When we say “executive dysfunction”, I think it’s important to acknowledge to ourselves (and make clear to those who don’t struggle with it) that we’re talking about a basket of different struggles that we’re labeling with one name for convenience. One person’s executive dysfunction may not look like another person’s, even though the outcome (not being able to complete a task) may look similar from the outside.
Some people with executive dysfunction struggle to break down tasks into their component steps. Others struggle to connect cause and effect (’if I do this, this other thing will likely happen’), which makes daily life a confusing and sometimes terrifying black box. Still others can break down steps and parse out cause and effect, but they can’t start the first task (hello anxiety my old friend), or they get partway through and get distracted by a tangent or forget what the next step was because there were more than three (ah add i never miss you because you never leave), or they run out of energy before they can finish (tons of situations can cause this, both physical and mental). Sometimes people have a poor sense of how long it will take to do tasks, never seeming to budget enough because they don’t track time internally well. Others can only complete a task when they have sufficient adrenaline to spike their brain into focus, which usually means working in panic mode, which associates those tasks with Bad Feelings and further reinforces any anxiety the person may have.
And this isn’t just a few people. This is large-scale, across many groups struggling with different issues, from heavy metal poisoning to autism to add to chronic illness to anxiety to schizophrenia to mood disorders to traumatic brain injury, and more.
What we need, as a society, is to build better structures for supporting those with executive dysfunction, structures that acknowledge the multiple different types and causes. Because we cannot keep throwing the baby out with the bathwater here. We throw away incredible human potential that could help all of us because our society is set up to require a single skill which a large percentage of our teen and adult society doesn’t have and can’t easily develop (or they would have, trust me), or previously had by has temporarily lost due to injury or illness.
Instead of treating executive function as something that some people have developed and others haven’t, like artistic skills or a talent in maths or the ability to visualize systems or managing people, we treat it as a default that some people haven’t mastered because they’re [insert wrongheaded judgment here].
What if we treated the visual arts that way? If you can’t draw skillfully, you must be deficient in some way. How can you not draw? Anyone can draw. You start as a young child with crayons, what do you mean you can’t do this basic task?
Never mind that it’s a really complex skill by the time you’re expected to do the adult version, rather than the crayon version. Never mind that not everyone has been able to devote energy to developing that skill, and never mind that not everyone can visualize what they want to produce or has the hand-eye coordination necessary to accomplish it.
Now, I have friends who say that anyone can draw, and maybe they’re right on some level. But it’s hard to deny that it helps that drawing is optional. That you can opt out and no one thinks any less of you as a person. Executive function is treated as non-optional, and to some extent, since it’s involved in feeding and clothing and cleaning and educating oneself, it’s not entirely optional. But we make all of those tasks much harder by assuming by default that everyone can do them to an equal degree, and that no one needs or should need help.
If we built a society where it was expected that I might need timed reminders to eat, I would probably remember to do it more often. I certainly did as a child, when the adults around me were responsible for that task. Now that I’m an adult, the assumption is that I somehow magically developed a better internal barometer for hunger. Many people do. But I and many others did not. Recognizing that there are many of us who need help and treating that need as normal would go a long way toward building support into the basic fabric of our society.
But then, I guess that’s been the cry of disability advocates for decades; just assume this is a thing people need help with and build the entire structure with that assumption in mind.
a concept: Victor usually wakes up first in the mornings. So when Yuuri wakes to find Victor cuddled against him, breathing slowly and steadily, it’s a pleasant surprise. He brushes his fingers through Victor’s hair and Victor instinctively moves closer to him, gravitating towards Yuuri’s touch whether conscious or unconscious.
They have to leave soon, so regretfully Yuuri whispers to him in Japanese, trying to wake him. Victor hums, still asleep, and tangles a leg in between both of Yuuri’s. Yuuri kisses his forehead and his chest aches with unconditional love that could reverse the turn of the Earth, that could part the ocean, that could put out the embers of the sun. Five more minutes won’t hurt anyone.
So I did the thing, and it’s stupid and terrible, but here, have it:
Bucky’s an EMT. Normal guy, just living his life, trying to help where he can. And then one day, all of a sudden, the aliens are invading NYC, and Bucky’s out there helping, right in the middle of the danger zone because of course he is.
There’s a fight going on, and a bunch of freaks in weird suits seem to be fighting the aliens, but Bucky doesn’t have much time to focus on anything other than all the people in dire need of medical attention. He does what he can to help, grabs the first metal bar he can find and fights only the aliens getting in his way, and works himself to exhaustion. Then there’s a blast, and it sends a man flying right into the wall next to him.
“Hey, you okay?” Bucky asks, rushing to help him, and though Bucky could’ve sworn the blow was hard enough to crush anyone’s ribs, he’s surprised to see the man–who must’ve been on his way to a costume party–stand up practically unscathed.
