I can be a difficult person to be around. I know this about myself.
A.D.H.D. isn’t always funny – or fun – or even remotely tolerable. It interrupts your life. Your social graces. Your routine. Your friendships. Your ability to get to the next step. And your ability to remain professional at work when you grow up.
It can cause severe anxiety, depression, confusion (obvsly), and sometimes unbelievable fatigue.
It takes 100% of my effort to focus on a particular set of stimuli in my environment, and once I’m focused, I burn through 110% percent of my energy trying to stay that way. For example, if you’re the thing in my environment that I’m focused on – you’re the only thing that exists in my world, I am all about anything and everything you have to say and I find you fascinating. Unfortunately, if I am unable to focus on you for some random reason, I may make ill-timed confusing comments, bounce, giggle inappropriately, or even appear rude and stand-offish. I don’t mean to, I just can’t help it. I have a life-long habit of walking up to someone for the first time, saying the first thing that comes to mind to greet them – and being met with a blank stare followed by a quick glance around at the group with a “Who’s the crazy chick? What the hell is going on?” look firmly planted on their face.
I’m not weird. I’m not crazy. I just can’t focus when I want to and I have difficulties with impulse control.
I’m not a ditz. I’m not lazy. I just can’t always convince my brain (and/or my body) to go in the direction I want it to, when I want it to.
Here’s the stuff I know will probably happen, any given day:
- I’m not going to check my voicemails. Ever. It’s like my phone doesn’t even have that function.
- I’m going to make a joke that no one gets, then spend the rest of the day feeling awkward about it.
- I’m going to forget someone’s birthday
- I’m going to remember someone’s birthday, but forget to call them
- I’m going to be asked a question, and spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get the answer to come out of my mouth, and end up having the question-asker try to answer their own question on my behalf, because I just can’t spit it out.
- I’m going to be somewhere where you’re supposed to sit still, and I will be doing lunges, or bouncing on the soles of my feet.
- I’m not going to have shoes on. Like 98% of the time.
- I’m not going to be able to find the aforementioned shoes.
- I’m going to freak out because I can’t remember where the dogs are.
- I’m going to have to drive back home to check on the dogs.
- I’m going to forget to feed myself, the dogs, or the cats. One of those.
- I’m going to be thinking about something awesome (like things that could affect the boiling points of different liquids, or zombie-apocalypse-specific weaponry) and face-plant into a wall, cabinet, or the side of a forklift.
- At work, I’m going to repeat someone’s materials request back to them perfectly, only to forget everything as soon as I put pen to paper
- I will say something that has nothing – NOTHING – to do with anything anyone has said for at least 15 minutes
This is why I say I understand that I can be a difficult person to be around. For some people, I’m just downright overwhelming. And when I was a teenager, I was just straight-up bizzarre and incomprehensible. I’ve grown enough to understand that now. To understand that I don’t have to be friends with everybody. And to accept that junior high and high school aren’t the best places for a gal like me to acclimatize herself to the real world. Teenagers can be a bit….judgy, and it seems a lot worse than it really is to a little girl who hasn’t even begun to understand why she feels so different from everyone else. But those experiences made me strong. And I love that about me.
So here’s the quick’n’dirty guide book to hanging out with the Jamies of the world:
1. Don’t try to talk to me about anything in a mall or shopping super-center. We need to get our shit and get out, because I am on a different planet than you for as long as we’re in there. Also, in any store, if you want to keep track of me without following me around – you’re going to need to hold onto the back of my shirt. Just ask the Benjamin about me and Home Depot.
2. The unique aspects of my behavior worsen when I’m tired, hungry, stressed or drunk. Take me to a bar at the end of a long week before I’ve had dinner, and hold onto your pants, ’cause you’re in for one hell of a time….I once forgot to eat dinner before going out on New Year’s Eve, and ended up flying a little 4-passenger plane over DFW at sunrise. True story. And I don’t have a pilot’s license. Not then, not now.
3. Quiet places are where I’m happiest. Think book stores, libraries, art galleries, and parks. I’m actually a bit too noisy for the other people that like to go there though. I try to wear quiet shoes…
4. I like being around people, but they make me nervous. I’m going to be a little awkward when I first meet you, and may get tired kinda quickly and want to go home. I promise this is not personal. I really do like you, I just haven’t adjusted to you yet.
5. Outside is my favorite toy, and if you want to be with me while we’re outside, it’s my bus or no bus. We’re probably going to climb that tree over there, then jump into the creek. So man up.
6. Some days it takes everything I have just to get from Point A to Point B – this does not mean I’m going to accomplish anything when I get there. That’s why it’s so awesome that I run my own business – it’s not likely that I’m going to fire me.
7. I need your patience and kindness more than you could possibly understand. I’ve had my fill of the opposite in my life. Please always remember, I’m trying as hard as I can.
8. All the A.D.H.D in the universe cannot ever affect my capacity for love, compassion, loyalty, laughter, and friendship. But I probably still won’t call you on your birthday.
~ J ~