Let me start by introducing you to my beaver.
No, not that beaver. Pervert. This beaver lives in my head and his name is OCD. Yeah, as in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. There is a lot that people don’t tend to know about beavers. Most know that they are hard working and forever active on “making things work.” But most don’t know that they also have issues with running water. That’s right. When a beaver hears running water, it is compelled to build a dam. The water must not flow. Period. Running water is bad. Why? Because the beaver’s brain says so. That’s right, beavers have OCD. And I have an OCD beaver in my head.
Now, let me introduce you to my ADHD, as in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It’s the high energy, unpredictable squirrel that runs around and throws nuts at random strangers. You know the kamikaze guy that bolts across the road, stops when he sees the car, starts to turn back then says “ah $&%@ it!” and decides to cross even though a giant metallic death machine bears down upon him? Yeah, that’s a squirrel. It doesn’t think things through and has enough energy that it seems like there are a dozen squirrels. That’s right, squirrels have ADHD. Same is the ADHD squirrel in my head.
Now these two are both rodents, but they never get along. Most days, the OCD beaver has the ADHD squirrel on a choke collar and barks out mom style commands such as “Don’t touch that!” and “No licking!” Yeah, you don’t want to know how many times the second one comes up. But every now and then, the ADHD squirrel gets out and goes on a joy ride. It invites other squirrels over and they have themselves a squirrel rave. The OCD beaver runs about crapping himself into a panic while one squirrel jumps from the fridge into the arms of a second squirrel waiting on the table…
At the core of their conflict? Structure. The OCD beaver wants it. A lot of it. All the time. And the ADHD squirrel wants nothing to do with it. Dams are all about order and bringing the water into a state of calm. But the ADHD squirrel would rather have those unpredictable rapids. Or maybe just a jet pack and a cliff to jump from. Hard to say with the ADHD squirrel. So, the OCD beaver is always trying to bring the ADHD squirrel into the world of rules and order. And the ADHD squirrel wants things to be spontaneous and full of adventure.
Some people dislike that I use the metphors of beavers and squirrels, but I am a person that uses metaphors for everything and I often compare myself to animals. I think the fact that I use Zebra Pig as a handle should have made that no surprise. I’ve had people complain that calling myself a squirrel is feeding into the stereotypes. But here’s the thing, my ADHD sympoms are pretty stereotypical. I’m not saying that everyone with OCD should identify with the beaver nor that everyone with ADHD should identify with the squirrel. I’m only saying that I do and I find it a useful way to talk about how these disorders engage with each other in my head.