Reply To: ADHD and Social Anxiety

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Quisipiam brings up a good point, but I don’t think we should ponder too often or too much on perceived slights. I’m not denying what he said is true and there have been times when I felt shunned in public; especially at a former church where I’d returned now and then for funeral receptions afterwards. What upset me more was the casual rudeness towards anybody who was saying anything different than the denominational party line or wasn’t part of the original “in-circle” that all parishes are plagued with. All of ’em! And nothing is so upsetting than to start talking with somebody only for the other person to ignore that call on his or her cell. It can wait, especially during social occasions. A social occasion like a funeral, wedding or any other kind of gathering, formal or otherwise, should be respected for what they are, occasions where people can meet face-to-face and not be fearful of rude rejections or sly evasion tactics practiced by some of the most insecure people, with or without ADHD.
On the other hand, it doesn’t hurt for us to take more control of the circumstances we find ourselves in or will some time in the future. First of all, take a quick inventory of socially clumsy moments, learn as much as you can from them, and decide to make sure you’ll do all you can to avoid repeating old mistakes or worse, taking the mistakes of others and inadvertently think what was good for the gander is good for them. Or “hitting back harder.” That might be fine in some political forums, but never public or even private gatherings. Given the fast-paced life we have to deal with, and it’s much faster than when I graduated from college some four decades ago, we should do all we can to preserve and protect as much face time we can have with others; even people we might initially find hard to deal with, like addicts to their cell phones who wind up becoming even unbeknownst to them, conversation and worse, friendship killers. Don’t afraid to give people second chances. We’re far from perfect, however “gifted” we’ve been told by some of our kindest supporters. Some of them are quick to find our good qualities, point them out and give us the encouragement we need to carry them further. But when it comes to understanding ADHDers and people with other LDs that are inexplicably preventing us from making the best use of to achieve more success. It never hurts to do what we can to help others understand what we have to work with and what a double-edged sword it can be at times.
Back in college, a classmate of mine said after a biology quiz cram session, “Man, you’ve got a lot up there but you’re not too bright in putting it all together.” The compliment part was taken because I knew he meant no harm and said it in a joking manner. But I never grasped the full meaning of what he was getting at, and since nobody saw ADHD on the “social/medical radar screens” it was decades before most adults with ADHD not only began to notice somethings their kids weren’t able to master, when they looked at their own lives, that’s when guys like me started “putting it all together.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or neurologist to know kids get what their parents passed along, not the other way around. We get temporary insanity from our kids, like the late great columnist Erma Bombeck quipped about in one of her columns. But she was commenting on the kinds of ways our flesh and blood tend to get under our skin and inside our skulls. Big difference.
If I gave a round-about reply, forgive me, it’s that added dimension to (our lives) that took flight. And this time I decided to “abandon control of the circumstances” and let the words fly. We need not worry about smells or somebody’s teeth getting loose as much as developing “reception name dementia” and a real social killer manifesting in the shaking predominant hand that holds the hot coffee, esp. in paper cups. My doctor said I don’t have any neurological illnesses to worry about and the shaking had to come from further back up my arm to worry about. Still, when somebody with ADHD is in a social situation where people know him and are aware of his condition, an additional display of nerves-in-action is as unavoidable in my case or others who have this twitch, and I guess one could compare it to the “smell test.”
It’s temporary, not permanent. And it’s controllable to a large degree because we can learn deep breathing exercises and “chum up” with a friend or relative to help us navigate what might otherwise become a social minefield. But if we’re alone, we still have the ultimate choice of consciously deciding what comes out of our mouths, how we say these things and to whom. Nobody can take these away from us unless we allow them to. And while I’m not very eager to recommend leaving these situations (especially sensitive funeral receptions) and “taking the easy way out by walking out,” in this case we’re the ones who are in control of our emotions, reactions and relationship buiilding/maintaining skills, not the other way around. After all, why take a risk of overstaying our capacity to avoid tenseness and anxiety we don’t need when the risk of our anxieties could overwhelm our abilities to control them and allow us to leave without any sense of lingering embarrassment for something we wish we hadn’t said or at least said with more tact.