Meme of the week: my clothes felt weird

I’ve been coming across so many good and insightful memes on topics concerning mental health, counselling, adhd, and all things psychology related, that I’ve decided to start producing “meme of the week” posts. Here’s the first:

I love this one, because in two short sentences, the author conveys a sense of some of the ways—there are many more—in which those of us with adhd experience sensory/perceptual overwhelm that might be surprising to neurotypical readers. And secondly, she points out that sensory/perceptual overwhelm causes emotional dysregulation, in this case irritability.

This tweet is funny. The idea that one’s clothes could feel weird is… weird and funny sounding. But there is a powerful bit of insight here: namely, that our emotions are fundamentally related to our moment by moment experience of the world. But let me be more precise here: our emotions are fundamentally related to our moment by moment experience of our world. It’s important to make the distinction between the world and our world, because the worlds of different people are… well… different.

How can I make this claim: i.e. that there’s no such thing as the world? The proof is contained in the two lines of the above tweet. The author is apologizing for snapping at the made-up recipient of the tweet. The apology is directed at a neurotypical who is confused by the irritation of the author. What the recipient of the tweet doesn’t know is that the author’s experiences of her world are different than their own. The recipient of the tweet didn’t notice the loudness of the radio. And certainly, the recipient didn’t know that the tag in the author’s shirt has been present and itchy the entire day, and that the shoulders don’t hang just right, and that those two features of the shirt have been present in the author’s perceptual field all day long. The recipient doesn’t understand that the loudness of the radio and the feeling of wearing an ill-fitting and itchy shirt has been a persistent irritant all day long. And because the author’s attention has been called to attending to the auditory overload and discomfort of her shirt, which is a kind of constant call to make sense of that discomfort or simply to bear its unpleasantness… she snapped at the recipient.

The point of this tweet is that the author, who has adhd, cannot not pay attention to these sensorial features of her world. And this incapacity to ignore these features of her world force her to engage in a kind of cognitive and emotional labour: namely, not walking around with her fingers stuck in her ears or not tearing the uncomfortable garment off her back. This deliberate not doing of something is part of the burden that folks with neurological differences are tasked with doing—or not doing—on a moment by moment basis for… our entire lives. And that is tedious and exhausting works and sometimes… it causes a person to snap.