I have a new friend, that’s something I say a lot, isn’t it.
And of course, it’s a lie. How could I have made friends, I have ADHD. That means I say inappropriate things, forget appointments, show up late for meetings and dates and often leave the interactive part of me elsewhere while the part that’s present stares off into space.
Other times my mind is racing at the speed of light and my mouth is right behind it, drafting in the turbulence, waiting its chance to jump out in front and say words my blurred, high speed grey matter has not yet been able to check for stupidity.
My newest friend asked me this question:
“Would you explain a little more about having poor self awareness?”
That caught me off guard. I tried to gather my wits. How do I explain how I know I don’t know myself well. You see, I’ve always known myself, I was just … wrong. Quite wrong!
So why bother explaining? Because I was asked, and because I think I can. If it’s what others experience, good. If not, good. At least then you have something to measure your experiences against.
Now that, is a bad title. It suggests that having ADHD precludes being violent. Nothing could be less true. But, having ADHD does not indicate violence either.
Having ADHD means that we’re not strangers to low self esteem, not unused to the companionship of frustration. And while these things could be triggers for violence, the empathetic among us know personal attack will more probably share these burdens, rather than alleviate them.
Having ADHD is a burden. Among other criteria, our symptoms must have a negative impact on our lives before a valid diagnosis can be made. Ergo, burden. If it isn’t a burden, you don’t have it.
But you know what? I have other burdens. I don’t look like Keanu Reeves (I think I’m a better actor, but I don’t look like him). I also am not an Olympic athlete or a multimillionaire. I’m technically unemployed. I do everything I do in a manner that I like to refer to as freelance. I do this because it sounds much more positive than saying I’m either working some short term job or I’m looking for work.
You know, I’m all for positive imaging. I believe in the power of my thoughts and emotions. I believe they can be a positive influence on my life. But I’m caught between two camps here and I’m not the negotiator these camps think I am. At best, I’m confused …
You see, I’m not sure these two camps will ever agree. And that’s a problem for me. I’m using both trains of thought to bring positivity to my life.
I try to keep an open mind about my life, but writing about ADHD three times a week makes it hard to think of life in any other way. I don’t know if I can get through a day without thinking about ADHD and the effect it has on me.
I don’t recommend anyone wear their ADHD on their shirt like I do, but that doesn’t mean that they can leave it behind on their pillow when they get up in the morning. I just don’t know if I can get through a day without thinking about it?
We are constantly on the go, jammed into high gear, yet we get so little done. In any given day, we can list dozens of things that we didn’t do, but there’s no list of things we did do. We have the high test, formula one engine, but our tires are bald and we’re driving on ice.
And, as you can imagine, that’s a source of anxiety for us. We are hurtling toward the end of our days and worrying about judgment. Not judgment day, just day to day judgment by family, employers, colleagues, peers, spouse.
It started out like any other day, I woke up at 6:30 and wondered what wondrous adventures I’d have today. I woke up at 6:30 and thought “I need a good stiff drink.”
I got up, put my slippers on and padded out into my neat and tidy kitchen in my pyjamas to make coffee. I got up and shuffled out to my messy kitchen, barefoot, no pyjamas (don’t ask if you don’t want to know), to see if there was any coffee … any coffee maker …. any hydro.
As the coffee was running through, I took my meds. Then I realized it was my birthday. I smiled quietly at having had another successful year. As the coffee dribbled into the pot, I stood dazed and glazed, til the alarm on my phone chimed to tell me “Take your meds, dumb ass!” When I cancelled the alarm, hoping I’d remember to take them, I noted the date and realized it was my birthday. I snorted derisively at having survived another year.
Mary: “Doctor, I think I might have ADHD.”
M.D.: “Were you diagnosed with it as a child?”
Mary: “No, I wasn’t.”
M.D.: “Then you can’t have ADHD. It starts during childhood.”
The above is my version of a conversation that was related to me by the person I’ve called ‘Mary’ (not her real name). It’s pretty accurate as far as her memory of it is concerned. If she has ADHD we might suspect that her memory isn’t trustworthy. But the doctor assured her that there was no chance that she had ADHD. There has to have been a childhood history.
What’s wrong with this picture?
The following is a quote from a colleague of mine. I find it to be a compelling statement that describes one aspect of ADHD, our difficulties with Executive Function, EF, very accurately. Please read on.
“Many people […], (like me) experience executive dysfunction. This important self-regulatory system when in deficit, makes it difficult to take steps towards a goal while incorporating information and making adjustments along the way.
“I liken the goal reaching issues to my sensory processing issues (and wonder if on some level in the frontal cortex of the brain they are related). My auditory system seems to be unable to filter out background noise, or hone in on a particular sound when required.