Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. This season I offer you my ADHD gift basket toppling over with newfound goodies or at least a new perspective on what I’ve been offering you in my “gift” basket all these years.
Shaking your head in disdain, you examine my gift basket tempted to throw away what you don’t want: stale and dried up recycled fruitcake, the unidentifiable flavor of darkly colored jam, the stuck-to-the-wrapper strawberry “hard” candy, and the crinkly pieces of confetti like paper falling on your pristine floor.
In the past, I would lash out in anger at your rejection of who I am and the gifts I offer. On a day of humility (aka shame and guilt), I might even apologize for who I am. Most of the time, though, I would end by making excuses for my inadequacies and turn inward, hypersensitive to your rejection of the person I am.
In this week’s ADHD Success Club, Dana helped us uncover the potpourri of side-symptoms and challenges common to people with ADHD. From neurological co-existing conditions such as depression, Seasonal Affected Disorder to anxiety, learning challenges, and other miscellaneous gifts, Dana helped me uncover the source of many of my obstacles.
As she referred to these miscellaneous gifts in the ADHD gift basket, I had many a-ha moments, especially when she spoke of some of these “gifts” as being the ones nobody wants. As I’ve begun to process this week’s module as well as the other modules, I have a new perspective, and I’m able to laugh a little as I accept who I have been, who I am now, and who I am becoming.
Perhaps you can appreciate (or at least accept) the miscellaneous gifts I offer you as a part of my ADHD gift basket:
This delectable treat comes in the form of hyperfocus on one task or project to the detriment of other priorities in my life. Admittedly, I’m still on the “drug” a colleague refers to as “teacher crack” as I stay late at work perfecting what’s already good enough in an attempt to assuage my inner fear that what I offer others isn’t good enough and to cover up/overcompensate for my challenges. I need to find ways to repackage this gift because without reigning it in, it leads to overwhelm, stress, and delay.
Flashing Emotions with Sprinkles of Obliviousness
This gift is the one that continues to surprise everyone—myself included! Mercurial I am in a flash I change from distant to passionate or from happy to angry. You may see this intensity as exhausting; you may even find me arrogant, insensitive, and narcissistic. I don’t intend to devalue your thoughts and feelings, and I realize sometimes unintentionally I lack empathy and am oblivious to your emotions. I’m still working on the packaging and delivery of this gift that often seems to be a ticking time bomb lurking under the neon gift wrap.
This ADHD “gift” of mine is one I’ve never connected to my ADHD until now, but it’s definitely the crinkly paper of no use spilling out everywhere and creating a mess because oftentimes I perceive any form of criticism as a personal rejection. I didn’t even know this “gift” had a name, rejection sensitivity, or in its full blown form, Rejection Sensitivity Disorder. This ADHD gift, left unchecked, spills over into other areas and leads to the perfectionism of my working longer hours with hyperfocused energy trying to prove to myself that I’m worthy. Logically I know that criticism doesn’t define who I am, and that when I’m at my best I hear build on what is good and recognize what needs work–refining myself and moving forward.
I used to spend a lot of time wondering what was wrong with me, but now I know that my basket makes up what is uniquely me. Perhaps the basket includes some gifts that seem less than palatable, but with awareness and action, these gifts can be transformative. My hyperfocused perfectionism combined with passionate emotions has led to my school receiving a grant as well as my content/pedagogical prowess. My rejection sensitivity led me here to Dana’s ADHD Success Club. Now that I can clearly see and accept what’s in my gift basket–I’m not going to make excuses for the gifts I offer nor am I going to blame anyone else for these gifts. Instead I will continue to find ways to work with these gifts/challenges in order to live more successfully with ADHD.
And so, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, I offer you my ADHD gift basket. Enjoy.