ADHD Clues: School Reports

Here are extracts from my childhood: school reports. Although I was academically able and enjoyed most aspects of school, my problems with listening; impulsiveness; issues with group work; and troubles with friendships were evident even when I was seven. I was never an obvious ‘daydreamer’ and my inattention manifested in a difficulty with listening to instructions; I also had difficulties regulating my excitement and also disliked most group work from an early age. By the time I got into year seven, I had developed an anxiety condition and was having increasing difficulties with keeping and maintaining friendships.

Not all girls with ADHD are inattentive daydreamers – I was hyper-enthusiastic; impulsive; excitable; and fiercely independent! I loved learning from the moment I started school; this definitely helped me achieve good grades and kept my behaviour regulated much of the time!

Aged 7-9

Obviously I enjoyed English, but I always remember struggling with some aspects of my behaviour regulation, especially when I had to listen to other people. Handwriting was really my nemesis when I was younger and I vehemently disliked joining up my text!

I struggled with listening then and still struggle with listening now! I also struggled with impulsiveness then and I still struggle with it now! It’s amazing how, even as an academic child, evidence of my inattention and impulsiveness was evident at seven years old!

Again, I was ready to start before thinking through – impulsivity just runs through these reports like a tangled ADHD-themed thread!

Oh, how I hated working on computers! The lack of tactile opportunity and the insistence of working in groups obviously made my symptoms much more evident! However, I never really demonstrated any problems with crafts as found them largely enjoyable!

I remember being an impulsive child and this is so evident in my report from 1997 (gosh, I feel old). I raced through pretty much everything and managed to succeed because I was relativity academic and had a good all-round ability! I still struggle with all of these things even to this day, although my coping mechanisms are much better!

Aged 9-12

I started a new school when I was 9 (year 5) and I found it incredibly difficult to make friends and cope with larger class sizes. My problems with listening and excitability were to continue and I also developed an anxiety disorder in year 6 which resulted in me missing lessons for a few months.

New school, new teachers, same problems! Nobody could fault my enthusiasm, but I still had problems with inattention (listening) and beginning too early.

By the time I got to eleven, my anxiety was much more obvious and I started to really doubt my own abilities. I’d had problems with group work since primary school (see previous section) and the combination of larger classes and impending puberty only exacerbated my issues. At this age, I was missing quite a lot of school due to anxiety and I am proud that I coped well enough to work well most of the time.

Art has always been one of my favourite subjects, but I struggled with it at school. Telling a hyper-creative ADHDer to draw something specific at a regulated speed is like trying to stop a Ferrari with bicycle brakes; I remember never really achieving my potential in this subject due to my excitability and disruptive tendencies.

Computer technology – how I hated this subject! I just didn’t listen and this particular report didn’t even note anything positive! In hindsight, there was nothing more boring for my creative mind than staring at a screen whilst following linear instructions!

In year seven, I got a new teacher called Mr. Swallow. Thanks to his kindness and patience, I developed so much as a person during this year. Even though I still struggled with controlling my excitement and regulating my pace of work, he got me back attending school full-time and helped develop my love of science, which continues to this day!

I hope you have enjoyed reading these extracts from my childhood. Even though I was only diagnosed with Combined ADHD in July 2020, it is evident, from looking through my reports, ADHD-tendencies were clear even when I was as young as seven!

Remember, even with ADHD, you can succeed and be awesome!

Galaxy Brain: A Poem

Serenity a mystery
calm a desire
which holds meaning
in the minds of those
who exist in singular
line
moving with grace on
a linear bridge
between ideas
concepts
plans

I hold them close like gems
as though their skills
transmit
by
osmosis
into a mind which cannot
realise time
in it’s
incomprehensible
design
moving to a place
in a future
which
like a circle
exists outside
of there
everywhere
all
at
once
or never at all

My mind twists strings
From forgotten things
which construct
patterns
clues
like footsteps in the snow
above
below
everywhere
they never start
never end
but are always
a part
of a misunderstood
circuitboard
clumsily
installed
to fit in a bubble
of standardised
art

Serenity a promise
calm a belief
my mind exists
chasing syntax
to relieve the burden
of an unfinished story
they said
was
a waste
unless
under
lined
in
scheduled
haste

I sit back with
cluttered rhyme
and chaotic
mind
as
their lives strive
once again
to
complete
a
paradox
in
time
when all around
circles form
from
single
line

Annabel Louise 26/10/20

Hello Lovely Human – A Poem About adHD

I wrote this poem with a new take on the term ‘ADHD’. I don’t like the term ADHD (most of us don’t seem to) and I wanted to add a positive slant to this! HD is short for ‘high-definition’ and we most definitely are living in HD! This is me addressing one of my wonderful galaxy-brained pupils! Enjoy!

