April Jeppson: My brain works differently than most others
Published 8:45 pm Friday, November 18, 2022
Every Little Thing by April Jeppson
I’m notorious for making spreadsheets and doing hours of research on things that I may or may not ever do. I aim, aim, aim, aim and rarely fire. I think about every possible question, problem and solution. The inner workings of my mind can be wildly fast when it comes to forecasting the future and potential outcomes. It’s not stressful, it’s just the way I think. However, I’m learning that this may be anxiety that drives me to over prepare.
I like to think that I use my powers for good. God blessed me with a mind that works a little differently than others. When I was a child I ran with it. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I thought everyone had racing thoughts. I thought everyone’s brain worked like Dr. Strange or Sherlock Holmes. Doesn’t everyone watch how people around them behave so that they can mimic those same behaviors and fit in?
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As I got older, I saw my different ways as unique, and I used these assets to my advantage. I dominated the things that came easy to me. I knew what my strengths were, and I capitalized on them.
On the flip side, there are things that I’m horrible at. Normal everyday tasks that I truly struggle with. For years I beat myself up and considered myself lazy for not being able to master these tasks like I could master the others. It really does something to your self esteem when you believe that if you only tried harder, you’d be successful at x, y or z.
As I’ve mentioned before, I have ADHD. If you think this is just something for hyperactive boys who don’t listen in class, I encourage you to do some reading on it. In fact, I’d encourage you to do some reading on all sorts of different mental illnesses/disorders. Here’s a few to start off your studying: Depression, anxiety, bipolar, autism…
The more I learn, the more empowered I feel. Knowledge has been extremely helpful when working with my own mental health. Being able to recognize why my thought patterns are going in a certain direction, or why I responded to a situation the way I did. It helps me not be so hard on myself. I’m also able to set myself up for success when possible.
Learning about these different issues also helps when I interact with co-workers and friends. Although there is a plethora of information out there and even celebrity advocates, there is still a stigma in regards to mental health. People have been trained to just try harder and they don’t understand that there is a chemical imbalance in their brain. No amount of trying harder is going to change that, just like no amount of trying harder is going to get an amputee’s legs to grow back.
One of the many benefits of my prescription is that I’m able to finish tasks that I start. I’m sure that sounds like a very insignificant win, but for me, it’s huge. I’m currently trying to rewrite my inner dialog. I’m not lazy, my brain just works differently. I know that there are just some things that will always be more difficult for me, and that’s OK. I don’t need to try harder, I need to find systems that work better for how I’m built. And when I find friends and co-workers who are understanding, it makes all the difference in the world.
Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams. Her column appears every Saturday.