An ADHDer’s guide to the right kind of stimulation — the kind that feeds your thrill-seeking soul.
by Stacey Turis
Some say I live a chaotic life. I agree, and, I would add, that I can’t imagine living any other way. I fly by the seat of my pants, putting out fires where I can reach them — and, where I can’t, there is a smoldering pile of ashes waiting for the kiss of oxygen to regenerate its prior blaze.
That’s the life of an ADHDer, and contrary to what my loved ones think, living this way does not stress me out nor does it contribute to my inability to keep everything together. That stuff would and wouldn’t happen anyway. I’m a creature born to experience everything life has to throw at me, and I don’t want to miss out on anything.
I was reminded of this yesterday when a few of the balls I had been juggling fell to the floor at the same time. It wasn’t that I had dropped them; they came to the end of their juggling days as crises were averted or projects ended. But their absence left me feeling agitated, empty, and uninspired. I realized that I was feeling stressed from the lack of stress. How messed up is that?
As seekers of heightened stimulation, ADHDers need to be conscious of what kind of activities we indulge in, trying to fill the need to feel. With our impulsive nature and zest for life, it’s not always easy to make the best decisions.
Here are some dos and don’ts to keep you on the less rocky path:
> Don’t create drama for the sake of drama. Friends, family, co-workers...nobody needs it. It brings to mind the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. If your life is filled with meaningless drama everyday, there will be fewer people around for those times you really need support.
> Do try out for that play at the community center or take those guitar lessons — what hobby have you been dying to get your hands on? Learning is stimulating, especially when you see progress in your craft.
> Don’t think of social media as your social life. We are humans that desire human closeness, and we should see friends as they are in real life — with crooked smiles, loud laughs, and spinach in their teeth — not the pretty-packaged profile pictures.
> Do get together with your friends or family to make parody or practical joke videos to share online. When your friends see how much fun you’re having in real life, you’ll inspire others to want the same kind of fun. Words with Friends won’t seem nearly as cool as your family’s version of the latest viral dance.
> Don’t cram your brain full of shiny pieces of information from the Web. Chances are, none of it will stick, and it will make you feel overwhelmed and uninspired.
> Do get a book or book on tape about that subject you want to learn about. The copacetic information will flow easily into your excited ADHD brain, and you’ll come out on the other end smarter and more enlightened.
> Don’t put yourself in precarious by most-likely-fun-for-a-minute situations by abusing drugs or alcoholabusing drugs or alcohol. It’s all fun and games until someone ends up with a cellmate.
> Do put some music on wherever you feel the need and dance your ass off so hard, you look like you have been abusing drugs or alcohol.
> Don’t use food as a means for stimulation. The feeling only lasts as long as you’re chewing anyway.
> Do come up with a dish you want to try, and perfect it in the kitchen before wowing your friends and family with your culinary skills. You can even throw caution to the wind and create your own dish from scratch. I like to give my dishes funny names that people don’t want to repeat. Sharing the food and passion with the people you love will make the experience of eating it one of pleasure and community instead of guilt and self-hate.
As one that has traveled both the rocky path and the really rocky path, I’ve grown to realize that not all stimulation is created equal. Being stimulated for the sake of stimulation is not as satisfying as being stimulated by something that feeds my soul — most likely by a dish called “Gourmet Stank-a-Roni.”