Monday, December 14, 2009

The Wisdom in Wandering

Common ADHD trait/behavior #987: Wandering around.

Sometimes I can't stand to sit still. Sometimes I get this sinking feeling in my stomach when the prospect of having to continue sitting there in that classroom/lecture/whatever is looming far too large. Sometimes...I actually think better while moving.

And I know I'm not alone.

When I don't take stimulant meds and I don't have some jerk on my ass lighting unnecessary fires under me, I will wander. I will be wandering around the house thinking and suddenly notice that I'm wandering, although now, I'm able to appreciate that it's just my brain's way of propelling me toward resolutions...toward productive thinking.

Let's think for a moment about classes I don't enjoy...oh, that would be all of them that take place while sitting still in a classroom. Classes I enjoy? Dance classes. Music classes. As a kid I loved swimming classes. In other words, classes where I am moving and thinking at the same time.

Last night I found myself wandering around my living room while trying to put a schedule together for something for next year. For the first time in my life I'm beginning to appreciate this about myself. I wander...I think out be it. This is where pets come in can talk their ears off and they don't go nuts. I smiled when I found myself doing this last night. I feel free.

And there are different kinds of fidgeting. The kinds that annoys people, and the kind that doesn't. There is productive fidgeting and there is non-productive fidgeting. If you're lucky, and you're an adult ADHDer, you have found ways to fidget that don't offend or annoy others, and you may have accidentally discovered ones that actually help you think better.

Walking around is one of the best ways for me to get thinking done, but I have to bring magazines and other "activities" to school with me when I have to sit through a class or lecture. This helps keep me seated.

I also draw patterns for things I want to make outside of class, while in class. I have a gift for breaking three dimensional objects down into two dimensions and it keeps my brain busy. I used to do this all the time in the middle of my legal writing courses, and I got A's.

Yes, people think my other activities are just ways to distract me, but I think my GPA speaks for itself. It makes me think of what Dr. Hallowell says about the term "Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder"...and how he prefers to think of non-ADHDers as having "Attention Surplus Disorder". Yes, ADHD sucks sometimes, and makes it hard to fit yourself into the necessary boxes...however, if I can draw patterns, and read magazines, and occasionally wander around the halls, and be screaming on the inside because I'm working to appear as though I'm paying attention, and still get a better GPA than most students...? Yeah. Simplifying it this way doesn't account for the fact that I also work my ass off to make up for my deficits...but you see what I'm saying. Maybe the rest of the world needs to quit acting like ADHD is a "disease".

I think this has got to be a really tricky line to teach kids to draw though...I'm imagining trying to teach an ADHD kid how to fidget productively...especially since this means something different to every ADHDer.

I guess you have to designate certain activities? I was reading yesterday about a person who molds silly putty in their hands while in class, but this was a do you then
It tells you something about how much I enjoyed plays when I was a kid that I would sit through entire musicals just watching, when I was 5-6 years old (although I struggle to sit through boring plays and movies as an adult, lol). Anyway, I'm picturing explaining to a child that full on playing with your toys at school in the middle of class isn't the best idea...but playing with silly putty might be aok. I guess it is the way with all "disorders" or diseases experienced in childhood...these children have to learn to accept shades of ambiguity, in childhood, that other children may never have to learn to tolerate in their entire lives.

Even though I was not diagnosed with ADHD until adulthood, I did not escape knowledge of these ambiguities. None of us do. We just learn to define them by either blaming ourselves or others for the fact that we're aware that we never quite fit. Which means that most of us spend years learning to negatively define and attribute something we don't even have a name for, but which defines our self-image and our relationships with others.

In my mid-late twenties when I started to piece this all together, even though I didn't know that ADHD was the name for the force defining my life, I began to see that there was something wrong with blaming others, all the time, for all manner of I stopped doing it. And the difficulty with which I stopped made it only that much clearer to me, that I had become accustomed to living my life in a very wrong way, all these years. But I kept going...and even now, when I find myself wanting to lay the blame elsewhere, even if ultimately it is deserved, I really take time to think hard about where it actually belongs before I lay it down. And if I make a mistake...I apologize, sincerely.

Think about this though...all that practice with not blaming others. There are still others categories of blame that I regularly place upon myself though. Some of them correctly, but many more not. That's the pile I couldn't even start on without diagnosis and treatment. I didn't have another explanation for obviously it must be all my fault...yes? No. Not always. That pile's going to take a while to go through though. I still get uncomfortable when people complement me on a job well done...I still don't always feel like I deserve it. Someone called me on it the other day "you aren't comfortable taking a complement are you"...and no, I'm not. I'm not. I hope some day I'll be better at that.

Right now, I have so much more space for wandering and thinking in my home though, and am relieved...and I think better when moving. And the ambiguities are easier to resolve under those conditions...

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