W hat if ADHD really was a gift but the government insisted that there be a warning label attached to “the gift” much like the warning label on a pack of cigarettes? What would the label say? “Warning: Contents May Cause Explosive Anger” or “Warning: Contents May Cause Sexual Promiscuity” or “Warning: Contents May Cause Self-Destructive Addictive Behaviors.” The problem is that there are so many things that the label could say that, well, you’d have to receive a lot of these gifts in order to go through the whole list. Maybe it makes more sense that the label not be a “label,” that is, not be composed of words but, instead, it should be a universal, easily recognizable symbol.
Everyone recognizes the biohazard symbol and as soon as you see it you know that there’s something dangerous lurking inside. So I began to wonder, what would be the appropriate symbol to place on the Gift of ADHD?
The Skull and Cross-Bones came to mind since it’s known as a symbol for poison. Children learn at an early age that when you see this symbol it means that there is something very bad inside or that there be pirates a-comin’ their way. In either case, danger lurks ahead. But this didn’t seem quite right to me. Sure, there’s nothing good to be said about ADHD but labeling it a pure poison wasn’t quite right. This symbol did not take into account the fluidity of ADHD, the way the ADHDer can go from angel to demon and back again.
A sine wave, or perhaps some form of wave, might be a better symbol for ADHD. It takes into account the passage of time while changing its shape over time. Its polarity changes from negative to positive and back again. But which waveform should be used? The sine wave is too smooth and could not account for split-second changes from happy (or indifferent) to angry. Maybe the sawtooth is the right one but then it assumes a smooth ascent and rapid drop. Maybe the square? Maybe all of the waves at the same time? That could be confusing.
The yin yang seemed like the most obvious candidate. According to Wikipedia, “Yin yang are not opposing forces (dualities), but complementary opposites that interact within a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system. Everything has both yin and yang aspects as light cannot exist without darkness and vice-versa, but either of these aspects may manifest more strongly in particular objects, and may ebb or flow over time.” This makes sense. As any ADHDer can attest, ADHD feels like different forces inside vying for control and dominance and, as noted by the dots, when one force is dominant the other is still present. Still I felt that something was missing. Where was the poisonous aspect of ADHD? After following this line of thought I hit on my “Aha!” moment.
My proposed warning label for the Gift of ADHD
(Yin Yang Skull image source: http://www.clker.com/clipart-141165.html)