So, what's on YOUR mind?
I have self-diagnosed myself with (apparent) ADHD. I know you aren’t supposed to self-diagnose but after several years of people commenting on my seemingly short attention span I figured I would not waste the resources of our public healthcare system to come to a conclusion I can probably get with a high degree of accuracy by researching online. Besides, a clinical diagnosis for me is pointless. I have no intention of being medicated so the confirmation from a doctor would not provide any benefit other than being to remove the “apparent” from the name of my condition.
I have looked online and found a few sites that offer a test to determine if you might have ADHD. As predicted it turns out those sites suggest there is a high likelihood I have ADHD. The ones that I tested are here. Feel free to check them out.
Do not self-diagnose people, that’s what doctors are for
Because I fully acknowledge that an online diagnosis is NOT necessarily accurate and to avoid potential claims of offering inappropriate advice to people with real ADHD, I have coined the expression “(apparent) ADHD”. It isn’t a medical diagnosis; it is just accepting that there is every indication that I have ADHD based on some online tests and the observations of the people around me.
As part of the public service side of CoOP, I have decided to capture the thought processes of someone with (apparent) ADHD in hopes that it will either help people realize that they are the same and that there are people who can relate with their problems or to benefit others who know someone like me and wonder why they seem like they are all over the map when you engage them.
As short primer on how the ADHD mind works
My brain processes several thoughts at once. Often I don’t realize I am doing it until either 1) I become overwhelmed with the amount of stuff going on, 2) I develop the answer to a problem that I didn’t consciously realize I was working on until the answer arrives, or 3) someone points out to me that it’s hard to have a linear conversation with me. I often get struck with the realization I have been turning a particular issue over and over in my mind but not really realizing it.
If I don’t have an outlet to get those ideas out they start to stock pile in my brain, adding one upon the other, each slowly but excruciatingly consuming my mental energy until I reach the point that I am mentally and physically exhausted. Without talking or writing to get rid of them, the number of things going on in my head at the same time becomes a full time job to manage; and I mean full time. I am a notorious non-sleeper and even when I do I dream excessively or wakeup unrested realizing my mind has been working in a loop thinking through things going on in my life.
I am distracted easily because my mind instantly processes the current information and either decides it needs a few minutes to think about it or that I have heard or seen as much as I need to know and move onto the next topic. That’s why when you speak to me I will cover so many topics in an hour. I am naturally inquisitive and tirelessly driven to be helpful and really want to know and understand people. So a normal discussion will involve us talking about a subject, me changing the topic a couple times but ultimately coming back to the previous conversation and engaging on that topic once my mind has processed it. I apologize to all of my friends that this how I am but fortunately for me there is a group of people have accepted it.
This in not to say I am incapable of focusing on things. People that know me know that, seemingly contrary to the concept of ADHD, I can become very engaged in personal interactions, such as a conversation, or things around me. This happens when there is a major life event in your life that I am trying to absorb to understand now because it is happening to you now. Likewise when I am on vacation and I am enamored with the culture and scenery I become ultra-focused on taking it in because I know I will only have a short exposure to it. What is happening in these moments is I am realizing the significance of the moment and focusing my mind on processing what is happening here and now. Trust me, at these times I am on overdrive, I just happen to be processing a lot of information about the same topic.
Why the hell would someone who has (apparent) ADHD want to write 2,000 word long blog posts?
They say the sweet spot for a blog post is about 1,500 words. The one I wrote on The Interview was 2,500 words and I had to edit it down substantially in order to minimize it. A post that long takes between 1 to 4 hours to compose and edit. While it is true that it is hard to focus on a single topic for that long there is an adrenalin rush I get from finishing something. That adrenalin rush is largely what keeps me going. If I did not have it to give me a gleeful release I would be stuck in purgatory of just running things my head over and over and over with zero benefit.
I think it is good mental exercise for me to have to focus on something that long. And to be clear there is a lot of internet surfing, email checking, useless time wasting that goes into it as well. But for the most part when I get on a roll writing something that is on my mind it is soothing because it removes one of those things from the rotation of thoughts going on upstairs.
Where am I going with this?
The complexity of daily living with (apparent) ADHD and the skill sets required to integrate with everyone else on the planet is a much larger topic. Today I just wanted to kick off the topic and set the stage for some more posts about dealing with the day-to-day issues.
In the meantime a bonus of the blog is it allows me to save drafts version of posts so when a random thought comes to mind I can start a post but not finish it, allowing me to put some framework out there and allow my mind to work on the content of it later and again to take something out of the rotation.
Examples of the items I have started to draft are as follows:
If any of these topics appeal to you please let me know and I will try to push it through. I will promise to try my best to get it done asap but given my condition I might….oooooo……shiny object……