War of the Worlds: Rules When You Have ADHD and ASD

Image courtesy lil arab @sweatyhairy2

Today, I’m talking about the trouble with rules when you have both ADHD and ASD. A good example of what this looks like occurred early in my college career (2016…ish) when I took a creative writing class. It was what’s known as a “survey class” and covered all genres: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. We started with poetry and when we discussed e.e. cummings, I confessed to having some, let’s call them, “issues”. Basically, I hated cummings because he didn’t follow the rules. I even wrote a poem about his flouting of poetic convention:

rules? CUMMINGS cared not.
punctuation? CAPS? Ignored
or tossed in wherever he pleased.

words? LET
‘s ch
opthe m up
then re
arra
NGE thEM
howeverwedamnwellplease

Now,once I figured out what he was doing, cummings became one of my favorite poets. But, at that point, his style drove me crazy. Not just because of an overwhelming need for the rules to be followed but also because I hate following the rules. In that same poem, I also said:

the anarchist who lives
deep in my soul finds all
this a pure delight the
grammar nazi in my head
wants to kill it with fire

And, that second stanza sums up the situation perfectly. Part of me loves following rules, and the other part absolutely hates it

War of the Worlds… Inside My Head

My life is really a constant battle between the ADHD and ASD that is so much a part of me. Like, my autism says, “Please follow all the rules so we know exactly what to expect at all times,” while my ADHD says, “FUCK the rules! I’m spontaneous, bitch.” I would say it makes things interesting but that undersells its effect so fucking much it’s not funny. I won’t say it’s “bad” but I wouldn’t exactly call that shit “good” either.

Getting Shit Done Is Not Easy

Imagine spending every day, hell every goddamn waking hour, with an argument raging in your head. There are times when I wonder how I can get any fucking thing done with this push/pull bullshit going on. Sometimes I don’t get anything done and I feel like shit. I tell myself that it’s just Richard (the nickname for my Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria) being his usual dickish self, but that doesn’t stop the whole “I’m a goddamn failure” narrative that plays on a loop in the random collection of shit (pocket lint, a paperclip, a marble, and a penny— some of you will get this without clicking and you’re my favorites) that I call a brain. Fortunately, due to my ADHD, a “squirrel” moment will come along and distract me fairly quick.

But, It’s Not All Bad

Like everything about my neurodivergence, it’s not all bad. I can’t point to a specific instance, but I’m pretty sure this insane clusterfuck of thought processes may actually contribute to my creativity. I don’t know about you folks, but for me, a good argument can often lead to a new idea. And, I’ve found workarounds for this shit show I call “thinking”. One comes from another creative writing professor who said, “You need to learn the rules so you can break them in the right way.” That appeals to both of the fractious cockwaffles inside my head and allows me to get some shit done even if I don’t break any rules. Or follow them. Whatever it takes, you know?

It Does Create Some Issues. But, I Can Live With That… Maybe

More than once I’ve spoken on this blog about how my neurodivergence doesn’t cause me problems; it’s the way this world reacts to my neurodivergence causes me problems. And, that’s true… to a point. Because, as I’ve already mentioned, this shit does create issues. And, if I’m being honest, that whole “it’s not all bad” thing may just be me trying to find something good in this shitastrophe I’m describing. Is that stupid? Probably. But that’s how it works when you’re an optimist, even a cockeyed one. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there are a few rules I need to obsess over lest I actually get something done.