Friday, March 4, 2011

Even Comedy Can't Cure ADHD

Let's talk comedy:

Let's talk inability to sit still. Let's talk about those times when stillness only allows a sense of sandpaper on the inner side of the skin to take hold.

Standing in the back, in the dark, in a theater of 900 people...the show is fantastic. World-renowned and funny as hell. I cannot stand still in the pauses between jokes. I cannot stand still in the middle of them. I can't stop thinking about the feeling of the wooden banister under my chin, and it's cold, and then my legs fele uncomfortable, and then I shift from foot to foot. I try and it incites mild dread and almost-panic. Then I just want to detach from the room, and the people in it. I think about my dog. I think about crying.

I think I'll go up to my office and sit in the dark and listen to music.

Sit in the sadness in a place where I don't have to judge it.

Where I don't have to hide it.

Where I can sit still because my mind can be occupied.

This is why people with ADHD become workaholics. Because we cannot find peace in moments that make other people laugh. I've moved away from that -ism quite a bit but I cannot totally control it. It's an interesting experiment to try to make yourself just "be" when you literally can't.

I understand my restlessness and my anxiety and my sadness so much better now. Now I identify it more quickly, just accept it and give it space to be. No wasted energy of that mills itself quickly into a roiling anxiety and near panic...and flight. Now, the flight is conscious, controlled as it can be when the urgency of thought and movement are belligerent and rough, disregarding my humanity and relentless in their expectations.

900 people laugh just a few rooms away. I'm alone in the dark and it soothes me more than any comedy can.


  1. Congrats to you for embracing who you are, accepting your unique qualities and nurturing yourself! Well done. Thanks for sharing your journey!

  2. Hi, I am a fellow ADHD woman and I am following your blog. Thanks for opening up about your difficulties and triumphs. I'm attempting to do the same. I look forward to reading more of your posts. It isn't easy to live with this and it's nice to find I'm not alone.

  3. Hi Katy! I'm still following, just haven't been commenting much lately on any of the blogs I follow.

    You wrote: "900 people laugh just a few rooms away. I'm alone in the dark and it soothes me more than any comedy can." I know this feeling very well.

    The "funny" thing about it is...I can't stand the silence, so I listen to loud hard driving rock/blues to soothe my busy mind. But I feel the need to be alone when I do this. Sounds insane I know, but it helps me achieve a bit of (self sanity.

  4. Does not sound insane at all Scott...I was actually sitting in the dark by myself listening to Andrew Bird, purveyor of intriguing, dark little songs. But there are times when only Rage Against The Machine will do, in a strange, soothing way.

  5. Sometimes only quiet solitude will get me through a particularly difficult day... but I'll also crank up RATM or Black Sabbath in my car on the way to work - it seems to energize me.

    Sometimes when I'm restless all I want to do is scream out and have to clench my teeth and do deep breathing to relax.

    In time, I hope, in time this will get easier.


  6. Would it shock you to know that a large percentage of comedians also have ADHD? I could never sit and watch comedy when I wasn't performing it.

  7. :D I suppose I don't find that shocking! And, I can relate...I was a theater performer for years, but often could not sit through other people's performances. I felt really badly about it but just could not do it. Which is funny because when I was a little tiny girl I would sit through long plays. Probably because they were new to me then!