I think the concept of being emotionless is a common one for those of us with ADHD. There is a very real and specific moment, where I can physically feel the catchment of emotional energy empty, and I’m left with nothing but a flatness. There’s no joy, pain, or any ability to react. The dead days, or nights, where you feel as good as dead because nothing in the world gives you any sense of… Anything. There’s nothing and it’s hard to imagine there will be again.
It’s as if a plug is pulled from a sink full of water. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. This deadness can be our most industrious time or it can be our most useless – and it’ll change from one experience to the next.
Something inevitably fills the sink again, usually positive proof, compassion, or feeling safe. Waiting for it is both torture and insignificant to us all at once. We will fight negativity like there is no second chance, at any cost and with complete awareness of potential impending loss. But we don’t care either way, In that dead place.
In that way it can be our most effective time to communicate or confront those things we haven’t been brave enough to face. But it can also be the time we are the most pessimistic about ourselves.
We don’t tend to make assumptions about the future, people or events but we are adept at planning for, exploring and being prepared for failure. We know failure like we know our faces. We are worst at self-pessimistic attitudes in this dead flatness.
These are the times when real death looks appealing, purely because it isn’t eliciting any emotional reaction. We don’t fear it, desire it, or anything in between. It’s just another option and with our chemically enforced pessimism regarding our ability to go back to emotionality, to happy, to motivated – it’s as good an option as any.
It’s different to suicidalism as response to depression. It’s not to escape pain, and it’s not due to being overwhelmed. It’s like yielding to the flatness, giving in and accepting that it’s not that different, to not give a shit about anything enough to see any point to continuing the struggle of being us for another day.
Most of us think about it in this state of mind without being at risk of acting on it. Most of us wouldn’t be upset if we weren’t to wake the next day, but we don’t desire it specifically. We just don’t care if we live or die, in that moment of nothingness. It doesn’t matter.
It’s an odd place to be. It can be good, bad or indifferent with regard to what these moments may give us overall. Sometimes there are great answers, or great questions. Sometimes it’s welcome respite to the sensitive intensity of how we feel our way through the world. Sometimes it’s just an annoyance that gets in the way. More often than not it occurs in response to a negative experience or feeling that strikes us out of the blue, knocking us off ultra-happy. It’s like we fall down from happy, face plant on devastation, but bounce back only as far as flat. Then, we wait.
It’s this moment we need our champions the most. The cheerleader recommended for ADHD sufferers. But what if there isn’t one? What if they are the cause of the fall? Well to the latter, it doesn’t matter. If they give us the support, compassion and safety we come back, get over it, move on.
The former is much harder. We expose ourselves to outside influences looking for anything that might wake us up again. If we have medication, we take it and it can be easier to overcome – but making medication, whether prescribed or unofficial (drugs, sex, alcohol) our cheerleader is at best high-risk.
The need for human champions is enormous just to give us a chance. Not having that looks like an eternal damnation at times. Without them we risk safety.
But many people aren’t prepared to offer themselves as our cheerleader. Saving us from death, addiction, disaster isn’t really understood and either the sense of responsibility in that is too heavy, or even our significant others don’t consider those things their role.
But in partnering an ADHD sufferer, it is your role. The choice is in whether to partner at all, not whether to champion.
But for now we return to the deadness and wait. And wait.