A few days ago – or maybe it was closer to a week and a half – I didn’t know what to write about. A conversation ensued between my husband and myself.
Me: I don’t know what to write about today.
Husband: You could write about ‘pauses, thinking’ my ankle!
Me: How am I going to write about your ankle?!
Like I said, I don’t know when this happened, and though it’s true, ankles are a fascinating piece of anatomy, I don’t have any desire to write a breakdown of how the joint that is the human ankle works. Instead, I’m going to do what my brain does best, and delve into a subject I know well, from both study and personal experience. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Those reading this who know me, you’ve seen it in action. Those who’ve only heard the term, a lot comes to mind, I’m sure, when I throw those terms around. I’m sure, also, you’ve read a lot of articles like this 20 Things To Remember When You Love A Person With ADHD article I read the other day. Well, most similar articles have great points, I’m always left thinking, Yeah, those are all correct, but they’re all vague. So here’s the first 10 Windows Into the ADHD Mind
1. The phrase Active Mind is an understatement. The air conditioner is going, the refrigerator just kicked in, a cloud is moving across the sky, changing the levels of light in the living room, the carpet under my feet has a different texture than the bathrobe I’m wearing, which is different than the texture of my pants, which has nothing to do with the YouTube video playing in my headphones in order to keep me from pacing instead of writing this post. And now there’s some sort of clunky tapping coming from either upstairs or the duct work of the AC. Which just went off. Also, I’m composing this post, which means thinking about it, and have several script ideas for Confessions of a Drow Bard going through my head, as well as realizing I’ve got two other projects to catch up on. This is my mind, every day, all day. The only reason it stops at night for a bit is a migraine medication that actually does put me to sleep.
2. I know you’re talking to me, and I’m trying to listen and remember, I really am. But I’ve got to finish the rough draft of Chapter 17, and Chapter 12 needs a rewrite, plus I need to update the Master Timeline, and I need to check my email to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I also need to check my boss’s emails to make sure SHE didn’t miss anything. Oh, and I’ve got to finish that website draft I’m working on, and did you remember that we were going to do that one project this weekend? Also, did I mention your collar is crooked and the hem of my undershirt is ridding up? I’ll probably say something about at least half of this during our conversation, likely more than once. Asking me to stop and just pay attention is a good way to drop a nuke on the works and Getting a blank stare. I wouldn’t say our thoughts are in “outer space,” but we are trying to track fifty of them at once, like herding cats.
3. Staying “on task” does not exist. Not really. We start with great intentions, but we all know where those lead. The dishes need doing, but the floor also needs mopping, and the carpet hasn’t seen a vacuum in weeks. Oh, also the bathroom counter needs a good scrub. Thing is, I can’t speak for everyone, just myself, but this kind of activity is not on my executive function’s list of interesting things to do. Which leads to dishes started but not finished, the vacuum sitting in the middle of the living room, plugged in, and a few things put away off the bathroom counter.
4. Anxious is a way of life for us. We know you can tell we’re giving you our patent blank look when you’re talking (your chap stick smeared). We know we’re not living up to expectations of normal. And all of the above listed in one through three is going on, so our mind kinda looks like this.
It’s enough to induce anxiety on a normal day, but when we’re emotional? Which brings us to #5.
5. Emotions are hard. Really hard. Now, they’re hard for everyone. It’s true. Emotions are illogical, irrational, and tough to deal with. Biologically, they only last a matter of seconds to minutes, but add the tendency for anxiety, and an ability to latch onto things with the mental power of crocodile jaws on prey if we’re interested, and emotions can end up turning into whirlwind storms of fury, joy, sadness, or any other set of emotions. It gets crazy.
6. Hyperfocus is our superpower. This is the piece of ADHD that leads many to conclude that the term Attention Deficit is a misnomer. Give us something we’re interested in, and we can submerge ourselves in it for days at a time. Not just hours, but days. Be it a video game, an art project, a novel, or even a science fair project, if it’s fascinating, and a challenge, we will grab on, and we will. not. let. go.
7. Hyperfocus is also our Achilles heel. When we are in the zone, we are IN the zone. We know you’re there. We know we need to eat. We know all of this. We just don’t remember. It really feels like nothing exists outside what we’re doing, and when that track is interrupted, it can be like dragging three ton rock through drying cement to get it back.
8. Emotional regulation is tough for us. Really. Some days, we can’t just suck it up and move on. We break down at the tiniest inconvenience, not because we want to, but because we’re just so tired. We fight to keep our thoughts and emotions in some semblance of acceptable check constantly, and at times, it becomes too much.
9. We may have a filter, but it doesn’t always work. We’d like it to, but it’s sort of like that heavy metal radio station that only comes in during the loudest, dirtiest, most raucous songs ever. You can’t help it. Ever. Sometimes it makes us the life of the party. Others, it’s a great way to start disagreements, fights, and spectacular miscommunication.
10. Speaking of being the life of the party, we would probably like very much not to be, because we often have no idea if you’re laughing with us…or at us. We’ve spent our lives trying to fit in because it’s just too much of an emotional roller coaster not fitting in. On the other hand, for those of us who have extrovert tendencies, we love the party, so we may tough it out anyway, even if you end up talking about us later.
On that note, I just remembered my breakfast this morning consisted of B vitamins, Pepsi, and a few gulps of water with pain killer, so I really should come up for air and get something more substantial in me. Join me tomorrow for the launch of Confessions of a Drow Bard, and Saturday for the continuation of this post. See you then! And I am curious. Do you have any friends or close family with ADHD? What kind of things do you guys do to help work with it? If you live with ADHD, how do you use it to your advantage?