I've been trying to think of something to write for a while now, some new topic, some new follow-up that I said I would do(environmental sensing in the L-Systems code would be nice). I've been struggling with my own concentration since I was a child, and honestly, it got worse in college, but then a lot of things got a lot worse for me there.
What it felt like was burnout. I had hoped that this burnout would pass like some of the less severe episodes that I recall while growing up, but this one didn't. I find it harder to be out in public than I used to, and after the pandemic I feel like I'm more awkward than ever, but the retreat had started earlier. I disappointed myself when I left RPI, and this was a profound failure. I had always tied my worth to the academic success I had managed earlier, so the unstructure of college life left me reeling as I failed to allocate time. I joined a fraternity(probably not a great idea), which I'm probably not eligible to be in now that I've transitioned. The access to that network enabled several types of substances to be acquired and experimented with.
As it turned out, I was not immune to the allure of dopamine and serotonin, especially in the new stressful environment. I had assignments that were way harder than I had been given before, professors were impossible to know without gargantuan effort because the classes involved hundreds of people, especially for those introductory classes.
I floundered there, and each failure sapped my self worth. I pushed myself harder and harder and blamed myself and punished myself for my failures, and those substances helped put off the horror at my failure, alleviate my anxiety, but they took up my time and ate into my social life. I had a problem in college, a chemical interest was how I had decided to cope, and this caught up to me when my parents found a stash of mine, destroying their trust in me.
The first weekend I spent back at my parents' house after dropping out of RPI I drank a 3 liter jug of saki in two days. I felt and looked like death by the time my parents came back. It took them no time at all to figure out how I had spent the time and I remember the look of disappointment on my mom's face. The concern when she tried to talk to me about it, and get me help. I refused, therapy had sucked in middle and high school, so why wouldn't it suck now? So I didn't make use of the resources my parents tried to provide, instead I tried to lie low and do nothing. I wasted two years of my life like that, not working, barely practicing my code, not studying.
Then I started at a new community college, doing well at first with the easy classes, but failing as the classes got harder. I didn't try to get help from other students, or any of the resources, I was stubborn, and I was sure I could fix it myself. I was alone. I had hidden my idiosyncrasies and problems for so long successfully(not really), so why not keep doing it?
Near the end I decided to transition, and while I still didn't take advantage of any support I could've had, it did help, I feel a lot happier now than I did when I started it, but it was not the source of all my problems, and my alcoholism continued to be an issue. I still felt like a fuck up even after graduating.
And I'm still struggling with myself about this, I made mistakes that are easy to make, lots of people suffer through much worse consequences for these sorts of things, but I'm still trying to convince myself I'm not a fuckup who has ruined hir life.
I don't think I made good decisions, especially when I resisted getting the help my parents offered, but I'm glad that I made some of them. I made good friends at the fraternity, that I reminisce about frequently, but it was a bad time in my life because the spiral pulled me down until I broke up. I didn't even do as badly as I had thought the last term I went to RPI.
But I've never gotten past that feeling of failure, even though it was manufactured out of memories out of context, that leaves out the struggles I went through and the effort I did put in, and my triumphs, but that's what it takes to sustain depression, a worldview desolate of success and redolent with failure, most patterns that last are like rivers, sustained by the forces that shape them, so we must put in energy to resist the channels that have formed for a change to be sustained.
Depression is a pattern, so it must be possible to disrupt it, replace it with a pattern that consumes its own tail instead of dragging us down, but doing that requires consistency, and ADHD and depression combine to make reinforcement extra-difficult, especially as my own life shifts around in the chaos of normality.
But things have gotten a lot better, having people I love in my life has made a huge difference, and therapy is already making a difference in dealing with stressors in current events and my own failures, and in the years since, I have largely, I think, earned the trust of my parents back, so my support network is better than it was.