Today we had to drive to Temple for Justin's great aunt Alma's funeral. She lived to be 105 years old! I met her once, on her 100th birthday, and I remember her being very sweet and amazingly energetic.
No matter what the family event is, Justin gets worked up about it. He starts fretting about it as soon as he hears that he has to be somewhere on a certain day and at a certain time. He doesn't want to engage in small talk and he doesn't want to be on anyone's schedule but his own. Justin's mom and I decided we should go to lunch first. It seems logical since we will need to eat at some point and it is a day of a funeral. Shouldn't you eat with your family? When I told Justin of the plans, he gets heated up. You can see his muscles start to tense. In his mind I know he is thinking, "but that wasn't the plan!" He says ,"That's fine, but I am not okay with it." My heart sinks. I know what is coming. I forgot to mention that I told him this in the morning, a few minutes after he woke up and before he has had a heavy meal in his tummy. Beware of this hangry man! This is the worst time to talk to him, but I really had no choice, because we had to leave the house at a certain time and he needed to be aware of that. "I was just planning to drive to the funeral and right back home. That's what I planned." He says with irritation in his voice. I say, "Well this is a family day and the rest of us want to eat together. If you do not want to, then you can drive separately," I reply. It has taken me years to get to this point of accepting his anxieties and being okay with giving him another choice. He proceeds to bash the place we picked for lunch because it will be crowded and we will never eat. In his mind, he is setting himself up for a horrible day that hasn't even happened. There are still some days that his negativity will get to me and bring me down with irritation and resentment, but most of the time, like today, I stand firm in my optimistic ways. I explained to him that he is throwing himself into fight or flight mode by just thinking of a future experience of torment that is not real in this moment and may never be real in any moment. He is creating stress about a situation that isn't happening. His brain doesn't know the difference between a real situation and something being visualized. I think he is understanding, but it's clear his anxiety is taking over. We proceed with the plan to eat on the way to the funeral. It starts to pour down rain as we are getting ready to leave. Oh boy. This is another hiccup in the day for him to use to create more anxiety. He is really starting to stress now. "We are definitely going to be late and there is no way we will have time to eat." It is 11:00 am and the funeral is at 3:00 pm. I remind him that we have time. Once the rain slows down we get in the car and go. There is no traffic and we get to the restaurant only fifteen minutes later than planned. Hallelujah! We only had to wait a few minutes for a table. Phew! I really feel that me keeping my positive vibe about everything, despite all of his anxiety has brought us here without a glitch.
During lunch Millie said something that was really meaningful to all of this. As she was eating her pancakes she said, "This is the best day ever!" She was really happy to be with her parents and grandparents and eating her favorite food. Most of all, I think she was feeling the joy coming from her Dad as he became less stressed.
We made it to the funeral thirty minutes early. The service was over quickly and we left. That night Justin said he was extremely exhausted. I told him that all that anxiety he had during the first part of the day has drained him. His body was tensing up just thinking about a situation that never happened. The day went smoothly and there was no reason for all the stress! He seemed to see my point.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America about 50 percent of adults with ADHD have an anxiety disorder and this can cause an impaired ability to function. People with ADHD get overwhelmed easily and I see this very often with Justin. I have to remind myself everyday that he has a disorder and to be patient with him. It is a constant struggle. At the end of the day, I do truly feel that I am here to teach him to look at the world with more light and positivity and he is here to help me develop more patience and understanding. I hope that my way of living life and controlling my own anxiety will eventually make a difference for him. All I can do is continue being that positive voice for him so that he is reminded that everyday life events can be simpler than he is making them. Life is here for us to enjoy, grow and learn in whatever situation God has given us. I pray for him to experience the light and simplicity of this amazing life.