So I thought I would just share with you an event from yesterday which, since its been a day or so, I’ve been able to look back over and see the greater picture. I think it demonstrates well the need, and indeed the compulsion to do things in a certain way, and when this does not happen in the way I had planned/hoped, it becomes difficult to function.
Exhibit A demonstrates my loathing for unannounced plans. Not if it’s a good surprise and I happen to not have planned anything else. But when it interferes with the way things are supposed to be happening strategically in my head, I get mad. I don’t have much control over some aspects of my life, and so when it comes to my planning, I try to keep ahead so that I don’t get in too deep. The other day dad came home and said ‘right we’re going out for dinner’. This is a great thing for me because I love love love food. But you know what? I broke down and cried and said I couldn’t go, and it’s not because I’m being spoilt and nasty. It’s simply because no-one told me so my brain hasn’t prepared itself for veering off my plan! So these are the kinds of tiny upsets that I have. They would seem small and pathetic to the everyday person but to me, they’re just a really big deal, and for no particular reason. I can’t understand it. My parents can’t understand it. The milkman can’t understand it (okay I’m sure you get the picture): it’s just an unnatural concept.
The reason I told you about that snippet of memory was to give you an initial insight, to further understand the slightly complex area that is my brain in the rest of this blog post. So yesterday and I again managed to get very upset over a small detail of my day. I had a good twenty four hours though; we went to the doctors for my ADHD medication check-up (I’m taking Elvanse, or Vyvanse if you’re from America), which was all clear (apart from one minor detail which rather shocked me – apparently 90% of all car crashes are due to untreated ADHD! Luckily though I am being medicated so my driving should be fine), then we went to my friend’s house to pick up my bag full of ALL my clothes because somehow it slipped my mind and I managed to leave them at school because I’m a gigantic idiot, and I was having to live in dad’s clothes. Finally, we went to a beer festival. So overall, it was a lovely day.
But when I have a particularly lovely day, I often get silly and depressed in the evening because it’s over and now all that’s left is a memory. I was fine, but just a little easier pushed over the edge than usual because it hurts and worries me that I get so negative sometimes. I want to be able to enjoy the happy things in life like every other person, not just be sad that they’re over!
But anyway, this negative attitude meant that last night, my ADHD was taking over much more than usual because my guard was down. I let myself be very over-the-top, and asked non-stop questions about every tiny thing that occurred to me. I never noticed this before my diagnosis. It obviously still happened but now I’m just so much more aware of it. Last night it was like my brain was a racing car with faulty brakes – it just would not stop over-thinking.
I remembered for some reason one specific part of the doctor’s appointment in particular. I remembered my dad telling the doctor how pleased he was with the difference he was noticing in me since starting the medication. It made me incredibly happy to be honest, because praise from my dad, who I always thought was Superman when I was little, means a lot. But at the same time I wanted to know why, to know what I’d done that had impressed him so much. However when the doctor asked how my moods were, dad said that he got the impression that my emotions were ‘still a bit all over the place’. This was something I felt in myself, something that I had realised anyway. It made me happy to hear about my improvements from his point of view, but at the same time if the pills weren’t making my emotions better, what would?
With ADHD, when you start to worry about something, everything blurs together in your mind and there is no way of knowing the weight of importance of each fact that you have in your head, and so you panic. I could feel the butterflies working up in my tummy already, because although dad had said something nice, the more I thought about it, the more I picked out the negative in what he had said – the negative being that my emotions were still a mess. But I didn’t know how to make that better, which in ‘Irrational ADHD World’ meant that I was going to be like this for a very long time and if not forever, which meant I was going to live like an emotional wreck for the rest of my life and die. You get the picture. No matter how obviously irrational those thoughts were, they still seemed very real in my head at the time.
When we got home that evening after the beer festival, and I was asking and asking and asking dad what he meant by saying he thought I’d ‘improved’. I wanted to know because whatever I was doing right, I wanted to do more of, you know? But he wouldn’t tell me. I don’t know why. He just kept saying ‘no, I don’t want to answer’. I couldn’t understand it and it was upsetting me so the more I asked, the more he refused, and the more he refused, the more worked-up I got. It’s a vicious circle.
Eventually dad answered, and he said he thought that my approach to life was better in general and more purposeful. Which was good, and my heart lifted a little. But then he continued to say that since I had started the medication, I had become more like how he would expect an ADHD person to be. And I was just like hold up. What? It takes me longer to process things than others, but when I ask questions because I don’t understand, dad gets more mad too. Not because he’s unsupportive or anything, but just because he’s answered my question to the best of his abilities already – what else is he supposed to do? However last night in particular, I just couldn’t understand what he was saying. Why were my ADHD symptoms worse, more obvious? Isn’t that what the pills were supposed to make go away? To make less obvious? Not worse, surely!
He got angry because, understandably, he didn’t know what else to say because I’m like a persistent dog with a bone and will not let go until I get the answer I want. Not because I’m trying to be annoying. Just sometimes it’s natural to want the knowledge that you can see in someone’s hand, they’re just waving it above your head but you can’t quite reach it. Doesn’t seem fair, right? Why won’t they give you the information you want? It made me frustrated at dad when really, it wasn’t his fault at all! He can’t understand anymore what I want from him than I can understand about what he’s saying!
So eventually he left the kitchen because my questions made him fed up, and mom explained to me what she thought he was trying to say, and it made sense immediately. He meant that now, because of my pills, I’m a lot more acutely aware of my feelings, and because now I have the diagnosis I don’t think I’m insane anymore. So rather than keeping all my feelings and dislikes for misunderstandings inside, I’m just letting them out more because I feel I can now. I was just worried that he meant the pills were making my symptoms worse and more obvious to others, which is the last thing I want.
Someone like me just needs something to be explained in a slightly different way to make sense, that’s all. Not because people with ADHD are dumb or thick – but on the contrary. We just need more information. It’s difficult for everyone around us, too. I’m trying to be more considerate, but it’s just difficult because I don’t realise I’m upsetting and exhausting others by asking non-stop questions. All I can think of is making sure I get that one answer that my brain so dearly craves like fresh air, and I cannot seem to let it go until I fully understand. Which I guess is a good thing in school, because I’ll never let anything go unexplained if I don’t get it! But oh well, with time I can hopefully learn to control it and seem less selfish. This is where this story links back to ‘Exhibit A’, because when I don’t get what I want, I react in a different way to most people – not because I’m spoiled or pathetic or selfish – I just need the clarification that most people do not. Although the two scenarios are different, they both fundamentally present the workings of my brain in the same way.
So, that was my evening. Motto? It’s important to be very clear and to-the-point and on my part to not get so worked up about small things! I’m not trying to exaggerate anything, just now that I am so aware of the way my brain works, I notice these things far more often and after I have my freak out, I just sit back and look at the event from afar and I see that it’s actually pretty interesting, how my brain reacts differently to others. I constantly crave information, but not the kind that people would expect.
I’m absolutely fine now, but I just thought I’d share that little scenario with you. I’m not sure if it was of any interest or not – just thought I’d try something a little different. It really means a lot that some of you are enjoying my content, so please continue to be the good people you have been to me so far and share, comment, like, follow and all that yummy stuff. Thanks!
– Ellie xo
© agirlwithadhd 2015.