I've realized that crafting honest writing cuts ADHD fear and self-pity off at the knees. Maybe if I write more, I’ll lash out at others less.
by Frank South
Every time I post this blog, I think I’ll get the next one emailed off sooner. It’s one of the enjoyable chores in my life, these days. Besides, I’m a writer and it’s important to keep my honesty and story structure skills working when I’m not, like now, writing a big project like a play or whatever. But maybe the problem is looking at this blog as a chore at all. I know I said “enjoyable,” but put it in front of “chore” -- that’s pretty faint praise.
But these days, my life is pretty much all chores. My wife, Margaret, is working hard out in the world keeping her company, and therefore our family, afloat, so I’m the housekeeper and stay at home parent doing the laundry, dishes, and housekeeping chores. This is a very fair arrangement -- I’ve already testified to my cleaning obsession -- and we’ve found a useful way to harness it. And I’m doing some small-scale video shooting and editing, which I can do out of the home. That brings in a little money. And the kids like me around, when they get home, to talk to and make them stuff to eat. I love the kids and my wife. My wife and kids love me.
Considering what most people are dealing with in their lives, I couldn’t have it better. By all rights, I should be the prime example of a happy, healthy dad and husband. I certainly shouldn’t be yelling “I don’t know! I’m sorry! I’m stupid okay? You know I’m stupid!” at Margaret, and then slamming out of our bedroom at night. But that happens sometimes when you have a mental condition, I guess. But losing my mind two days after I post a mature-sounding blog about dealing with my daughter’s explosive temper is embarrassing.
It was a little thing, really. A text message buzzed on my phone while I was video-editing at the computer. I picked it up thinking it might be my son texting me from school needing something. But it was a message from the bank saying to call immediately due to some “activity” on our account. Now, I don’t do the money in our household -- I’ve already testified to my ineptitude in that area, as well -- but I do know we are perpetually on financial thin ice, so I call the number on the screen.
Long story short -- it was a phishing scam. And I had keyed all our bank account info into it. Later, I mentioned the bank emergency to Margaret, and she was understandably concerned about what I’d done, and I tried to explain but couldn’t because I couldn’t remember how it had happened exactly because I was distracted thinking about something else as I did it, and then couldn’t talk because I was paralyzed by how stupid I’d been to do it, which reminded me of every other unbelievably stupid thing I’d ever done in my long personal history crammed to bursting with countless stupefying mindless mistakes in judgment and lack of common sense. And then, just like my daughter, I lashed out.
Later, after it was all over, and the card was canceled, and our account was safe, Margaret and I talked. “What are you so angry about? And why are you so angry at me?” she asked.
I told her I wasn’t angry at her, but angry at myself, disgusted by myself, really, and tried to explain the lashing out again, but it’s hard for her to understand when she’s the one who’s been recently lashed out at.
I agreed to talk to the shrink about it at the next visit. And I will. And I’ll turn up the vigilance on my temper. But sometimes I’m doing the chores around the house and I feel like my mom, the frustrated writer/housewife in the fifties -- cleaning and criticizing myself for unwritten words and too-clean bathrooms.
And sometimes I don’t see the bright side of ADHD, hypomania, stammering or any of the other brain crap. All I see is the constant, every second struggle to pay attention, remember the word, the name, the appointment, or even find a clean, clear thought. I get tired and want nothing more than to go hide in a book. That helps.
And sometimes, if I’m lucky, when it’s late enough that everyone else in the house is asleep, I’ll turn on the computer and start typing. And usually if I do that, like I’m doing now, I realize that writing this blog is no chore at all. And I once again realize that crafting honest writing cuts fear and self-pity off at the knees. Maybe if I write more, I’ll lash out at others less.
It’s worth a try, anyway.