Psych Central


Zoë's Pet Peeves: U.S. Presidential Election and Mental HealthToday’s Pet Peeve is about the unpredictability of life. With ADHD, not only do we have to deal with garden-variety unpredictability, we have to deal with the unpredictability wrought by our ADHD. No wonder we’re stressed out and anxious.

Here are a couple of examples that happened to me recently.

The stickman sticks it to me

A friend of mine posted a link to a fun online program called, Draw a Stickman. The only instruction was, “Draw a stickman and watch him come to life!” Cool, I thought. Although this would be outside my comfort zone, ’cause I totally suck at visual art, I thought, what the heck! It seems like a no-risk, totally free, fun art activity.

As soon as I finished drawing him, things started going horribly wrong.

Zoë tries to draw a stickman; ADHD adds a chair

Zoë draws a stickman; ADHD adds a chair.

So, I jumped in and drew my stickman. That part was great. But, as soon as I finished drawing him, things started going horribly wrong. The second I was finished, the whole thing began to go into animation. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I’d been expected to draw the cliché, standing stickman.

I’d drawn my stickman cross-legged, sitting on a chair. Oops. Clearly, I was thinking outside the crayon box. Duh.

Here ya go, art therapists! Have a hayday!

I watched in horror as the legs of the chair bumped across the screen, taking my unwitting stickman with it. Scenario after scenario appeared, urging me to continue drawing to solve various dilemmas. All the while, it was clear that, had  I drawn an upright stickman, these scenes would have made sense. As it was, the chair detail rendered the storyboard ludicrous. Amusing, but ludicrous.

I immediately recognized this as my ADHD mind introducing a note, nay, an entire symphony of unpredictability layered onto the program. As clever and amusing as the program was, clearly, its designers had not accounted for the vagaries of the ADHD mind. It was like I’d introduced a bug into the program, and I watched as it wormed its way through the entire run-time. Yikes!

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t

Don’t get me wrong; I laughed my ass off. But I also watched in horror as this metaphor for my unpredictable mind played out before me. In this situation, it was a private comical moment; but it was also a painful reminder of the gazillion times when my misinterpretation of what should have been the obvious led to socially awkward and sometimes humiliating experiences.

A couple days later, the unpredictability of my life took me by surprise again.

Fried green tomatoes sautéed in ADHD

I’ve been blessed with friends who take my ADHD, and the fact that I’m on medication to treat it, in stride. I could walk into my friend’s café and announce casually, “Don’t mind me; I forgot to take my meds today,” and no one would bat an eyelash.

Today, I sat eating a delicious lunch that my friend had prepared. Between bites, I mentioned to her and her daughter that I’d never before eaten fried green tomatoes. Instantly, both my friend and her daughter backed away about two feet – in the perfect unison of gold medal synchronized swimmers, eyes bulging, aghast at my announcement. These are the same people with whom I can mention my mental health issues with impunity. Talk about unpredictable.

What are ya gonna do? Laugh!

It’s obvious to me how living with this level of unpredictability can create extra stress and anxiety. But I’d also like to think that my ADHD mind has made me resilient, tolerant of myself even when others misinterpret me, and – best of all – has given me loads of laughs!

 

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    Last reviewed: 24 Sep 2011

APA Reference
Kessler, Z. (2011). Zoë’s Pet Peeves: Unpredictability X2. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 20, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/adhd-zoe/2011/09/zoes-pet-peeves-unpredictability-x2/

 

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