This is the view from the top of the street I grew up on. Where grass was once left to grow between council visits, there is now a smoothly paved path.
I’m thinking about everything that has led me to this point — my “path”. At 30, there’s so much to reflect on. I owe myself more credit for challenges overcome. But I struggle to turn away from everything left cracked and broken in my wake. As well as my many “wrong turns”.
I’m here to get tattooed. But as with every visit, I’ve taken the chance to read my old journals. They allow me to recall exactly how everything has played out; rather than relying on the distorted lens of memory.
Where I used to cringe, I now have more compassion for myself. I see a young man trying desperately to form a picture out of the few pieces life had spared him.
Back then, ADD and bipolar 2 were unknown to me. But there are definitely clues scattered through my pages of scribbled confessions. I constantly mention “relapses and gusts” and “peaks and valleys”. In my book, Living in Cream, I refer to creativity as an “antidote to my condition”.
Now I know that ADD is a serious nerological condition that affects one’s ability to engage with what their doing. I understand how important it is for people with ADD to spend time indulging in the things they naturally gravitate towards.
Back then, I didn’t take my “interests” seriously. This is why I left my book to gather digital dust online for four years. Now I’ve got a box of 25 professionally printed copies. I’ll be sending them out to publishers and selling a few to friends. My local bookstore has also just accepted a few on consignment! Heck, I even sold one to someone I met up with off Tinder!
Through my personal friendships and my work in the mental health space, I’ve gained a better idea of how “paths” work. Sometimes they are laid out well before one takes that first step. But most of the time, they are paved as we go — never knowing what’s coming more than a few steps ahead of us.
Your “path” isn’t something you eventually find yourself on as a straight-running line, smooth-sailing life scenario type thing. Your path is what you’re on now — it includes everything that’s taken place already. Some have easier roads to walk than others. There’s no mantra to help with that, but Buddha nailed it with his first Noble Truth: life is suffering.
I could have got a diagnosis in 2010 when I was falling asleep at my desk.I could have printed my book after I wrote it in 2014. I could have tried changing careers in 2016 when I realised this wasn’t working for me… but I didn’t.
Could, would, and should haves are all deadweight. So I’m going to use this moment to also dump some baggage. Feel free to join me.
The road ahead is still uphill, but it’s into new territory. That means progress. Even if life is still challenging, that doesn’t mean there isn’t progress being made. There’s a saying that new levels bring new devils.
It feels like I’m throwing money away on tests, medications, psychiatrist appointments, and now a naturopath – a final effort before I subscribe to a life on stimulants. But I’m trying to see it all as “paving my path” slab by slab.
I’m sure I’ll eventually reach a point where I know what I want to do with my career; the treatment options that work for my health; where I want to live and how I can pursue my creative interests meeting my other responsibilities. And when I do, I won’t question why I didn’t any earlier. Because if they led me here, those turns must have been right after all… and all part of my path.