The hype of the holidays can be a great source of stress and anxiety for woman with ADHD in so many ways. For me, getting from Halloween to New Years Eve feels like running a marathon. Over the years, family gatherings with my dating partners have always been an exceptional challenge. I get anxious just reminiscing on the scenes of me embarrassing myself in front of big mama and cousin Johnnie or some other ridiculously important person I had to mingle with. Holiday get-togethers are unavoidable when growing and maintaining relationships. However, in these situations the symptoms of ADHD were and still can be brutal. When left unchecked, I’d often times end up presenting myself in a way that I didn’t want to be portrayed, or working hard to get through it rather than enjoying the festivities.
ADHD Limitations That Trip Me Up
There’s a common picture that comes to mind of a person bouncing off the walls and jumping around like a Hype Man at a lil’ Wayne Concert, when discussing about someone with ADHD. This does fit for some people. By adulthood, most ADHD’ers have learned to control the outward displays of hyper-activity. Most of the time I am able to contain my urges to dance around to the theme music in my head (most of the time…) The fight that wears me out even now, is the internal hyperactivity. The ADHD brain produces a host of ideas. Couple this trait with the unfiltered amount of information coming in all directions during a dinner party full of unfamiliar people, and there could be internal chaos. I remember times where I’d struggle to stay involved in conversations. I’d be gathering my thoughts to produce a lovely response to a great question in one conversation, when I’d hear an amazing conversation in the kitchen with my boo’s mama. With the sound of a chuckle, my mind would switch to planning how to leave the initial conversation politely so I can jump on over to the kitchen. At the same time I’m also wondering if each of them will like the gifts that I worked hard to select (and I’m recalling each of their gifts for the fifth time.) not getting much out of either conversation. When I’m in Full-on ADD mode, my mind feels like an amusement park. In those moments I am passionate about each thought; they share equal importance in the situation. Each thought fights for the forefront of my mind. Hence the “hyper-active” description.
A spin-off of the intense passion and enthusiasm that is hyperactivity, is my ever-present struggle with filtering the external information. I’ve always thought “attention-deficit” was a dumb way to convey what is actually going on with my ADHD mind. There is no “Deficit” in my attention abilities. In fact there is a surplus! I pay attention to EVERYTHING! I’ve always thought that If I could only hone that trait I’d make a bad-ass superhero. I still daydream at times about working with Storm as a side hustle. In my experience, hyperactivity and inattention are best friends. And as I mentioned, when they get together while my defenses are down, it can end in a S*&T SHOW. I want to know EVERYONE and be involved everywhere, but my mind struggles to be still long enough to get to know anyone or fully enjoy what’s happening.
- Working my Memory
At my worst, I would retreat from the debates over football teams that I’m supposed to know about, I would avoid cousin what’s his name because I was introduced to him like 3 times but his name just wouldn’t stick. I would ask the wrong questions about a bad divorce or call one of my boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriends by the wrong name.
“so you’re the new one huh?”
“when are you two gonna start having some babies to run around here?”
“what do you think about the Obama handshake?”
Have you ever been confronted with these types of questions? One of your new honey’s drunk uncles, or crabby Aunt Ebony or cousin Kareem visiting from MIT or Morehouse calls you out during an introduction or in the dining room in front of everyone, catching you off guard with questions meant to spark light conversation or to simply get a feel for the type of girl their son has brought home. Some days I would be on POINT!
“yes, Ma’am. I’m hoping he keeps me around longer than the last one!” “Girl, as soon as your kids are old enough to babysit for me!” “you know, wasn’t the point of a Mandela’s funeral about coming together to lay him to rest in peace?! I think the Media is focusing on the wrong D@$n Thing…”
A Woman is supposed to be able to gossip about Ms. Minnie down the street, talk about what’s going on in today’s economy and what’s happening on the latest Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta episode, with ease. But It’s a constant grind for my mind to sort and organize the information that comes in and what goes out and when. Yes, some holidays I would get it right. I would think swiftly on my feet and impress the room with my beauty, wit and charm. However,There have been a few parties where I would miss the mark. For reasons beyond my understanding, I would search for the right words to say, only for the words to show up after the party was over. I’d lay in my bed, defeated and thinking of things I should have said. I hate it when that happens. It happens to us all. But again, The severity and the extent to which it will ruin a good time is key. I couldn’t control the symptoms. Sometimes the slip-ups and missteps were enough to make me withdraw from the festivities. It was just too much work and I was too embarrassed to try to fix things. How can you fix something if you have no idea how or what’s broken. Coming to terms with My ADHD helped me bridge that gap.
