The ADD/ADHD in me isn't ready to move, can't accept change -- and certainly doesn't want to find a new therapist!
by Frank South
I've spent some time with my therapist lately working on my (probably) attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) symptom: aversion to change. We’ve talked about ways to handle the sense of being suddenly overwhelmed by a world that won’t stay still long enough for me to see what’s going on.
We’ve also talked through dealing with the rage I experience toward people and things that present problems and disappear while I am slow, slowly working through the bazillion facets of the issue at hand -- the solution to which usually no longer applies by the time I come up with it.
We talk about acceptance. If you accept the constantly changing nature of life, you are less likely to want to try to freeze events as they happen in order to understand them and always be a step behind. Or to overcompensate by jumping ahead to possible outcomes and worry about those even if they never happen.
Basically, my therapist’s suggestion is to try to just be here now and stay aware and flexible enough to not get rattled and pulled off course. Later, you can examine changing events at your leisure, and get a better understanding of what made you anxious about them and what you can do to adjust.
That makes sense in theory, but in the moment when the rhythm of life starts to beat faster and shift around you, how the heck can you possibly “be here now?” Before you know it, the here and the now start flying around all over the place connecting to all sorts of emotions, facts, and thoughts from the past, present and future, all demanding equal time. So a lot of times, I just have to pretend I’ve got it handled.
It seems to me that the popular notion that ADHD folks are scattered, confused, and can’t pay attention, is completely backward. It’s the world that’s confused and scattered and our problem is that we do pay attention to what is really going on around all of us. Everybody else keeps their head down, eye on the track, chugging along the straight line, ignoring any other part of life that doesn’t apply to the goal. Sure, you adjust to change that way, because the track makes it simple. Keep your head down and keep moving. Sounds a little judgmental, I know. And for the most part,I try to just be here and now, too, but lately it’s been a real pain.
There’s big change looming for our family.
In May we’re packing up all four of us and our great big dog and leaving Hawaii. After 10 years of living in paradise we’re moving to Georgia. My mother-in-law is moving in with us, which is great -- everybody gets along fine. But there’s a brand-new house, a completely new life and I sometimes honestly can’t remember why or when we decided to do this.
That’s not the problem either, because it’s something my wife Margaret wants, and that’s good enough for me. Her sisters, my parents, and my brother and his family will be much closer as well. I’ll miss my friends here, but I’ve moved lots of times. It always works out. There’s no reason to be freaking out.
Even though I know all of the benefits, and even though I tell my wife I’m getting things organized -- I've hung a big calendar on the wall and marked the date (quietly and in private, so as to not freak anyone else out) -- I am freaking, hyperventilating, the whole bit.
So, being a mature and together man who’s working through his difficulties with his therapist, I take one of his suggestions and lay down on my bed in the middle of the day to take a break, get my breathing under control and look calmly at what’s making me react like this. And it’s working; I think this therapist might turn out to be a great one for me. I’ve had my doubts, it’s taken us nearly a year to get over some trust things, but he’s a good guy...
Wait -- we’re moving. That means I'll have to get a new therapist. There’s no way I can go through that again. This is a disaster. I’m not ready for this and it’s all because of that “be here now” garbage he stuffed in my head. If I ever get out of bed and make it to my appointment tomorrow, we’ll see what my therapist says about this. Because, honestly, I’m getting real tired of pretending I’ve got any of this under control.