Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Acceptance ADHD: Being Circles in a Square World

Probably one of the hardest things in life for anyone is coming to the crossroads of acceptance. Either you accept who you are for all the quirks and flaws and ugly traits you would rather do away with but at the same time you need...OR you try to change those flaws, quirks, and ugly traits in order to fit in with society's standards. For those who have ADHD, this is even harder and sometimes, near impossible to do. Why? Let's map it out:

Most people fall into the category society calls "normal". "Normal" is...well, crap. I'm actually not sure what "normal" is because...well, here are my normals:

  • My normal is procrastinating on a 1,500 word essay until the day its due, then busting ass for six hours to get it done, add another hour for the minimal research sources I would need to get the assignment done. 
  • My normal is deciding to become a professional horse trainer/professional barrel racer/writer. 
  • My normal is impulsively giving up a barn job (which was legitimately cutting out a large chunk of time I could use to leg up horses) for building wire harnesses for a local custom car shop. 
  • My normal is jumping between reading five books within the space of three hours/
  • My normal is looking at a garage/storage shed and thinking how I can fit a tack room, mini-library, and yoga room into the space...and then using a new place to practice yoga, like in the middle of a barn (no, I haven't done that but I would...I totally would).
  • My normal is blurting out whatever comes to mind...before it even registers
  • My normal is wanting a huge grain silo as my house with a spiral staircase and a slide inside it.
I could fill this entire blog with "my normals", but that's beside the point. The point is my normals aren't what society considers normal. Most people wouldn't consider reading five books at the same time or seriously consider a huge grain silo as a house. Or actually follow through on a path to becoming a professional horse trainer/writer and then give up a barn job to make wire harnesses. Normal certainly isn't procrastinating on assignments because that is the only way your brain can suddenly focus on what needs to get done or blurting out whatever is on your mind. It's being organized enough sit down and get assignments done ahead of time or keeping with the steady job instead of going for a lucrative one that is also unstable. It's also being able to sit still, not interrupt, and all the other wonderful things that seem to set other ADHDers apart from the world.

Because of the "normals" those with ADHD and other disorders see, we end up trying to change our version of "normal" to match up with society's version. Problem is, that isn't going to happen. It's like those shape-matching games we had as kids: you're trying to match up the square with the circle and and even though you know why they won't match up, you still need up frustrated about having to reach for the square piece instead. ADHD norms are like circles: they're too non-linear to try and match up with the square slot. No matter how hard we push, pull, or change, we're still circles that can't fit into the square slot.

And with that, comes the self-loathing.

I was at that self-loathing stage. In some ways, I still am. But I've slowly been learning that I need to stop trying to accept society's norms as my own and just accept my norms for what they are. I recently took a huge step in that when I picked up Stacy Turis's book: Here's To Not Catching Our Hair on Fire: An absent-minded tale of Giftedness and Attention Deficit-Oh look, a Chicken!

I'm not joking, that's the title. It's hilarious. I nearly peed my pants laughing over some parts of her book. But it was also her book that made me realize that I needed to stop viewing myself and ADHD as two separate entities, when they aren't. My ADHD is a part of who I am, how my brain works, and how I function. Sometimes, my functioning isn't that great and I end up overwhelmed and anxious. But being ADHD has also given me the ability to roll with the punches. When everyone is trying to block the uppercut with another punch going underneath their defenses, I'm able to duck past both hits and move out of the way. A good metaphor would be from Joss Whedon's Serenity: "I am a leaf on the wind, watch how I soar." Even if I get caught up in the wind shear of a hurricane, I can still ride it out and come out in one piece by the end.

I'm not saying I don't get hit by life's debris, especially when the ugly side of ADHD decides to rears its head. I do, quite often in fact which is probably why I run up the data plan by playing Spotify and drink copious amounts of caffeine and Coca-Cola just so I can get some semblance of focus. Not to mention my sleeping pattern is horrible and no sense of time management (remember procrastination?). But those are some of the ugly traits I've learned to take along with the fun stuff. I have too. A lot of Eastern philosophy talks about balance and by accepting the bad with the good, you can have balance and peace.

By learning to accept everything being ADHD comes with, I come into better balance. I may not always be at peace - honestly, being ADHD is anything BUT peaceful - but I won't get tossed by the wind shear or unbalanced when hit by debris as often. And if I do, I know I have a good support team of friends and family to help me re-balance in my ADHD hurricane.

Maybe this whole acceptance thing isn't about trying to make a circle fit into the square slot while still being a circle. Maybe its just letting yourself be the circle within the world's square, like in DaVinci's drawing. Or was it a square inside a circle? I can't remember. But what it comes down to it, despite the ups and downs of being ADHD, I'm finally learning to accept what it means to be ADHD and everything that comes with it. Before, I was trying to live with it and try to change the bad parts of it. But now, I've learned to lovingly embrace my brain and actually live it, both the good and the bad.

Honestly, I like this philosophy more.


Friday, February 6, 2015


Note: Possible triggers for depression. 

I have to say, probably one of the worse things about living with ADHD are the days when my emotions are coming at me all at once.

One of the things about having ADHD, is because I don't have that little filter that screens my thoughts and my impulses, I don't have anything to screen and filter emotions. So when I say I feel emotion, I FEEL emotion. It's like a...a cave-in of emotion that hits me full force, over and over again. It's all negative emotion hitting me at once too: anger, sadness, guilt, anxiety, hitting me all at once. Then it just covers me and buries me alive. It must be what being buried alive is like because it certainly feels that way. And while I'm trying to figure my way out, I can hear someone calling out to me. I know they are trying to help, but here I am, trying to dig my out of another emotional cave-in and not let it overwhelm me, and in my haste of trying to dig myself out, I snap at them. And snap at them again. And I keep snapping until they go away, which piles on more guilt and more frustration because I literally can't stop myself from snapping.

I'm vulnerable, I'm buried alive and running out of air. My brain is fried and trying to figure out what the hell is going on. I know the person above me is trying to help and I want the help, but how can they help when I can barely help myself? How can they help me sort out emotions when I can't even figure out what the hell I'm even feeling? Everything is just a mess in my brain.

The worse part of it is, it comes out of nowhere...for no reason...

As you probably already figured out, I had one of those days a couple days ago. No...correction: I've been having one of those weeks. And I don't know why. I manage to cope with it; when this particular episode happened, I was heading to my aunt's house to do lawn work so I was able to take it out on a grape vine sorely in need of pruning while blasting Demon Hunter from my iPod (which I now need to find...crap...). So I know how to dig my way out and fix the already shaky walls. But I don't know what triggers it or why. All I know is how to deal with the aftermath.

As I said, no emotional filter is one of the worst things about living with ADHD. Because when that shaky, cracked wall collapses, there's not a solid foundation to catch me. Just a hole that tries to bury me alive and keep me in there while I try to dig my way out. And I have to dig my way out...otherwise I'm stuck in that dark hole, buried alive. I've already spent a year buried alive in that hole and I've just crawled my way out of it. I don't want to go back in it again.

This really wasn't what I meant to talk about. I'm honestly not sure what I wanted to talk about. I knew I wanted to talk about how sometimes emotions, especially negative emotions are overwhelming, but this...this was not what I had in mind. I guess it was just something I needed to get out.