Being A Writer with ADHD – Constant Struggles

Hi everyone!

Imagine you have your favorite internet browser open.  Now imagine you have about 50 tabs open, each to a different website.  Now imagine that you’re trying to read an article about, say, a medical condition of some sort.

All of a sudden, without you doing anything and without your consent, your browser switches to another tab, say about dog breeding.  Okay, you go along, reading that article for a few minutes.

Until your browser switches to another tab, say to a blog, where you start writing a new article.  Halfway through that, your browser switches to another tab.  And again.  And again.  Never ending.  And perhaps even more tabs open to new places that your browser switches to randomly.  Other tabs close without your knowledge and you forget what was even on those tabs.

This is what it’s like to have ADHD.  This is what my mind does when my ADHD is at its worst.

As a writer, this is particularly troublesome…

What Exactly Is ADHD?

Image Source - http://media.npr.org
Image Source – http://media.npr.org

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  But it’s not what you’d expect.  Not for me, any way.  You see, when most people think ADHD, they automatically think “hyper kids who won’t sit still!”

No.

That is not ADHD.  That can be a symptom of ADHD, but people, whether kids or adults, who are not hyper can still have it.  Like me.  Give me suger, give me caffeine, and I’m still never really hyper.

ADHD is, in essence, exactly what I discussed at the beginning of this article.  Your mind won’t stay focused on one thing.  It wanders, and you have no control over it.  Hyperactivity can be part of it, but what’s common with all ADHD is what is defined as inattentiveness.

But again, at least in my experience, inattentiveness is just another symptom of what I described above.  I seem inattentive simply because my mind wanders, and I forget what I was doing, or stop paying attention to what someone is saying.  It’s not because I’m bored with what a person is saying, it’s because I have no control.

And that is the most frustrating part of it.  No control.  I’ll fully admit up front, this has brought me to tears on more than one occasion.  I get so frustrated, I feel like I hate myself, like I’m broken…

My Story with ADHD

Thankfully, my ADHD does not seem to be a constant.  I don’t understand it, but it comes and goes over the course of many, many years.

https://robertsspaceindustries.com/
https://robertsspaceindustries.com/

I was first diagnosed with it as a child.  I couldn’t focus in class.  In fact, there were several embarrassing moments where I’d be in my own head, imagining things like space battles, and would unknowingly make sound effects, drawing the attention and laughter, of my class mates.

When I was finally diagnosed and a suitable medication and dosage was found…it turned my life around.  No, seriously, it forever changed the course of my life for the better.

You see, my grades were horrible.  C’s and D’s, very close to failing.  In grade school.  More than that, as I grew increasingly frustrated, not having the capacity to understand what was going on or why, I withdrew.  I isolated myself from other kids.  I had few friends (in fact up until 3rd grade, I didn’t have any real friends.  I’m not exaggerating either…)

Then, when my doctor started me on the correct medication (which took some trial and error to find), suddenly I could focus.  Suddenly my grades shot up to A’s and occasional B’s.  I understood the homework.  The teachers started lauding about how much of a joy it was to have me in their class.

And I made a few friends, too.  I no longer felt quite so alone…

And that’s how it was for several years.  Until around when we moved to New Mexico.  I was in 8th grade, and all of a sudden, shortly after we moved, the medication started making me sick.  So I stopped taking it…

And I found I no longer needed it.  My grades stayed up. I excelled in school, and in everything I did after school.  Somehow, I seemed to have outgrown ADHD.

Or so I thought.  I’d been told by my doctor that I could outgrow it, but that it could also come back as an adult.  And it did.  With a vengeance.

About 4 or 5 years ago, it hit again.  I didn’t realize it at first, but my performance at work started to drastically suffer.  I went from being one of the best shift leads to being sat down with by my boss and talked to about my failing performance.  I couldn’t understand it, and I felt like I’d lost myself, like the person I was had vanished.

I went back to my parents’ home and saw my old doctor, not the one who diagnosed me with ADHD but the one I had known the longest, and talked to him about it.  And he agreed with my fear: ADHD had returned.

I went back on medication for it, and just as it had before, it turned my life around.  I became an exemplary employee again, I became myself again.  But I only needed the medication for about a year, and then once again, it started making me sick.  I stopped taking it, and found I no longer needed it.

I didn’t understand it, but I didn’t complain, and life went on.

Until this year.  2016 for many people has been hard, but for me, it has been doubly so.  My ADHD returned, and once again, I had no idea at first.  Only this time it came back worse than ever…

Thankfully, despite this struggle, this time I had an amazing person in my life to help me through it.  To stand with me no matter how bad my ADHD became…  Thank you so much, Starshine.  You have no idea how much it means to me :)

Being A Writer With ADHD

For those who have been reading my blog for a long time, you’ll know that I have a system for writing a novel, very structured, but open enough that it doesn’t stifle my creativity.  Click here to read that two-part blog article :)

That is because as someone with ADHD, I need to plan ahead and find ways to keep myself on-task.  Because even when my ADHD isn’t flaring up bad, I still can get easily distracted.  Having a journal, plotting out the chapters so I can always go back and look at the notes, this allows me to do what many might consider impossible for a person with this problem.

To all of my fellow ADHD sufferers, that is probably the best advice I can give you.  Yes, I know this is easier said than done, but find ways to compensate for your inattentiveness.  Write notes.  Keep a notepad active on your phone to take notes down as you remember to do things.  Use a calendar function to set reminders for important dates for you.

But most important, and I cannot stress this enough: you are not broken.  Here, let me repeat that.

We are not broken.

We can still function in society, it’s just more difficult for us.  We can still achieve great things, wondrous things!  We are not guaranteed to fail.

Don’t give up.  I know how frustrating it is, I know how hard, and there are times where I’ve felt like giving up, in life and as a writer.  But don’t.  Please don’t.  Believe in yourself.  You are not broken, and you can still do everything you want, as long as you don’t give up.

I believe in you.

Thanks for reading, everyone.  I hope this sheds some light on an often misunderstood disorder, and I hope this gives those of you with ADHD some hope.

Because a guy with ADHD wrote and published two novels, with more on the way.  :)

Thanks for reading!  And please, feel free to leave comments, click that like button, click that follow button, and all the things!  :D

-Jon Wasik

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