Spectrum of emotion

The myth out there is that only those on the spectrum struggle to regulate their emotions.  But it’s not like that at all.  Those of us with ADHD also have a REALLY hard time regulating our emotions.  We can often be fine one minute and exploding the next because our brains are so difficult and so busy.

We often think more things in 5 minutes than most people do in 5hrs.  It can go from being prepared to head out the door to looking for things you can’t find, to what you are doing later, to what you want to do for dinner, to what you have going on next week or next month…just totally random thoughts that have no real rhyme or reason.

We are like time bombs and can be hard to handle.  We listen to what is being said to us but often our brains are so busy thinking of so many other things we don’t really absorb what is being said…the key is to make it short, clear and concise so we get what we need and can get on it.  That being said staying on task is also really really hard for us.

Here are 20 things that may help you understand what people with ADHD are going through…

It’s a fact; a person with ADD/ADHD is hard to love. You never know what to say. It’s like walking through a minefield. You tiptoe around; unsure which step (or word) will be the one that sets off an explosion of emotion. It’s something you try to avoid.

People who have ADD/ADHD are suffering. Life is more difficult for them than the average person. Everything is intense and magnified. Their brilliant minds are constantly in gear creating, designing, thinking and never resting. Imagine what it would feel like to have a merry-go-round in your mind that never stops spinning.

From emotional outbursts to polar opposite extremes; ADD/ADHD presents several behaviors that can be harmful to relationships. ADD/ADHD is a mysterious condition of opposites and extremes. For instance, when it comes to concentration, people with ADD/ADHD cannot concentrate when they are emotional or when their thoughts are distracted. However, when they are interested in a specific topic, they zone in so deep that it’s hard to pull them out of that zone. Starting a project is a challenge; but stopping it is an even bigger challenge.

True love is unconditional, but ADD/ADHD presents situations that test your limits of love. Whether it’s your child, boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse or soon-to-be spouse, ADD/ADHD tests every relationship. The best way to bring peace into both your lives is to learn a new mindset to deal with the emotional roller-coaster that ADD/ADHD brings all-day-every-day.

Understanding what a person with ADD/ADHD feels like will help you become more patient, tolerant, compassionate, and loving. Your relationships will become more enjoyable and peaceful. This is what goes on in the mind of a person with ADD/ADHD.

1. They have an active mind

The ADD/ADHD brain doesn’t stop. There’s no on/off switch. There are no brakes that bring it to a halt. It is a burden that one must learn to manage.

2. They listen but don’t absorb what is being said

A person with ADD/ADHD will look at you, hear your words, watch your lips move, but after the first five words their mind is on a journey. They can still hear you speak, but their thoughts are in outer space. They are thinking about how your lips are moving or how your hair is out of place.

3. They have difficulty staying on task

Instead of keeping the focus on what’s in front of them, people with ADD/ADHD are staring at the colors in the painting on the wall. Like walking through a labyrinth, they start moving in one direction, but keep changing directions to find the way out.

4. They become anxious easily

As deep thinkers, they are sensitive to whatever is going on around them. Being in a noisy restaurant can sound like you are standing in the front row at a Metallica concert. A depressing news snippet can set them into end-of-the-world mode.

5. They can’t concentrate when they are emotional

If there is something worrisome going on, or if they are upset, a person with ADD/ADHD cannot think of anything else. This makes concentration on work, conversation, and social situations almost impossible.

6. They concentrate to intensely

When the doors of their mind open, the person with ADD/ADHD dives in like a scuba diver jumping into the deep ocean.

7. They have difficulty stopping a task when they are in the zone

And under the deep ocean is where they stay for hours. Even when their oxygen is running low, if they are enjoying the view, they won’t come up for air until they’re almost out of oxygen.

8. They are unable to regulate their emotions

For a person with ADD/ADHD, their emotions are flying wild, out of proportion and cannot be contained. The tangled wires in their brilliant brains make thought and feelings difficult to process. They need extra time to get their systems up and running properly.

9. They have verbal outbursts

Their intense emotions are hard to regulate. Since they impulsively say whatever they think, they often say things they later regret. It’s almost impossible for them to edit their words before they release them.

