As many of you know I have a combination of Inattentive & Over Focused Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). I quite surprisingly haven’t written much about it on the actual blog page but I have on our Stories from the Sandbox Facebook page. I’ve going to share an explanation of it here. This was posted on the FB page in 2013. I’m posting it here mostly because I was trying to find it today and couldn’t and then I realized it was on Facebook, not the blog. By posting it here, I can access it quickly. So here we go:
I’m going to talk mostly about how ADD affects me and a little bit about my combination and what it means. There are lots of great places to learn about ADD/ADHD and how it affects people. Here are a few if you’re looking for something less specific to what I experience:
Understood: For Learning & Attention Issues
My type of ADD is referred to as Inattentive and Over- Focused ADD. Inattentive & Over- Focused are actually two different kinds of ADD but I have a combination of both. With it being ADD as opposed to ADHD, I don’t experience the Hyperactivity that is often seen.
Some of the most prominent ‘symptoms’ of Inattentive ADD I experience are; getting distracted easily, losing focus extremely quickly on activities or tasks that don’t interest me, overlooking important details, going from task to task without really accomplishing anything on said tasks, being extremely disorganized (for me this anything from getting things ready to go somewhere simple to my desk being an absolute disaster), making careless mistakes on school-work (especially after finishing the ‘hard’ part of assignment- I tend to lose focus very quickly after that), ‘day dreaming’ (I don’t really day dream but I zone out very quickly) and a huge inability to focus on conversations.
I don’t experience as many ‘symptoms’ with the Over- Focused ADD as I do with the Inattentive but there are a few that are very prominent for me. Here they are; struggles with shifting attention, oftentimes gets stuck in loops that focus on negative thoughts or behaviour, difficulty being obsessive and inflexible and excessive worrying.
I think the main thing I want to talk about is the way my thoughts work because of this. I keep everything logged in my head as ‘train tracks’. This is something I’ve learned to do through life. It’s pretty much the only way I can keep my thoughts clear and focused. I know it might sound silly but now that I’ve got this ‘system’ figured out, it’s much easier to complete and focus on separate tasks or conversations. I’m going to try and explain it all in illustrations to make it easier to understand.
This is what I suspect a typical thought process/head space looks like. Different thoughts/ideas/plans etc. all floating nicely together in a space and meshing with each other to help create new thoughts.
This is how I picture my process/head space. Each individual thought/idea/plan etc. is separated and in their own section of the ‘railroad’ track. They don’t touch each other and one thought comes to the forefront and once and is focused on.
This is what my process/head space looked like previous to my railroad track implementation. It was very very chaotic with thoughts/ideas/plans etc. bouncing all over the place and interacting way too much with the others, almost aggressively. This would start with an inability to focus and end in shut- down. It would become too much. It was extremely difficult to focus on one thought when the others would bounce right through it.
I started using this ‘railroad’ system when I was in grade 8 or 9 and it has definitely helped me in many ways. This system really helps with focus. I am super bad at focusing during conversations, especially when they involve more than one person so this really helps me stay on track with that.
This system works great but it’s also quite draining. My brain isn’t wired to keep my thoughts in a railroad track so oftentimes when I’ve had to be hyperfocused on ensuring the ‘tracks’ stay where they need to be I end up being quite drained when I don’t have to focus on it so much. That being said, I can’t always keep them sorted. This is what happens when I start to lose that control.
All good one day in Alix’s railway land.
Then one thought can’t stay in it’s section. It gets loose and bounces into another section. This is very easily triggered. If I’m not on it at all times, a thought bouncing can literally happen from someone I recognize walking by.
This triggers another thought to get loose and bounce into another section. Once they go into another section, the thoughts explode and start to go all over the place. I’m generally frantically trying to keep everything in line at this point.
Eventually the thoughts all just go everywhere and they’ve all exploded. Leaving behind broken sections and a chaotic mess. This can take hours/days to get back to normal, usually leaving me in a very panicked/extremely unfocused state.
So, as silly as it may seem, I have found this system to work really well for me. I would rather be a bit tired but know where my thoughts are at as opposed to it being chaotic. Always. I discovered this method through lots and lots of trial and error.
I have found that keeping my focus in order tends to help make the other ‘symptoms’ at bay as most of what I experience are related to focus.
Anyway, That’s my self-sharing for the day. I’ll post more about the other stuff later over the next few weeks.
(Blog people: I’ll share the rest of those on here later this week.. I’ll space them out to not overload your inboxes. 😉 )