Wednesday, December 9, 2009

How To Filter Your Filthy ADHD Mouth

Okay, not everyone enjoys swearing as much as I do so for most of you we can remove the filthy from the title. But what about all those times some seriously unwise stuff flew out of your mouth that you should TOTALLY not have said. Or how about all those times you responded to some jerk when you shouldn't have because you just couldn't help yourself. Or how about when your relatives or significant exes are basically baiting you with dysfunction just hoping you'll respond and ADHD pretty much guarantees that you will?

Um, hi, I'll just offer myself up as the guinea pig, having found myself in these scenarios and more, wishing I had a more effective filter. Like the time some guy was harassing a lady on the subway and I couldn't stop myself from telling him to leave her alone AND where to stick it. That ended with a near brawl, an arrest, and me almost getting punched in the face. Or the time that a guy at Denny's was making fun of an overweight girl in front of him and I told him where to go and almost got my boyfriend beat up. Or when I sent that email I shouldn't a person I shall not mention...ouch.

Well I realized today that I have actually found a couple of ways to filter myself in the last couple of years and I will share these with you. They are not foolproof but they ARE very effective for me.

First of all, we have the "NOTEBOOKS". I have two little spiral bound paper notebooks that I carry in my bag at all times. No idea why two, if anything it seems to make me feel more case I lose one? Don't ask, it's not the logical part of my brain that makes me do that. (For this to be maximally effective you must pair it with a weekly cleaning out of your handbag, but we can talk about that another time.) I have these two little notebooks and I lovingly refer to them as my external RAM (temporary memory in non-tech geek terms) or as my external filtering mechanism, depending on what I'm using them for. He's how it's not complicated. Anytime something explodes into my head, demanding attention, I will write it down. I will write it on the first page I open the notebook too, doesn't matter where, I just write it down. Having an annoying conversation with someone-excuse yourself to make a note. They don't have to know what you're writing. Think of something you need to tell your therapist? Write it in the notebook. Get pissed on the city bus because someone bumped into you? Write in in the notebook. WRITE IT ALL IN THE NOTEBOOK. Then, when my bag gets full of shit, at the end of the week, I take everything out, including the notebooks. I thumb through them quickly. Idea for a new business or creative project? Pin it to my corkboard for further thought. A to-do item that's already done? Rip it up and throw it away! Annoyed response to a loved one? OH look, you don't care anymore now...throw it away! Then, stick the notebooks back in the bag and keep taking notes until next week.

For email, I have a different approach. When I seem to be compelled to write a response to something I shouldn't respond to, I will open up a Word document and just start typing. Type, type, type...type, type. Sometimes it takes a while. When I'm done, I save it on my desktop. I come back to it later when the icon on the desktop reminds me. I re-read it...if I still like it later, I copy and paste it into an email and hit send. If not...I consider it good therapy. Because sometimes even when someone deserves to hear how lame they are, it doesn't really serve you OR the situation to write and send it to them. An alternate solution is to save the message as a draft before sending...but I've gotten myself in trouble with that one before by accidentally hitting send instead. Using Word as a buffer is WAY more ADHDer proof.

Taking care to do these things has another beneficial function. I trust the notebooks...they are always there, and I take good care of them. By extension they help me to trust myself. They are the perfect outlet. They're so small and portable...they add an extra step to my decision-making and reaction process and in many situations that makes all the difference between be seeming "reactive" and seeming thoughtful, measured and sensible. Because I AM all of those things, I just need that extra step to get there more of the time!


  1. Oh yeah! My tounge needs medical attn. from biting it so much! I'll bet you could match every story I have about the times we (ADDers) gave our two cents to someone, and later regret it!

    Words can be very powerfull weapons, and notebooks may be the best gun safe for them. Just keep the key handy in case of attack! Some situations need em....Great idea! Good post!

  2. Oh yeah, amazing how much trouble two cents can get you in. I was just sharing a classic story yesterday with another ADHDer, about how my mouth really does get me in pickles sometimes, even as it helps other people. See sometimes the times I can't rein it in, are actually times where someone else is afraid or in danger and I'm witnessing something...that's one time I don't have a consistent alternative for. For example, the story I was telling last night, was one where I told a man to stop harassing a woman on the subway. She looked scared and my mouth responded. Unfortunately the man didn't take my comment lightly and simply leave her alone...he told me where to stick it and that was where my ADHD mouth just took over and didn't stop until he was chasing me across the train. I ended up starting a near riot by sticking up for this woman, the police were called after he came after me trying to kill me, and the train erupted into a full blown incident, during which an elderly woman actually pulled out a switchblade. The woman who was enduring the harassment thanked me, but I very truly could have been killed.

    After this, and a few other times where good intentions have gotten me in over my head, I have rehearsed other ways to deal with the same type of situation, should I find myself in it again. These situations are beyond the help of a notebook...though most day to day situations are PERFECT for notebook intervention!

  3. Wow! I see! That musta been a pretty scary event! That guy is lucky he was'nt harrasing that eldery woman!