He’s got broad shoulders and a strong jaw and eyes of the prettiest shade of blue Bucky’s ever seen, and even with his face covered in soot and grime and blood, Bucky’s heart skips a beat.
For a few seconds the man seems a bit disoriented, then he finally registers Bucky’s presence. “What are you doing here?? Get out of the streets!”
“I was–” Bucky starts, and is cut off by an explosion right above their heads and a bunch of debris raining down on them, and a hand shoving him aside.
When he comes to, which is a surprise in itself, the dust has started to clear, and the man who’s clearly saved his life is carrying him as if he weighed nothing, concern in those beautiful eyes and a big, warm hand pressed tenderly against Bucky’s neck, checking for a pulse.
He locks eyes with Bucky and sighs in relief, the hint of a smile on his plush lips, but the hand remains where it is. “Hi,” he says. “You all right?”
“Y-yeah… Thank you,” Bucky replies, but he doesn’t move to free himself of the man’s arms. His stomach is doing something weird, and the man surely has other people to rescue, but for a few seconds they both just stay there, shell-shocked and staring at each other like the world around them has stopped.
Then something blows up nearby, and the spell is broken.
Carefully, the man helps him to his feet, makes sure Bucky’s in one piece, and then says, “Find shelter, okay? Stay inside.”
Bucky’s not planning to, but he can’t find it in him to tell that to this incredible man, so he slowly licks his lips and nods. Before turning around to leave, the man offers him a small, shy smile.
- - - - -
During the next few weeks after the Chitauri attack on NYC, every single piece of footage of the Avengers fighting against the aliens and helping civilians goes viral. Phone videos, security cameras, blurry pics.
The most popular, by far, is a snapshot of Captain America carrying a guy, who can be seen fighting aliens and helping people in other videos, bridal style, thumb caressing his jaw, and both looking like lovestruck teenagers.
Bucky can’t go to the grocery store or even do his job without being stalked by the paparazzi or Cap’s groupies or just random people wanting to know what his Avenger name is, and for how long he’s been dating Captain America.
- - - - -
“You’ve ruined my life!!” Bucky tells him, because of course, of course Captain America would pick Bucky’s park for his morning run. Of course Bucky’d slip on wet leaves on the pavement precisely this morning, and of fucking course Captain America would just happen to be around to catch him at just the right time. Bucky’s seeing red.
“I’m sorry,” Captain America says, and it’s extremely unfair just how genuine and how much like a kicked puppy he looks.
Christ, Bucky wants to punch him.
- - - - -
Steve’s been living in PR hell.
He’s spent the past weeks “saving” girls and boys alike from getting hit by a bicycle, or fainting, or a fuckton of equally stupid shit.
The second anyone spots Captain America, there’ll suddenly be some kind of dangerous situation going down, and someone hoping Cap will carry them bridal style to safety and maybe fall head over heels in love with them in the process.
Steve is tired and done and ready to get back in the ice for another few decades, and shares Pepper’s worries that someone might actually put themself in real danger soon.
“We should handle this before it gets worse,” Nat says. And Steve agrees, of course, but he just doesn’t know how.
“Just marry the guy,” Clint suggests.
Steve almost chokes to death on his own spit.
Clint shrugs. “Why not? Half the world already thinks you’re dating…”
“Clint, he hates me…”
“Only cause people keep pestering him about this. If you two get married it’ll be a circus, but then it’ll blow over. He can’t even do his job right now, right? So you pay the guy for the trouble, yadda yadda, then when this is over you two get a quick divorce, and that’s it. Problem solved.”
For two minutes, no one else opens their mouth. Then:
“He’s got a point…”
“Tony, no,” Steve whines.
“You saw the footage, how he was helping those civilians… If you have to marry someone, he’s not a bad candidate,” Nat says, and then smirks. “Plus, he’s cute.”
Steve already knows he’s lost this battle, but that doesn’t help him feel any better about this. Yes, he’s cute. Yes, he’s a brave and kind and smart guy. Yes, Steve could very easily pretend to be married to him for a while and yes it’d help them both. None of that’s the problem.
The problem is that he kind of really likes the guy.
What she means:
Heather Duke has a jeep, why did Macnamara have to ride the bus? Sure Duke was an ass, but did she really make her friend ride the bus? Unless she didn't have her license, but in that case, did she also ride the bus? I mean I don't think that would fly with her, right? She would bitch at her parents to give her some other way. But would she really still make her so called friend still ride the bus? Why does Macnamara not ask for a ride? Is she afraid of Duke? I mean it would make sense if she was because Duke has the ability to ruin her like Chandler used to be able to, but why is Duke more popular than Macnamara, is it because she's bitchier? Maybe it's because she's meaner in general? Or she's just louder? Either way, Macnamara was the more liked of the surviving Heathers, so wouldn't she "inherit" the throne? Or maybe Duke was the only one who wanted it. But in all of Duke's popularity did she really have to make her friend ride the bus? Would no one else give Macnamara a ride?