Even Super Powers Need Managing
I was born a happy little girl. I loved people. My mum says when people came to visit us or when she came back from work, I would welcome them with all my heart. I also asked them whether they needed me to get them water. And I got them a pair of slippers in case the floor was too cold for their feet. I was a very sincere, generous, and happy soul.
When I started going to school, I felt different. Children would beat me up. Most of them did not want to play with me. I said or did things they did not like, and it made me sad. Because of that, I did not perform to the standards set, so I had to repeat pre-unit three times, which affected my self-esteem. I felt stupid.
When I was about eight, I also started feeling different at home. I would make silly mistakes. I had no understanding of attention to detail. My siblings noted this and treated me the same.
By 12, I had had enough. I was abused everywhere—at home, on the roads, at school—until I got used to it. I thought that was how life was meant to be. I never cared how anyone treated me anymore. I focused on just being alone.
When I became a teenager, I noticed that there were days I preferred just locking myself in my room. This was most of the time. I also noticed being organized had never been part of my life. I hated doing chores. Most of the time, I would be beaten for it or called lazy. But I knew I wasn’t stupid or lazy.
I was an easy target at school. Some students were extra mean, which made me totally exclude myself from people. I remember in high school, during the breaks, I would lock myself in the washrooms until I heard it was time for class. This still helps me in situations in which I feel overwhelmed by people, I sense rejection, or when I experience an anxiety attack.
In 2010 I signed up for Facebook. For the first time, I had so many friends. I was so famous that I tried out other social media. I still love social media. In fact, I have a professional diploma in digital marketing now. But I never knew that not everyone was a good person, so people took advantage of me.
In 2014, I discovered a passion for film production. I started a company and named it Toria Productions. In 2015, I was hired by one of the best companies to work for—Vivo Energy Kenya. I was very excited. This was the first time in my life someone believed in me. My family was so shocked that it took evidence for them to believe it. That year, my family started talking to me. Some, I had never talked to since I was born. For the first time, I took a flight to Mombasa, and I slept in very nice hotels. I was moving closer to my dream. My boss also affirmed that I was doing well at work. She taught me so much about how to be a communications practitioner. I worked so hard that my internship was extended three times. I was hired on contract because of my hard work. But in March 2016, I was fired with no explanation. I was just told I had an attitude, and when I came home, everyone agreed.
Three months before that, I was really depressed. I had gotten bored with my job and wanted a more challenging position. When I loved my work, I persevered. So I knew it was the ticket to my freedom.
I knew I was the best communications practitioner in Kenya, and nothing was going to take that from me. I contacted everyone I met, and a month later, Toyota Kenya scheduled me for an interview. I was hired as the head of marketing and administration at Yamaha Division. I never understood my title. Later, the company downsized, so I was given the role of Yamaha Administrator. I was one of the lucky ones who remained. I never had a passion for the job, though, because it required sitting for the whole day and doing the same task over and over. I couldn’t quit because I had to work. I still thought I could perform better in marketing because it was nearer to my passion in corporate communications and digital brand communication.
That was not my choice to make, so I went into severe depression. I gained 10 kilograms in just one month. By November, my body could not take it any longer. I quit in the most dramatic way possible. Because my colleagues were tired of my emotional outbursts, mood swings, and inconsistent work, they accepted my letter of resignation.
That day marks the most peaceful day of my life. I noticed the air. I took two hours and continuously cried without anyone mocking my emotions. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I had changed so much. I had never been close to anyone, so I had no one to consult. I felt like I had let my family down. Soon the rumors spread, and everyone knew. This depressed me further.
In January, I enrolled for life skills training at Yusudi. I wanted to work hard on myself and know how to live life like other people. I felt so different; no one said they were above me, but I could see. Unlike other members of my class, I noted that I was too talkative, very sensitive, and creative. I would interrupt the trainer a lot. Some days, I was too bubbly and energetic; other days, I appeared sad and gloomy, I never paid attention to the trainer and if I did, I would fidget, walk out, or even just pretend to listen. Sometimes I was too angry, or I would just overreact. So once again, I did not make any friends.
I considered going back to Daystar to complete my master’s degree, which I had started about two years ago. I told one of my lecturers that I had quit Toyota, and she suggested that I visit a counselor.
I visited the counseling center at Daystar University. The first six sections were free, so I thought that would be fine. I didn’t think I needed much counseling because I was not “crazy.” I loved the sessions, because for the first time, someone was listening to me and we were discussing real issues. I realized I had endured so much, and I had been very persistent. I had not failed at all.
By the end of March, we performed some tests and I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This is a developmental impairment of the brain’s self-management system (a neurological condition that impacts executive functions.) I had never heard of it. But I was excited to verify the name of that “thing” that had been affecting me. I was not stupid or lazy, as everyone wanted me to believe. I did not have an attitude problem or emotional issues. I was perfectly OK. I now understood the creativity, the empathy, the generosity, the emotions. I had a super power that just needed to be managed.
I was so excited that I told everyone. Few people believed me and just thought I was being dramatic. Also, they had never heard of such a thing as ADHD. To them, it sounded like an American kind of problem. Besides, I “looked” fine.
Then, I was called in for three other interviews and given feedback such as “You are too anxious,” “You have too much energy,” and ‘You look too old for your age.”
Being an adult had overwhelmed me. Because of that, people misunderstood me. And my version of who I knew I was had been completely different from what people thought I was.
I believe there is still hope for me. My vision of winning an award and making a speech before a crowd in the United States of America is yet to come to pass. But I still believe it could happen. I have met many people both online and in person who have taught me so much about myself. I have found people who look like me, who don’t judge me, and who don’t care whether I’m talkative, quiet, disorganized, weird, or forgetful. These are people with the same struggles as me. I now have a friend I can talk to any time of the day about anything. And for that, I am grateful. I am learning to manage my super power, and I am continuing to persevere.