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February 20, 2009 @ 3:13 pm

Hope & Self Castigation

This entry will be a bit more personal than most, but I just have a feeling it might be helpful to someone if I share.
  1. I’ve told my therapist on several occasions that I often feel like a fool after each time I’ve let myself hope again.  Turns out, it’s not so uncommon for adults with ADD to feel that way.  Who knew.  In my experience, depression is the complete loss of hope, the loss of ability to believe things can be better, or of even caring whether they can or what it would take to make it happen.  Around the time my last ex and I met, he’d made a list of things he found important, and he ranked hope above love.  He said, “A person can live without love, but if you don’t have hope, there’s no reason to get out of bed in the morning.”
  2. Even though my IQ is in the 99th percentile and I never doubted, logically, that I’m smart, I’ve had times when I’ve mentally hit myself in the head (ok, yeah, sometimes not just mentally) and told myself I’m stupidstupidstupid.  It’s damned hard not to feel stupid, sometimes, if one has a hard time focusing on what’s important and a track record of screwing things up.  Things that most people would consider pretty basic stuff.

They go together, the lack-of-hope and self-castigation.  At least they do for me.  I haven’t yet gotten the hang of not losing my hold on hope periodically, but I’m getting to be better at not beating myself up over it.  As badly, anyway.  Or as frequently.

On a forum I belong to, someone brought up the topic of the Inner Critic.  This person wasn’t referring to merely an inner guide, like one’s conscience, but that chastising type of inner critic, the type that constantly criticizes, belittles, and berates.  I commented that I’ve dealt with an inner critic for so long that I didn’t think it was possible to change.  And really, it hadn’t dawned on me that I deserved to stop being hounded by that critic, since I actually thought the critic was right.  My therapist has been commenting for a long time now about how mean I am to myself.  When she first began to say that, I thought she was living in la-la land. Seriously.  I really thought that being kinder to myself equated to rewarding myself for screwing up, being stupid, etc.

I had a dream last May, close to a year after I started therapy, about a little girl who is playing with a marble game and she drops the marbles on the floor, and this crabby old man, who in the dream was supposed to be her grandfather, is yelling at her and hitting her for “losing her marbles”.  That was the beginning of the turning point for me, I think, to be able to see a little more clearly what I’d been doing for so long.

My therapist and I have been working on this for going on two years, now, and I’ve been noticing subtle changes all along, but the biggest changes have occurred since the ADD diagnosis.  It’s not stupidity, or laziness, or a character flaw (though I haven’t completely stopped having those moments when I still think it is any or all of those things).  It’s been a new concept for me, to consider that it’s merely an obstacle.  Obstacles can be overcome, and in fits and spurts, I have made a good deal of progress in the last several weeks, as I learn that I can, and that it’s easier to develop different habits and learn new ways of doing things if I’m not flogging myself at the same time.

The critic is starting to become more like that annoying, perpetually negative person everyone knows and mostly ignores.  You know the one?

One Comment

  1. Comment by kerro:

    Tamp, I think you’re doing an amazing job tackling your inner critic. Well done! 🙂

Thoughts?

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