Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.
Welcome to ADHD.
[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks!]
The questioning voice of my beautiful brown-eyed bride calls from the kitchen. “You left your keys on the table.”
Tone doesn’t seem unhappy, Black, comments Screen Two.
“Miss Laura is not registering dissatisfaction. Complaints kiss her lips fewer times than vegetables cross mine.”
So what’s the problem with keys on the table?
“Simply put, Two, she knows I am breaking a pattern.”
Breaking a pattern? interjects Three. What does that mean?
“It means I’ve placed something where normally I would not. Which means I won’t be able to find it when I need it.”
Why would you do that, Black? asks Five. Seems illogical.
Fall into a can of Campbell’s? asks Four.
“Worse,” I reply. “I could at least slurp my way out of Campbell’s.”
Not Chunky™ style, bets One.
“It isn’t that kind of ‘alphabet’ soup, boys. But it is full of letters. The first four are ADHD.”
Attention Deficit (with Hyperactivity) Disorder, says Three with pride. That’s us, your six screens.
“And OCD. Doctors claim many with ADHD also are plagued by OCD.”
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder? protests Five. Not seeing it. You don’t repeat routines and rituals to the point they get in the way of life. Billionaire Howard Hughes (at right) couldn’t wash his hands often enough to conquer the germs he feared.
“But I also have TBI.”
Traumatic Brain Injury, explains One. Yes, most of you survived The Accident, but your short-term memory said goodbye right along with your physical balance.
This is depressing, says Six. These sad letters –
Like “Dear John” notes? asks Two.
– should be uplifting, Boss. Tell us how we beat the problems these conditions represent.
“Patterns. Better living through patterns.” Six different screens immediately offer their ideas about “patterns.”
“Wrong,” I say, laughing. “Every one of you.”
These patterns don’t involve fine silverware? sighs Screen Three, crestfallen.
“Nor do they mimic the late-night, signed-off-the-air television patterns of yesteryear,” I chide as Six whistles nonchalantly. “When I say ‘patterns,’ I’m talking about doing things in set, repetitive ways.”
So you are OCD! blurts Four in surprise.
“Not.” Pause to let it sink in. “Confusing, I know. Look, troubled by my memory loss after The Accident, I visit a therapist. She identifies my ADHD and my TBI, then suggests I simply put items in the exact same place each time I return home.
“‘Set a routine and maintain it,’ she advises. ‘But as I remind my other ADDers, Mr. Blackie, make sure everybody in the house (and at the office) is on the same page.’”
In other words, adds Four, don’t let somebody else move your things around. You’ll be completely thrown off.
“Precisely. And all the more so because what seems reasonable placement to a Real Worlder won’t be to ADDers. Miss Laura not only honors and preserves my patterns, she is exceptional at recognizing when I step away from them.”
So, wonders Two, hesitantly, do you follow the therapist’s advice to set and keep routines?
“Yes, and that’s no small miracle in itself. You screens know all too well how we ADDers love variety – ”
“ – and detest being tied down, day in and day out, to the same old boring stuff.”
Death is preferable, murmurs Three.
“But the very ‘structure’ we cannot stand becomes the element we need most. Doing some things the exact same way creates patterns – habits, if you will – that compensate for an overactive, forgetful mind.”
Always putting car keys on the far right edge of the office bureau? guesses Two.
“Yes. My flash drive alongside the keyboard. Hammer in the top toolbox drawer. Glasses next to my good pen. Rhythms suggest there’s a place for everything and everything in its place.”
You, frets Six, sound dangerously like Mary Poppins.
“Since Miss Laura is aware of the difficulties arising from my not following these rhythms, she has learned where I place things. When keys are on the kitchen table, not the bureau, she asks if I intended to leave them there.”
Because, sums Five, your easily distracted ADHD may have led you to do something else in the middle of putting away keys, right? And then the TBI doesn’t allow you to remember their location!
“You guys are so smart.”
Four groans, Isn’t all that a hassle for your wife?
“It’s easier, actually … really cuts down mad scrambles and house-wide searches. Laura lovingly reinforces the patterns her husband sets.”
But you’ve got to do your part, notes One, and do it with intent.
“Right. That’s my commitment. Any other ‘alphabet soup’ questions?”
Postscript: Readers responded with horror to last week’s column about my brother Barry and his mermaid, Lisa Rollins, being left behind in the ocean. At night. With sharks.
Folks also asked about Lisa’s television debut on “Catching Hell” (The Weather Channel, Sundays 9pm). Their curiosity and kudos prompted my next bit, a compendium of “swats” the two competitive and seagoing divers have exchanged through the years …
Barry: Lisa absolutely outshot me in the SpearWars Spearfishing Tournament. Kicked my buns. I have agreed to attend therapy sessions, learning how to deal with her constant reminders of that day and the new “I shot way more fish than you” dance Lisa has developed. She has not been easy to live with since the totals have been made official.
Lisa: Don’t listen to Barry. While I may have kicked his buns, I haven’t done a “I shot way more fish than you” dance. It was more of a jig.
Barry: Yet again, Lisa has managed to stake claim to the biggest species of a speared fish in our house. Please tell me we are headed out again soon and that she is not invited. Have I also mentioned how increasingly hard she is to live with the more “titles” she wins? Sighhh. IF you want a photo, you will have to ask her for it. I am just too depressed…
Lisa: A wise man once said, “Spear a fish for a woman and she’ll eat for a day. Teach a woman to spear and she’ll outshoot you the rest of your life.”
Barry: Practicing my MMA choke holds now, Miss Mouthy!
Editor’s note: The final, and perhaps best, literary shot is an alleged legal letter from Barry’s own company (which hand makes superbly crafted spearguns) …
Blacktip Custom Spearguns LLC formally requests you return all your Blacktip weapons.
We received a complaint from one Barry Blackwell that you continually outshoot him and then do a happy dance while mocking him when you are topside. This is in violation of Page 2, paragraph 3, line 7 of your agreement with our company.
A handwritten apology has been requested by Barry as well.
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