Yohannon (yohannon) wrote,

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Backing Up... Beep, Beep, Beep...

I realized that something that happened Sunday afternoon is important to note, and may be of some use to people... even those of you who think they no longer have any use for me in their lives.

I was on my way to Hayward to penguin_goddess, lavendersage and lovingstones' house, when I thought to give them a call. Audra told me that, since they were hosting Yule next weekend, they would be mostly focussing on working on the house all day. She said she had planned on emailing me to let me know, but that my post last Friday made her decide to hold off.

I reacted badly. I was disappointed, annoyed, crabby. At the same time I knew that I was over-reacting, and that it was probably something related to my ADHD. I tried to explain this, but proceeded to muck it up completely... it was really clear to me, but Audra couldn't understand why I was upset.

All I was trying to do was impress on her why I was reacting the way I was, and how to avoid having it happen. Instead, I felt like things were escalating. Before they completely spun out of control, she wound up having to hang up (she had just gotten out of the shower and was freezing and all), and I sat there in the car, parked by their house, trying to figure out how to calm down.

Eileen came downstairs and hopped in the car to talk. I was talking to kshandra about possible Tea and Sympathy plans in a couple of weeks (I've noticed that there are more and more people in my life who tend to calm me down rather than rile me up... I wonder if that's luck, or something about me. Maybe a little of both), and had to end the conversation quickly so I could focus on Eileen.

That's a sure sign I'm having a bad day with the ADHD... suddenly even the slightest cross conversation sends me into a complete panic, or at least makes me anxious and nervous.

Eileen tried really hard to understand, and, thanks mostly to listening to literally EVERYTHING I was saying, as muddled as it was, she was able to figure out what was going on. Even now, as I write this, it's hard to describe, though there was one example I used that seems to make sense to me.

Imagine you're in a car, with a stick shift. Most people have four or five speed transmissions, and life is fine. If you're slightly more technically savvy, imagine the gear ratios are more or less smooth as you shift.

Let's enter the mind of the person with ADHD. Instead of 4 or 5 gears, there are 2 or 3. You go to shift gears, and there's this sudden lurch as you go from what would be first gear for everyone else to fourth. Grind grind, the car slows DOWN, you're pumping the gas frantically... and, if you're lucky, you get things to a speed where it smoothes out, and everything's fine again.

Most people told of this would say, "So, why don't you shift to second gear, then third, before going to fourth gear?" I would try to explain I don't HAVE a second or third gear. This makes no sense to the person hearing it... again, the mechanics would understand a bit better. It's like the gear ratios are all messed up... it may LOOK like I have all the same gears, but the jump from one to another is a bitch.

So here's where the car analogy... well, breaks down. In the real world, you could deal with such atrocious engineering by replacing the transmission with one more sensibly designed. However, when the part in question is not only a part of one's own brain (and there's still considerable debate what part that is, or what it's supposed to do) then there's not much you can do about it.

The way this deficiency appears is in a seeming reluctance to deal with sudden changes or problems. I can't tell you how many times I've said "I can't do that" or "It's impossible" only to actually solve the problem or complete the task... sometimes faster than anyone thought possible.

There's no rational basis for the anxiety I feel. The best I've been able to do is try and explain what's going on, how it can be avoided, and wait it out... I will come up to speed if I wait long enough.

Yet on the surface this is perceived as obstructionist. I'm obviously intelligent and talented, so why would simple requests and changes be met with such vehemence? And why, if this is merely a personal shortcoming, can't I just explain it differently, or more clearly, or... whatever?

In honesty I hadn't grasped an important part of the equation until the conversation with Eileen. Before I was diagnosed, it was assumed that this was something I could fix, whether through will or desire. I could think before I spoke. I could just follow the rules. They were, after all, very simple, and everyone else can do it... why not me?

The answer was that I COULDN'T do it, at least not all the time. But I didn't know that, and thus felt a great deal of shame about my apparent failure as a student, worker, lover... as a person.

I feel this shame even as people try to tell me I have nothing to be ashamed of, simply because it was shouted, written, and sometimes beaten into me for a very long time before I knew there might be something missing from my makeup. Even as I type this I feel odd, as if by trying to tell people about this part of myself will bring out the old accusations... that I'm lying, I really DO understand, but am somehow acting out. That I just don't want to expend the energy to "do it right". At one point they figured I was retarded, at least until that damnable IQ test came back... then I was a chronic underachiever.

If I am to get a grip on this, I have to accept how this thing impacts me, and I have to be able to communicate that... along with my needs... to the people around me. Once Eileen understood, and I knew she grasped what I was trying so hard to say, I wanted to burst into tears with relief. It was never about what the plans were changed to, it was that they were changed at ALL. Folks, if Audra had called to tell me that plans had changed, and that instead of working on the house, a dozen beautiful fat boys and girls were waiting to serve my every need, sexual or otherwise, I would have reacted in exactly the same way. Negative, positive, or neutral, change hits someone with ADHD hard.

And that's just one aspect. Have you noticed those creepy commercials from Eli Lilly regarding Adult ADD? That's actually a little too accurate... so much so I have to insist on skipping it when watching the TiVo, or leaving the room if on a regular TV.

Want to know more? Ask me. I have a moderate to severe manifestation of this mess. I makes me look brilliant AND incredibly stupid... sometimes simultaneously.
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