Every single morning, I wake up and make a list. From very basic tasks, like arranging my books, to very specific work-related assignments, I carefully lay out my day. I remind myself everyday, “If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t exist.”
I am not trying to be edgy here, I am trying to warn myself. I forget to eat lunch on days I don’t remember to write it down. My ADHD manifests in ways that lead people to believe I’m careless, thoughtless, unproductive, and forgetful.
ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactive disorder. In this world, where voluntary attention, the kind we use to stay focused on long mundane but important tasks that makes us feel mentally tired because it runs out, is also the one ADHD folks particularly struggle with. But it's important not to, right? I mean really, parts of having ADHD is as horrible as it can get but I quickly forget it or get distracted from them so it's not that terrible.
The clichéd understanding of ADHD, by most, is that the only primary characteristic of it is the lack of attention, But that's not true. It all roots down to the name, ADHD, which is regarded to be rather terrible by those suffering from it. We don't have a deficit of attention! What we have a problem with is regulating our attention. As Stephen Tonti explains in his TED talk, ‘ADHD As A Difference In Cognition, Not A Disorder’
- “It's not a lack of focus - period. It's that I have a hard time selecting something and giving it my full attention. Something has to grab my attention, peak my curiosity and then I can hyperfocus.” Although, these days media influencers project a much worse image about any and every disorder. Mental health influencers have found a way to make ADHD look funny and even relatable.
Much like a daily horoscope, if you line up enough vague quirks and behaviors, people are bound to identify with them. Losing your keys, wondering why you walked into the kitchen, or putting off time-consuming tasks aren’t necessarily signs of ADHD, they’re symptoms of the human experience. The reality of mental health issues often gets lost in a sea of misguided attempts at camaraderie by well-meaning (or attention-seeking) neurotypical people.
Let me tell you what it is, it’s forgetting embarrassingly common words like ‘chart’ in the middle of an important presentation. It’s perpetually double booking yourself and disappointing your friends again. It’s continually talking over people for fear of forgetting the thoughts you wanted to contribute to the conversation and feeling people get frustrated with your constant interruptions. It’s blowing up and screaming at your loved ones due to heightened emotional reactivity. It’s guilt that wakes you up in the dead of the night and weighs so heavily you preemptively decide to give up on tomorrow’s plans.
As worse as the above situations are, nothing compares to the ADHD Freeze. There are days when I get so overwhelmed, I find myself frozen to the couch. I’ll put off eating or going to the bathroom for hours at a time. The “logic” here is, if I get up, I have to face the reality of my daily tasks and the time I have left in the day to do them. If I stay frozen in place, maybe time will freeze with me and forgive my laziness.
So, boiling it down to a few sentences, ADHD is all about being a perfectionist without the capability of motivating yourself to achieve said perfection. So, you are constantly in this state of paralyzing anxiety and self-doubt, all the while feeling worse about it every passing minute.
In her TED talk, ‘Failing at Normal: An ADHD Success Story’
, Jessica McCabe cleverly states, “Just like you can get sad and not have depression, you can get distracted and not have ADHD.”
What does this tell us? This tells us that ADHD is a medical condition, a war between brain and body, a battle of self confidence and above all, it is real. So if you know anyone with such symptoms, instead of punishing their shortcomings, nurture their abilities. If you find them in a tough spot, help them win their self love rebellion. And, if any of you are fighting your own rebellion, whatever your battlefield may be, follow this tactic. If you ever feel misunderstood, just seek out a mirror, look yourself in the eye and reassure yourself. Not narcissistically or egoistically, but genuinely tell yourself “I love you! Because as long as you do, somebody does too, and as long as somebody does you are going to be alright.”
So dear readers, your weekly contemplation is,
"What truly makes us different in all our similarities?"