ADHD & Writing II

In the first post of this series, I wrote a little of my history with ADHD and why I chose to write about my experience with it. Today, I’d like to write about how ADHD has affected my creativity.

Of course, ADHD isn’t the only thing to blame for my lack of progress in, well, anything. I also suffer from mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, which always seem to be at war with each other. Depression likes to tell me I’m not good enough of a writer to be successful, whereas anxiety is always harping at me that I’m not doing enough.

The “good” thing about mental illnesses is that they are cyclical. Some downs last longer than others, but the wheel always turns over eventually. ADHD, on the other hand, is constant. There are no ups and downs, especially not for people, like me, who are unmedicated. ADHD just is.

I’m in a really great place right now with my mental health, but even so, I’m struggling to remain focused and motivated because I still have to contend with ADHD.

I want to talk a little bit about what ADHD is–for me. ADHD, like most things, is a spectrum and we don’t all experience it the same way. ADHD is also fluid. When I was younger, I embodied the “hyperactivity” aspect of it. As an adult, much of that hyperactivity is gone, but that doesn’t mean my ADHD has gone. The hole hyperactivity left behind was filled with something else.

So often, I see people refer to ADHD as a “superpower.” Of course, this usually comes from neurotypical people who have no clue. Yes, my brain may be moving at the speed of light, but that doesn’t mean it lends itself to creative output. More often than not, it hinders it. My brain isn’t just thinking about art, it’s thinking about all the things, all the time.

This is typically where executive dysfunction kicks in the door like the Kool-Aid man. I have a long laundry list of things I’d like to accomplish every day. Cleaning, writing, errands, reading, phone calls, et cetera. Because of ADHD, I struggle to prioritize things, and because I can’t prioritize things, I can never choose something to focus on. So I wind up doing nothing.

And even when I am able to finally settle on something, ADHD still works against me. I get easily distracted and often lose my train of thought. Prime example: it’s taking me twice as long to write this post as it should because my cat has been noisily licking himself and my brain is choosing to focus on that instead.

Have I mentioned that sensory overload is a big component of ADHD? No? Well, I’m mentioning it now.

I also struggle to keep myself motivated throughout tasks. If my interest-based brain doesn’t see any real value in whatever task I’m doing, it quickly, well, loses interest. Even with writing, one of my greatest passions. The payout for writing seems so far out into the future, I often ask myself why I even bother.

But that could be depression talking again. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference; there tends to be a lot of overlap.

Caution; Slippery Floor: A Poem

This is something fun I wrote last night. It was meant to be a serious poem but I lost focus halfway through and it became this. I feel it’s a perfect embodiment of ADHD.

Side note: Richard Siken is one of my favorite poets.

Richard Siken speaks often
of cutting off his head;
I think I might too.
Maybe I could trade it
for another,
try on new brains
like I try on clothes.
Who do I want to be
today?
Let’s see how neurotypical fits.
What is it like to not
be at war
with yourself?
To be able to hold
a thought;
mine are as slippery
as a Minnesota winter.

At least on the floor, my
brain can feed the rats; the
only thing it feeds me is
song lyrics on loop while
I forget, again, to call my
dentist, to pay overdue bills,
to take blood pressue meds–
oh, shit, I left the stove on.

ADHD & Writing I

I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was four years old. Now they typically wait to diagnose children until they’re school age, but in the early ’90s, early diagnoses seemed to be the norm. I definitely had the hyperactivity aspect of it down pat, at least. They were right, though. I’ll turn thirty-one this June and, though I’m not as hyperactive as I used to be, I certainly suffer from many of the other symptoms of ADHD.

  • I stim.
  • I often daydream.
  • I’m anxious about everything and have unexplained mood swings.
  • I suffer from rejection sensitive dysphoria.

The list goes on and on.

My parents told me about my diagnosis when I was in middle school. I don’t know why they waited until then. My dad never wanted me to be medicated, so I’ve been flying solo my whole life. Now it’s just something I’ve learned to live with. I do often wonder what life would be like if I had been medicated. What could my life be like now if I hadn’t had to fight against my own brain for so long?

If I wasn’t still fighting against it every day?

I know I could seek medication and therapy if I wanted to, but growing up with my dad’s aversion to medicine has rubbed off on me. I won’t even take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for a headache unless it’s really bad.

I’m an old geezer and I’m stuck in my ways.

As a teenager and young adult, I never paid any attention to my diagnosis. It wasn’t “a big deal.” It’s only been within the last couple years that I’ve been interested in learning more about ADHD, and I’ve started to be move vocal about my neurodivergence.

Growing up, I thought I was just weird, and I never wanted to speak out about some of the things I did or thought or felt–I was afraid of being judged. Now, I’m not so afraid. Hence, this post, and any subsequent ones that come along.

“ADHD & Writing” will be a short series about what I’ve learned about ADHD and how it’s affected my life. It’s had an especially large impact on my motivation, which is probably why I’m pushing thirty-one and only seriously pursuing a career in writing now. I’m only just beginning to realize how much of my life ADHD has stolen from me, and, honestly, I’m a little offended.