I know I’m not the only one drawn to the scenes in movies and TV shows in which detectives analyze “crazy walls” of pinned suspect photos and maps that lay out motive, alibis and all the possibilities. The format seems to facilitate neural synapses. How nice if my sloppily affixed, overlapping collage of sorts pictured above could not solve a crime but answer lingering questions of my life! Could it organize a spastic ADHD mind that is rife with ideas and contradictory priorities? Because a morning Vyvanse pill has given me a lovely bounce of energy (love those stimulants!), but has not made a dent on my ability to multi-task and prioritize.
For those of us who have diagnosed themselves late in life, eg. taken a computer test involving clicking on a space bar when presented with images (a dubious test to me), it feels good to find like minds. On the sly, my tween son wrangled his way into my phone and signed me up for a Facebook group of moms with ADHD; upon first blush, this annoyed me, but now I fully appreciate the level of kinship I feel with my people. A recent post was a photo someone took of a mug with a tea bag string over the rim and inside, coffee. A recent example from home: my 5 year old daughter asked me for milk with her breakfast a few times, only to get handed a glass of water ten minutes later. To my great amusement, she stood behind my chair and started tracing letters on my back while giggling. I slowly recognized her message. “A”…”D”…”H”…”D”. Ah, the origins of snark.
The creative, almost trance-like state that many people with ADHD enjoy is the best gift. Recent ADHD parent posts detailed all the creativity of members from sock art, traditional art mediums, to “creating minis for tabletop gaming (??)”. Like my brethren who can hyper- focus at times, I can stuff K-drama dolls for 24 hours happily and Sculpie in my in laws’ uncarpeted, chilly basement all night. I remember drawing a book about my guinea pig as a young adult and not eating for a day to do so. The only kink is the rest of life that competes with this glorious high.
The question often posed on the Facebook group is whether we’d trade our ADHD to be more balanced people. Usually, I’d say no, as I am proud to be neurodivergent, but there are countless hair-tearing moments that cannot be denied. (Standing in front of my lobby door rooting through my bag for my keys the other day while my therapist neighbor, no joke, flash diagnosed me with ADHD or more seriously, once leaving my 2 year old in a building lobby as I pushed an empty stroller gabbing with my son for a half block before I reared (No one can run like a mother who has lost their kid!).
In typical ADHD style, I recently purchased a book called Attention Deficit Disorder: the Unfocused Mind in Children and Adults by Thomas E. Brown, Ph.D. because I’d hoped to find some solutions for the chaos in my mind and, sigh, predictably, cannot get myself to sincerely read it. (Though I skimmed enough to see there’s a section about the difficulties of starting things when you have ADHD). I have concluded, possibly prematurely, that it’s of little use to me–a list of problems and anecdotes with little celebration of the joys and a dearth of solutions beyond drugs.
How can I make sense of the noise in my head that tells me to write a graphic novel/start a play/try to get an art fellowship based on my Korean identity search and stuffed dolls/ work on my blog/write a screenplay/fill in my health insurance claim forms that are overdue/de-cluttter the apartment/do intakes for work/look into high schools for my son/find activities to do over winter break/call my mother every day and so on.
At Carleton College, I remember internally mocking a student who was very organized and would show off his detailed computer graphs of how he balanced school and fun but now I suspect he might be the one laughing. I expect he’s off somewhere living a very compact, sensible life devoid of anxiety-rearing moments and mess. But. somehow I know graphs and charts are not my destiny.
One piece of my “solution” has been my Wednesday night Zoom with my middle school friend Michelle whom I reconnected with a few years ago. Both of us have ADHD, are adoptees and have a deep appreciation for fun art. We spend our time discussing documentaries, talking about creative projects, working on said projects together, reminiscing about childhood (she reminded me how we once went with our class to the Earth Room that supposedly still exists-a SOHO room piled with dirt and puzzled at how it could possibly be art. She reminded me that I’ve always been creative–drawing cartoons over friends’ notebooks as a kid). Michelle, a talented, unique artist is a voice other than those I’ve grown up with to the contrary, that tells me it’s valuable to be creative and that I could do it full time if I chose. She also has cool ideas. I was making Kdrama dolls weeks ago and on Zoom, she showed me a Kiki Smith flip doll that was an owl on one side and a cat on the other.
“Make Kdrama flip dolls like good mother/bad mother,” she suggested that night. So I did because it is a funny, irreverent idea.
In, what I now realize is very ADHD style, our Wed night Zoom might begin with me talking about the fact that my husband, quite amused, walked in on me the other night staring at donuts on http://www.goldbelly.com and then shift to us watching TikTok videos (there’s much more than dance videos and people looking cute), interrupting that to Google the Museum of Textiles in Philly about fellowships and then maybe breaking out to do 100 arm stretches as demonstrated by YogaGirl2 (guaranteeing super tone arms if done daily). But we also give each other deadlines. I recently told her of my on and off dream of making a semi autobiographical graphic novel and/or writing a novel.( I have maybe 30 notebooks filled with novel outlines and excerpts and a handful of completed short stories. I look like a serial killer with crazed scratched out notes, often of the same material over and over).
“Write 20 life events out on index cards and then put them on your wall by our next Zoom because that’s what works in the movies,” Michelle instructed. “Then, you’ll be able to clearly see what you want to do.
So back to the bulletin board. We’ll see how it works. But I believe that if I ever complete a novel/short story collection/graphic novel/play then I will be her first client–Michelle Morby, Creative Coach/ADHD coach. Now to find a coach to help me organize the rest of my life!!
If anyone reading this has funny ADD/ADHD stories to share, I’d love to hear them and/or if anyone wants to hire coach Michelle, I can give you her info. (I should probably ask her before I offer).
My next related post:
An ADHDer’s flash review of 10 current books (based on reading the first five pages of the book)