Tuesday, February 21, 2012

On ADHD and Being Weird

With Amica in Paonia, Colorado
"One of her little friends who she thought was her BFF told her she couldn't be friends with her anymore because she acts 'too weird.'"

I was browsing the status updates of my mates when I came across this sentence and it definitely touched a nerve in me.


Which of us ADHDers haven't been called weird?
If you haven't, kindly exit this post with your self control and lack of wild thoughts.

And now, who's left? All the weird ones?

I've been singled out as peculiar with a league of words - from unusual to odd to random to unique to special to strange. Rarely is this said in a condescending tone - usually it's after I've done something and they're thinking, "Is this kid for real?"

Sometimes the words stick. Not saying they penetrate and shove me down into negativeness. But sometimes they stick. I remember last time I was weird was on February 4, 2012. I doubt that person even remembers making the remark.

I can't speak for all folks with ADHD, but I've noticed that, for me, my brain runs a bit different of a route than the brains of other people. Instead of linear thoughts that flow, my brain likes to hobble around and leap onto new ideas. Different words in a sentence latch on and take over mid-conversation and I have to develop strategies to keep keyed in, sometimes, not always.

So, we've got these random thoughts going on.
Usually the sort of thoughts you keep to yourself.
What else classifies those with ADHD?

AH! That's right! We're impulsive! Impulsive to a fault. Impulsive enough that is has affected our lives enough to be diagnosed with having a disorder. See that's the difference between those with ADHD symptoms and those with legitimate ADHD. To have ADHD, these symptoms need to be have a stark-negative-can't-ignore-it effect on your life. A lot of folks say, "Yo! I'm ADHD, I'm random and don't like to do homework." Oh man. If only it was just that. It's really gotta be cramping your style, tilting things about and doing all it can to keep you from moving forwards. For me, I was going absolutely nuts at home.

I've gotten the idea that, in general, most folks censor their thoughts and words a bit before revealing them to the public. I can't say I say everything that comes to mind, I do keep things tucked away, but there are certain thoughts that I blurt out that most would consider not something to be shared.

I tell the world about how I used to make patterns with my blood when I had bloody noses.

These thoughts that they might not think of sometimes come out of my mouth.
And then their brain gets the unexpected.
And, for them, that gets filed away as "weird."
Let's see what Merriam Webster has to say about that:

weird     adj     \'wird\
1 : of, relating to, or caused by witchcraft or the supernatural: MAGICAL
2 : of strange or extraordinary character: ODD, FANTASTIC

Now looking at that, the first definition isn't one to be messed with - apparently weird means "magical" which I already am if you take away my umlaut and turn me into the "magi." We'll skip the witchcraft, though.

But the second one sticks out to me as I know what strange means. And I love extraordianry and fantastic! Take note that strange has among its definitions:

a archaic : of, relating to, or characteristic of another country : FOREIGN
b : not native to or naturally belonging in a place : of external origin, kind, or character
a : not before known, heard, or seen : UNFAMILIAR
b : exciting wonder or awe : EXTRAORDINARY

For me, when I first saw those definitions back when I was 16 or so, it flicked on a little switch in my brain and I went, "Ohhhhh!" When people say I'm "strange" it simply means they aren't familiar with my ways. I'm not the kind of person they've encountered before and "strange" is how they describe it.

And they're right. I am sort of foreign. I haven't conformed to society in totallity - what a novel idea! And when they're neck high in the rat race and someone like me skitters across their path, they're often thinking, "What?" How'd she do that?" because it hasn't even occured to them that they could take the next left and hop in an air balloon.
I know strange can have negative connotations that may be implied, but looking at the original meaning, it explains what's going on in them that encourages them to tell me that I'm "strange."
And if you look in those definitions, also listed are terms like "exciting wonder," "extraordinary," and "fantastic."
And that, I think, is where ADHDers can also be viewed.

Self portrait in Paonia, CO.
Sometimes you do feel like you're on the outside of something great, tapping on it to get in, and you can't ever find the door.

But being a non-conformist can be perceived in infinite ways at different stages of life.
If we skip back to grade school, here we don't always have such luck. I can't speak for all, simply me, but in my experiences, grade school was a time where the majority seemed to be trying to fit in. Conformity was the key for the mainstream and being unusual wasn't considered an asset. Not saying it wasn't appreciated and loved. I found my place. I found my way. But I never felt fully at home. I never felt "naturally belonging" in school.

But then I grew out of the schools where they try and box you up and started encountering the world of folks that gave up on being smashed into a box long ago!
That's where things worked out and this is where I especially appreciate being me.

Now I can surround myself with folks who celebrate the idea of living a near-uninhibited life. These beautiful people encourage creativity, which can now be considered an asset.

And over time, I've learned to sort of, kind of control the weird. Yes, it certainly breaks loose and reeks havok at time, but I feel solid enough, now, in my identity to feel secure in being me within the boundaries of not negatively affecting others.

I think that's the key.
Good will. Good intentions.When people see that you mean no harm, that you're not out to prove yourself, I think they often let down their guards with you.

And that, right there, is another benefit of this weird-ness and one that I find highly valuable. In seeing my freedom, I've seen others break out of the mold in my company. I've heard folks tell me, "I feel like when I'm around you, I can be me." And isn't that something to celebrate?

So you can call me weird. You can single me out as strange.
I can't deny those terms. I can't say I don't deserve them.
I know who I am.

Thank you to all the beautiful people in my life who have surrounded me with the love that I thrive on.


  1. I know this is a "serious" post, but that picture on the top.. reminded me when you wanted to touch my nose... and I did the turtle thing with my sweatshirt. lol. :D I miss you

    1. Haha! Yes! I loved your turtle sweatshirt habits.
      Naw, not too serious of a post at all. Just processing thoughts.

  2. I only wish Ashley could express what is going on with her brain and body with words. It is so hard for a 9 year old to do that. I would give anything to know what is going on but I bet she would too. There are days it is so hard for her to cope, for us and with her approaching the teen years we fight even more.

    One of the hardest things for me to cope with is that she talks so fast and I can't even get a word out to have a conversation with her. She doesn't even take a breath. She says she does that so she doesn't lose her thought or forget what she is going to say. But then when I do say something to try and have a conversation with her she hasn't heard me at all.

    1. All in time. Everything in time. Changes will come from her desire to change when she reaches that point. We all develop at different rates and just need to be given the loving space to grow and explore.

  3. I came across your blog while doing research for a poem and I have to say that your Self Portrait in Paonia, CO is breathtaking. Please do not settle for anything less than weird. You have too much talent for that.

    1. Thank you, Anonymous. I appreciate it.


Your words make me grin.

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