Shiny Things and Bike Rides: An ADHDer's Code

We adult ADDers have a lot in common when it comes to coping with symptoms. In my world, we also speak the same language.
The Learning Curve | posted by Jeff Stickler
Shiny Stars, ADHD Distractions

How many people with ADHD does it take to screw in a light bulb?

An ex-coworker and fellow ADHDer shared a joke with me early one morning as I was organizing client files for the day. She whispered conspiratorially, “Hey, Jeff, wanna hear a joke?”

The whispering had me worried that it would either be off-color or lead to a sexual harassment policy review later. I figured I had a fifty-fifty chance, it was early, and I wasn’t fully awake yet, so I gambled. “Okay.”

“How many people with ADHD does it take to screw in a light bulb?”

Thinking that she was whispering out of our mutual desire to keep our diagnosis quiet around the office, I started thinking aloud. “Well, let’s see...probably one to...”

When I got this far, she interrupted me in a voice that reminded me of a four–year–old on her first-ever Disney World Teacups ride. “Who cares? Let’s ride bikes!” she squealed loudly, her voice as funny as the joke. From then on, whenever one of us was having a bad ADHD symptom day, we’d say to the other, “Let’s ride bikes.” It became a shared code between us. We’d say it, look at each other knowingly, and then offer to help each other catch up.

Later, my co-worker described how she “saw something shiny” on her way to make copies and ended up forgetting them completely. Instead, she had made a phone call from an empty cubicle in our office and then talked to our supervisor in her office for 30 minutes. We added that to our code, too. If one of us were away from our desk for more than 10 minutes, the other would ask if we “saw something shiny." Both of us scored high on the distractability scale on ADHD symptom tests, it goes without saying.

I told my wife about both of these sayings and now we use them at home, too. Whenever my daughter or I have a bad symptom day, we’ll say, “Let’s ride bikes, huh?” I look at her and nod; a shared code.

Those “shiny things” make it hard to finish projects and chores around the house. In an earlier post, I described how the world looks to me when I drive around town running errands. Imagine how many “shiny things” I see in my house with all the people and things I love!

My smartphone is my answer to distractability! Instead of jotting things down on pieces of paper I’d probably lose, I have Siri make a list for me. I figured that since I always keep my iPhone 4S with me, I should use it to keep lists and remind me of appointments. It works wonders for me! Plus, she’ll call me “Wondrous One” or “Superman” if I want, which makes me feel like I’m impervious to memory lapses. I have to be careful I don’t play too much Plants vs. Zombies, though.

Now, if I can just remember to delete my old lists, I’ll really be in business.

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