Hello lovely human
Your thoughts bounce like a flea
Your eyes surprise my mind
You see things in HD

Hello lovely human
Your ears sense every plea
Your world is never silent
You hear things in HD

Hello lovely human
Your soul climbs every tree
Your body moves in tempo
You feel things in HD

Hello lovely human
You never count to three
Your mind is like a sprinter
You do things in HD

Hello lovely human
Your mind is wild and free
There’s nothing here that’s wrong
You live life in HD

Annabel Louise 12/10/20

My World In Extremes!

I have ADHD and my brain is like a supercomputer. I process everything at a million miles an hour and just taking the time to slow down can be intensely hard. Just writing the word ‘intense’ makes me think about how intense I am as a person – I have ADHD and I don’t do things in shades of grey. My mind is like an explosion in a paint factory: it’s colourful, exciting and messy. Right now, I am thinking of mice – a thousand mice – who are running amok in the spilt paint; their little paws are spreading coloured chaos everywhere.

Now, I am not always chaotic! Knowing me, you probably are struggling to believe this as I am able to change the context of a conversation in a millisecond. However, before I start Googling the etymology of the word millisecond, I will continue my train of thought (now I’m thinking of trains) and explain to you about the interest-driven nervous system which controls every neuron of my galaxy brain. The next part will be more focussed, I promise! 😂

I am incredibly adept at focussing – please refrain from laughing! If I enjoy something, I may fall into such a deep state of hyper-focus that I will ignore every other stimulus which comes my way. A war between the sun and the moon could create a worldwide apocalypse, but I would likely not notice as I would be in such deep focus. Once upon a time (I see a fairytale coming on here), some school subjects led me into hyper-focus. At one stage, I was OBSESSED with science and I also became OBSESSED with the teacher who taught this subject. My galaxy brain span like a supermassive wormhole when I listened to them talk about chemical reactions and outer space – I swallowed (and still do) facts like a black hole gulps light!

My ADHD was missed in school. However, anxiety eroded my confidence and I battled with a mild eating disorder as I navigated social rules I didn’t understand and ran headfirst into situations which overwhelmed me. I was the odd child, the alien, an anomaly in space and time which couldn’t be explained. Somehow the teachers who wrote ‘Annabel does not listen to instructions,’ ‘Annabel struggles with other children’ or ‘Annabel struggles with group work,’ didn’t know much about ADHD in girls! My natural intellect and impressive memory for facts got me through school – well, the academic side – and even though I felt like an alien from the day I blew out the candles of double figures, I somehow coped in the education system.

Interjection: I appear to have gone off on another tangent. I would love to unravel the knitting of my mind, but I fear the thrill of the capture is nowhere near as exciting as the chase – I think us ADHDers live for the buzz of that chase!

Everything I experience is in HD – this really is the only good thing about the name ADHD! I hate the word ‘deficit’ and I also loathe the word ‘disorder’, but I do think the ‘HD’ (if meant to refer to ‘high-definition’) is pretty accurate. We experience the world in extremes and nothing is ever grey. If I am happy, I am euphoric and if I am sad, I am inconsolable. I am easily overwhelmed and I am also easy to upset. Moreover, I can experience sudden changes in emotion if triggered by something and this can be both enlightening and devastating.

Yet, in spite of all of this, I have built a successful business and I cope well (most of the time). Even though everyone thinks I am totally bonkers, I embrace my lightning speed processor – which takes me into a room to fetch a cup and leaves me Googling the history of ceramics (with no cup) – and I have used the power of my brain to build something amazing. Tomorrow, we are re-opening our hands-on classroom and I can’t wait to meet more amazing galaxy brains! Those mice in that paint factory of my mind are chaotic, but who said chaos is wrong? Organised chaos is oxymoronic, but it is also horrendously fun! Separating my mind from chaos is like separating the colours in a rainbow – you’ll still have beauty, but you won’t have a rainbow!

Final thought: rainbows really are awesome and they come out after rain; maybe it will be time for ADHDers to really make our mark when this latest storm (COVID-19) passes!

