Ignoring social cues
After about an hour or so, I notice a dark-haired woman glaring at me from across the room. It’s his girlfriend. A part of my brain registers: “DANGER! DANGER! Retreat … retreat …,” but it’s just a teeny, lazy part of my brain that generally doesn’t like to get up off the couch to change the channel. I ignore it and carry on with my diatribe.
I also don’t register the wild-eyed look in the poor guy’s eyes. He’s desperately seeking an escape route, but my rapid-fire, intense blather holds him like a force field in the room.
Before my diagnosis, I had little to no insight into my seemingly flirtatious behavior. I would come home from a night out and wonder why I had showered so much attention on someone I had no romantic interest in, whom I knew wasn’t really that interested in whatever I was droning on about, and all at the cost of angering a total stranger (his glowering girlfriend, spouse or date).
Contributing ADHD symptoms
When I first discovered the conditions for diagnosis of ADHD, I realized I came by my behaviors honestly:
Hyperactive children … dash around touching or playing with whatever is in sight, or talk incessantly.
The description of impulsivity is even more telling:
Impulsive children seem unable to control their immediate reactions or think before they act. They will often blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without considering the consequences. (Both of these symptoms are described here).
What if the ADHD child is an adult?!
In hindsight, I can think of any number of situations as an adult where I did all of these things, causing shame and embarrassment to myself and others. I was mystified by my own behavior. Sometimes I could see what I was doing, but it was like an out-of-body experience. I could watch myself, but remained powerless to stop or control my cringe-worthy behavior.
Ingredients in a recipe for disaster …
Throw alcohol into the mix, and things would escalate. Anxiety, same thing. Adding alcohol or anxiety (or both) to my hyperactive and impulsive ADHD symptoms was like waking the dragon … enter the dreaded Blurt Beast. Not pretty.
To make matters worse, add some sort of undiagnosed auditory processing issue. To wit: I can’t pick up the thread of a conversation if the room is crowded, noisy, and/or there is more than one person talking at a time (as in a party or other social situation). Given this, cornering someone for a one-on-one conversation starts to look like a pretty good idea. I don’t think Mr. Handsome’s girlfriend saw it quite that way.
ADHD challenges invisible
And why would she? My impairments aren’t visible. I have no cast, no wheelchair, no outward sign that says, it’s not me, it’s my ADHD. What others see is a Jezebel in full swing.
Add to this the ADHDer’s noted lack of self-observation, and you have a recipe for social disaster. (And we don’t even want to begin to mention that ADHDers are often described as charming, witty, funny, and much younger-looking than their age … all not our fault! And, unfortunately, not helpful in a case of mistaken flirtation!).
Don’t hate me because I’m blurtatious …
Now that I know about ADHD and how it works in my life (or makes my life not work), I implore you: don’t hate me because I’m blurtatious. I’m not flirting with your guy, honest. I’m just hearing challenged and incapable of normal human interaction in any loud or crowded social situation.
Adapting to accommodate ADHD symptoms
I’ve adapted by doing some serious self-observation and creating my own self-administered behavioral modification program. Or, if I’m feeling too tired to tackle the stress of a night out (which is a 50/50 gamble as to whether it’ll drain or entertain me), I just stay at home watching movie re-runs. It’s kept me out of trouble, but it does get lonely sometimes. Wait! That’s not a come-on, honest! I didn’t mean it that way. Unless you’re single and like intense, charming, intelligent, ADHD women … lol
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