love you, Kate. I just sat down in a meeting and a coworker asked “have you read your wife’s letter?” To which I said, “Nope, what does it say”. You’re an amazing tornado, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’m glad you’re up for the challenge, JP! 😉
Kate–You are always inspiring me with you’re raw honesty. Thank you for you eloquent words and story. And thank you for letting a reader, like me, be a part of the journey in a small way.
Thank you dear Mailinh! I’m always so happy when I see your name pop up 🙂
It’s so refreshing to read such honest posts. I always love your thoughts Kate!
I’m manic depressive bipolar, and stabilized on the manic side. It very much feels like I too am a tornado. Very beautiful piece!
I struggle with anxiety and perfectionism. My biggest fear in life is that no one will understand the complexity that is going on in my mind. Thank you for this letter.
Loved this, Kate. My partner has ADHD and I really do struggle with the small things but I love him so much. I’m trying to work on being a less-anxious partner for him. To let the dirty dishes and tossed shoes and socks and random clothes washing cycles slide. Along with the continual lateness and forgetfulness. But like you say, doesn’t that make you unique? And unique is good! Thank you.
Kate, thank you so much for this. Your honesty and vulnerability in your writing speaks volumes to what an incredibly strong person you are. None of this is easy to talk about and you are doing an incredible thing by putting it out there. Thank you for your bravery, your honesty and for keeping this dialog going, you are doing an amazing job.
Thank you Lauren. I hope it helps other people become more comfortable with who they are.
KATE, You are such an inspiration for all women who battle with any kind of issues. You tackle them straight on and I thank you for your bravery. Bravo ! I hope to one day meet you and give you a giant hug 🙂
Thank you for always reading and being so supportive, Myrna!
Bravo to you for feeling brave enough to release your “superpower” to your readers, so that we can feel that same strength & acceptance of ourselves. I hate the idea of having to “fix” everything. Yes, there is a sense of balance with helping yourself be better, but all the while, Some things aren’t meant to be 100% fixed; they’re meant to be accepted & loved more. We aren’t robots, we’re humans.
So true. Everything changes when you stop fixing what’s “wrong” with you and start working with what you have.
Love this series. My husband is also a tornado and while it will be something we have to work with the rest of our lives, I love him dearly.
That’s true love 🙂
From one tornado to another. I love you! Mom
I’m lucky to have you as my mom!
Beautifully written by a beautiful person.
Love you, Leah!!
you are an amazing writer. what a beautiful description of an experience/reality that is so hard to pin down.
Absolutely love this post! Thank you so much for your beautiful words and message (and Vonnegut reference, if that’s what that was!)
This was so beautifully written Kate… I loved it! Your words really resonated with me and I’m so happy to know I’m not the only tornado.
I felt as if I was reading my own story. It is hard, overwhelming, disappointing and full of heartache at times to live within this crazy mind. But it is also wonderfully rewarding and curiosity inspiring daily.
Sounds like we’d get along well, Kendra 🙂
I absolutely love this. I love how you say “one’s mess can tell an intimate story” and how you describe what your thought process feels like. I truly enjoyed reading this. So well written, to the point, and just great. Thank you!
Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts Lisa. It means a lot to me!
Well, I have discovered something. Miy ignorance lead me to think that ADHD was a child-related superpower! Tornados are necessary, they help everyone re-assess, adapt, evolve and grow.
I had that same assumption for years, too 🙂 Mine only got worse in adulthood, unfortunately. At least life isn’t boring!
[…] This article. […]
Honest and inspirational post… Love it!
[…] “…it is helpful to remember you are not a problem to be fixed. You have an opportunity to turn what makes you special into your very own superpower.” […]
It’s so clear that your writing resonates with every person that reads this. We all have messy lives, “tornados” of lives as you so beautifully put it. And I think we’re ALL different. There’s no if about it. Some people just see their superpowers right from the get go and others search their whole life for it but we ALL have one. And I bet some people just found theirs by reading your piece, so guess what? I think your superhero power is exposing others’ powers. And that’s pretty brilliant.
This is great! I am exactly the same- my husband calls me ‘whirlwind of destruction’!
Love this, Kate – thanks for sharing! Mental health advocacy can never be championed enough, and I’m glad you use your blog as a platform for it.
Hi Kate! When I read the paragraph that began with “If you’re different, you’ve been called many things”, I smiled to myself. Every word that followed is spot on. I am different and I embrace it. It’s often lonely and sometimes exhausting, but I wouldn’t want to be any other way. And it makes all the difference in the world that those who love me wouldn’t want me to be any other way. Thanks for sharing who you are. I look forward to reading more here. All the best!
I love that Neko song, and I love sharing stories about our real life, the good the hard and the messy – thank you for writing so beautifully about it, you really capture how delicate the balance of day to day can be for some of us. I love the line ‘you are not a problem to be fixed’, such a timely reminder for when we get in our own way. These differences are our beauty, absolutely…
Very insightful and “real” post. wonderful article
This was so beautifully written Kate. Thank you.
We love it. We smiled to ourselves when reading we are different.
[…] “One’s mess can tell an intimate story.” […]
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