It was Dylan’s behaviour, not his looks, that changed markedly, as he got better. This gives weight[1] to his ADHD diagnosis.

One of the first signs of recovery was the return of his libido. He cheerfully admitted this, to my discomfort, and started to show a particular interest in one of the other patients, Violet.

Violet was an, attractive self-possessed girl, with a troubled background[2]. She was waiting to be discharged, and was pre-occupied with where life would lead her next. In the meantime, she formed a little clique with Dylan and another girl, Lorrie. They had been given “stair access”[3], because they were further along the “recovery process” than the rest of us: they were allowed upstairs unsupervised, an earned privilege. The three of them would cluster on the sofa there, talking quietly and going silent if anyone approached. They made little attempt to hide the exasperation and disdain recovering anorexics feel towards those still in the full grip of nonsensical behaviours and delusions[4]. They glanced at anyone passing and then caught each other’s eyes, laughing derisively.

This upset the other patients, but was relatively harmless for Dylan, I think. However, when Lorrie was discharged, Dylan was able to engineer time alone with Violet, initially in the smoking hut outside the lounge. All you’d see would be two glowing spots, floating in the darkness. Later, though, they’d disappear up to the vegetable patch at the end of the garden and smoke there. This caused much alarm among the nurses and care assistants. They’d pop their heads into the lounge and say, “Where are Dylan and Violet?!”, take fright on being told, and hurry off to make sure they weren’t engendering little Diolets and Vylans among the leaves of the winter cabbage.

They needn’t have worried. As Dylan told me, morosely, in our bedtime catch-ups: he and Violet never got beyond linking fingertips.

I thought this was sweet, but he was deeply frustrated by not getting any further. He wanted SEX. I said, “Well, she’s not going to be in the right place for that, is she? She needs to be free of us all.” But Dylan became more and more emotionally involved with this half-formed relationship, more dejected by the knock-backs, more elated by any moments of connection. It was all getting too intense; it was becoming an ingredient in Dylan’s head-buzz.

And that brings us back to our starting point, doesn’t it? Because that sort of obsessive, buzzy behaviour sounds very much like…? Yup – ADHD…

  • Footnotes:

[1] Ha ha.

[2] Very common among my fellow patients.

[3] Ascot House had a whole set of its own jargon

[4] It’s transferred frustration, I think, because by that point you are really, really ready to get out of there.

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