Zoë reflects on the Virginia earthquake and her ADHD - it's not just the earth that's shaky

Zoë reflects on the Virginia earthquake and her ADHD - it's not just the earth that's shaky

On Tuesday, as I sat at my desk writing, I suddenly noticed the walls wobble. Then I watched as the floor slid side-to-side for what seemed like a distance of about a foot-and-a-half either way, like the torso of a bellydancer doing a rib cage slide.

My dog, Samantha, was sleeping in the hall outside my office; she didn’t flinch, not even a whisker-twitch. Still, I felt it prudent to call her and get the hell outta there.

Once on the sidewalk, I noticed that I was the only one standing in the late afternoon sun, panicking. Most of my neighbors were home; their cars were in their driveways.

I ran next door, with the intent of asking my neighbors if they’d felt the tremor. Nobody answered the door.

The fact that nobody else was standing outdoors freaking out, combined with the fact that my dog hadn’t noticed a thing, left me doubting my own sanity. Samantha senses a coming thunderstorm long before I do, even though she’s blind and going deaf. I would have thought that a tremor large enough to shake my house would have roused her from her sleep.

Pondering these two bits of evidence, I had to ask myself, “Am I cracking up?” I’m already dealing with ADHD, I thought, now what? Am I schizophrenic too? After all, I’m obviously hallucinating.

Back home, I jumped onto Facebook and asked someone in my area to confirm what I’d felt. Here’s an abbreviated version of my status line:

OMG! I just felt a tremor through my house that was big enough to rock the walls… I thought I was losing (what’s left of) my mind, but looks like there WAS in fact an earthquake somewhere. DID ANY ONE ELSE FEEL A TREMOR JUST NOW? (please say yes, even if it’s just to humour me!)

Once I’d received confirmation that a fairly sizable tremor had run through my town and others had felt it too, I was left with the question: would a normal person jump to the conclusion that they might have schizophrenia and they’re hallucinating? I have no idea.

My reaction to this incident reminded me, once again, that my self-trust is somewhat shaky. It’s not just the earth that’s unstable.

After receiving confirmation of the aftershock, I wrote on Facebook about my personal aftershock:

What with Goderich, Jack, now this…I’m feeling a little unstable at the moment. Must…breathe…deeply…. Love you guys! (so call me a drama queen, wanted to say that in case the earth swallows me up, ha ha)

While my reaction seems over-the-top, on reflection, I can see strengths in my response to the aftermath of the Virginia earthquake.

Instead of assuming that my sense of self-trust is more eroded than it is, I’ve decided to focus on the positives in how I handled this incident:

– I used keen observational skills when I noted that my dog was not reacting to the tremor

– I used my observational abilities to notice that I was the only one standing outside, having run out of the building in fear

– My office is in a 100-year-old brick house that’s dilapidated and badly in need of repair; it’s quite realistic to worry about its structural integrity

– I took the opportunity later in the day to ask others if they’d felt the tremor, and what their responses were; I learned that employees in a government building had also run outdoors in fright, proving that I’m not nuts, that others responded in exactly the same way as me

– Although my Facebook comment, “Love you guys!” and speculation about being swallowed up by the earth may seem melodramatic, on the positive side, it reflects foresight, genuine concern, compassion for, gratitude towards, warmth and appreciation of others (all of whom I consider my friends)

It’s unfortunate that I doubted my own observations and sanity for even a second. Still, I took immediate action to find out what was going on; to verify what I’d seen and felt; to compare my reaction to that of others; and to re-evaluate my response through a positive lens. I was able to ferret out and acknowledge the positive and unique aspects of how I handled the situation.

This is a great example of how, post-ADHD diagnosis, I’m trying to re-think my learned self-doubt. I’m working hard to replace my internalized negative stereotypes with a positive self-identity, trust in myself, and self-acceptance – ADHD traits & all.

I think I’m doing okay.

Wait…what’s that…?  Uh-oh! The sky is falling, the sky is falling!!!!

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