Living with adhd
Writing a book is hard. I get distracted very easily, so I took myself away to focus on completing it and to give it a proper go.
I've written whilst sat at Australian truck stops, in Balinese beach huts, whilst house sitting in a fancy barn in France. I've lived in a windowless basement, a boot room of a ski chalet, and a shed in the Spanish countryside. I've rented in the city of Valencia, stayed on friends couches all over the UK and moved in and out of my mum's house many times. I've taken part-time menial jobs so I can concentrate on writing: washing dishes, cleaning chalets, collecting glasses in bars and teaching English online. I've watched videos, listened to podcasts and read books by famous writers on how to write a book. I've done all this because I really want to focus and write my first book. But, that's been the problem- I just haven't been able to maintain focus…..
Because, I have ADHD.
I was first diagnosed when I was 16, but once I graduated university and set off into the big, wide adult world there was no reason to think about ADHD. In my 20s, I came across naysayers, who said ‘there's no such thing’, and I brushed it off assuming perhaps it's something that just kids have. I've spent most my adult life beating myself up for not being able to progress like most of my friends and do the normal day to day things.
Noticing I wasn't progressing much further with my book, my sister-in-law booked me an appointment to see an ADHD specialist. Within 3 minutes of meeting and reading about me the doctor suggested I probably do have have the attention disorder.
“There's nothing wrong with you Lindsey. Your brain just works differently. Your impulsivity and hyper focus has enabled you to do your adventures. They’re your superpowers.”
I welled up. Understanding that there's a biological difference in my brain-compared to someone's who doesn't have ADHD has been enlightening and validating. It also now enables me to move forward with a strategy to cope with it.
What is ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD/ADD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder. People with ADHD have difficulty maintaining attention or have episodes of hyperactivity that interfere with their daily life.
Excessive activity or restlessness
Problems following through on completed tasks
Feelings of failure, inadequacy or shame
Disorganisation and problems prioritising
Poor time management skills
Trouble coping with stress
Everyone struggles and shows symptoms of the above at times, but people with ADHD have far more difficulty and it can severely impact their life.
ah, Super powers you say?
Yes, that's right. We may struggle with life admin, losing things or sticking to deadlines we've set out for ourselves, BUT- we have superpowers that would even make Spiderman green with envy. And many of them have enabled me to do the adventures I've done.
People with ADHD are often thought of as dreamers. This just means we're visual thinkers and see things differently. We see life through a wide-angle lens, and can see connections between seemingly unrelated things, helping us to think outside the box.
Impulsivity can be our weakness, but it's also our strength. Of course good planning helps, but our impulsivity enables us to jump straight in, take risks and do whatever it dream it is that slips into our head. Sometimes too much planning and procedure analysis means it will take forever to get anything done, or may not get done at all.
We struggle with focusing on things that don't excite us, but when we're excited and inspired about something we get laser-focused, into the zone and the world around us seemingly disappears. There's no stopping us.
super in a crisis-
When things go boom!- if a disaster or crisis strikes most people's brains overload. ADHD brains can be cool, calm and under control.
Most brains manage to sort and filter incoming sights, sounds, tastes, smells and touch sensations. ADHD brains have an overload of sensory input. plus Executive Functions- such as: sorting, filtering, deciding, discarding, prioritising, following through, checking details, tracking progress, following procedures.
When your brain lets in a lot of what other people would consider irrelevant noise, it can show up in ours in odd ways. Often, we are able to notice things that others naturally filter out. So we can great at picking up certain things.