Derek Simmons

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Derek Simmons

There are so many paths I took to reach this point in my life; whether it be sensory integration therapy till I was 12, being on various ADD medication before quitting them cold turkey at 23, multiple mental evaluations from relationship fallouts, anger issues as a teen from parents’ seperation, constantly gaining and losing employment in less than a year’s time, winning and losing the trust of friends, feeling out of place even with my closest friends or even just fighting my own demons because of trust issues.

My path is riddled with issues stemmed from my relationship with my Mother, living in a religiously conservative household, all the while going through the struggle of understanding “grey areas” in a failing education system that did not cater to kids with special needs. My Step Mom coming into the picture, as high a hurdle that was in the beginning, ended up being the best thing that could have happened; her compassion and community service to Veterans was a far cry from my birth mother’s “all for one and one for me”, as my Dad would put it. My Father is also a pivotal part of my life to this day, even if we don’t always see eye to eye. My bouts with depression come in waves and is usually intensified with the moniker “seasonal depression”, especially during times you are supposed to be spending with loved ones. I have never been in a steady relationship, outside of 2 months in college during the spring. One of the biggest reasons for that is, well, my height. At 6’6″ and usually wearing some leather or denim attire, the stigma I pose to others is intimidation, especially during my long hair days. Even having lost 80 pounds, I still stand out in the crowd for sometimes the wrong reasons. Because of the constant teasing in grade school and not being able to rely on people when I need them, it’s hard for me to be close with anyone; even with friends I have had for several years, it is hard to take things at face value because my mind focuses on the negative. Speaking of which, my mind is truly my own worst enemy.

One of my big debilitating factors is I perseverate on issues that radically go out of control that don’t even exist. I tend to flop somewhere between realist and pessimist when it comes to my outlook, especially when my aspirations are so high and I put unnecessary pressure on myself. Over the years, my Dad has tried to remind me that I have always been a fighter and I have constantly been growing and defying expectations; from being born prematurely with Gaestroschisis to living independently and the 32 years in between, this journey has been filled with pain and perseverance of all levels. It is because of what makes my story that I cannot judge what others have gone through and why I will go out of my way to assure people are acknowledged for their strengths. Many have said I care too much, as my empathy directly effects my mood based on my surroundings. I have accepted that that much is true, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am not blind to current events and even that can effect my mood, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with me personally. I have had to do a lot in recent years to not let the negativity of the internet absorb my psyche; just as with anything else, change comes in small steps making a big difference over time.

I’m a gamer, but do not necessarily follow the mainstream view of gaming journalists and internet personalities. In turn, that makes me feel out of place and even weirder than I already do at times. The small steps I’ve had to make to just enjoy things again have taken a long time and by no means do I say I’ve cured what ails me, but it is important to recognize in the moment what makes me happy right then and there. My goals for this year are to embrace what makes me feel happy and the right kind of people to motivate me in the direction I want to take my life. I have big dreams, so they can be big shoes to fill. (Bigger than my 13 Wides, even.) Music, jokes, voices, performances, editorials, motivational pieces.

All the things that would’ve been a pipe dream in my youth can be fully realized with the modern culture of the internet. At times I do feel old trying to compete with these young bucks, but my younger friends keep me young at heart and that alone is worth celebrating. My story is just one of many jumbled messes in this ever expanding world, but I hope that you got something out of this. When I showed a friend’s parents Mozart and the Whale to help describe Asperger’s, their response was “does your symptom define you or do you define yourself?”. There is a big difference between being the condition and living with the condition; not just living, living to the fullest. I try to do that every day I can to the best of my ability. Through many jobs and many teachers along the way, my story is carved behind me; I find the best way to live is to keep moving forward.

By | 2017-01-22T10:59:28+00:00 January 23rd, 2017|Categories: ADD, Stigma Fighters|0 Comments

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