I was about 30 when I learned I had SPD and CAPD

by Miley

...And when I found out, I cried and cried and cried.

I was relieved and sad and totally blown away to learn that I wasn't "stupid".

My whole life I wanted to be smart. I marveled at my peers in high school who were great at history or chemistry or even current events. I always wondered why I just couldn't remember who was fighting in what country, or what that chemical equation was.

All the way through high school, I studied harder than anybody I knew. I read every book and went to every class and did everything I was supposed to, and I still struggled with grades and overall comprehension of any subject, frankly. I always thought I was a fake. I WANTED to be a leader in a conversation about politics or biology or psychology, but I could never, ever spit out any details or actual facts about anything I had "learned" in class. How on God's green earth could these people remember historical events and dates so well? It was incomprehensible to me.

During these years I lived in Colorado, and I was ice-cold, all winter long. Unbearably cold. To the point that it hurt and that I hated living there. Everyone just thought I was being a wimp and should stop complaining.

I didn't like the milk my family drank and hated the clothes my mom bought me as they always made me itch and uncomfortable. As soon as it got dark I couldn't move a muscle and wanted to sleep. My moods were dramatically affected by the amount of sunshine that was out that day. Grey or dark days immediately made me tired and depressed, almost to the point of not functioning.

When my mom went to wash dishes, the noise made me want to scream, it was so piercing. I was aggravated at life and my parents were aggravated at me. My mom would repeatedly ask me to do chores, and I would say "OK", but then I would always forget to do them. She of course thought I was doing this on purpose to be a jerk. I had trouble sleeping, and the ONLY thing that helped me was to rub my feet together vigorously. (which I do to this day).

So... life as a teen in Colorado wasn't ideal, at least in my world. But I trudged on through, secretly hating myself for being so stupid. Hating that I was such a fake and a dummy. But life went on and I survived.

Right after college, I lived in Spain for 2 1/2 years, with the GOAL of "really" learning Spanish. Spanish had been my major, but I had struggled big time with it. Four years of Spanish college classes, and I still didn't understand it!!! Dumb dumb dumb.

After 2 1/2 years of

being completely emersed in Spanish culture and language, I was barely competent at speaking it. I was exhausted all the time, and remember being frustrated and embarrassed that my language skills were still so poor.
Yet I watched newcomers enter the culture and pick up the language in 6 months. AMAAAZING! And yep, just another confirmation that I was just plain old stupid.

In my early adult years, I was able to land jobs, but I always struggled to keep up with my action items, deliverables, deadlines and duties. I was always chewing on my pens, plastic cups, plastic forks, which definitely added to my weirdness. I always seemed to misunderstand what was said in the meeting. I never seemed to comprehend the actual content of the meeting, (did we make the sale, or... did we not?...) And unless somebody directly pointed to me and announced my "action item", I missed it entirely. I wouldn't have a clue that I had been assigned some work to do.

Needless to say I got fired several times before hitting 30. And all I ever wanted to do was do a good job. I HATED that I was so stupid stupid stupid!!!

Then one day, on my way to a meeting, I realized I had brought the wrong notebook with me. (I had about 4 in my hands, but not the right one). This panicked me, but also made me look around the room. Not one other person there had a notebook bigger than a postcard. I realized that, at most, the other folks there would jot down a couple of words here and there during the meeting, easy peasy, -- no problem.


And that day was the day I started researching, and found out about CAPD and SPD, and shortly thereafter I was diagnosed with both.

Now, about ten years later, I have the tools I need to manage it. My life is good, I have lots of friends and loving parents, and a job I like, with a boss who is kind and always emails me IN WRITING what my work projects and deadlines are. (So I've been set up for success!) And last, ... I moved to Hawaii, which cured my battle with being cold.


But: I STILL get exhausted every single day from working so hard to "hear".

And I struggle every single day with heavy self-doubt.

My friends tell me that, to this day, I still say the words "sorry" about 25 times, EVERY day.

This number is lower than before, so I'm making progress! Slowly but surely, day by day, I'm working on liking myself and getting my confidence back.

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Jan 31, 2018
by: Pia (USA-SC)

Wow. Though not exactly the same, our stories growing up are so very similar... I don’t wish it on anyone, but it’s comforting to know it’s not just me. Congratulations on your job!!!

To have an employer who recognizes your value and your potential contributions enough to make a very small accommodation... rare indeed.

So congrats to you!!! I’d call this a success for sure!!!! πŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™Œ

Jan 14, 2013
by: Connie

Thank you for sharing your amazing story. I have a son with SPD, and you just made me step in his shoes for a few minutes, and understand the frustrations he must feel. Your words hit home with me. I see the lack of self esteem in my son, and I never understood why. He is handsome, extremely intelligent, loving, etc.. But, he too, has a hard time "fitting in".

Its people like you that help us, help others. I am so glad you found your own life modifications and are living so much happier than before. Understanding is the key to living with SPD or CAPD. The frustration must be unbearable.
Thank you for this. As a parent, it helps me see through his eyes, and also reassures me that he can, and will, grow up living a successful and enjoyable life. (And judging from your writing, you certainly dont seem "dumb" to me.) Glad you found your answers. Best of luck to you.

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