ADHD / Coping Strategies

ADHD and the things better left unsaid.

Many folks with ADHD have to put some effort into not saying inappropriate things in the company of others. That’s probably part of why I talk to myself when I’m alone. I can say WHATEVER I WANT AND IT IS JOYFUL. However, I can also say whatever I want in my head. And sometimes I really disgust myself. But hey, as long as it doesn’t come out of my mouth, right? Privacy is beautiful, if you are able to cultivate it.

I often long to be a sweet, calm, non-reactive person, but I am who I am and I have the brain that I’ve got. And this is one situation in life where keeping secrets in the best thing you can do. I really appall myself sometimes though.

The funny thing about these impulsive types of thoughts is that they often don’t even correspond to what I really think or feel – because hello, they’re impulsive and they’re not totally thought through. And I often find that I have to take myself through a whole unpacking process in a reactive moment, in the private space in my brain, that goes something like this (an actual conversation I had with myself in the car yesterday):

“OMG, she’s a huge BITCH and she needs to get out from behind my car right the FUCK now.” <—my first thought.

“You don’t really think she’s a bitch.” <—–me being embarrassed that this is the first thing that popped into my head, even though nobody else knows this is what I’m thinking.

“Are you kidding, look at her fucking haircut, it’s a SUPER BITCHY hair cut.” <—–me being reactive to MYSELF and trying to justify my initial bitchy thought.

“Okay it was bad.” <—–me unable to deny that indeed, that bitch had a super bitchy hairdo.

“What the fuck is wrong with me, why do I even think like this? She’s probably a perfectly nice person…with a bitchy haircut.” <——-me, much chagrinned at my own reactivity.

“Right, because she’s a fucking bitch.” <——-reactive me, getting the last word.

BIG SIGH. <———chagrinned me, letting it go by moving some air around.

Now it might be easy to say “wait, what does this have to do with ADHD, you sound like a horrible person, plain and simple”. Maybe I am. But at least I’ve just had so many years of practice with inserting an internal argument before letting the words come out, that I’ve just developed a way to route my inappropriate thoughts more appropriately. Do I really think this woman is a “bitch”? No. I don’t even know her. I don’t like her haircut, but her haircut is none of my business. Inserting this neurotic filter might leave me slightly distracted for a few seconds if this woman were to speak to me for some reason, but at least it would keep me socially appropriate.

Not surprisingly, I find that when I take stimulant meds, I spend way less energy having these angst-fueled conversations with myself…because I’m not having the crabby, reactive thoughts in the first place. That’s why I take medication. Not because I can’t put a ton of energy into coping around things (like reactive thinking) but because why would I, when medication can help me spend much less energy to get an even better result? I guess you can insert your solution of choice here…but personally, I really appreciate not having such negative thoughts in the first place. They’re never productive, they always burn energy that I could be using for better things, and because of that, they’re exhausting. Even more exhausting because I have to find ways to manage them appropriately.

So now I’m gonna go listen to some fucking meditation music or some crap, bitches!


5 thoughts on “ADHD and the things better left unsaid.

  1. Oh my gosh, YES! I actually had a therapist once who very much didn’t get ADHD who kept telling me I was holding back and not being forthcoming enough during our sessions — like I would go to say something (similar to what you described about your thoughts with driver/bitchy haircut chick) but I would edit myself in my head and then say whatever in a more socially appropriate way. I finally told her that I had been training myself in this technique for much of my life because I had screwed up many things by speaking before thinking. She looked at me like I had three heads but whatever. My next therapist specialized in ADHD and totally understood this tactic. He also said that it was usually unproductive for ADHD people to vent/rant in therapy because they would just go on and on and never resolve much. He actually commended me for figuring out how to edit myself and said that much of his practice involved actually teaching people to do just what I was doing and what you described well in the scenario with bitchy haircut lady. I forgot my stimulant meds the other day and didn’t have any with me and I realized how much effort it took to behave myself. I had what amounted to all-out war in my head. Great post! Thanks!

    • “My next therapist specialized in ADHD and totally understood this tactic.” YES! Thank goodness you found a therapist who understood this. I too have had to really practice this skill and it IS a good coping tool. I’ve run into a few situations where just letting fly might have actually been a good idea, but considering how many times my self-editing has saved my ass, I prefer to continue erring on the side of caution.

      Also: Aren’t therapists who treat you like you’re a weirdo the WORST EVER. Omg. I had this one, years ago, where after three sessions I just never went back. She clearly wasn’t a good fit for me – and perhaps I should have run after my first conversation with her, where she literally sounded exactly like one of Marge Simpson’s sisters. You know – Selma and Patty? Yeah. She sounded like a Selma or a Patty.

      • Also – about ranting. I generally rant most when I haven’t taken my stimulant meds, and it’s way too easy to self-medicate with ranting 🙂 I understand what he was saying about it not being productive.

  2. The importance of the internal argument is rarely talked about (I think). Seems like some people don’t want to admit to having mean internal reactive thoughts about others.
    These internal arguments and keeping the reactions internal is what has helped me to maintain certain jobs that drive me crazy or be around certain people who frustrate the poop out of me.
    I’ll keep on doing this as long as it works!
    I hate when people tell me I should share how I am feeling or what I’m thinking. Why? Sometimes (well… a lot of times) our feelings and thoughts need to be kept to ourselves simply because they are reactive.

    • 100% agree. The things we think sometimes need a little processing before we share them – IF we share them. My impulsive first thoughts are often not even things I really feel, they’re just reactions. I’ve definitely read before (in Is It You, Me or Adult ADHD) that people with ADHD often don’t have a strong inner voice – so it seems natural to me that we should maybe put some practice into cultivating it. I had the good fortune to have been encouraged to use it at a young age, so I’ve been able to practice, but I’m pretty sure there’s no bad time to start.

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