1. I've Cried in your Face
When I was six years old, my witty self joked to my parents that “Katherine (my one year old sister) cries EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.”
My parents both laughed and responded “Beth. So do you.”
My response to criticism was to cry. And cry I did.
I remember being given a bad mark in a history exam when I was 15. In class the following day, I was quietly talking to my friend (being my usual inattentive self, of course!) and my teacher stopped talking. Looking directly at me (which, in turn, led to the entire class turn around to look at me) she announced: "Beth. You of all people need to listen to what I'm saying".
Okay, so the teacher was pretty terrifying, but the shock of the situation, the disappointment of getting such a low mark, and the anxiety of being watched by the entire class of 15 year old girls, made me burst into silent tears. I spent the next hour totally unable to control myself, trying to cover my face with my blazer and doing my best to hide so the class wouldn't see. Of course, everyone, including the teacher knew I was in floods of tears, but they were too polite to say anything. So that was kind of nice.
Until this year when I received an ADHD diagnosis and started taking the right medication, I would end up crying regularly. Only now have people pointed out, "Hey look! We can have a proper adult debate without having it escalate into tears!" I always felt so silly and immature for acting like that in situations but now I have begun to see it as a symptom, rather than a personality trait.
Hey, I'm a real adult now!
2. I've Changed My "Life Plan" SO MANY Times
I have a lot of ideas. This is typical for people with ADHD. Our brains are busy with so many thoughts and ideas all the time.
So I may have told you: "It's always been my dream to move to Japan"/"Study speech therapy in New York"/"Run an English-language bookshop in Mexico City"/"Live in a yurt"/"Be a stock broker" but no, these are not actually my dream plans.
The thing is, I know this as well as you do.
It's difficult when your ADHD makes you become so hyperfocussed on something exciting and new that it becomes all you can think about. (A regular occurrence for me...)
It can actually feel relaxing to be engrossed or even obsessed with the act of researching everything I can about this new life decision. It lets me escape from the anxiety and racing thoughts that come with everyday life. I used to actively seek out new opportunities (degrees, jobs, trips) online, just to have something to help me feel better and get super excited about.
The problem is that I can't keep my mouth shut. Before I know it, I've told everyone I meet about my great new life plan! It's just too exciting!
Just don't ask me about how those plans are going a month from now, okay?
3. I may not have listened to you (and I'm sorry!)
On a regular basis, I've been involved in a 2-person conversation with someone, only to discover that I have actually forgotten that I'm even talking to them.
Over the years, I've developed an excellent skill-set which includes head-nodding and saying, "yeah", "mm-hmm", "sure", or "Oh no, that's awful!" at the appropriate time. Okay, this wasn't a conscious development but I've become pretty good at it.
The problem is that I often realise that I'm not even remotely listening to what you're saying. I then have to switch back into listening-mode only to realise I have absolutely no clue what the other person is talking about. I need to spend a good few minutes listening for cues and trying to decipher the topic.
This one is not a good quality for a linguist like me...
On the plus side, again the medicine is really helping with this. I still lose some awareness on the topic because I've begun to think about that major life plan again (see #2) but seem to notice more quickly and can keep up with what's being said. Phew!
So this is mostly good (apart from those times when what you're saying is so boring, I wish I could be thinking about something else...)
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