I seem to be sharing secrets lately, so I’m going to let you in on another one. I do not have it all together. In fact, I have never, and probably WILL never, have it all together. Most of the time, that doesn’t even bother me. Heck, probably because I can’t concentrate long enough to dwell on it for very long. As an ADHD’R, my goal is to inspire, uplift, and make people feel better. I like to do those things. I don’t like to bring folks down. I don’t like to dwell on the crap days. I’d be lying though, if I said that being ADHD was all a bed of roses. Are we a generally funny, inspiring, and complex community? Sure we are, and I’m proud of those things. I value many of the gifts ADHD gives me. BUT…that’s not what I’m going to talk about right now. Right now I’m going to talk about the downside of my ADHD. I’m going to talk about the things that really really bother me and embarrass me.
If you have ADHD, then you know it means that your brain is a whizzing, whirling dervish twenty six hours a day. You know it never stops. While most folks can separate the “must think about this right now” stuff from the “can think about this stuff later” stuff from the “I don’t ever have to think about this” stuff, those of us with ADHD are lacking the filter that tells us what is important. Every piece of information that passes through our brains has to be processed RIGHT NOW, and every piece of information is given the same level of value. It’s nice to be observant, but sheesh! A break from having to notice every little thing going on around me would be nice. Just once I would like to be able to hold on to an important thought without thousands of unimportant thoughts crowding it out.
This morning, for instance, I knew I needed to pick up my sister and give her a ride to work. No problem. I knew it meant I needed to leave the house fifteen or twenty minutes earlier than usual. No problem. I got up, got ready for work, got sidetracked a time or two, and ended up leaving the house ten minutes earlier than usual. Not exactly a problem. I was driving down my driveway, mentally shaming myself for getting sidetracked and getting a late start. I hoped it wouldn’t make my sister late. So I turned onto the highway and headed for my sister’s. I then started thinking about something rather unpleasant, something that I need to take care of, and started wondering when I’ll be able to take care of it, and exactly how much money it might end up costing me. After driving about ten minutes, I realized I was not on the road that would take me to my sister’s but the road to work. Crap. I turned around when I could and headed to my sister’s house. Now she was really going to be late. I could not believe that I could be such an idiot as to leave my driveway thinking of my sister, and STILL FORGET TO GO GET HER. Who does that??!! Driving to my sisters and trying not to speed, I started to cry. Not bawl or anything, but cry. I was just so sick and tired of my ADHD getting in the way of things that should be so simple! I am so sick of other information worming its way into my brain and erasing the tasks I need to remember because there isn’t any more room in there. When I picked up my sister, she said it was no big deal, and I was trying to cry without her knowing I was crying, and all the while feeling so completely incompetent. I don’t want to be untrustworthy. I don’t want to be irresponsible. I want to be one of those people who can juggle tasks and have it all together.
The other downside to my ADHD is the fear of always saying the wrong thing. This one is also closely related to my social anxiety disorder. I am always afraid of saying the wrong thing to people. I worry about what I say, how I say it, and what people thought when I said it. I worry about NOT saying anything and worrying that people thought I SHOULD have said something. A is probably going to be reaaaaallly ticked if she knew I shared this with the world (I’ll tell her it wasn’t the ENTIRE world…), but…
I talked about the big dance coming up at school…the formal dinner dance that had her all in a twitter for a month. Dress bought, shoes bought, ticket to the dance bought. She was ready. She got invited to spend the night with a classmate the night before the dance, and then the girl’s older sister was going to come and help them with their hair and all before the dance. To say she was excited would be an understatement. The spending the night part was the highlight. She has only ever been asked to spend the night with one girl, and that was a total of two times. She always thought none of the girls in her class liked her, and only found about a month ago that it wasn’t true. For the past month she has been enjoying the company of several new friends, and all girls she has been going to school with for six years. So, she made plans to ride home from school yesterday with her friend. All was good. She called me yesterday afternoon and told me she had started her period. (like I said, she would not be happy to know I’ve shared this) She said she was FINE and DID NOT want to come home. We’ve talked about it, of course, and she was as prepared as she was going to be, I guess. Still, the first time, I thought maybe she should be home. BUT I didn’t want to ruin her sleepover if she was fine. I knew that although she kept the necessary items in her backpack “just in case”, that she probably only had a couple. I told her that would not be enough for two days. She said it was okay, her friend said she had some. Reluctantly, I told her to just call me if she needed me and I’d come pick her up.
Then I started worrying. What was the little girl’s mother going to think? I know if it were me, and someone’s daughter started their period at my house, I would not think it was a big deal. I mean to say, I’d have no problem taking care of the situation by giving her the necessary pads. I would think nothing of it. But it wasn’t me. Was the other mother going to think I was a vile human being for not coming to pick my daughter up and leaving her there with them? Was I leaving someone else to take care of my child? I thought about calling the mother and asking her if everything was okay, and if she wanted me to come pick A up. I picked up the phone, then put it down. I worried that she would think I was strange for calling. I told myself that surely, if there was a problem, or she didn’t think A should stay, that she would have called me and said something like, “hey, your kid just started her period, how about coming and picking her up?” Over the course of the evening, I picked up and put down the phone many more times. Worrying what she was thinking that I HADN’T called, and worrying what she would think if I DID. Ridiculous, isn’t it? But all my life, that has been the struggle of dealing with other people. I put so much pressure on myself worrying over what I should or shouldn’t say or do. No matter which I choose, I convince myself that the other person thinks the worst of me. I never called the mom, and now I’m convinced that she has vowed that she’ll never invite my kid over again because I’m a moron. Social Anxiety and ADHD make me doubt myself. They make me afraid of doing the simplest of things. It shouldn’t be a big deal to pick up the phone and check on your daughter, but I hate to bother people. I am afraid of doing the wrong thing where people are concerned. This is the way that ADHD and Social Anxiety keeps me from being the parent I want to be. I already feel my daughter suffers because I am not “friends” with the other moms. She goes to a small school and when there is something going on at school all the other moms know each other and are smiling and talking amongst themselves and I’m sitting there like a bump on a log feeling sorely out of place.
So today, I’m sorry, but I needed to take a minute to be neither inspiring or amusing. I just needed to say that although most of the time I appreciate the gifts of being ADHD, some days it still gets to me. (and I NEVER appreciate the gift of social anxiety disorder. That one sucks. All the time.) Some days I feel like a big, huge failure. Some days I just want to tell the racing thoughts in my head to shut the F%*& up. Seriously.