Learning about ADHD late in life has taught me a few things about how I’d like to be treated. There were many times in the past (before my diagnosis) that things might have gone more smoothly if I’d understood myself better, and what I needed from others.
This got me thinking: maybe the way I’d like to be treated would work for others too.
That’s when I came up with my ADHD Golden Rule:
The countdown is on! Seven days are all that’s left to change the world for the better.
But let me begin at the beginning.
Being diagnosed with ADHD at 47 was a revelation. It explained so much about my life, there was no way I could imagine having another experience that paralleled the insights from learning about ADHD (for example, why the only part about Martha Stewart I could understand was the jail part; at the time of my diagnosis I was about five years behind in my income tax).
My friend is hooked on Coronation Street; has been for years.
How could I help watching when she and her partner were glued in front of the telly on weekends when I was visiting? I couldn’t be rude, now could I?
So, there we were one evening, me on the loveseat, her in her comfy chair, immersed in Episode 8439 (the show’s been running since 1960).
I’m noticing the over-the-top behavior of eight-year-old Max, son of Kylie and adopted son of husband David.
I know where this is going, I say aloud.
Sure enough, two episodes later, adoptive dad David has set up an appointment with the family doc, against mom Kylie’s wishes. Kylie doesn’t want the kid to have a label. (I’ve already labeled him. Too late, Kylie.)
Were you shocked? Was I? Yes and no. But mostly, no.
Sadly, some of us dealing with mental health issues, personally and in our professional lives, or have loved ones who are, are not as shocked as others seem to be.
Within the context of Williams’ history, his sudden death is a shock yes, but sadly not as much a shock as if his mental health and addiction challenges had been absent. With the presence of severe depression, addictions, bipolar disorder, or any combination of the above, suicide is not out of the blue, but one of many responses to the pummeling experience of living with these conditions.
So often we see that behind the public persona of some of our funniest, most clever, compassionate, kind, and empathetic artists, lies a dark side. I’ve always used humor to overcome, but sometimes to cover my pain. I’m not the first one, and certainly not the only one, to retreat behind a quick succession of jokes and comedic banter when I’m feeling emotionally challenged.
In the past I’ve asked my coach if others he’s worked with talk about similar issues. He assured me that the coaching session is for me, and whatever I want to work on, in whatever way I choose, is just fine.
This did nothing to quell my anxiety about whether or not I was doing this coaching thing right. What nailed it was our last session, which began with our usual chatter to ease in to the conversation. And then I said,
I want to share something. I’m not sure if it’s a subject for coaching.
He replied, “There’s a coachable moment in everything.”
Really? Okay then. Coach this…
It happened at a job interview. I found myself feeling clueless about eye contact: how much was too much? I was trying to pay attention to what the interviewer was saying, and ended up worrying that I was staring like an expressionless sociopath so I looked away – just when she asked me a question. I’d been vacillating between trying for a neutral expression, hoping to look attentive and reflective, and occasional smiles, which I was sure were apropos of nothing, ill-timed, and making me look even more nuts. I couldn’t help it. I had no idea whose face I was using, or how it got there, but it wasn’t mine.
Surprisingly, I got the job.
Nearly a decade has passed, and there have been few comparably cringe-worthy incidents.
Until now, that is.
Recently, I had the opportunity to re-read Conversations with God: Book 3 by Neale Donald Walsch. In his third and concluding book of the CWG trilogy, Walsch recommends a book written by Thom Hartmann as further reading. I wondered if this was the same Thom Hartmann who’d written Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception, one of the first books I’d read about ADHD shortly after my diagnosis.
Hartmann’s book is a favorite of mine, one I’ve cited often, so I was eager to learn if The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight: The Fate of the World and What We Can Do Before It’s Too Late, the sociopolitical treatise recommended by Walsch was written by the same author.
Hartmann, known for his revolutionary “Hunter/Farmer Hypothesis” of ADHD, stands out from the pack. His ADHD classic is innovative, his hypothesis reflects a fresh, bold approach, and one that resonates with me.
Before you get all judgy and shout at me, this post is not about sex. I’ll put that out there right now because believe it or not, I alluded to a Beatles song once in a post title and a reader got his nose out of joint because my post had nothing to do with the Beatles or with the song and he thought I was misrepresenting myself, trying to lure readers into my blog. Can you Imagine that? I just thought I was using a clever play-on-words.
Ok. I wasn’t just using a clever play-on-words. To be honest, the post was at the beginning of my blogging career and I might have been a tad anxious to attract readers, but jeepers. I did think it was clever. It taught me a lesson, and I’ve never done that again. But that’s why I thought I should announce immediately that this post isn’t about sex. So, if you’re looking for an ADHD romp through the haystack kind of tale, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
I was going to search for a few hyperlinks for you (I really am all about giving value to my blog readers) but then I thought the better of it and decided I didn’t want to be spammed by sex stuff in perpetuity. This is a new laptop (double entendre not intended) it’s clean, and I don’t want to dirty it up.
Besides, I’m not feeling well.
I just realized why social media can be so draining. I’ve been kidding myself that the only harm of spending too much time online is that it’s a colossal time waster and gateway to procrastination and avoidance. I just realized the deeper harm lurking beneath the surface.
The whole Facebook experience is an emotional minefield and I didn’t even know it.
Every time I login and there’s no personal message I die a little. If a cherished post isn’t liked or even noticed it’s a letdown. If others hijack a comment stream I feel steamrollered. If 92 people in a private group have responded to a comment I’m overwhelmed and completely incapable of joining the fray even if I want to. Then I feel irrelevant and disengaged. I think, Why am I even a member of this group if I’m not contributing?
I’ve read a lot of books written about ADHD by people who don’t have ADHD. Like other groups, it’s amazing what we talk about when it’s just us.
Some might see me as a traitor, giving away these dirty little secrets, but somebody’s got to do it. Besides, so far they’re just my hypotheses. I’d love to see some research to back up my observations.
The one thing that’s not a secret is that the more we understand ADHD, the better we’ll be able to help ourselves and help and support others.
See if any of these strike a chord for you.