Meet Team Smiley 5/5 – Oliver Doyle

Time to wrap up this week’s celebration of the World Men’s Curling Championship and the spotlight on Throwing Stones (Glasgow Lads on Ice Book 1, currently on sale through today and also available in paperback).

Smiling young dark-haired man with quote, "'Oops' should be engraved on my headstone."
Wow, that is a bright red. It’s the same red as the Canadian flag–I looked it up! It’s Hex # = #ff0000

Technically Oliver Doyle is not on Team Riley–in fact, he coaches their arch-rivals, Team Boyd, skipped by Luca’s brother-in-law. But he’s one of the main characters, so I couldn’t leave him out.

Also, Oliver is very special to me, because we were both diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as adults, and despite life being better since we sought treatment, we both still struggle immensely.

For instance, this post is a couple days late because a) it was the last one, and completing projects is very difficult for ADHDers and b) I knew it was the most important because I would be discussing the disorder, and the more important a task is, the more we procrastinate, until it becomes THIS HUGE THING.

So I’m making it not a huge thing by just getting it out and letting it be imperfect. Progress, yay!

Here Oliver explains to Luca why, when the athletic anti-doping agency turned down his Therapeutic Use Exemption for prescription stimulants, he never got round to appealing it, even though it meant risking his career:

“You can’t possibly fathom how anyone could put off something so important day after day after day after day.”

“I can fathom it. Everyone procrastinates. Usually it means there’s some sort of block or fear about that task.” Luca gave Oliver’s shoulder a soft tap. “Maybe deep down you didn’t want to curl anymore. Maybe it was taking over your life. Maybe this was your way of getting out without having to quit.”

Oliver knew his meds were all that kept him from kicking the boat wall in frustration. He’d hoped Luca would magically understand. But like everyone else, he needed Oliver’s help.

“Maybe that’s why most people procrastinate. But for us, it’s not so complex.” Oliver took a deep breath, preparing to feel ridiculous. “The appeals process had so many steps. Every one of them was tedious or frustrating or both. I’d get up every day and tell myself, ‘Just start the process. Just start.’ But I couldn’t see the start. All I could see was the entire journey.” Oliver shifted his feet apart, bracing them on the rolling deck. “I know this sounds insane, but the thought of filling out that paperwork and making those phone calls felt like a spike through my skull. Just imagining it made me want to take a nap, or have a drink, or play a video game. Anything to dull the dread.” Oliver gave a bitter laugh. “People asked me, ‘Didn’t you think about your future?’ as if the future was something I could clearly picture. As if the future was something that mattered.”

Throwing Stones, Chapter 6

As Oliver explains, an ADHD brain doesn’t experience time the way neurotypical brains experience it.

“The thing is, stimulants don’t fix ADHD any more than insulin fixes diabetes. They just manage it so we can live better lives. I can’t remember the last time I flew into a rage or wasted an entire day surfing the internet. But meds haven’t cured my inability to see the distant future as a real thing.”

“Hm.” Luca rubbed his dark stubble, which was becoming a pretty decent beard, Oliver had noticed. “So what you’re saying is, the way your brain is built keeps you from seeing the consequences of your actions?”

“Sometimes, yeah. People call it time-blindness, but it’s more time-nearsightedness…I can move mountains on a tight deadline or in a crisis—all that adrenaline helps me focus. But the agency gave me ninety days, which was like an eternity. It might as well have been stamped ‘Due Never.’”

“That makes sense, because tight deadlines are close to you, so you can still see them. Like some people are so shortsighted, they can only read the giant E on the eye chart, but nothing below it.” Luca’s eyes popped wide. “So your meds are like contact lenses for your brain?”

“Yes! Exactly!” Oliver wanted to hug him. “I still can’t see all of the chart. The teeny letters at the bottom will always be fuzzy. But now I can read most of it, and that feeling is…” He rubbed the back of his neck as he searched for the word. “Miraculous.”

“Wow.” Luca regarded him for a long moment. “I’m happy for you.”

Throwing Stones, Chapter 6

If this sounds like you, I suggest checking out one of these useful resources:

How to ADHD: Fantastic YouTube channel. Start with “How to Know if You Have ADHD” then continue from there on a roller coaster of self-discovery!
ADDitude Magazine
Totally ADD

Taking Charge of Adult ADHD by Russell A. Barkley, PhD
Driven to Distraction by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M.D.
You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy? by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo

No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to learn how to manage this condition that can result in so many difficulties, including secondary anxiety and depression, accidents, financial troubles, and damaged relationships. There’s no cure for ADHD, so we’ll never be “normal”–luckily we don’t place a high value on normalcy, so that’s okay–but with treatment we can reach a place where every day isn’t a blindfolded walk through quicksand.

Phew, wrote a whole blog post and now my brain needs a nap.*

Koala sleeping in a tree.
*nap may take the form of a brisk walk or a video game

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