“Knocking Back My ADHD Panic Attack”
This ADHD hypo-manic alcoholic is going to mess-up big time. You just watch.
I’m in L.A. and somehow I made it through the opening weekend of my solo ADHD play, so I’m back – Better Late Than Never, as they say.
But, although I’m not a big fan of linear thinking or timelines, I’m going to pick up near where I left off in ADHD and “My Big Trip, Part 4,” because, well, I’m trying to make sense of some things, and maybe you’ll relate. We’ll see, I guess…
I’m freaked out about leaving my family back in Honolulu, and freaked out about doing this play all alone in L.A. – what a stupid, stupid, stupid, embarrassing idea. I’ll never pull it off. This ADHD hypo-manic alcoholic is going to mess up big time. You just watch.
I land at LAX and head into the unnerving, unbelievable chaos super-focused on the baggage claim signs and arrows, and chanting baggage claim five, baggage claim five, baggage claim five, over and over to myself. This is the point in travel where I tend to get distracted, forget something, and then panic and screw things up even worse. Or the fear of getting distracted and screwing up gets so intense that I trigger a panic attack without any outside stimulus at all.
So, I’m going down escalators, into blank over-lit tunnels, standing on people-mover strips, pushed through revolving don’t-backup-or-alarms-will-sound-you-idiot doors, dumped out looking for number five, five, don’t see five – did I have it right? Breathe. Breathe. Then I hear my name called, and once again, realize how lucky I am in my life. A family friend of many years is there to pick me up and take me to her home to stay with her and her family for two months in a modest suburb, far enough from Hollywood and what I’m doing there to be sane.
The lurking panic suddenly doesn’t even have a crack to find a toe-hold as I sit in the living room and catch up with her and her husband, mom and kids, with pictures of her kids and my kids together back when they really were kids, looking down from the walls. Maybe everything has a chance to work out okay.
The next day I wake up missing my wife and family and the nagging feeling that I shouldn’t be here — but the generosity of our old friends around me pushes it back again, and I drive into Burbank to start rehearsing with my director. More generosity comes my way — we’re rehearsing in his living room so I don’t have to rent a space. We start work and it is rocky. The panic is coming back, rising slowly like that goop in lava lamps. All the ingrained deep fears about exposing my mental, um, weirdness… okay, okay — my ADHD and other pronounced comorbid disorders — those fears are boiling over and making it hard to concentrate or to even focus at all.
So over and over we try one part or another — and I can’t remember the words. I can’t remember any of my lines – which is problematic, considering that the play is two hours of just me talking and acting out all the parts.
My director looks sympathetic as we once more try again and I mess up again. Now he’s starting to look worried. And the lava lamp in my head is bright red, bubbling, and about ready to break the glass.