Guest Blogs

“I Had a Big Fat Meltdown the Other Night”

My ADHD emotions can be out of control after my meds are done for the day – and sometimes I end up crying into my soup, literally.

“When my ADHD meds wear off……….”

I’m sure all of us with ADHD can come up with hilarious and heartbreaking ways to complete that sentence. I sure can. In fact, the other day I had a public-ish meltdown that left me embarrassed. Reactivity can be a challenge for me sometimes, after the ol’ meds stop working their magic.

I can’t eat gluten. If I do, the resulting issues are temporarily disabling. This makes eating out a big challenge, because gluten grains (wheat, barley, and rye products) are present in a lot of small ways that people who aren’t gluten-challenged don’t know. When I go out, I ask for gluten-free menus if they’re available, but mostly, I just don’t go out to eat. I stick to the same one or two restaurants, where I know I won’t get sick.

The other night, my husband, who is a professional musician, had a gig at a restaurant and he asked me to accompany him. Let’s just call that restaurant The Happy Goat. At the Happy Goat, there’s no gluten-free menu, so my alternative was to ask the waitress a lot of questions, to make sure I was able to eat one or two things on the menu. But I forgot to ask a question that was important (thanks, ADHD), and when my soup arrived, it had pasta in it.

I wasn’t sure what to do. I was already embarrassed that I had asked all of those questions, and embarrassed that I couldn’t eat normal food like normal people…and embarrassed that I was embarrassed. Plus my meds had worn off, and I spiraled down a shame drain of embarrassment, while band members and friends tried to make perfectly normal conversation with me and I tried to pretend that I wasn’t going to cry about soup. I tried to pretend that I wasn’t eating an entrée that I hated because it was the only thing on the entire menu that I could eat. I just wanted to disappear because I could feel that my emotional reaction was far bigger than the situation required. Reactivity, my old friend, there you are!

[Free Download: Get a Grip on Tough Emotions]

I finally got up to go to the bathroom and ran into my husband, who asked me if I was OK. I said, “I’ll be fine as soon as I cry in the bathroom,” and then I ran into the bathroom, sobbing.

When I came back out, I sat at the “band table” and the backup singer asked me if I was all right. I said no, and she told me that I should get drunk (the wisdom of this advice is pretty debatable for a variety of reasons) and so I did. I ordered a tall cranberry margarita, and then I ordered another…and then…I’m sure you’re thinking something terrible happened.

But, no. I fell asleep. I got so wound up about the pasta in my soup that I crashed out and fell asleep in a restaurant booth, in a crowded restaurant, in front of a loud rock band, while my poor husband felt terrible for having asked me to come in the first place, in between guitar solos.

On our way home, he laughed and said, “You’re not allowed to come to the Happy Goat, ever again.” I think I’ll follow that request because I don’t want to be recognized as the woman who cried about soup and fell asleep while the band played.

[The Civil War Inside My Brain]

Thinking about it in hindsight, I don’t know why I was so upset about the soup. That’s part of the magic of ADHD. What upsets us one moment might be unimportant the next. Plus, we don’t always know when we are going to have a reactive moment, and hiding them is challenging. Now, at least I can laugh about it, but at the time, I felt like something truly bad was happening to me. Don’t underestimate the power of pasta, in soup, I guess.

I did make one solid decision that night. When I got very upset, and came back from the bathroom, between margaritas, I found a friend who was online and available to chat for a few minutes. This helped me regain a little perspective on my situation.

No more Happy Goat. No more cranberry margaritas. OK, that’s a lie, but I’ll stick to one at a time.

[When You’re So Sensitive It Hurts]