ADHD is my operating system and WE ARE NOT A DISORDER (even though we are a little disordered 😂)!

My ADHD – How Does It Affect My Life?

A number of people have asked me about my own ADHD so I thought I’d compile a list of ways it affects me on a daily basis!

– Struggling to focus on anything I don’t enjoy: School was okay most of the time as I LOVE learning (and lessons were only an hour), but put me in a boring meeting or on a boring phone call, and it’s almost physically painful to pay attention. 

– Daydreaming when I should be listening: This does tend to annoy people as I will zone out of conversations if I am not interested. I tend to find I only really pay attention if I can get really involved in the conversation, as listening without input for more than a few minutes is difficult for me (I found this in the classroom, too). 

– Impulsive actions and choices: I make decisions very quickly and often fail to think through the consequences. When I was at school, I was incredibly impulsive when starting a task and was often reprimanded for this. In my adult life, my impulsiveness has caused me a number of problems, but I can thank it for my business – I set this up in 2012 on impulse because I was bored!

– Crippling RSD: Criticism has been and always will be physically and mentally painful. It hurts so much when I am criticised by someone I care about and I cannot put it into words how it makes me feel inside. 

– The feeling of overwhelm: My emotions are so strong and I can quickly become overwhelmed by any emotion. If I am excited, I will feel like flying and if I am sad, I may cry so much I become dehydrated. I tend to get overwhelmed by tasks I feel I cannot do well such as reading maps, putting up flatpack furniture or solving algebraic equations!

– Oversharing everything: Linked to my impulsiveness, I tend to blurt out everything and am likely to tell a stranger my entire life story. I will then feel guilty for sharing my precious information and can easily become withdrawn – until I share it all again and the cycle continues!

– Having SO many hobbies and interests: I don’t stick at anything for very long, so I tend to be a ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’. Although I am always determined to stick to a hobby, it doesn’t take long before I get bored and start something new!

– Imposter syndrome: Even though my business is very successful, I still often feel like an imposter and struggle to recognise all that I have achieved. I do constantly question myself, but actually feel this has benefitted my business to some extent as I keep improving it. 

– Chronic perfectionism: When I was a child, I was chaotic and untidy, but my most useful (not necessarily the most healthy) coping mechanism is definitely perfectionism. I am incredibly tidy and punctual and people think I am organised, but under this mask, I am still a chaotic, untidy child. 

– Struggling with admin: When I got an admin job after school, I was sacked within two weeks due to my mood swings and disorganisation and I still struggle with most admin. My creative, wild brain finds the boring and repetitive tasks painful, although my perfectionism forces me to do them!

– Overthinking absolutely everything: I judge myself for pretty much everything I say and do, even though this usually causes me pain. For years, I have struggled with friendships and relationships because my overactive brain puts two and two together and gets five!

– Being told I have no common sense: I got this all through my childhood and still get it in my adult life. I tend to tackle things in an illogical manner, am still unsure of my left and right (without prompts) and can be uncoordinated if nervous. 

– Being uncontrollably passionate: If I love something, I will dedicate my all to it and I struggle to push the off switch even when I know I am starting to get overwhelmed. My business, Bedford Tutor & Moonbow Coaching, is my life and I have never had any problems with focusing on this part of my life!

– Being loud and hyperactive: When I was younger, people thought I was on drugs and I still get asked questions about why I seem to have limitless energy. As I have grown older, I find my hyperactivity exists more in my brain and I can thank ADHD for much of my success in art and creative writing! 

– Getting awful anxiety: I have suffered with anxiety since I was a child and it’s definitely exacerbated by ADHD. If I am nervous, I may suffer panic attacks, although everyday situations don’t cause me anxiety like they used to – I have developed coping mechanisms to control this as I have got older. 

Gravity Girls ADHD Support Group

This morning, I set up ‘Gravity Girls ADHD Support Group’. This women’s Skype group will meet each Monday evening at 7:30pm British time and my aim is to create a warm, comforting environment where we can be our authentic, awesome selves!

I’ve already been asked why the name ‘Gravity Girls’, so I’ll elaborate further. Gravity, as a force, brings things together and also allows stability. I hope this group will bring ADHD women together and support us in our everyday lives. As the group develops, I hope to incorporate topic weeks to increase interest, and any other ideas will always be welcomed.

