by Jane Gallagher
April 2016 (Volume 66, Issue 3)
I opened the refrigerator yesterday in my kitchen: a waft of that “bad fridge smell” came hurtling into my nose, and I started to gag. Automatically I thought, What gross dinner is my mom cooking tonight? Or, why did my dad leave some gross, ewwy-gooey Indian food in here for weeks? Never once did I think it was my fault. At least not until my mother yelled at me to take the rotten cheese burger out of the fridge that I promised to eat last week. That frustrated me. I was completely crabbed by this whole event, not because I was the guilty suspect that smelled up the fridge. Neither was it because I blamed my parents first–which should be the reason–it was because I did it again. Again. I went out of my way to ask my parents to go out to eat, where I didn’t even take a second bite of my cheeseburger before I claimed I was full and slowly picked at my french fries until my parents finished their rushed meal due to their unpredictable teenager. I took the cheeseburger home, promising my parents that I would finish it the next day. Obviously, I totally forgot about my meal and found it a week later, after it smelled up the whole fridge. I was not upset because I can sometimes be forgetful; I was upset because I always forget things that are important, regardless of how hard I try.
I know the underlying cause of this smelly fridge pattern is due to my ADHD. ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, is a common yet difficult-to-deal-with disorder. A person who is diagnosed with ADHD tends to make lists, forget things, and can’t stay still. These symptoms sound normal; however, with ADHD these things come in excess. Every day I make a list in my assignment notebook of all the things I have to do after school, then another list of all those things in order, with how long each should take, then I scratch that one out and make a better one because I changed my mind on how important it is to pick up the clothes from the dry cleaners. I constantly forget what day it is and get ready for work on a Tuesday when I actually work Mondays, forget to text my friends back, forget to apply for new jobs, forget to take my socks off in the shower and before I go swimming. Oh, and the whole “forgot where I put my phone and/or wallet” problem a lot of us face? That happens at least five times a day for me.
I never finish my meal at restaurants because I cannot sit still in an uncomfortable booth and eat straight through with no distractions. By the time I put my untouched meal in the fridge, I forget all about going out to dinner because there are a million other random things floating through my head: Who are those people on the holiday card on my refrigerator door? When should I start my homework? Do people in Alaska like to vote in presidential elections? And the worst part it is, I always forget about my mistakes, thus forgetting what the mistakes were and being too distracted by the rest of my life to learn from them. So, being annoyed about a smelly refrigerator can be more aggravating than it seems. This old, moldy, bit-into cheeseburger bites into my life every time I open the fridge and makes me forget to get things done, makes me anxious when things I plan don’t happen the way they should, and makes me irritated during class lectures.
Hopefully next time I let myself open a funky, reeking refrigerator, I will be reminded to work on all these things or…I wonder what my cat is doing right now.