Menace: The Low Dopamine State

I can be quick to anger. I don’t listen. And my fashion sense is an affront to decency.

Does all that make me a menace?

In forty years, I’ve acted out in lots of different ways. The actions that really seemed to be out of my control were the those I took in a low-dopamine state. Did you know anger increases your dopamine absorption rates? That helps you focus, learn, and avoid free-floating anxiety. I did not know for much of my life.

People with ADHD, like me, may struggle to properly aborb dopamine. That makes us more likely to seek out caffeine, which helps increase absorption rates. It makes us more likely to fidget, take risks, and impedes our ability to prevent impulsivity. As a child, this made me a bit of a class clown. That led me to confrontations with teachers, which fostered a distrust of authority. As an adult, that leads to a person who may have a quick temper with fierce distrust of authortiy. This doesn’t make the situation better. Consequently, people with ADHD often struggle to fit in because they can’t explain why adhering to social constructs is so difficult. This leads to a sense of dysfunction, or imposter syndrome. It creates an inherent feeling of worthlessness.

Bad behavior can be good for dopamine

Even worse, many negative emotional experiences also release dopamine. That means people ADHD may be reinforced for their extreme emotional responses, making them more likely to turn to them despite being self-destructive. Before 2022, there had never been a job that I hadn’t been fired or laid off from. I was often unhappy in my job, though I couldn’t ever doing anything about because I felt like I was the lowest of the low. I believed even my stupid, inbred boss (whoever they were at the time) had only employed me because they were exactly as cross-eyed stupid as you would have to be to employ someone like me.

My negative narratives, worldviews and practices each played a role in increasing my dopamine levels. I couldn’t let them go. Think of it like this, a common form of escaping low dopamine anxiety is pinching your skin. Your brain prefers physical pain to that state of free-floating, low-dopamine anxiety. So ending a bad behavior that increases by dopamine felt really threatening.

This didn’t just make me negative, it made me more likely to blurt out. Act without thinking. It made it harder to control my emotions. And it created in me a sense that I would always be a “menace”.

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