It’s a little difficult to describe what goes on inside my head. I have touched on my ADHD in a few posts, but I don’t think I successfully described what it’s like to live with it. I read a blog post by a former classmate of mine describing his life with OCD, and I was in awe of how he was able to convey his struggles. I have a hard time staying on topic. When I write, I tend to go off on tangents, and jump around so much that by the time I am done writing, I’ve lost the original point. But I have been inspired to try, so please bear with me.
I can’t even call my mind a maze, because even a maze has some semblance of order, a set of delineated paths that, even though some of them lead to dead ends, they are still clearly paths. You know how sometimes, on an episode of Hoarders, there will be a hoarder who has a clean home (as in they hoard things like clothes, dolls, etc…not trash, animals, or filth), but you can’t see the floor for all the things they have? That’s my brain.
Yesterday, we had someone coming to work with BabyBoy. A week before, I kept saying “She is coming at 11 on the 2nd”. Monday night, the Wench-in-Law kept all three of the kids overnight, and I said to myself “The lady is coming tomorrow at 11”. I picked up the children in the morning, then took them home and went to go finalize my gym membership that WIL got me for my birthday. Then I remembered that BabyBoy needed cereal for his before-bed bottle. I go to the store, get the cereal. I’m standing in line when I catch the time. 10:46, and suddenly my brain says “OH MY GOD SHE’S COMING AT 11 AND I COMPLETELY FORGOT!!!” I have 14 minutes to get home, wake up the baby, who had been sleeping since he’d been up since 5am, have the Mister get dressed, vacuum, and try to tidy up at least a little.
That is what happens to me on a near constant basis. And before you ask…I had a reminder in my phone, I had it written on my whiteboard, I had it written on the notepad I usually use for when we have meetings and such.
My brain has a hard time filtering stimuli. If you come to my house for a visit, and we sit down for a chat, maybe your brain will say “Okay, kids are in the bedroom, I can hear them playing, the TV is in the background, and Merry’s voice is in front of all these because we’re talking to her. I’m just gonna disregard the background noise unless I hear anything that sets off a parental alarm.”
Not my brain. My brain does something like this: “The kids are in the bedroom, the TV is on, I should really turn it down, and the AC just kicked on, the Mister is washing his hands, and I can barely pay attention to my visitor because holy crepes all these happenings are just too loud…I need to make eye contact, what did they just say? Crepe, I can’t call it to the front…Oh okay, they must have been talking about a movie because they mentioned Johnny Depp. Goodness, he is so hot…”
You can imagine the overload when I have a party, or a dinner for my friends. My brain seems to lack the ability to adjust the volume of various noises inside my head in accordance to their relevance to the current task at hand…add in the mental noise created by a brain that just never stops going, and it can be very disconcerting.
Unless I go into a state of what’s called hyper-focus. Then the exact opposite happens. My brain turns everything off except the task at hand. No mental noise, no distractions, nothing. Everything goes quiet. You’d think that’s a good thing, and that I should just seek out an activity that will induce that blissfully silent state. And in theory, it is a good thing. If I don’t have any children at home, and when I don’t have children at home, I will do something I know will incite my brain to shut everything off. When the children are home, I avoid such activities, but not for the reason you‘d think. Because yes, the medication I am on has allowed my brain to filter stimuli a little more effectively, and it has also helped me to be able to focus on a particular task without hyper-focus.
Don’t get me wrong. If the children are at home, playing quietly, and I am hyper-focused, I will still hear them if they need me, or if an argument happens, or if they call for me. It’s not like hyper-focus makes me ignore the children, because it doesn’t. However, I don’t want to be hyper-focused unless I have some time to dedicate to the task at hand. It can be a little jarring to go from having no stimuli making their way in, to having everything chattering again, and I like to take my time transitioning. Meditation comes in really handy for that.
I’ve recently started working out, and I’ve found that the hours spent at the gym are just as soothing to me, but not by having everything shut off…any stimuli plus my own internal mental voice are given free rein…I don’t have to focus on anything but walking, or biking, or running. It’s all physical, and I can zone out and let my brain run wild while I work on my physical health. Being able to do that feels so wonderful. No one’s going to come up to me and try to start a conversation. No one’s going to need me for anything, and I don’t have to constantly think three steps ahead, I can just let my brain go and exist in the moment.
Procrastination is a huge issue for me, when it comes to my various pursuits. This post, for example…was supposed to be written yesterday, when most of it was still fresh in my mind. I start things, and never finish them. I shift my goals and plans frequently. When I went on the medication I am on, I could have cried in relief. So many things that I just thought were ‘quirks’ of personality were scaled back to a tolerable level. I still have those quirks, but they are muted somewhat.
Though I still struggle sometimes. Like right now. I want to stop writing this post. I want to go do my hair and get dressed. It’s taking a huge amount of effort to stay here and finish writing this. I’m almost done though.
Now I can’t think of a good way to close this, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. I hope my offering of a meager glimpse into what living with adult ADHD is like will help shed some light on it for you.
Why meager? Because, if I really wanted to, I could sit here and write a book about it. But being that today is a more ‘messy’ brain day for some reason, that book would jump topic a lot and probably be very confusing and awkward in composition.