If you would like to find out more, or if you want to join, please visit the Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/355033089195746/

Cerebral Noise

I wrote this poem last night after thinking deeply about a world where people with ADHD are free to be true to themselves and don’t have to mask – the last stanza shows this!

I hope you enjoy my positivity regarding ADHD – I really am passionate about helping people!

Ideas flood my senses
destroying logic in ephemeral
grip
of rainbow fantasy
glorious reality

Only

it’s all lost within a daydream
or a nightmare
which occurs on
an overcast day
The sky is stained a
pavement grey
and dreams are lost
among the gloom

Stolen

from a neural
tomb

Awake inside
Asleep in sight

her speckled stars
ignite a night
of ribboned joy

Amongst the galaxies
she flies
Her wings spread out to
touch a sky
which has no ceiling
but forces meaning

into cluttered sentence
Tired full stop

She never dares to
drop
the
idea
in case her
greatest fear
becomes reality
and she questions her
precarious

Sanity

Why?
Her moan escapes a lung

And

just as if time stopped
and re-begun
she weaves a portrait
in the void

A vibrant
picture

of a time
when
all together
orb and line
unites under
a purple moon
without the semantic
or paint of gloom
or time too soon

It’s always now
as she writes her
last word
and the

Logic crumbles
Numbers melt
Humans gather
Silent
Ready
For the future!

Annabel Louise 15/09/20

A Different Realm

I wrote this a few days ago in fifteen minutes of hyper-focused creativity. I really hope you enjoy it! I am always attempting to show the intricacies of our galaxy minds!


The ribbons weave inside my mind
Cascading waterfalls of ideas
Flowing like streams of possibilities
swiftly past the jagged rocks
of vicious uncertainly

My mind concocts a daydream
as night slowly sweeps its aura of dark
across a luminous night
Only she sees
where glittered ceiling protects heaven
and loses bubbles of ancient wisdom
Did she ever grasp those lost ideas?

Wisdom stained in black and white
My brain breathes life in colour
A heartbeat of perpetual longing
for others from a realm
of lost silence and tangled dreams

She studies golden sunset
but yearns for pirate’s hoard
Stolen wishes hidden within
plain view of reality
Only her simplicity grows on
a sentient tree
A woeful explorer
in a desert of doubt
Did she ever find that lonely key?

Everything moves, yet all is still
Creativity holds the code
Though it’s rusted still in pleasant autonomy
Suffering monotony
Cherishing moments of flickered emotion
only she sees
with her eclipse
of perfect
realisation

All is connected
yet
all is free
Her mind weaves spirals of circular time
Around a linear world trapped in rules
Books slammed shut in the face of fantasy
Lateral concepts thrown deep into fires
of cerebral meaning
Did she ever draw the clue?

Shapes are destiny, time is frozen
Though words hold force
against a primitive foe
Where lines find endings and voids begin
A perilous prison
of lost
innovation

Why does she warm in the time of cold?
Antarctic air blows ever stronger
But she feels no pain
Alone, neglected by human endeavour
She shines like a beacon
But is lost in the blackness
Far beyond the sight
of human vision

Annabel Louise 11/09/20

What It Feels Like To Have ADHD In A Linear World

I stand solid, grounded, on an unmoving – yet dynamic – chunk of rock hurtling through space at a million miles per hour. Firmly rooted to an organic surface like a conscious tree, my mind is the only part of me which mirrors the dynamism of the enigmatic universe surrounding my human form. 

As I contemplate my confused existence, a ribbon of time weaves past me on its eternal pursuit to replace chaos with fragmented order, in the hope the greatest sentients will acquiesce and pack their lives into the artificial boxes of reality. 

Most of them do. Many of them shelter like hypnotised ants in a simulated version of reality they believe exists alone, chasing a pathway of linear simplicity through the omnipotent motorway of space. 

But I don’t. I stand solid as the blurred greyness of actuality bounces off my confused retinas and attempts to paint a stain on my rainbow reality. Trapped inside, helpless humans follow the passage of forged existence like twigs swept along by a nefarious current, always confused, but unable to question the spurious reality surrounding them. 

Snaking past me, the inane ribbon of linear time bends and folds its way through the undiscovered laws of physics, intangible, but fully visible on its quest to standardise time. 

