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ADHD Journal: Adult ADHD Life

ADD/ADHD Is Like Having an X-Men Super Power
Filed Under: Adult ADD

I have not been formally diagnosed with ADHD, however, the more I learn about it the more I realize that I have had most of the symptoms for as long as I can remember.  I struggled in school and eventually dropped out of high school.  I remember not being interested and had a terrible time getting assignments completed or paying attention in class.  I don’t remember not being able to sit still or having a large amount of energy, but I do remember having a difficult time making friends and I was picked on endlessly until I reached middle school. 

I daydreamed a lot (still do) and always saw myself doing great things.  I wanted to be a race car driver, stuntman, comedian, actor, ventriloquist, body builder (I was always very skinny and always teased, so I thought being big and muscular would help me), and the list went on and on.  I did work out intently from an early age, but I had a tough time sticking with it and would always just stop doing it, unexpectedly.  I started a lot of the things that I would day dream about, but would give up, always starting with great enthusiasm and never finishing, never seeing anything through.  I am still the same way, for example, I kept saying to myself that I wanted to re-do the floors in my house, my carpet was gross (I am a clean guy, but carpet just gets gross after awhile no matter what) and I wanted it gone, but couldn’t afford new tile or anything.  So, I thought that I would just rip out the carpet and polish the concrete, I kept day dreaming about how great it would look, but I just couldn’t get started.  Then one day, I was standing in my kitchen looking at my floor and I just started doing it.  I just worked on it and worked on it, completely engrossed in what I was doing.  I would work on it after work and on the weekends, it was a ton of hard work, but I got it done.  My floor looks great, but I just don’t understand why it’s so hard for me to be like that all of the time.  Why can’t I be as intense as I was with my floor with everything that I do?  It’s as though I have to scale a giant brick wall before I can do anything.

If I could do things with the focus and energy that I sometimes have all of the time, I would be like an X-Men Superhero.  The characters in X-Men have these incredible gifts that have been with them from an early age.  They weren’t bitten by radioactive spiders nor did they come from other planets.  They were born with gifts that until they learn to use them are really curses.  I believe that we all have a very special gift and once we learn to use it we are capable of incredible things.  Realizing that I very likely have ADHD is not realizing that I have a flaw of some sort; I finally understand my true potential.  What I was like as a kid makes sense now.  I have a lot of creativity and nothing ever seems impossible to me, my mind is free in a way, I see things through a unique lens.  I have a lot of ideas and a ton of varied interests, my goal is to learn how to harness the “power” of ADHD, so that I can accomplish great things, all that I am truly capable of, in my lifetime.

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With ADHD the prefrontal cortex is underdeveloped and underactive. There is a lot of daydreaming and the body and mind are on autopilot. Thoughts and actions proceed without the guidance of the conscious mind which functions like an executive or supervisor in healthy people. Consequently, with ADHD one often behaves like an inanimate object. Such follow the rule that an object in motion stays in motion until acted upon by an outside force and an object at rest stays at rest until acted upon by an outside force. Inertia rules. When the prefrontal cortex is working it overcomes inertia by exhorting the inactive to get moving and commanding the active to halt. Just as an inanimate object will roll downhill, one with ADHD will occasionally find motivation to get started and just as inanimate water will collect in a puddle such will find focus and persistence at a task provided that task itself holds the attention of those who cannot pay attention by self-directed effort. The environment that forms and guides ADHD behavior productively is said to be prosthetic. This designed environment takes the place of or assists the challenged brain by providing stimuli that energize and hold one’s attention. The stimuli can also evoke conditioned responses. Russell Barkeley has a book for adults with ADHD that shows how to create a prosthetic environment and develop conditioned reflexes to maximize performance. and coaches like the fly lady offer much advice too. Personally, I have trained my unconscious mind to react to doorways with searching behavior. Even if I am daydreaming and on autopilot I start looking for something in the room I am leaving that I may have left unintentionally, an umbrella perhaps; I start searching my person for something I was supposed to leave, a letter I meant to deliver perhaps; and I look for some object I came to get, a purchase? Sometimes this exercise snaps me out of my reverie and I take out my note to myself-part of my prosthetic environment-that directs me with the following:” What did I leave unintentionally? The car? What did I fail to leave? Deliver mail? What did i fail to get? Purchase?” If you carry a dayplanner the doorway reflex may prompt you to check it. Doorways are ubiquitous and decisive. You would not want to leave without achieving your objective. Another thing. One woman blogger wrote that she made her life a series of choices and she aims for a decent batting average. The choices habit forces her to engage her executive functions i.e. turn on her prefrontal cortex and the decent batting average goal is motivating. It makes the right decisions pleasurable victories. In fact, the less vicerally motivating a task is the greater the victory-the metamotivation. The prospect of doing a victory dance for choosing cleaning the toilet over eating chocolate cake enables one to make the right choice. Developing habits requires much repetition. Expect to practice daily for about a month for one useful habit.

By piospal on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 at 3:35 am.

AZ: I agree with you on X-Men Super Power - when we can “harness"the it;)

Piospal: Interesting information and thanks for the links!

By on Monday, August 06, 2012 at 7:36 pm.

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