I'm Not Inconsiderate, I Have ADHD
I am not inconsiderate. Although, I can see how it may appear that way.
I am late (a lot), I interrupt (working on it, I swear), I forget important dates, events, names… (but I know I like you!). Just writing this makes me mad at me! But the definition of inconsiderate is literally “done thoughtlessly.” My problem is quite the opposite.
There are just. so. many. thoughts. I get trapped in my own head and it becomes impossible to put myself outside of time. I am somehow always surprised when I look at the clock and realize I am running late, which then flips my switch to frantic mode. Then I run from room to room trying to figure out which steps I need to take and in which order to get myself out the door. I spin through the house like a tornado, tearing the whole place apart looking for my keys or my other shoe, while panicking over the thought of being a giant, chronic, living disappointment. While you are sitting there, checking your watch, tapping your foot and cursing my name, I am sweating profusely, racing for the train… and also cursing my name.
I really do want to hear what you have to say. I know you are talking to me, and I know it is important to you, and I desperately want to be able to hang on to your every word… but there is another conversation going on between the couple three tables over, and I don’t see one, but I most certainly hear a baby crying somewhere around here. And that phone just won’t stop ringing! I swear I just absorb the energy within my environment and it can get really overwhelming sometimes. I like to compare it to listening to multiple different radio stations at once at a high decibel, while trying to learn the lyrics to one song. Not easy.
So what I want you to know is: ADHD is real. What I wouldn’t give to have the ability to “just choose” to be organized. Or punctual. Or prepared. I understand the skepticism, though. Even I had a hard time believing my diagnosis. All I ever heard, growing up, was how easy it is to “just remember” to turn the lights off, or bring my books to class, or pay attention. After so many times of failing to perform such basic tasks, it starts to take a toll on a person. I didn’t believe it had anything to do with a neurological dysregulation; I figured I pretty much just sucked at life. The more I started to read about ADHD however, the more I was blown away by how much I could identify with every single symptom of the disorder. Learning there were ways to treat and manage my symptoms was a huge relief, and with some help and practice, I was able to just that.
But it’s not an excuse. ADHD has given me an explanation for a lot of the challenges I’ve dealt with all my life. Understanding the neurobiological basis for ADHD has helped to alleviate some of the feelings of inadequacy and inferiority I’d been living with, and has helped me to take control of my life and my future. I’ve learned not to be so hard on myself and to let go of some of the unrealistic expectations I had of myself. I’ve learned to discover and harness some amazing qualities, and I am continually finding new ways to manage the qualities that are not-so-amazing. I am an eternal work-in-progress, and it delights me to feel that I am always becoming a better version of me.
I value my relationships. I may never answer my phone, rarely answer my texts and flake on important dates, like, oh I don’t know… your birthday. But it’s not because I don’t love you. Trust me, I do. And if you catch me on a night I don’t end up canceling plans at the last minute, you can bet the farm that we’ll have a blast! I’ll never want to leave and you’ll have to drag me out of whatever establishment we happened to wander into. Then I may just fall off the face of the earth again after that. But believe me when I say that if you were ever going through a difficult time, or needed help in some way, I would drop everything I was doing and do everything in my ability to make things easier for you. Because you know, that’s what friends are for!
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Thinkstock photo via Thomas Northcut