A few years ago I was scrolling through Twitter, my favorite avoidance technique on the planet, when I saw a thread that turned into a conversation about ADHD. The person I was reading was describing circumstances that were so challenging that my heart went out to him. And then, as I continued to read, my heart did a little jump and I felt like I was looking in the mirror.
Me?! ADHD?! I called my daughter to talk about it and I could hear her eyes roll over the telephone. “We’ve talked about this before, you know,” she said. Really?! Hmmm, is that symptom too?
I did some research, talked with some people, and it came down to a pretty clear yes, I do have the challenges of living in my own little ADHD world. I talked with my doctor, tried some medication, and that seemed to help until I forgot why it was important for me to take it. When I stopped the medication, I s l o w e d down like unwound watch until I was again sitting on my couch most of the day not sure what I was supposed to be doing but feeling pressured to do it anyway. It’s an awful feeling, helpless, frustrating, confusing. I told someone recently that it was like living inside cotton candy – sticky and difficult to move through.
So, I went on and off the medication. And moved in and out of the ADHD realm. Until I moved to New Mexico with it’s almost constant bright sun and blue skies and figured I didn’t need any medication at all. And then, as I have before, I forgot that I lived in the ADHD world. Even when I struggled with symptoms, I didn’t remember what they were symptoms of. Until today.
Again, I was scrolling through Twitter and happened on another ADHD conversation. Again, I was fascinated by the similarities of my experience with the women writing about theirs … and then … I remembered. Oh. Right. That’s me too.
One woman (@blkgirllostkeys) wrote, “There are many ways to tell time, but in the world of ADHD, there are only two times: now and not now.
Seems simple but the repercussions are not simple at all. It’s difficult for me to estimate time – will it take me five minutes or three hours? It’s also difficult to anticipate consequences – like staying up until 1:30 am to finish the next chapter of a book even though I know that Sadie will wake at 7:00 am wanting her 30 minute walk after her breakfast and I’ll be tired and off beat all day. In other words, if it’s not now then it’s not real.
This is fabulous if you’re meditating at an ashram or in a cave in Tibet but not so fabulous when you have deadlines and commitments that are not now. Especially if the deadlines and commitments are to myself. I’m willing to go the extra mile for my commitments to others but tend not to make that same effort for me.
For me, the challenge is to be attentive to my feelings. How does my physical body feel now? and now? and now? How is my mental body feeling? And what about my emotional body, how is she feeling now? and now? and now?
It’s about regular checking in, yes, and also attending to what my feelings are telling me.
- Is my knee hurting? Would adjusting my posture help?
- Is my mind stuck in an old thought-rut? How can I gently shift myself out of that rut to think along new lines?
- Is there a part of me that is feeling inadequate in the moment because of something someone said or did? How can I acknowledge the feeling of inadequacy and then gently lead my emotions into a new place where I can also acknowledge my competence and strengths?
When I’m aware of all the aspects of me, I am living in the now in a way that allows me to be aware and responsive to the world around me as well as the world within me. It’s not an easy journey but so worth it to me.
What about you?
Neurodiversity is the diversity of human brains and human minds. The enormous diversity among individual human minds is a product of multiple factors, including environment, culture, family, and personal history. But human minds also possess an innate diversity, which interacts with these other factors to produce the unique individuality of each human being.
We are a neurologically diverse species: the enormous innate variation among individual human bodies extends to our brains, which differ from one another like fingerprints. This diversity of brains means a diversity of cognitive styles, a diversity of innate cognitive strengths and weaknesses, gifts and peculiarities. This is what is meant by neurodiversity.