Is it a 1 or a 5? Dealing with Emotional Dysregulation and ADHD.

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Me, because the hairy one left a shoe somewhere that I bumped into it

Sometimes.  Not a lot obviously, but sometimes, I have been known to “overreact”.

Fun thing with ADHD (like there weren’t enough with the increased premature death rates, and the losing Everything Ever Owned™) is this thing called Emotional Dysregulation.

What is this joy of which you speak, oh blogging one?

Well boys and girls, it means that our emotions tend to be, to use the technical term, batfuck crazy.

“Normal” people, the neurologically typical (NT) have emotions in steps.  They go up one at a time from steady, to a bit upset, to a bit more upset etc.  With ADHD and emotional dysregulation, we can do the one at a time steps, but as a general rule, we tend to leap/fall from step one to step five.

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So what does this mean in the real world?

Pretty much everything is very intense, and kinda exhausting.

Say you hear someone on the school run comment that your child always wears odd socks.  NT emotions – you’re maybe a bit miffed that they noticed.  Think to yourself maybe you might get some pairs up together.  Then carry on with your day.

With ED (not erectile dysfunction, we’re on emotions here people), we bump that up some levels.  That parent is judging your ability to be a good mother.  They think that you are neglecting your child.  The reason she doesn’t get invited to people’s houses is because they know that YOU are the failing parent and they are scared you might offer to take their child.  You spent the rest of the day worrying about the fact that your child will never have a close friendship or good socialisation skills because you can’t get your shit together long enough to ball some socks together.  You get home, desperately wanting to fix All The Clothes, but you’re exhausted from worrying all day, so you nap.

With children and emotions, it is similar.  You told them off for leaving their shoes in the hallway AGAIN. They dissolve into tears.  FGS kid, pull it together, it was just your shoes!  Stop trying to make me feel guilty for telling you off.  Within 5 minutes you have forgotten all about the shoes.

But to them, they have jumped to step 5.  It isn’t that you told them off about the shoes.  It is that they have let you down again.  You will never love them as much as a child who can put away their shoes.  You will remember this forever and every time you look at them you will see a disgrace of a child.

That’s just one example obviously, but it works for most things.  When your child comes out of school saying that she had the worst day and all her friends hate her, to her it was that day. Reality was probably more that her friend wanted to play with someone else for afternoon play, but to her, she believes that she is hated.

There IS a good side to this though.  Picture positive emotions.

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We went to a hotel last week, and I was genuinely excited by how the blinds moved.  Full proper excitement.  You don’t get that so often when you go up in increments of one.

Love.  When we fall, we fall hard.  It is terrifying, but also incredible.

Caring.  If we want to be caring, we go all out.

So it isn’t all bad.

Bear with us.  If you have one of my people in your life, or if you are one of my people – remind them about the levels.  When you see them getting “over” upset or angry, ask them (gently) if it is a 5 or actually a 1.  (If it is anger, maybe wait until the main burst is over).  If you feel yourself getting intensely emotional, try to ask yourself – is it really a 5?

It isn’t always a 1 to 5 leap.  We like to mix things up, so can do 1 step increments too.  But it often is, and it is as confusing and distressing for us as it may be for you.  Also remember, for adult women, this dysregulation also gets mixed in with the normal hormonal emotional changes such as PMT.  That can feel like going straight to 10.

Emotions turning on a pin, emotions heightened so much – it is exhausting.  It is draining. It is not intentional though, and for us, every emotion felt is very real and very valid.

 

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: What is…. Emotional Dysregulation? | Organising Drunk Squirrels

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