Scattered notes on ADHD management, as I continue forward. These are awkward musings to put out there publicly, but I’m hoping that my students who need this will find them later on and realize that they’re not the only one struggling to figure this out, that it feels this messy for everyone, and that they are not alone.
First note: one tactic I have is that if I externalize my brain (to a place like this), I’m more able to move on because I no longer worry I’ll forget something — and since this is a public archive, others can see and pick up on and move forward my thoughts as well.
Second note: I describe my ADHD often (and have probably described it before) as having “high brain inertia.” It’s hard to start, and it’s hard to stop; except when it’s… not. It is difficult to describe the lack of control I have over this. It feels like my mind is a jet engine that I’m trying to start, steer, and brake with my bare hands, and the hot metal scorches and burns. Sometimes it happens to ride along sweetly in just the direction it needs to, but when it’s not… it is incredibly hard to wrench in any other direction.
Third note: I have a sweet zone between bored on the one hand, and overwhelmed on the other. I need just the right amount of stimulation, and I have strategies for giving myself more (music, movement, moving to a place where others are working, etc.) but fewer for giving myself less (“cut off all communications and disappear into a hole” is… not a great one). That’s something I want to work on.
Fourth note: A recent insight is that I do have anxiety issues that come up alongside my ADHD. It’s not a chronic undertone; it’s mostly work-related. I don’t want to disappoint people, but this sometimes sends me into a spiral of frustration and hiding. I have a lot of issues around fixation on this becoming a distraction. I will sometimes freeze or avoid the issue instead of doing something to reduce the anxiety - it’s hard for me to tackle it head-on.
Fifth note: The two most common frustration loops I get stuck in are “I know I can do this, but it’s not happening… why?” and going around and around on that — and then the “it’s slightly late, so I must make it amazing so everyone can see the tardiness was for a good reason…” which usually leads to a spiral of the work becoming increasingly late with no actual quality gain.
Sixth note: If I can get into the work itself, it’s usually okay, but starting is hard. I’ve learned a lot of things and tactics, but I need to keep re-learning them; the hard part of having a disability that’s cognitive is that it’s all in your head, so you need to learn how to separate your experience of reality from… well, reality. And yeah. It’s incredibly difficult.
Seventh note: If my work largely takes place in the context of collaborative coworking times, I am AMAZING. And I need to remember this.
Eighth note: I have had amazing mentors and colleagues and friends who have been really good at understanding my needs and adapting to them, and I need to also remember this. Not everyone will be this way, but just as I try to adapt and support others as I can, I also need to ask and accept when it’s offered.
The ninth note is long, so I will do it separately - it is about integrity rather than reliability.