Finding My Focus In Life And Writing

When you're ADHDI’ve always had trouble finding my way from Point A to Point B and often end up at Point Z.

With thoughts in a constant state of flux, the only way to anchor them is to purge them onto paper. If I didn’t write, my backed-up brain would need an enema.

It’s hard for thoughts to stay in one place when you’re ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). While flitting around inside my head, my thoughts are every place instead of where they should be–at my desk focused on writing.

Most days I curse the ADHD gene (my son has it as do brother 1 & 2). Yet, I do enjoy the creative component of the trippy brain bugaboo, the other Stooge-like stuff, walking into walls, not so much, “N’yuk N’yuk N’yuk.”

When my mother was pregnant with me, she didn’t send a memo to the birth procurement department asking for her daughter to be born with a circus in her head. The circus was part of the bundle my parents received when the nurse dropped me off without instructions.

I didn’t know that I had a circus in my head until the adolescent years when my thoughts traveled to distant places and followed the spotlights sweep across the tent.

Sometimes my thoughts played hooky from the circus and took a trip to the beach, usually Tahiti.

I return from a head-trip with my gaze fixed on the same wall I was staring at when my thoughts went MIA.

I say to Myself, “Myself, where was I?”

Myself finally responds after repeating the question several times.

“Sorry, I didn’t realize you were talking to me,” she says.

Myself and I have a lot in common. She has good intentions but slips up every now and then.

“You were working on a blog post,” she told me. “… You were in hyperfocus mode until you flew to Tahiti.”

Let me explain the ADHD trait known as hyperfocus, which is similar to hyperspace because you’re in the zone, a Get Smart-like dome of silence, but invisible and does not appear on TV.

When I’m in the zone, I can focus for hours, an ironic comorbid ADHD condition in which half my thoughts want to party while the other half want to work. While in hyperfocus mode, I don’t eat, shower or pee. My thoughts fuse to the computer and I write for hours (or cruise the Internet if my thoughts were out late partying the night before.)

Distraction and hyperfocus are the two most vexing attributes of ADHD. Of course, there are others: obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, lack of time-management skills, impulsivity, difficulty transitioning, i.e., etc.

On days I have an open-ended, schedule my thoughts endlessly pinball in my head as I try to catch them. If my thoughts can’t latch onto a point of focus, they disappear in the Bermuda Triangle of tangents where ships and planes are lost and a clock becomes a quaint mechanism of time.

When your body’s constantly catching up to your thoughts, time passes in a parallel dimension. One minute it’s 10 a.m., the next 12 p.m.

And you scream, “Holy Shit! I missed an appointment. That’s why many ADHDers use tools like timers and/or medication (Concerta, etc.) to manage their thoughts.

That’s what it is like to be ADHD, a lifelong condition. The traits don’t suddenly appear one day while you’re shopping for spaghetti. They’ve always been a part of you along with that birthmark on your ass.

Are you ADHD?

What tools do you use to manage the symptoms?

A Blog In Progress

FearI’ve been blogging off and on since 2009, the year I lost my job during the not-so-great recession.

Back then I blogged to purge my thoughts and never thought about finding a niche for my blog. I considered blogging a platform for testing ideas, where I could meet other bloggers and get feedback on my posts.

But over the years as I’ve changed, so have my blogging needs and ergo my focus.

As a writer/blogger/person in progress, I’ve received lots of advice from experts on what I should write or not write about and the topics on which I should focus my blog. I agonized for months to find a focus for my blog, and my writing by association.

With my thoughts caught in a perpetual tug-of-war, my sanity stepped in and forced me to make an executive decision. “Whatcha gonna do girl?”

“I’ll focus my blog on finding my focus,” I said, with indecisive certainty, “which includes a large chunk of everything.”

“A no-no!” yelled the “they sayers” in the blogosphere who advise bloggers to narrow their audience.

Impossible for someone like me with a genre disorder. Someone who vacillates between writing and blogging, nonfiction and fiction, humor, culture, and politics. Oh, my!

Add ADHD to the mix (I’ve got attention deficit disorder.), plus a four-day work week, three days w/o a routine (dangerous for an ADDer), and I’m back in a 2010 time loop, the beginning of my underemployment status, which left me in a creative vacuum.

Lost in an ADD world where time is an anachronism, I’ve never been able to cobble together a major success in my tilted perception. Success means landing a book deal with an agent or just sticking to one project until the “end,” which isn’t permanent anyway in writing until printed in ink.

Today, at the start of another unstructured day, I kidnapped myself and duct taped my butt to the chair in front of the computer, then asked myself: what should I write about? To which I replied, I have no friggin idea.

My head is filled with lots of ideas, which end up in three or four notebooks on my desk, or a digital “note” file on my Mac. Where do I begin when I can’t see past a flock of ideas that block my view like a Sharkanado cloud?

How can I focus when lingering childhood insecurities bully their way into my conscious thoughts? I know. We’re all products of dysfunctional families. But many of us are able to escape the cycle of “almost there’s” when we grow into our adult selves.

I feel like I’ve been idling on off ramps for years, with a few successful stops along the way, one of which is my 27-year old son. He has surpassed all my expectations by overcoming the educational and social hurdles that encumber a child with Asperger’s Syndrome.

It’s a huge accomplishment and I would never minimize my contribution to his success.

Now that my son is on the path to success, I thought it was time for me to cement my own path.

I need to stop the vicious cycle of “I’m stupid” in which I’ve been stuck, leftover from the adolescent years and the stigma of growing up with a mentally challenged brother 22 months my senior.  This is my time to get unstuck and reboot my life, replace the negative inner voice, “I can’t” with the positive, “I can.”

A long time ago, I realized that when life sends you down a circuitous route, having GPS is helpful, but only the person at the wheel can drive you to your destination.

Do you feel stuck?