ADHD is a chemical imbalance in the brain, which can manifest in a wide variety of ways. I’ve already written a little about my “epiphany” in researching ADHD- and would like to thank those that reached out and shared their stories and support. But only those that suffer from ADHD really understand what I’m going through… if you don’t have it, or even if you have it but don’t SUFFER from the symptoms… it’s going to be very hard to understand. But if you WANT to understand me better, please read on…
ADHD is a “disorder”, not a disease; there is no cure. To better understand, let’s think of it as an “abnormality”… not unlike having 6 toes. Since the majority of the people in the world don’t have 6 toes, that’s what makes it ab-normal. But it’s not something ‘curable’, either… even if you had one toe removed you’re just adapting to the accepted “normal”.
Thinking of ADHD in this manor might be a bit humorous (and it was meant to be), but bear with me and I’ll explain. Because the ADHD brain’s chemistry is different than the world majority, it operates a little differently. This in itself might not be an issue, but society has standards and expectations that are based on the “normal”. Having 6 toes might make you better at some things, lots of things!, but make it impossible to wear “normal” closed-toe shoes. But to work in professional America “proper footwear” is expected…
Let me get away from the toes thing and back to the ADHD thing… Our society functions by rewarding good behaviors. Do-a-good-job-and-get-a-gold-star kind of thing. If you finish all of your chores you earn the right to play, right? But in the ADHD brain- it’s short on a needed chemical… so it’s searching. Like a fish on the bottom of a fish tank, sucking up pebbles and spitting them out again. The ADHD brain takes over the body and seeks stimulus that will release the needed chemical(s) to right the balance in the brain. This is as involuntary as breathing or blinking. Both of which are great examples, by the way, because they are things we can think about and control for short periods… but honestly, how long can you think about how or when you breathe or blink before it become involuntary again. ADHD people aren’t entirely incapable of controlling their attention… but like blinking or breathing it’s not too long before the brain takes back over. Squirrel?! Something shiny? What’s that noise?!
I mentioned society’s reward-after-task format because, for the ADHD brain, this system is backwards. The ADHD brain needs to achieve equilibrium before it can function like a “normal” brain is expected to. This means, for ADHD people, often the reward should really come BEFORE the task. Myself, for example, writing this article. I have a big video editing project I’m supposed to be working on today- and I’ve been uber productive so far… on everything EXCEPT video editing. I just can’t seem to make my focus stay on where I need it.
Am I impulsive? Irresponsible? Lazy? Am I choosing to not get any work done, or do I really, really want to be productive on this?! (I do!). So why am I writing this instead of editing? Well, this is hopefully an artful strategy that will help me get to work. You see, these thoughts were bouncing around in my head… and I had the sudden impulse to put them in writing. I enjoy writing (sometimes), I get to creatively express myself… and in this case I also get to help people understand who I am and why I’m the way I am. If I understand the ADHD brain, in theory doing something I *want* to do, that I enjoy, should help get my chemistry upstairs right… and allow me to finally get some work done.
The world is always seeking balance; like a swinging pendulum, balance is only momentarily achieved and then it is lost once again. But whether the pendulum is moving left or right, we can count on it to seek it’s center once again. In the ADHD brain, it’s seeking a similar balance… and by understanding what it needs I’m hoping to achieve it long enough to function on a necessary task. Rather than fighting that pendulum swing and prolonging it’s return to center, I’m trying something different- I’m recognizing it’s need to swing and running with it (in the right direction).
I’m super-stoked to identify with ADHD suffers, not because I want an excuse, but because I want to take charge and stop the suffering. I want to believe I have a *CHOICE* in who I am and how I behave. I want to take charge of my life. I want to… ooh, is that ice cream still in the fridge?!