Oh yeah, I totally identify with the dog Doug in the movie Up who is easily distracted by the squirrel.
If you’ve met me for longer than five seconds, you probably are aware that I have ADHD. It was undiagnosed until just a few years ago; so much of my life is colored by it. I only started meds for it a little over a year ago. They have been a roller coaster in and of themselves. While they have helped immensely, I find they have brought other issues. I was on Vyvanse for the past year, and found that it not only helped me focus, but it tended to encourage me to hyperfocus. So much so that I would get involved in something that should take twenty minutes but end up spending three to four hours on it before I realized ten minutes had passed. I eventually had to set my alarm on my phone to remind me of simple everyday things like….lunch. Seriously, I’d get so engrossed in what I was doing that I’d forget to eat!
But then medicines have also been blessedly wonderful. Having ADHD is often like having a tornado inside your head–it is very, very noisy in there with thousands of thoughts flying around at any given time. Funny how stimulants actually slow those down enough for me to have only a few thoughts at a time! For many having those three thoughts or projects going at the same time is still too much. But when you’re used to having hundreds at any given time–three is blissfully peaceful. My son, who also is ADHD, described it to me this way last year when he started taking meds as well: “Mommy, the strangest thing has happened. When I go to do something, I can hear this little voice in my head that tells me what might happen if I do it. Funny, huh?” That was a lightbulb moment for me. My son, on his first day on a stimulant, was nine years old and hearing his conscience for the very first time. It wasn’t that it wasn’t in there before–it was just that now his brain was quiet enough to hear it!
The thing about life with ADHD is that it is such a conundrum, and that those with it often misunderstand themselves as much as the people around them do. Why can’t I just put my mind to it and get this stuff done? Why do I need to re-construct everything to improve it and make it better, instead of just using the perfectly fine system already in place? (People with ADHD are often completely incapable of settling for ‘perfectly fine’ because they excel at envisioning what the best possible outcome should look like.) Why can I spend days tacking project A that I love to do and get it right the first time, but when I try to tackle project B all I can do is sit and think about project C or D? Why is it that I can find something I love, do it amazingly well, learn the ins and the outs of it, master every detail…then be totally unable to finish what I’ve built? Can I just say now: SO TOTALLY FRUSTRATING!!!
I’m in the middle of readjusting my meds and trying a new one, so the past few weeks have been lived in a fog. I hate the fog. I lived in the fog of ADHD for 37 years, and never want to go back there again! I’m going to try to share with you my journey through life in this blog, including my life with ADHD. I know many of you have it, suspect you might have it, or love someone who does. Hopefully I can help you understand what it is like a little bit better.
To that end, check out this discussion on ADHD. Someone asks what it is like and a long list of people share what life is like for them with ADHD. It is an amazing list of stories, one that makes you both want to laugh with joy (I’m not the only one!) and cry (aaaahhh! Why!) at the same time. I think for most people they totally misunderstand ADHD and what it really is. This discussion helps you to get a much more realistic view of what it does to us, and how destructive it really is if left untreated. If you don’t have ADHD and you find yourself thinking “Why don’t these people just suck it up and do what they know needs to be done?” then you will know that you really don’t understand what it is like in our heads. Because we know those things need to be done. We want to do them. We beat ourselves up more than you ever could because we fail everyone around us all the time because we can’t do them. But still, we can’t do them. Count yourself lucky that you can do it. You’re blessed.
Let me know if this helps you or someone you know!