10. They have social anxiety

Feeling uncomfortable knowing that they are different, people with ADD/ADHD are often uncomfortable in social situations. They are afraid they will say something foolish or react inappropriately. Holding back feels safer.

11. They are deeply intuitive

For people with ADD/ADHD, the surface is an invisible exterior that they penetrate. They see beyond it. This is the most enjoyable aspect of ADD/ADHD. This inspirational trait is what makes creative geniuses. Inventors, artists, musicians, and writers thrive in this zone.

12. They think out of the box

Another wonderful aspect of ADD/ADHD is that because they think differently, their abstract minds see solutions to problems that the concrete thinker cannot see.

13. They are impatient and fidgety

Annoyed easily, wanting things to happen immediately, and constantly playing with their phones, twirling their hair, or bouncing their leg up and down; a person with ADD/ADHD needs constant motion. It’s a calming Zen activity for them.

14. They are physically sensitive

Pencils feel heavy in their hand. Fibers in fabric that most people wouldn’t feel can be itchy. Beds are bumpy. Food has textures you can’t imagine. Like The Princess and the Pea, they can feel a pea under twenty mattresses.

15. They are disorganized

Piles are their favorite method of organizing. Once a task is complete, papers related to it are placed in a pile, where they stay until the piles grow too high. That’s when the person with ADD/ADHD becomes overwhelmed, frustrated, and cleans up. People with ADD/ADHD have to be careful to not become hoarders. It’s hard for a person with ADD to keep things in order because their brain doesn’t function in an orderly manner.

16. They need space to pace

When talking on the phone or having a conversation, people with ADD/ADHD think better when they are in motion. Movement is calming and brings clarity to their thoughts.

17. They avoid tasks

Making decisions or completing tasks on time is a struggle. Not because they are lazy or irresponsible, but because their minds are full of options and possibilities. Choosing one can be problematic. It’s easy to avoid making decisions because they are over-thinkers. They obsess and dwell in the depths of their own minds.

18. They can’t remember simple tasks

Another paradoxical trait of ADD/ADHD is memory. People with ADD/ADHD can’t remember to pick up their clothes at the cleaners, milk at the grocery store, or appointments. On the other hand; they remember every comment, quote, and phone number they heard during the day. No matter how many post-its or calendar reminders they set; their distracted mind is always elsewhere. Visible items are easier to remember. That’s why they have fifteen windows open on their desktop.

19. They have many tasks going on at the same time

Due to the constant activity in their mind, once a task is finished, they are ready to move on to the next task without closing up the prior task. The more going on at once, the better. Multi-tasking is one of their favorite activites.

20. They are passionate about everything they do

The emotions, thoughts, words, and touch of a person with ADD/ADHD is powerful. Everything is magnified. This is a blessing when channeled properly. When a person with ADD/ADHD does something, they do it with their heart and soul. They give it all they’ve got. They are intense, perceptive, and deep. This quality is what makes the person with ADD so lovable.

Basically, a person with ADD/ADHD has trouble controlling their impulses. They also have many awesome qualities that you will enjoy once you understand how they think and feel. Compassion, empathy and patience will carry you through the most difficult times. It’s important to take extra care of yourself; take alone time regularly, do what you enjoy, find a support group, a therapist or a compassionate wise friend, take frequent vacations, meditate, find hobbies and your own passion. Most of all, learn how to breathe.

Some of the greatest inventors, artists, musicians and writers had ADD/ADHD. They succeeded because they had a loved one just like you supporting them through their daily struggles. Replace your anger with compassion. Realize how they struggle to do what comes easy to you. Think of the ADD brain, as one with electrical wiring in the wrong circuits. Next time you think that they are lazy, irresponsible, disorganized, and avoiding responsibilities; try to remember how hard they have to work extra hard to achieve a simple task.

Yes, ADD/ADHD people are hard to love, but once you understand the burden they are carrying, your heart will open up. Love and compassion will take the place of anger. You will see into their sweet and good soul.

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Ramblings in my head

Tonight was an interesting night…on the one hand I was celebrating my two kiddos awesome achievements and the fact my youngest whom is diabetic helped save her Dad when he was super low – she knew what to do and she is only 3 1/2.  I also was proud of my other kiddo for expressing an apology and expressing some really raw emotion that just felt so good to know that 3 1/2 years ago this would not even have been in our sights.

