Monday, April 5, 2010

Don't make bets with the devil...

And don't hunt Easter eggs with ADHDers.

Three children on a porch, ready to HUNT FOR EASTER EGGS.

Their ADHD father, earnestly attempting some kind of equitable approach, and knowing his children well, says " two, because you are bigger, you need to give your little brother a head start".

The two older, decidedly ADHD kids say "OK!" and then run ahead of their little brother, grabbing eggs as fast as they can. Their father, not thrilled with this outcome, reins them back in and tries again...and fails...again. A third attempt yields similar results...only this time, the older kids at least hesitate for a moment...but look like they might explode. Eyes bulge...but they can't contain themselves for long and run into the backyard grabbing eggs as though they have each grown four more arms...

The little one, watches them, smiling.

We're all lucky he still has a sense of humor.

Sonny Rollins says "JUST GRAB THE EGGS, KID! QUICK!". And the little one rolls his way toward an egg, points to it, says "Daddy! Look, I found an egg!". and just smiles at it. Ahh, how nice to enjoy the journey, little one...quit smellin' the damn roses and grab some eggs!

Interestingly though...I recount this tale, not because of the stereotypical ADHD-ness of the older ones...but because of the little one's caution and take-timeyness.

When I was little, I was much more like the little one :) It used to take me HOURS to open birthday and Christmas gifts. I had to unwrap each one carefully, so as not to rip the kinda drove my family nuts. To this day I have to really think to make myself NOT do that...and I like to fold the paper.

So much for stereotypes.

I'm Pro-choice!


Actually I really just wanted to write myself and all of you a little reminder. A reminder that ADHD does not make our choices for us. ADHD is not the sole voice in the choir of our waking thoughts.

We have choices every day, and I'm pro-choice!

Part of treatment for me, and I bet for many of you, is learning what choices I have available to me, and practicing making the most effective choice that I can at the time.

I like knowing what my options are, though a lot of us ADHDers find a melange of options overwhelming. If I remind myself to sit down (as I often do, because I've been practicing this routine for a looooong time) and do an appropriate review of my current situation, I'm very much able to make lists of my options. I like writing them down because duh, I have ADHD and have trouble remembering things. And if I try to prioritize anything without writing it down, nothing gets done. So I sit down and write it all down and look at what's on the list and try to make a plan. Alternately, I draw myself diagrams or pictures of my choices...especially if it's a task that may benefit particularly from a very VISUAL approach. Put a big piece of paper on the wall and draw on it with markers. Go nuts!

If I'm having difficulty either making the list, or making the plan that should follow from the list (because I'd rather be, oh, I don't know, learning Argentine tango, or eating a ham sandwich...) that's what my therapist is for...although because she's a good therapist she generally lobs it all back to me anyway to sort out, but she's good at framing things in a way that sometimes makes choices less overwhelming.

So...every day I have a ton of choices. For me, because I like taking medication as part of my treatment, the first choice I try to make most mornings is taking my medication before I get out of bed. Then I can choose to stay in bed too long and have a rushed, crappy morning, or I can choose to get up earlier. Then I can choose to leave the house on time instead of letting my mind and interests wander (which takes WORK, because my mind loves to wander and I have lots of IDEAS in the morning, but practice means I hit the mark more often!). I can choose to pack myself a snack, or be miserable an hour later when I'm at work and hangry (hungry=angry=hangry!).

I can choose a lot of little things putting my ATM card back in my wallet when I'm done with it so I don't think I lost it the next time I need it. Like choosing to fill my gas tank instead of only filling it to $5 because I can't stand to sit still long enough at the pump (and then getting pissed because I keep having to stop at the gas station). I can choose to try to keep my environment orderly, instead of wasting hours being unproductive because I can't think in my living space because it's a disaster. I can choose to sort my laundry out a little bit when it comes back from the 'mat...instead of having difficult mornings (yeah me and mornings don't get along too well) and starting the day off with unnecessary wardrobe confusion or underwear shortage.

I list these little intricacies of daily life for specific reasons.

1) To the non-ADHDers reading, I want you to understand that these mundane details are so much more to the ADHDer. These mundane details are indeed the devils that bring many an ADHDer to the point of frustration on a daily basis. It may not make sense to you that these things are such a chore for us, but they are nonetheless. And that's an important should tell you something about the nature of ADHD, and it's real impact on people's daily lives, that we have such difficulty dealing with these thing, and must approach them so mechanically. It is this struggle that I want to gift to the ADHD-deniers, just for a they can understand that ADHD, WHATEVER IT IS, does actually exist, and hyperactive or daydreamy kids aren't just a-holes. ADHD isn't necessarily this BIG DISRUPTIVE THING that people's best defined by the impact it has on these things that "shouldn't" be so hard.

2) But to the ADHDer reading...I find it helpful, and I hope you do too, to think of my day as a series of choices. I don't always make perfect ones, but I try to hit a decent average each day. I work each day to remind myself of the penalties for not making the "better" choice. And this is where freedom lies. Through at least making a good faith effort to learn to make more effective choices, we free ourselves. We do not cure ourselves, but we manage symptoms that don't have the right to make our decisions for us. Sometimes they will...and that's just reality...even the best hitter in the Major Leagues doesn't bat 1000. They're lucky if they hit half of what comes their way. But just like baseball, or any other set of skills you have to work at, the more we work to choose, and embrace life as a game, and a series of choices...the better our average, and the more often we are able to exert free-will over fate.

It's not easy but do we really have another...uh...choice?

Oh we do...but I would argue (in fact I just did) that it's probably not a better one...