Wednesday, September 5, 2012

ADULT ADHD and Impulse Control -- What's That?

When I was in upper elementary or middle school, one Friday night probably around 6:30 PM or so, my daddy said, “Hey, let’s go camping!” Mom with her wisdom declined. Lori and I grabbed some stuff and headed to the bayou on Dorcheet (?). When we arrived at daddy’s “camp site,” (which wasn’t in a camp ground) it began to rain…not sprinkle. Rain. And it rained harder and harder the longer we were out there trying to set up the tent and get our gear inside. We finally get inside and we looked like drowned rats soaked to the bone. As we sat there in the tent listening to the winds howl and flap our tent, the walls began to be sucked in and out, in and out. Daddy looked at us. We looked at him. We decided we’d better go home, so back out into the storm we went. Later we found out a tornado had crossed overhead…go figure. We hadn't checked the weather report before we had left home. Growing up, I thought my dad was “normal.” Hahaha. I thought everyone had a spontaneous dad like I did. I loved it. We never knew what adventure waited around the corner.

My daddy's college roommate used to say that during college he often went along with daddy just because he couldn't take his eyes off what was happening and wondered what would happen next. From climbing the water tower at NSU, to having a pet attack squirrel, to doing acrobatics on  the rings and the trampoline to try to impress the girls only to do a stunt that would knock himself out. It's really amazing he survived to reproduce!

Some of you non-ADHDers say we lack impulse control. We call it SPONTANEITY! It simply can’t be planned, and often times there are no rhyme or reason except for the fact that it just sounds fun…or at least fun to us. My poor husband had to learn that the hard way one night when I began jumping up and down on the bed as he was just drifting off to sleep. Fun for me. Not so much fun for him. Sorry, honey.

Impulse control can also mean emotional outbursts, and that’s not fun for anyone. The only way I can explain this is like a building pressure that erupts when the barriers can no longer contain the force. The velocity at which the emotions and words come can at times be mind-boggling. The medication helps with this a lot. It’s like every neuron in your body is firing at the same time. Your nerves are on fire, raw and pulsating, and all it takes is one thing to touch any nerve at all, and we can jump out of our skins. And it keeps coming until it is all out.

What I have found that works best for this impulse control is exercise. It takes that raw energy and converts it into something more containable, useful and controllable. A regular regimen of physical activity or exercise helps me to maintain self-control. That’s not to say that I’m not going to bust out singing and dancing in front of my kids. It just means I’m better able to focus on what is an acceptable outburst as opposed to an unacceptable and take the appropriate action. This is probably one of the hardest things to live with for not only the sane people we live with but for the ADHD person as well.

My sister says she can be spontaneous, but she thinks about it before moving on it. She says my version of spontaneity is just doing it and if I think through it, it's as I'm doing it. I thought that was spontaneity. So for all of you living with someone who you suspect is ADHD, try to learn to appreciate the good spontaneity and have fun with it. Giving in every now and then to the whim won’t kill you. As a matter of fact, you might find that it will color your world in a way that you’ve not experienced before.

1 comment:

  1. The fact that I am the total opposite of ADHD (and Kristy's dad is definitely ADHD)is the reason a family friend walked through the receiving line at our wedding reception 46 years ago, grinned, shook his head, and said, "It will never last." {*-*}


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