“Digital Motional Disorder”

Another thing I could mention in my profile this month: I have digital motional disorder.

What in the world is that, you ask.

I confess – I made it up.  I’m on the right track, though; new disorders are being discovered and tagged all the time.  I decided on this moniker for my affliction after I heard about ODD.

A social worker for Family Services was talking with a foster mother one day; they needed to find a foster home for a certain little boy.  But the social worker warned the foster mom, “He has oppositional defiance disorder.”

I picture this as a chronic “I’m not going to and YOU can’t make me!”

When I was a girl growing up, we weren’t allowed to develop disorders that might ruin our lives.  Oh, yes, we showed ODD symptoms from time to time, but our parents didn’t accept that we needed to live with the problem as best we could.  They went all out for a cure.

One evening I manifested symptoms of this particular disorder during a dispute with my sister.  My Dad came along and applied some old-fashioned psychology – which I never forgot.  I kept my flare-ups in check after that, so as to avoid a second treatment.

But fear is a terrible motivator some say.  Much better to treat these disorders with patience and be a role model of the right way to behave.  Someone observed a five-year-old lad kick his mother so hard she fell over.  Even sprawled on the ground she maintained a positive approach, saying only, “Joshua, how many times have I told you not to do that?”

If my brother had tried that, he’d have been successfully treated in rapid order.

Mind you, if Joshua hits adulthood manifesting these same symptoms, he will eventually end up in jail where the big bad boys will cure his ODD in a hurry and a lot more painfully.

Someone once said, “Many years ago child psychology grew on bushes in the back yard.”  But this was so harsh.  Dozens of irate employers, verbal reprimands, lost jobs, a string of broken relationships and major parent-child blowups over time will reduce a lot of ODD.  I’ve learned over the years –too slowly– what the old folks said was true: giving free rein to anger and defiance brings nothing but grief.

Though it takes some folks much longer to catch on.  As one wit says, “By the time most people learn to behave themselves, they are too old to do anything else.”

And of course the drug companies will have some pill to treat such things, too, if you can live with the side effects.  Better to have a disorder controlled by medication than to have a person’s spirit broken by too much discipline, right?  Remember how broken Grandpa & Grandma’s spirits were?  (Hmm…  Delete that last thought.)

One thing we do need to guard against, though, is putting people with ODD into management.   As a wise man once said, “Civilization is always in danger when those who have never learned to obey are given the right to command.”

I don’t believe it’s right, or effective, to fly into a rage and beat a child or lash him verbally (as my father often did.)  But moderate discipline of some sort, applied together with an explanation of the error, will greatly reduce flare-ups of ODD.  Start treating Junior’s ODD at age 6 months if he’s screaming his fury and by the time he’s 16 he should have learned a lot of self-control.

(If this approach seems too harsh, prepare to post bail and pick up a lot of broken pieces.  Buy lots of tissues.  One of my sister’s exes knocked out her front teeth during their ODD episodes.  He’d been drinking; alchohol + ODD = disaster.)

But enough of ODD.  I started out to tell you about my MDD, which my father never really tried to cure.  Yeah, he’d say from time to time, “Quit your fidgeting!”  But I guess he didn’t figure it was enough of a threat to my future well-being to bother with, so I still have it.

My husband reminds me from time to time that my digital motional disorder annoys him and I do try to keep my hands still, but my nerves –the root cause– are hard to control.  This disorder affect all my digits; my toes unconsciously tap, too, especially to lively music – and there’s often a tune running through my head.

Taking up knitting has proven a real godsend.  My fingers can fidget to their heart’s content; with yarn wrapped around them no one cares that they’re moving non-stop.  In fact it’s quite a productive use for my disorder and I regret I can’t do more because of arthritis in my thumb joints.  However, I now have the computer keyboard to keep my fingers going for hours.

I can tell my Heavenly Father doesn’t want me disordered, either.  At times I sense Him helping me with my affliction; for example, I’m sitting in church and He’ll suddenly make me aware that I’m tense and my fingers are in unnecessary motion.  I relax and allow being in His presence to calm my nerves.

Sometimes when my husband and I are having devotions and he’s reading the Bible, I’m not even aware that I’m fidgeting until it feels like a gentle hand is laid on mine as if the Lord is reminding me, just as a parent would, this is a time to be still.  So I let the tension drain away and enjoy the comfort of His hand.

Ah… Sweet peace!

So I can tell He’s all in favour of calmness and self-control.  He hasn’t cured me of my various afflictions yet, but His gentle reminders definitely make them easier to bear.

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5 thoughts on ““Digital Motional Disorder”

  1. Thanks Christine – good thoughts on discipline (needed in all our lives, throughout our lives) and disorders. I also do some fidgeting with my fingers – tapping out words when I hear them on tv or in a movie.

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