** My reflection on emotions as an Inattentive ADHDer**
I read an article this morning about a follow-up study which confirmed the former study. And I thought about a video featuring Dr. Russell Barkley in which he stated that emotions ought to be a diagnostic component.
The article about the study seems to me to imply a dichotomy, that either a person is Inattentive OR they have Emotional Dysregulation, which is an EITHER-OR split. This seems to be proposed as a replacement for a Inattentive/Hyperactive-Impulsive duality, which allows for overlap resulting in the Combined presentation.
I believe Dr. Barkley’s take on it is that there should be diagnostic criteria which address the emotional traits of ADHD. Emotional dysregulation often accompanies Hyperactive-Impulsive.
My emotional traits, and why I think they contribute to Anxiety.
I definitely have the Inattentive presentation ONLY. I’m a “still waters run deep” kind of personality. I’m definitely not hyperactive, or impulsive, or prone to emotional lability (which I understand to mean “rapidly-changing emotions”).
- For example, when I made an “impulsive” purchase recently (a Black and Decker string trimmer “weed eater” I just bought, which my wife insisted that I return), it was after months of pondering and days of research (availability, customer ratings & price comparison). It wasn’t impulsive; I just kept it too myself until I made the well-thought-out decision that it was better to have a weed eater than to not have one.
- When I have an emotional outburst, it is a “straw that broke the camel’s back” moment, the culmination of built up emotion, not a rapid change of emotion.
I don’t experience one emotion at a time. I experience many emotions simultaneously, at different intensities and different depths, all the time. The emotion that I’m exhibiting at any given time has almost certainly been there under the surface for a long, long time. It comes to the surface for some good reason, such as:
As a response to external conditions. e.g. Being happy and excited at a child’s birthday party, when I seemed serious the whole time they I was preparing for it. But in fact, I was excited with anticipation the whole time they I was preparing for it… I can finally show those emotions, because the conditions are right. (Meanwhile, the anxious planner is just under the surface, ready to appear in response to any issues popping up.)
- Or when an emotion has built to critical mass, such that I can’t hold it back any longer. e.g. The one time in 27 years of working that I “blew up”, which was from pressure that had been building up for about 8 months of getting the 3-way run-around between my boss, his boss, and HR.
The exception to this is in response to a sudden event: e.g. a car accident, a child getting hurt, an unexpected loud & sharp sound which triggers my startle response. This, of course, is a natural human response.
I experience every type of emotion that I can imagine exists. I do have the ability to tamp down many negative emotions. Happiness and worry show plainly on my face at the moment they are felt (I can’t hide those particular emotions, unless a stronger emotion surfaces).
My thoughts on the emotional traits of Inattentive ADHD
Co-morbidities such as anxiety or depression might be naturally occurring in some individuals, being as inborn as their ADHD or their eye color. However, I think that other individuals develop anxiety or depression in response to a long-term buildup of emotion.
I don’t live with anxiety all the time, but I think I’ve experienced it many times in my life because I feel my emotions very deeply, and I internalize so much.
- Resolving the cause of my emotions helps me to process them (even if the only resolution is an acknowledgement, when an apology or correction isn’t possible).
- I often “take things personally” when neurotypical people would not think it is appropriate to do so. (Ironically, one sure-fire way to get me to take something personally is to say to me “don’t take it personally”! I think many people are the same way, simply because of the mental priming of saying the phrase.)
Emotional memory triggers
I have a better memory of how something made me feel than I do of the details of the event. I have trouble remembering names, the specific things said in a conversation (though I’ll recall basically what it was about), colors or most physical details. But years later, if you mention a particular event, I can recall how it made me feel.
Also, an emotional trigger can bring up memories of dissimilar events, simply because I experienced the same emotion.