Thursday, January 10, 2019

ADHD Is Like a Cupcake

If you’re willing to do the work, your ADHD will come out of the oven like a batch of perfect cupcakes?

I have to agree with you. Comparing ADHD to cupcakes isn’t the best simile. What could I possibly mean? Am I saying that ADHD is covered in sickly, sweet frosting and helps you put on weight? Coping strategies for ADHD are most efficacious when baked at 325ºF? ADHD is best dealt with by spreading it thinly with a knife while gently twirling?

If only dealing with ADHD was so tasty!

Over the past few weeks I have encountered several guys who have ADHD like a sack of spilled marbles, but they don’t treat it. They won’t even acknowledge it. “Oh,” they’ll tell you. “I have ADHD,” but it’s used as an excuse to get out of responsibility. Knowing the medical reason why you stood in a long line at the grocery store only to discover that you left your wallet in the car so you went back to the car then discovered that you had the wallet with you after all does help. But you don’t push your way back to the front of the line and sheepishly say to the angry customers now behind you, “Sorry. I have ADHD.” Wait, you do? Okeh, let’s tackle this another way.

ADHD isn’t a blank check to excuse all your goof-ups. The diagnosis isn’t the treatment. Knowing the diagnosis is supposed to pave the way towards better mental health. Whether that treatment is a prescription for ADHD meds, cognitive behavior therapy, or a self-help book, the diagnosis is meant to guide you to a solution. If the doctor tells you that you have a broken leg, you don’t say “Thanks, Doc!” then crawl out of the office untreated. Wait. You do that, too? Wow, I’m not sure I can help you.

So, about those cupcakes.

My daughter celebrates her birthday on Christmas Day. I discovered (again) that she likes cupcakes, so I decided to make some double-stacked cupcakes for the party. I had never made them before, so I studied up on them and got to work. I didn’t have the equipment to pipe the frosting, so I had to spread it with a knife. I discovered rather quickly that spreading frosting with a knife murders cupcakes, may the first two rest in pieces. I stopped and thought about the problem, and decided to stick the cupcakes in the freezer. Then I pulled one out at a time, cut it in half, and carefully, fluidly, twirled it while spreading the warmed frosting. After the fifth cupcake (depicted above), they started looking edible. I did the best that I could, and finished the other eleven. By the end, I was spinning those puppies quickly as I pleased. They looked and tasted great. Better yet, they were a big hit with my daughter.

As I was looking over my photos recently, I saw the cupcake photos I posted online. It occurred to me that frosting those cupcakes was a lot of work, but with practice I became more skillful. It’s exactly like ADHD to me. Without skill and a proper approach to my ADHD, my life crumbles into a sticky mess. I have to analyze what’s going wrong, choose a solution, then act on it, just like I solved the crumbling cupcake problem. Then I get better at it each time.

Those guys I wrote of earlier don’t look at their life analytically. They make a sticky mess wherever they go, then blame it on ADHD. They don’t learn from their mistakes. We don’t have to live that way. If we educate ourselves, we can learn to work smarter.

Next time ADHD is making a mess of things in your life, don’t start blaming it. Pause for a moment and rethink the problem. ADHD may be chaos, but it also inspires. You’ll find the solution. Then practice at it. Coping strategies require work and dedication. It won’t be pretty, but in the end, you’re life will be a cupcake? You know, this simile just isn’t working for me.

Now, has anybody seen where I placed my wallet?