Time has no meaning in this place I occupy. With a myriad mind, I weave a tapestry of circular perfection, embellished with enigmas and stitched together with the golden thread of realisation. Nothing linear matters here. Conflagrations of creativity send their multi-coloured flames into an onyx night and luminous dreams burst like fantastic fireworks against a velvety sky. 

Nothing begins and nothing ends. The hue of the universe is ever changing, like a Catherine Wheel of infinite choice, and I bathe in the warmth of awareness as the ribbon weaves past, leaving me behind to chase the greatest purpose. 

Annabel Louise – 09/09/20

Why I’ve Settled On The Name ‘ADHD Galaxy’

Over the last few days, I’ve sat here and sat here thinking about the perfect name for social media! Only ever using Instagram and Twitter a little in the past, I realise now is the time to get ‘savvy on social media’ as I look to promote my book Hadie & Adah and raise Awareness of ADHD (especially in females).

When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with space. In fact, I was so interested in the cosmos that I was affectionately know by many of my peers as ‘alien’. This wasn’t helped by the fact I appeared on ‘Newsround’ when I was in year nine, talking – would you believe it – about the ‘search for extraterrestrial intelligence’ 😂. Not surprisingly, many of my contemporaries thought the ‘search’ for such ‘intelligence’ was in vain, as many believed they’d already found the alien life-form: me, a quirky, socially-awkward thirteen year old with a terrible haircut and hyperactive enthusiasm matched only by that of a caffeinated springer spaniel.

Space was my passion and, to some degree, it still is. When I was left to explore the wonders of my own imagination, I disappeared down wormholes of fascination, wondering how parallel universes could exist both in space and time and how black holes reflected everything which we, as humans, feared most. I read books on space, drew pictures of space and even joined the local astronomy club where I gave presentations on space. Unfortunately though, I never fully-understood the intricacies of the physics required to study space, as my wonderfully-vibrant ADHD brain gets tangled with algebra and ‘runs for the hills’ when presented with scientific equations. I suppose, as I have grown older, my interest in space is reflected more in the artwork I produce and poems I write.

Me on Newsround when I was in year 9 – I was absolutely passionate about space! Just look at the size of those computers! 😂

When I was diagnosed with ADHD, I instantly became interested in raising awareness – I can probably credit most of my passion to living with an ADHD brain. My ‘Universe Mind’, as I like to call it, is so much like the pictures I draw of the cosmos: colourful, random and enigmatic. For millennia, people have been fascinated by outer space, and this fascination has led to us building powerful telescopes and probes which aim to map even the deepest regions of the cosmos. Our own universe is ubiquitous, filled with a myriad of celestial objects which nobody seems to fully understand. ⭐️ Although cosmologists seek the answers, I always believe this quest for completion only throws up more questions. ⭐️

My brain is just like our universe. It is so full of ideas, and, like stars, they are constantly present, although they are not always seen. At night, I adore looking up at the velvety blackness of space, imagining each tiny shimmering dot as representing one of my new ideas. Additionally, space is very large and I have always viewed my mind as extremely spacious; there must be adequate room for all that is going on in my brain. Deep in my grey matter, just like in space, supernovas explode, nebulas cascade and quasars paint their mysteries in the undiscovered depths. Like me, they are colourful and wild, untamed and beautiful – they exist in a state of permanent change and the passage of time manipulates their forms just as it changes my thoughts and ideas, motivations and moods. Moreover, scientists have been talking about the expanding universe for many years and I like to parallel this to my own mind. I am always expanding my knowledge and seek to find out more about a myriad of topics on a daily basis; my random thought patterns lead me to discover amazing new facts and I know my immense creativity is down to the way my ‘Universe Mind’ works.

So why not ADHD Universe? Well, apart from the fact that name was taken 😂, I do like the word ‘galaxy’ as it makes me think of home and also represents all that I wish to convey on this blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Galaxies are beautiful and contain billions (250-500 billion in The Milky Way) of stars and other celestial objects, held together by the enigmatic force of gravity. I like to see our ADHD community as a ‘galaxy of likeminded people’ who all have a common cause and want to unite under an umbrella of acceptance and understanding.

I think I knew something deep down when I was a young girl, which I have only managed to truly realise now I am an adult. Even though I will continue to change things on my social media pages (it’s the ADHD 😂) and modify appropriately, I like the name ‘ADHD Galaxy’ as it perfectly encompasses what I want to achieve.

💜 I hope you all enjoy! Have a great day, guys! 💜

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