As you are probably aware, if you have been following this blog since its conception last Thursday, I have become hyper-focused on it.
Hyperfocus. That four-syllable word which is flung around the internet like a beanbag of perpetual fascination – the flip-side, the antithesis of chronic distraction. As I sit writing this, I am bitten by the bug of hyper-focus, suddenly unaware of the outside world around me, trapped in a timeless loop of constant productivity.
Hyperfocus got me through school. Before I can even remember, I was hyper-focused on learning. Well, I was hyper-focused on learning things which interested me. I bounced from topic to topic like a labrador at a trampoline party (yes, my analogies are getting ever stranger) and I never remember sticking to a hobby for more than a year. For a while in primary school I was obsessed with The Chronicles of Narnia and then I became hyper-focused on outer space. I have always enjoyed drawing and playing musical instruments, but I fixate on things for so little time I never become a true master at anything. I am either totally obsessed with something or totally disinterested in it. Luckily, my obsession with filling my brain with as many random facts as possible seemed to do me well in school! Nowadays, if a film doesn’t interest me, I switch it off and I will zone out of activities if my brain decides it isn’t to my liking. Yet, if I am fired-up, I am the sharpest lens of concentration, with an enviable level of focus and determination to succeed. My customers will definitely be comforted to know Bedford Tutor remains my hyper-focus and I will do anything to ensure the success of this amazing business which brings me so much joy everyday!
Moreover (and I moan at myself frequently for this), in order to succeed and stick to something, I do need deadlines and guidance. It’s hard to admit you need someone (or people) keeping you going, but for many with ADHD that’s just how it is! When I was younger and before my diagnosis, people used to say I was a ‘show-off’ and ‘attention-seeker’. Yes, I probably am both but it’s only because I am unlikely to follow things through without knowing someone is there overseeing it – gaining attention definitely gets that dopamine flowing in my brain! When I was in my early twenties, I wrote two children’s novels and people always say ‘how can someone so fidgety and frenetic as you write two books?’. Well, interesting that one… Even though I managed to write two whole books, I did have a fellow writer overseeing the whole process. I have since tried to write another book (or books) and have failed dismally; I have at least ten partly-written novels on my computer this very moment! On the other (slightly more frenetic) side of the coin, I am a total free-spirit and can’t imagine a world where my creativity is undermined by schedules and deadlines. Yet, I need this structure to ensure creativity flourishes. The more I think about it, the more ADHD really is a story of contrasts.
Living with my universe mind is certainly not dull and, the more I discover the inner workings of my psyche, the more I realise I am living a life of contrasts – sometimes I wonder if, eventually, they will cancel each other out and I will cease to exist? Scary, eh?
Just for your amusement, here are the contrasts I wrestle with on a daily basis:
- Tidiness: You find tidying horrifically boring and there are so many more interesting things you could do. For example, you could imagine whether flamingos would go to the effort of dying their feathers if one, they had the intellect and two, pink wasn’t their colour of choice. However, you have to constantly tidy because anything which isn’t in its designated spot is a distraction and, with my brain, it will become a narrative.
- Distraction: Those irritating flamingos always pop into your head whenever you need to get some important admin done and catching focus when you are unstimulated is like fishing in a dried-up pond. However, you never seem to have a problem with hyper-focusing on describing those same flamingos when given half the chance. My brain really does hate monotonous jobs and I have to reward it with frequent squares of serotonin-inducing dark-chocolate if I have to do something mundane.
- Time: You leave for the gig at least an hour early because you may be late if you don’t plan ahead and anything could happen (zombie apocalypse?). Then you almost miss the gig because you got the wrong location (this actually happened).*
Reading this back to myself, it is clear I am usually stuck somewhere between hyper-organised coping mechanisms and complete creative chaos. If you spend a day in my shoes, organising, checking and double-checking, you will realise ADHD is no walk in the park. It’s a story of contrasts. Meet me and you’ll see a vivacious, talkative person who constantly fidgets and makes so many turns in conversation it’s like riding a roundabout. Yes, I am happy. I have always been happy in that I am ‘the life and soul of the party’ kind of person. However, I am also constantly having to keep this fast brain in order and that, my friends, can take some doing!