#ADHD and the self-medication of reactivity.

I’ve slowly, over the past six years, dissected and worked to optimize my relationship with the world around me, and with myself. That’s when I started taking medication, sought a diagnosis, started therapy directly related to ADHD. I’m amazed sometimes, at how much more I have to learn – I suppose that’s just part of being human. It’s true though, that sometimes we of the ADHD are a little behind in learning certain kinds of life skills. Like I finally JUST learned how to be on time with consistency. And it takes an enormous amount of work, so I try to minimize the frequency with which I have to do it, but hey, I can do it now if I need to. That’s cool.

Well one thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, is what to do when I feel really big emotions coming on and attempting to take over in a sour, invasive way. I certainly have a right to my feelings, and sometimes they are very legitimate. But sometimes their size is disproportionate (less of a problem with meds on board) or sometimes their usefulness is questionable at that moment.

I have some challenging people in my life who aren’t going away – does it serve me to become drenched in anger every single time they do something rude/thoughtless/mean? Nope.

I have some challenging situations in my life that pop up with regularity – does it serve me well to allow them to make me dread my whole day? Nope.

I understand well the dangers of stuffing one’s feelings – it’s not healthy to push them off all the time. But…sometimes it’s a beneficial survival skill, to be able to manage the size of your commitment to them.

So that’s what I’m working on. And for a couple of days now, I’ve been practicing just shoving off intense, negative feelings when they arise. Just letting them go.

I think that sometimes I use these big feelings as a form of self medication – and that makes sense. It’s what adults with ADHD often do: Find a way to stimulate the brain when everything else is boring. And lately, with piles of snow everywhere and winter’s insularity oozing into every corner of life, things are really, really boring. But I need to cultivate other outlets for my boredom, and not let big feelings and anger exist as a default liquor for the soul.

Finding ways to acknowledge the moment – there it is again, mindfulness – are helpful in this type of situation. I also read something the other day about how the act of smiling has a beneficial effect so throughout the day, I’ve been making myself smile. Just because. Even if it feels weird, or doesn’t feel like I want to right at that moment. Just smile. Super easy, right? Right. Using acknowledgements of gratitude for life’s little things is helpful too. Sometimes this is all very mechanical but hey, it’s all easy and doesn’t hurt anything. And sometimes, in fact most of the time, it makes me feel that flicker of positivity that I need to just keep moving forward and away from the scintillating wreckage of anger.

And hey, if all else fails, there’s usually a chocolate bar nearby, lol.


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