Friday, June 22, 2018

ADHD Jumps in Reasoning - When I'm Like Kanye West

Kanye West, dancing through controversy

I’m sitting here typing deep in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, east of Spanish Fork, and cut off from the internet. I came along to be on hand for my daughter’s girls camp just in case she had a seizure. I don’t have much to do except keep myself busy. I’ve finished a journal. Wrote three articles for submission to a magazine. Practiced my pennywhistle and ocarina daily. Exercised. Went for a hike in the mountains and got lost. Followed a path that became, I assume, a deer trail. Followed the trail deep into the thicket all the way to an animal den. Didn’t get eaten. Made my way back. I plan on writing a few blog entries to get ahead. I want to work out a Middle Grade non-fiction idea for submission to an editor. I may start revising my current novel with the feedback I received from WIFYR last week. And now I’m thinking about Kanye West and that brouhaha from a few weeks back.

I wonder if people need to be trained in understanding metaphor. I listened to Kanye’s interview. I heard him spark to what the interviewer was saying. You could almost see him pick a seed of thought from what the other guy was saying. I then heard Kanye wax philosophical about slavery as a state of mind. I understood what he was trying to say. I followed along. I know a lot of people on my social media timelines got what he was saying. Then I watched the aftermath. Many people were like the interviewers. They were horrified by his comments. Somebody on my Facebook timeline was so angry about this interview that they spent hours ranting about Kanye. They even called Kanye an Uncle Tom, which for a white person is quite the trick. When people are that angry, it’s hard to reason with them. They don’t want to be told that they’ve misunderstood a metaphor, or that he didn’t intend to imply what they think he implied. They certainly don’t want to be told to calm down. They want to brand the flaming pitchfork of justice over their heads and drive the offender out of town.

I have been in Kanye’s position so many times on different subjects in my life. I won’t deign to diagnose Kanye, but I can tell you that ADHD has fueled many a misunderstanding on my part. I think the culprit is that ADHD tendency to let words fly when emotions surge. Many adults with ADHD get so excited about a concept that we forget to explain ourselves. We skip all the steps that led us to our point of view and just blurt out the conclusion, then get surprised when people can’t follow along. I do this all the time. It is one reason why I prefer to write than talk. With writing, I can catch those jumps in reasoning. When talking or texting, the words leap out and do their damage. People judge you by what you say, not what you intend. I have this problem with social media, too.

I haven’t had any misunderstanding on the national scale like Kanye West just experienced, but I’ve lost friendships. While it may be true that some people look for things to be offended about, I’ve also put my foot in my mouth, and then kept shoving that foot all the way into my stomach. Here’s how I have reduced those incidents greatly:

  1. I don’t do social media on bad neurological days. It’s just asking for trouble. That means I won’t tweet if I’m ticking (Tourettes), but I also avoid social media if I’m particularly foggy headed from ADHD.
  2. If I want to weigh in on a political or social issue, I will often open up a text document to type out my thoughts before posting online. The small social media text windows can obscure text if the entry is too long. I need to see the whole entry to make sure I’m connecting the dots in my reasoning.
  3. Refrain from engaging with people when you are upset. ADHD tends to add intensity to much of what we do. Interacting with people when we are upset just makes them misinterpret everything we say as an attack.
  4. Related to No. 3, when passionate about a particular topic, train yourself to slow your breathing down. Every time I confuse or overwhelm people, I haven’t been slowing down my breathing. This is a hard one to learn, but I can assure you that the effort is worth it. I have far more stable relationships with people now than I did even five years ago, and I attribute it in part to slowing down when talking to people. Breathe slowly!
  5. Choose your audience carefully. Some friends will love you no matter how much you bounce all over the conversation. Not everybody will have the same patience or understanding. You might have a great point to make, but if you chose the wrong venue or timing, your point will be lost in the blunder.

ADHD can be a hot kettle of passion, but if we aren’t careful, we will scald more people than serve tea. With practice and determination, though, we can implement coping strategies to help ourselves manage our minds better. Or we can embrace our unfiltered genius and blaze across our social landscapes like an incandescent ball of glory. As we come crashing to the ground, leaving a crater and debris in our wake, we shouldn’t be too surprised if some people are too focused on our delivery than on the point we were trying to make.

If you’d like to learn more about ADHD, you should read my articles. I’ve written quite a few.