What Me Worry?

by Chana Klein

If you are one of the fortunate ones to have ADHD, then you are likely to find yourself reviewing an event over and over in your mind. You may feel that you just can't let go of it, and may end up blowing it far out of proportion.

In the world of ADHD, the inability to stop those thoughts is known as rumination Ruminating is also described as hyperfocusing on negative thoughts. These negative thoughts create destructive chemicals in the brain which can turn into a spiral of adrenalin and fight or flight chemical build-up.

Having ADHD, I naturally have had a huge tendency to ruminate. I recall vividly what my rumination did to me many summers ago.

My son, Brett, was scheduled to go to camp for a month with his best friend Sam. Brett at 10 years old had recently come out of a period of years of being very ill. He had been on my mind almost every waking and even sleeping moment. During the previous 10-years, we did not know if he would make it even to this age and like a miracle, here he was ready to spend a few weeks in a sleep-away-camp, away from me and his father and his siblings.

He wanted to go. It was easier for us to make the decision to let him go because his best friend Sam (not the real name) would be going with him. It was perfect. He would go with a ready-made friend and therefore, I figured, he wouldn't be lonely or rejected as he had been so often during his years of illness. That had been so painful for me. I would often try to have a friend over for Brett when he was ill but he invariably would pass out and I would be left playing with the friend until his mother or father came to pick him up. When Brett recovered, he remembered the loneliness of not having friends.

So here he was going to camp. I was really fine with it; that is, until the 3rd day of camp, when I spoke to Sam's mother on the phone. She was so excited. She told me that Sam made a friend. How nice! For her - but what about Brett! If Sam is with his new friend, then who will Brett be with? Brett is probably alone and lonely now. I just knew it. I suffered. I ruminated. I had horror pictures of Brett being alone with no one to play with or talk to. How could Sam do this to him? To me? I thought about it all day as I was directing my own camp. I put up a strong front and I worked hard. But deep down I felt like crying. I felt for Brett in his loneliness. It became my own. I found myself unable to sleep for the rest of his stay in camp. I worried and worried and pictured his pain. I couldn't possibly think of any alternative state of affairs to Sam making a new friend. It had to be that Brett will be alone.

Finally, came the day that Mark, my ex, was picking Brett up from camp to come home. Mark was great. Instead of taking Brett home, he brought him straight to my day camp. I saw him as we were leaving the pool area. Brett looked wonderful - not a frown in sight. I was ecstatic. I asked him how it was. He said it was great and told me about the friends he had made. He was actually popular there. Brett had made friends. Brett had made his own friends. I did not even think of that possibility when I was ruminating and suffering. It did not occur to me that this could turn out okay. But it did. It turned out incredible - could not have been better.

It became clear what my brain does to me. Rumination is one of the things that I as an ADHDer excel at. I get a thought and I don't let go until it becomes an avalanche and I go over it and over it in my mind. I torture myself with my own thoughts.

I have had to learn to be careful not to let my imagination make up some awful scenario that causes me great stress. And when it does get the best of me, I think to myself that I cannot imagine the possibilities of a given situation. It can and most likely will turn out fine. I just have to let go and let it happen and not write a script of the whole story which I live through before it even happens.

ADHD does not go away and neither does my tendency to ruminate. I have learned though to not give those thoughts much credibility until I find out the whole, real story.

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