Carol of Words got me thinking. We’re all neuro-atypical in some way. It’s the coping we’re capable of that makes the difference—how we make our anxiety or OCD or ADHD or bipolar disorder or whatever else pass for “Normal.” How we seem driven or ambitious or smart or super successful rather than… neurologically atypical.
Her post coincided with my own observations (both upsetting and undeniable) that I am becoming less of what she calls a “survivor” and more like… McDiesel.
Our whole family is. We are somehow mimicking McD’s ADHD. The decibel level at our house is off the charts, we flip out at the slightest provocation, we say things we don’t mean. (My most recent regrettable McDiesel moment was when I whisper-shouted “Idiot!”—a favorite McD term—when he kicked the full bag of dog food all over the garage. He was already gone, but seven-year-old big brother heard it and, in spite of my lies that he heard wrong or, at least misunderstood the context, still brings it up in accusatory tones–and in public.) We don’t have a filter. We throw things, we shout. We court negative attention, we spar, we provoke. We slam and stomp. We regress.
We are all ACTING OUT.
It’s exacerbation and frustration and exhaustion and desperation, I’m sure. But it stinks. And it feels absolutely inevitable. It’s like a habit. There’s no catharsis, either. It never feels better (should try to view this positively,perhaps, as possible evidence that the rest of us do not have ADHD or ODD). Our seven-year-old acting out, I can understand. I don’t like it, but I get it. He sees us taking McD’s behavior and he tries some of it out himself. A little back-talk here, a melodramatic meltdown there. But us—Husband (Number One) and me? How do we get out of the cycle of acute behavior? How in the world do we dial it down when the littlest person in our house is wired to amp it up at every turn?
The neo-ADHD isn’t limited to temper and tantrums, either. There’s the hyperactive home improvement. I’ve painted the living room, painted woodwork, thought better of that and stripped the woodwork (daunting task, still unfinished), sanded down and painted the kitchen cabinets, painted the kitchen walls—in record time and often before Husband (Number One) even knows what I’m doing and sometimes before he’s out of bed in the morning.
True, some of this home improvement was drug-induced, accomplished during a second, more powerful round of prednisone last Spring when 5:30 AM found me on the back porch, sanding and repainting kitchen chairs to match new Palladian Blue kitchen cabinetry. (Leading Therapist to remark that now maybe I had some insight into how it feels to be McDiesel. Tell her if his hyperactivity were as productive as mine I wouldn’t be crying to her.)
I look at myself and realize that I never chill. I can’t do anything–eat, talk, write–fast enough. (Propensity for em dashes and fragments surely evidence of this?)
Could anyone blame me for trying to exert a modicum of control over whatever I can in my world at this point? (And which tranquil, contemplative, soothing shade of Benjamin Moore for the living room is something I can control.) If I can’t fix up and redo and perfect my child, then I’m sure as heck going to do it to my house.
So what about me? As ADHD as I feel sometimes, am I ADHD? Am I the reason McD has ADHD? Or is it–only too likely– a neurological pingpong game between us, neurology v. neurology? Anxiety v. ADHD. ADHD v. Anxiety.
I’ll have to keep painting the house because I have to let him win.