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“As Sprinters, ADHD Relationship Downfalls Include Losing Energy, Interest & Charm”

Like most adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), I excel at being caring, charming, and social — in short spurts. In the long run, I struggle with scheduling, paying attention, and sustaining the energy I first heavily invest in a loved one.

I’ve been living without a roadmap — from meal to meal, from set alarm to set alarm — such that the purpose of life itself seems lost in my own daily rat race. Some time during the past few weeks it’s become clear — through my swimming, my work, and my interest in people — that I am a sprinter. My interest is strong at the first sign of a challenge and wanes when things start to come too easily. It takes a lot to keep me interested in something and someone for the long haul.

My swim coach confirmed this intuition on deck the other day, and the father mentioned it in passing in recent weeks as I’ve shared my woes concerning work. I am at my peak when I am going at 150 miles per hour, but then I lose stream. I move too quickly and am perhaps too smart for my own good.

Sprinters are colorful and thrill with their speed, but like a meteor, their power to flash past and dazzle all beneath and behind them fades fast. In short sprints I can be charming, social, caring, funny, but a storm, riddled with anxiety and fear, threatens to call off all sporting activities. It’s that, or continue swimming in choppy open waters, with no end or respite in sight.

Most days this summer have found me struggling just keep my emotional head above these waters. Perhaps it is Gotham’s dog day weather — the hottest summer on record, with three digit temperatures and an intense humidity — and each day, I walk into a hell called the subway, and want to scream at the crowds.

“I long for lasting relationships,” I tell my shrink at our next meeting. She nods, waiting for more.

“Maybe it is the ADHD, maybe it is fear, maybe it is my one most significant relationship which was a total disappointment and failure,” I say, referring to my mother. “Maybe I expect that, ultimately, I will end up alone.”

“Well, you are afraid of being rejected and abandoned and perhaps you seek approval from men who are difficult and challenging to almost relive that relationship with your mother. She did reject and abandon you…” the shrink says.

“So, it’s fear,” I say.

“We often seek relationships that mirror our childhood,” she says. Not a direct answer.

The roots of this emotional crisis seem much deeper than ADD/ADHD.

Solving these problems might take decades, rather than several years. The word “hopeless” swirls inside my mind

Before I know it the timer’s up and my session’s over.

At the end of 45 minutes I seem no more clearer about my life than before, but I say that I’ll write a letter to my mother. “But I am afraid of hurting her, or afraid that she won’t get it or that whatever little relationship we have will be severed,” I tell my shrink. “Could it get much worse from where things are now?” she asks. “What is the worst that could happen?”

After some thought, I decide that she’s right. The worst has already occurred: I have already been rejected and abandoned — first with her and so many times with the Ex-Boyfriend.

As I leave I find myself asking her an interesting question. “Do you think there is something really wrong with me. I mean, am I a hopeless case or is there hope?” I ask.

“You are doing fine and, in fact, you are quite bright,” she says. I leave wanting very much to believe her.

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