Welcome to the Anxious ADHD Brain

With your host, Katy!

ADHD is doing yoga, taking medication, and trying to meditate (world’s okayest meditator here!) because such efforts help your brain do what it’s supposed to do. Anxiety is feeling guilt because doing yoga and meditation feels selfish. ADHD is having to physically force yourself to do routine chores, even though they only take a short amount of time, because your mind really, really, really doesn’t want to start. Anxiety is feeling like you have to do those chores because your spouse is doing other chores even though he, unequivocally, does not expect you to do any such thing. ADHD is finally starting the chores and, thanks to the power of medication, not stopping what you’re doing to do the seven thousand other things that you see that need to be done. Anxiety is feeling the weight of expectation to do more, be more, give more even though those expectations are only in your head. ADHD is needing silence to concentrate and get work done. Anxiety is feeling guilty that you need that because your children are just being children and you love to hear them laugh and be happy. Those thoughts, and much more, are just from this morning!

My ADHD also means that I’ll sit down to write and if it doesn’t just flow out of me, I’ll find something else that needs doing. My anxiety means that I worry whether I’ll ever get that creative spark back that’s been snuffed out after a year of much-needed social upheaval, a horrific number of deaths due to a global pandemic, and over a year of virtual school for a 4 year old and a 10 year old.

It also means that despite my brain telling me about the zillion other things that I need to do (Right now! Right now! Right now!), I’m pretty organized. Without organization I would be a total mess! My family’s shared calendar is a work of art. But, if I forget to add something to the calendar, poof, it’s gone forever unless someone else remembers it.

But, you want to know what it really feels like? It feels like wanting to tear your hair out and scream and cry all at once. It sometimes makes your skin crawl with the crazy, out of control feeling. When your train of thought is going straight ahead, and seemingly out of nowhere it veers sharply to the left, it doesn’t seem weird to you, just to other people. It’s the realization that most people’s thoughts don’t work like that and that moving from discussions about dinner to a news article you read earlier and back again, with no transition, sometimes leaves people bewildered. It’s being an extrovert and a talker by nature, and being self-conscious that you might be talking too much. It’s being smart, and intellectual and curious, and maybe more than a little silly at times. It’s self-effacing, but confident that you’re much more than what people assume. It’s the ability to laugh at yourself, not take yourself too seriously, and love with your whole self.

I’m acutely aware of other people’s emotions, and can almost guarantee that I’m right when I sense someone feeling uncomfortable, upset or just generally “off.” It means that I’ll often do everything in my power to make people feel comfortable and at ease. I think it has a lot to do with my own insecurities. When your brain processes things differently, it can be difficult for others to understand why something that comes easily to most people doesn’t work for you. People get frustrated, and I know that. I try to make sure I don’t let anyone feel that way.

It’s stressful and freeing. It’s also coming to grips with who you are and the kinds of people you’re willing to let into your life. It’s being very careful about who you give all of that available love to, but when the right people find you, whoa boy, you’re all in, and it’s glorious. It’s being thoughtful and sharp. It’s the ability to be wildly goofy with your children and putting those non-linear thoughts to use to be as silly as they are.

ADHD doesn’t rule over my life, but it does impact it. It’s part of who I am, not all of what I am. But, as we wend our way closer to the end of Mental Health Awareness Month, I hope this look into complexity of this one person’s thoughts and emotions makes us all feel a little more empathy and a little less judgment. No one is without struggle. It just doesn’t always look the way society thinks it’s “supposed to” look.