Zoë feels like Frankenstein's monster off her ADHD stimulant medication

©Kelly Babcock & Zoë Kessler, 2011 (animation by K. Babcock)

I felt like Victor Frankenstein’s monster this week.  My life is off the rails with deadlines, demands and details.  To top it off, my prescription ran out and my doctor ran off for a vacation.

Even with all my new organizational strategies, with all the changes I’ve made since my diagnosis, man, when I’m off my meds I feel like a monster. Worse, I can act like one too (just ask my friends who’ve endured my over-the-top irritability this week).

Created by an evil, or at least inept, scientist

Off meds, and with increased demands in my life, I felt like I’d been created by an evil, mad scientist who’d given me all the ingredients I needed for a happy life, except one.

A crucial one: a functioning frontal lobe. The one ingredient I’d need to make all the other ingredients coalesce into a functional being. But no, that one critical element had been sadistically left out.  He didn’t even order it from the supplier.  Nope.  My Frankenstein thought it’d be way, way, funnier to watch me bumble about, scaring, hurting or baffling people.

But she looks alive…

I was like the living dead:  I could move and walk about, but was incapable of reaching my goals. I was doomed.


Making matters worse, I found out that I actually DO have a lot in common with Frankenstein’s monster.  (Hey, I’m adopted; maybe Victor Frankenstein really IS my creator?… )

Both the monster and I were called wretch by our…er…parents.  We were also both called insects – Frankenstein’s monster was called vile insect and I was told to “light somewhere,” a more subtle, but parallel reference.

Frankenstein’s monster is described as intelligent and articulate. From observing humans and reading books, the monster becomes educated and self-aware. These are two crucial tasks that adults with ADHD must undertake to rid themselves of the monster-like symptoms of ADHD and allow their more noble traits to shine through. With ADHD though, this usually works better if we’re on medication.  No wonder Frankie’s monster never made it – Concerta hadn’t been invented yet.

Making others bolt

The monster is treated kindly by a man who is blind and cannot see the monster’s deformity; those of us with ADHD can only be ourselves and accepted by those who are unaffected by our uniqueness – or able to accept and appreciate our finer qualities, overlooking our less attractive ones (bolts on the neck, anyone?)

Many moons ago I had my nose pierced, long, long before it became fashionable in North America (ya, I know, piercings? Tattoos? How odd for an ADHDer…)  Back in the day, they used a gun to do the piercing, in noses as in ears. I ended up with a dark metal bullet in my nose.  Just like the ones on Frankie’s monster’s neck.  You should have seen the pedestrians scatter when I waltzed outta the Tattoo parlour sporting this hunk ‘o metal on my face. I truly did feel like a monster – people backed away in fear and averted their eyes when I spoke to them (but stared from a safe distance).

Like attracts like, and I like it

Like Frankenstein’s creation, we ADHDers often feel accepted and understood by others who also have identifiable differences, like the blindness and advanced age of the monster’s friend.

Frankenstein’s monster is lonely and hangs out by himself in the woods, where he won’t be rejected. Me too.  I’ve hugged many a tree, and they’re just fine with that. The monster longs for one of his own kind for companionship. I couldn’t live without the company of other ADHDers; with them, I can exhale and be myself. We can commiserate over our travails, and celebrate our triumphs. And we, more than anyone else, know how much both of these have cost.

Now, why couldn’t I have felt like sleeping beauty instead of Frankenstein’s monster? Then at least, I would be well-rested. And instead of doomed, I would be saved by a kiss from a sexy Prince instead of a prescription from a snarly drugstore clerk.

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