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Discovering A Treasure Trove of ADHD Memory Gold

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I’ve written a lot about ADHD. As an author, my ultimate dream was to write a full-length book about women and ADHD.

For motivation, I kept a stack of books from my favorite psychology publisher on my writing desk. When I was ready, they’d be the first I’d approach.

I was fortunate enough to land that publisher, and we began to shape the book. That’s when they dropped the bomb: could I make it a memoir?

Sure, I said.

Then I panicked.

How can I write a memoir when I have no memories?

I wasn’t going to let a little thing like that stop me.

Dream on

I’ve written before about the value of dreams in sleuthing out repressed memories and feelings. Sure enough, as the pace of my writing picked up, my dreams came to the rescue (in a “be careful what you wish for because you just might get it” kind of way).

To give you but one example, I was rewarded with this little gem for poking around in my buried ADHD memory chest.

From my journal:

Sunday, July 3, 2011

7:54 a.m.

Woke up crying again.

I don’t know if I can do this every morning.

[annotated dream]

I’m in our house in Montréal (the bungalow I grew up in). It’s night. I hear sounds in the house. I get out of bed and look around. The front door is wide open.

I run back down the hallway to get my dad, who is sleeping. Dad! Dad! I yell, but I can’t wake him up. He’s in deep, deep sleep. I go back to my room. Soon after, I hear more noises, this time, in the basement.

I go down to the basement, where I look through the basement closet. There are tons of old clothes. I open a couple of doors to an adjacent closet, and can’t believe all the knickknacks and stuff that’s still there [in my childhood home].

The basement doors are all flung wide open. In fact, every door in the house is flung open, leaving me vulnerable.

I turn around, and a dark-haired woman is in the room with me. She tells me she’s going to kill me. Why are you trying to kill me? She has a crazy look in her eyes, like she means to do it. I’m scared. I can’t understand what she has against me.

She says I make her life hell, I make life so hard.

Then someone else is in the room. Another woman, with dirty blonde hair. Earlier, I had asked this woman to protect me, to be my bodyguard.

Don’t let her get to the drawer, it’s the drawer with the knives.

Don’t let her get to the drawer, I say, it’s the drawer with the knives.

But she doesn’t make any move to help me. The dark-haired woman opens a drawer and pulls out two huge, sharp kitchen knives. As she approaches me, I see one of them is a large cleaver. She holds them both in one hand up around her head.  She’s coming closer.

Hey, you were supposed to protect me! I say to the blonde. Instead, she’s helping her. “I kind of agree with her,” she says; “You’re making our lives hell.”

Out comes a large metal mixing bowl. The two of them make a salad, tossing in pre-washed veggies and other ingredients from bags, and mixing everything in the bowl.

You think your life is hell? I’d still be chopping by now. I began to cry.  [for more kitchen nightmares, see my recipe for Pomegranate Fiasco]

I wake up, still crying.

Why this dream helped

Reading it over now, parts of this dream are funny. Parts, horrifying. Just like ADHD.

This was but one of a series of nightmare-like dreams I had when I began writing my book. As an adult, I’d worked hard to distance myself from the shame and pain of my pre-diagnosis life with ADHD. My dreams dredged up memories of feeling vulnerable and anxious as a child. We didn’t know about ADHD back then.

By the time I’d finished recording the dream, the tears had dried in crusty trails down my cheeks. I kept scribbling, capturing first thoughts associated with the dream images; capturing my feelings.

[My mother] had no idea how difficult my life was. People without ADHD think their lives are hard, but they have no idea what it takes for me to do the simplest thing, how much work and energy it takes, the consequences of my slowness and how everything snowballs into one big disaster. Yes, I make your life hell. I make my life hell, too.

And with that, I began dredging up enough ADHD memory gold to write my memoir / self-help book for adults with ADHD (to be published Sept. 1, 2013, New Harbinger Publications).

Another post about the value of dreams:

Zoë Bears All: ADHD, Self-Coaching, Dreams


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