Many years ago, I watched the movie “Parenthood” with Steve Martin and Mary Steenburgen. They were parents to 3 kids in a large extended family that included another brother and two sisters. The whole family had its struggles but at one particular juncture, the Steve/Mary family was faced with the probability that their older son would need to be in a special school. Steven Martin’s character is frantic and agitated. Mary Steenburgen’s character is more accepting and calm. And then Grandma walks in with a story that blew me away:
You see, I like the Merry-Go-Round. I am not a fan of roller coasters. Not at all. In fact, most amusement rides scare the you-know-what out of me. But, like it or not, life with ADHD is a roller coaster ride. It’s not that I don’t like fun. I love fun. But my idea of having fun is hanging with my friends and family, not hanging upside down looking for who will hurl first. I like security and calm and I like to be in a position to observe my surroundings instead of worrying about whether, despite safety precautions, I might be ejected out of a Coaster and plunge to my bloody death.
I’m a Southern California girl, so when I say I didn’t ride the Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland until I was 11, that’s saying something. Kids as young as 7 or 8 ride that thing.
The first time I went on it, I screamed and screamed and screamed. It was terrifying. A couple years later, I rode on the bobsleds again, and I screamed again but I also laughed a tiny bit. A couple years later, I rode the bobsleds again and I laughed my head off. I had so much fun. I went on the ride several times that day. By the time I hit 16 or 17, I was blasé about the whole thing. It was good fun but nothing worth screaming about.
Managing the ADHD roller coaster
Years later I realized that the Matterhorn Bobsleds are a metaphor for life and those dips when your stomach falls to your toes or rises into your throat. Those of us living with ADHD certainly knows those dips, don’t we? At first, you’re paralyzed with fear and a feeling that life may never be the same again. You screwed up! How can anything that messed up ever be fixed?? The next few times you hit the wall you realize you’re not going to die but you scream and cry and freak out anyway because it’s still a dip and you weren’t expecting it.
The next few times the ADHD roller coaster dips suddenly you feel the jolt but you’re able to recover and laugh it off, knowing that ADHD isn’t just a series of dips; there are also those magnificent moments.
Eventually, you get bad news or you find out you have to do something you don’t want to do and you smile and think, “I got this. It’s all going to be just fine. It’s happened before and I made it through. I just have to do what I did the last time – stand tall and get some support.”
See what I’m saying??
Living with ADHD might very well be like riding the Matterhorn Bobsleds or some more threatening roller coaster ride, but with repeated experience and repeated growth, comes the assurance that with time, experience and good strong support, YOU GOT THIS.
Copyright 2017 Yafa Luria/Margit Crane All Rights Reserved
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