That leads me to my second thing…watching The Voice tonight and Adam Levine was singing with John Fogerty from CCR and it flooded my brain with memories of a childhood I wish I could give my kids.

I don’t think my folks ever really knew what was up with me in terms of things that I know now to be Aspergers, ADHD and so on…they were no tougher on me than any other kid – sometimes tougher because I was always acting out or struggling with something.  Landed myself in trouble lots of times but man being a kid is like that.

I just remember times of listening to CCR pumping out of my Dad’s Pioneer sound system with these big box kind of speakers, Hamburgers on the BBQ and Kool Aid and lots of beer for the adults.  I remember the laughter, the smiles, the warm Summer sun, lawn darts and the badminton games that turned into what one would think was the Gold Medal game in the Summer Olympics.  I remember the lazy hazy days of Summer at the river – swimming, even going for midnight swims when the Moon was big and bright.

I recall our back deck – picnic table up there with that green prickly outdoor carpet underneath, brown paint and our cream colored house with stucco on it.  A long set of stairs to the bottom where there was a cement pad and it had a door to our carport my Dad had enclosed in.  There were two swings under our deck and a set of rings my Dad had made.  Along one side were tree’s and our sheds (2 of them my Dad made) and along the other were our gardens – Tomato’s, Raspberries, Strawberries etc.  At the back corner was an Apple tree and our section of Alley and then there was our play structure my Dad built.  Man we used to have a blast in that yard.

The whole block would get together a lot of times and we would have such good times.  No one cared about anyone being “weird” we just had fun.  I remember the tunes cranking on weekends as my Dad washed and waxed the vehicle, I can still remember how I would roll my eyes and want to listen to things like New Kids On the Block or Bryan Adams – but my Dad kept saying “one day you will appreciate this music”…well I am here to say – he was right.  As I have gotten older I have taken a big appreciation for Music and it’s roll in my life.  From early memories of my two deck and a record player system to those weekend drives listening to Elvis and CCR to more modern music from Maroon 5 and everything in between (Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong, BB King).

I often try to suppress these feelings as it was hard enough as it is to know how much I wish I could go back to that time and tell myself to appreciate it more but sometimes when I hear a song, or smell something like a campfire or watch a show that reminds me so much of my childhood I like to reminisce.

It will never be like that for my kids – and I wish it could be.  For all the struggles we have as a family it would be nice for them to have that slice of happy.   When Cam was little I was able to do more – but as time has gone on the Fibro is taking over my life and it is getting harder and harder to do things.  I wish I could give them even one big trip somewhere – Hawaii or something – where we could be away from chaos and hype (never ever doing Disney we would all be miserable) and just enjoy connecting as a family.  I know I can never afford to do that on disability and it kills me inside.  Anyone that knows us and has followed our story on our fb page http://www.facebook.com/theroadlesstraveled79 knows how much we struggle as a family with all our health issues and how bad we need a break from the chaos.

But we are not that family…and that is ok.  We don’t get things handed to us – the girls have gotten weighted blankets and so on but I mean so many people just get trips and accommodations and so on handed to them and I am ok with it because I remember some of the best times as a kid were family trips taken with the tent or tent trailer where we got away from it all and enjoyed ourselves.  I remember those kids tapes with all those kids songs – Pop Goes the Weasel and so on.  Indeed some of the best memories are centered around music and the outdoors.

My brain can recall so many things from the past – and other times I cannot even remember what I went into a room for (despite repeat trips to said room for said item lol).  I remember running around the block and riding bikes, making forts along the backroad to the river, I remember climbing trees and all the fun stuff I did as a kid.

We stayed out until the street light came on – and it was always understood that each of us had to go home as soon as it was dark.

My childhood wasn’t filled with therapies and appointments – it was filled with music, good friends, family, hockey, riding my bike and swimming in the river.  I want that for my kids…but instead I am always running to appointments and worry about finding therapy and stressing over Kalea’s seizure or 3 people’s blood sugars or if Kiana will be ready for school next year – the list is long…and it’s tiresome.  I wish I could give them a break from it all…