Why Are You Like This?
Even though I get asked this question pretty often, it never comes in a form I can understand. I guess most people over the age of like 6 would not phrase it this way.
I have been trying to find a workable answer to this one for a long time, and I should point out that I am the one who really needs to think about answering this question. When I have finally spent some time thinking bout the answer, getting help, doing research, trying on things, and deciding what I think is true, I can decide just how much to share with others.
The short answer: 3 reasons – ADHD, ACE, and the Compensations.
Reason #1: ADHD
Key ADHD problems I deal with include time blindness, hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattention, and emotional dysregulation.
Having a mix of extreme and mild ADHD traits has made it really hard to find my way out of the labyrinth, since I’ve been trying to understand what’s wrong with my really weird brain but having to use my really weird brain to do it.
The official definition of ADHD includes three flavors: inattentive, hyperactive, or a mix of both. I have been told I am in that last category – both inattentive and hyperactive.
For me, having ADHD means I am sometimes really impulsive, fidgety, scatterbrained, and disorganized. It also means that it can be really hard for me to bring my attention to the right thing at the right time.
Additionally, I have learned that a really common trait of ADHDs is called Emotional Dysregulation, meaning that feelings often overcome thoughts at inopportune times.
Reason #2: High ACE Number
ACEs, (adverse childhood experiences) are disturbances at key developmental milestones that have been shown to have predictable negative impacts on a person’s life situation – from the incidence of chronic disease to incarceration, divorce, and unemployment. Simply put, the more ACEs in your first 18 years, the greater likelihood you’ll encounter problems. It’s one of the most boring statistical correlations I’ve ever seen.
I have come to see my high ACE number as a factor in my challenges trusting others, my inability to self-regulate, and a habituation to high levels of stress and anxiety.
Reason #3: Compensations
Over the years of living with these challenges, I have built up a host of compensation tactics, habits, and strategies for dealing with Reasons 1 and 2. This has led to a secondary cascade of repetitious and escalating patterns of conflict and self-defeat in creative, personal, health, and professional settings.
What Do You Do About It?
In general: I work with coaches, therapists, and other ADHDers regularly. I study ADHD research. I learn as much as I can about my own ADHD, since people are individuals and brains are incredibly complex. I exercise vigorously several times a week. I spend an hour every morning by myself, meditating, reading, and journaling. I work continuously on my own executive functioning issues, on my relationships with my spouse, children, co-workers, friends and family members. I work with other ADHDers, helping them learn how to thrive with ADHD.
In practice: I do this every morning.
Next installment: Why are you like this, continued