Admitting you have a problem is the first step to fixing said problem…MESSAGE!!
5 Tips Will Help You Shine This Holiday
Now that you have a feel for how some of the symptoms of my ADHD challenge me, here are some things I keep in mind that have helped me keep it together when I hang out with My Mr. Hottie and his kin folk:
1. Use your Intuition
A valuable trait that I attribute to my ADHD is my intuition. I’m sure it has a lot to do with my ability take in all the things that the average person would dismiss. When I’ve set out to use that trait to bond with a skeptical sister or the man of the house, I have been able to make connections that help me stand out from the other prospects that my man has brought home in the past. Once I faced reality an confronted my limitations and strengths, I was able to decipher how I could flip that surplus of attention and use it for good (maybe I do think I’m a Super Hero.) I began to get real good at sensing the feelings and emotions of others over time. This trait can help you touch someone’s heart and make you an unforgettable catch.
2. Embrace your introvert
It’s easy to be thrown off-balance by ADHD symptoms. Due to the inconsistent nature of the condition, it can be kind of like keeping a kite in the air on a windy day. The temperature of the room, or an awkward exchange of eye contact could cause me to be overly sensitive the rest of the night. a small blunder, can begin a downward spiral that lands me in a state of withdrawal from the gathering. This could result in me missing out on some great conversation and good times with some really cool people. My solution to this is JUST GO WITH IT! When you are feeling pensive and thoughtful, instead of trying to snap out of it, accept that introverted nature. Don’t get lost in the crowd during that pre-dinner mingling, or withdraw and resort to hanging out with the negative voice in your head. Seek out kindred spirits and take it one quiet moment at a time. If you catch uncle bobby sitting on a far off couch watching football game, ask to join him so you check how the game is progressing. If the lady of the house is in the dining room offering the final touches on place settings, jump in and help. And don’t pressure yourself into coming up with some phenomenal conversation. Words aren’t always needed in a house full of noise.
3. Impress with your Extrovert
On the flip side, there are times when the opposite is true, and I feel like turning UP! My energy and enthusiasm are a couple of star qualities. If the party seems low-key and you are feeling like the ONLY one that’s merry and bright, use the opportunity to work the room and spread your cheer. Don’t be afraid to show your Man’s family why he chose to bring you home this holiday! My quirky personality has placed many a smiles on sullen faces after I’ve decided just to let loose and forget about what others may think of me. Now don’t forget tip #1!Intuition is key. knowing when you are going too far or being a bit too over the top with the turn up is a skill to be mastered. Check yourself, and don’t be ashamed to use your Boo as your check-in buddy. Make sure to assign him to that job before you let loose.
4. The “Pineapples” tactic
Kevin Hart has a joke that he tells in his stand up comedy film “I’m a grown little Man” about the safe word “pineapples” that he used with his former wife during sex. My husband and I haven’t come up with a safe word for our sex life as of yet. However, we do have one for when one of us finds ourselves in a situation where we need to retreat. I’m not going to tell you what that word is, because that will defeat the purpose. I will tell you that it has become a cornerstone for my holiday hustle. This can be a difficult tactic to implement if you are still in the dark about your condition and how it affects you and if you and your man aren’t on the same page about your needs. On the flip side of that, the “pineapple” tactic could be a way to spark conversation surrounding your condition and a test to see how well he’s going to handle the unique responsibilities that come with all that you are (Wink!) This one has been a special bonding experience for my hubby and I during the holidays. It can be used to pull away for moments of reflection or even just a check-in; and it’s a cute little secret between the two of us.
5. Don’t take yourself too seriously
Finally, It’s important to RELAX! He chose you. regardless of your situation with your mate, the two of you chose to spend the holidays in each other’s company and he chose to make you a part of that family time.
This is a big deal; however, the deal is done. You are his lady. You are his chosen guest. Being all of yourself is probably what got you here, so what you’ve got must be working!
When I’m feeling awkward in the moment I try to keep a mantra like this streaming through my mental amusement park; especially if I start feeling anxious or out of place. Mental check-ins are essential.
I plan to put these tips to work again this Christmas with my Detroit in-laws. I know these tips will keep me grounded and present so I can enjoy spending time with them.This will be the first holiday dinner where I’m out about my ADHD so I will keep you posted on how that goes. Leave a comment below and t ell me how you survive holiday dinners and parties with your boo and his folks! I’d love some fresh ideas 🙂