Superhero Origin Story

Well I’m on my way/I don’t know where I’m going/I’m on my way/Takin’ my time but I don’t know where.   — Paul Simon

It’s my first shift at work on Adderall and I feel like Peter Parker when he turned from being a nerdy outcast into a badass who could shoot spider webs from his wrists, beat up the school bully, and get the girl. Or when Harry Potter learned he was a wizard instead of just a weird, lonely kid who could talk to snakes.

I’m calm and pleasant with customers. I smile, joke and even make small talk! I don’t drop a plate or glass my entire shift. I notice near-mistakes before they happen, whereas in the past I would have mixed up a customer’s order or tripped over my own shoelace. I literally see things I wouldn’t have seen before, no longer asking coworkers where to find the extra sugar packets (to-go boxes, napkins, aprons…). The time goes quickly and I’m light on my feet. My mind is no longer screaming desperately to be freed from the prison of an hourly food-server job. I’m not asleep standing up by the end of my shift, barely able to carry two plates at once. I actually feel happy! One coworkers catches me singing about gazpacho in the stockroom.  Being properly medicated has made reality itself more tolerable or at least more capable of handling multiple stimuli and demands without needing to escape to the broom closet and weep.

Simultaneously, it’s a little bit unnerving. Is it  too good to be true? When is the other, proverbial shoe dropping? Probably the placebo effect. Past elation, I worry that the meds will alter my personality. Am I going to become this content person who enjoys folding laundry and serving yoga moms vegan sandwiches on gluten-free bread while their free-to-be-me-free-to-be-you children trash the place and I don’t even mind? I worry about my sense of personal identity. Am I this chill, Bob-Marley-on-an-island, funny, productive, energetic when not totally relaxed stranger? Or the restless, anxious, passionate person who feels every emotion to the max, who literally cries over spilled milk?  Will these drugs make me dumb? Am I going to be one of those people who’s happily busy while there are hurricanes and wars and children imprisoned at the border and our government is run by criminals and their political lackies for their own whimsy and fortunes? Who am I without the constant fear that I’m going to fuck something up? Is this how “normal” people feel ALL THE TIME?!

The stranger-in-a-strange-land feeling persists. The weirdest part is that the most noticeable differences in myself relate to the tiniest, most ordinary aspects of everyday life. Have I written a symphony or solved world hunger yet? No! But I made it through a whole shift at work without spilling plates and misreading others’ nonverbal signals. I don’t feel like my entire being is straining to be somewhere else, doing something else, being someone else. The strangest and welcome side effect of the medication is a powerful sense of presence. For once, I am in my body. In the moment. Not miles away where my fears for the future and ruminations about the past dwell.

I’m at work, feeling the sun on my face and singing to a bowl of gazpacho.

Published by adventuresofaschmidiot

Writer, media scholar, feminist. I was recently diagnosed with adult ADHD and hope to document my "journey of becoming" as I approach 30.

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