This article first appeared in ADDitude Magazine online.
I’ve learned to accommodate my ADHD’s quirks and demands. But when I start to ignore it, pretend it doesn’t exist, even try to brush it off like a bit of fluff, my ADHD buzzes to life.
You know the axiom: “It takes a village to raise a child?” Well, “it takes a party” to get my house and yard clean on the same day!
Last night was the annual party for my husband’s lab students. We’ve hosted the event for five or six years, so I have the pre-party To Do list down to a science. Order the Mexican food. Make the sangria. Try to get in (and out of) the shower before the first guest arrives. (That hasn’t happened yet; don’t people know NOT to arrive on time at an ADD-driven event?)
The day after the party is like a holiday for me. I walk around in a state of semi-amazement that I (temporarily) live in a place that is picture perfect. There are no piles in the kitchen. The carpet has no stains. The pillows are fluffed and the dust settled. At least for the moment.
Even the landscaping is flawless. This morning, still wearing my nightgown, I went outside to “survey my domain.” What a thrill it was to see a freshly mown lawn, mulched flowerbeds, blueberries ready to burst into luscious sweetness. Ah, life is good. So good. Perhaps it would stay like this forever…
My two faithful Shelties, Boomer and Cosmo, convinced me that no idyllic setting was complete without breakfast. So I meandered back to the kitchen and pulled out the dog bowls. I noticed a tickle on my shoulder, so I casually reached up to scratch it when a loud “Bzzzzzzzzzz” exploded near my right ear. In a nanosecond, I screamed, yanked my nightgown over my head and threw it to the floor.
“What’s wrong?” my husband asked, as he ran into the kitchen.
“There’s a bee in my nightgown!” I gasped. “Get it out of here!”
Victor (my hero) grabbed the nightgown (as I grabbed a robe), took it out to the deck and shook it to release the bee. The bee wouldn’t let go. The creature – a large bumblebee of some sort – hung on for dear life. Victor shook harder. Apparently, the bee adored my nightgown; it would not loosen its grip.
Finally, Victor managed to scrape the bee onto the patio table, where it fell on its back, spun around drunkenly and then righted itself. I pulled my nightgown back on, still shuddering that unknowingly I’d carried a bee on my shoulder for – how long? Ten minutes? Twenty? Fortunately, there was no sign of a bee sting.
By the time I calmed down, I realized that the episode was a perfect metaphor for my ADHD. Like the bee, my ADHD hitches a ride on my life. Most of the time, it glides along quietly; I’ve learned to accommodate its quirks and demands. But when I start to ignore it, pretend it doesn’t exist, even try to brush it off like a bit of fluff, my ADHD buzzes its warning:
“You can’t get rid of me (bzzzzzzz!). I’m here forever (bzzzzzzz!). Work with me and it’ll be fine (bzzzzzzz!). Fight with me and you might get stung (bzzzzzzz!).”
Point well taken (if you’ll excuse the pun). I know better than to imagine that weeds will never grow again in my flowerbeds; weeds grow in everyone’s flowerbeds. And I know that I can’t dislodge my ADHD from its private perch. It’s tenacious. It likes me. It’s my lifelong companion.
So when the piles reappear on the island in my kitchen – as they most certainly will – I’ll be reminded of that stubborn bee and its warning: “I’m here. This is reality. Do what you have to do to take care of yourself. I’m not going away.”
ADHD buzzes in my ear every day. I respect it. I take care of myself. And sometimes I weed the flowerbeds. Even the ones with bees…
I loved this article!!!! So well put! I’m going to print this out and read it (if I remember) every day! Thank you for expressing this ordeal so succintly!!