I think I see how ADHD affects me

posted by Jeff | Saturday, January 1, 2022, 3:41 PM | comments: 0

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was not something really on my radar when I sought confirmation that I had ASD, but I know from parenting that the comorbidity of the two conditions is super common. It made a lot of sense almost instantly, especially in the context of high school and college academics. It perfectly explains exceptionally high scores for standardized tests and IQ but super average to low grades and difficulty getting assignments done in a timely way. It also explained why I suspect I'm a better manager than maker, because the constant context switching comes naturally, and as long as I'm organized, I can always circle back to complete things.

Today I'm facing the unusual situation where I'm home alone. Diana is at work, Simon is at a play date. I thought, "I've had this coding idea for months, I should work that out." So I sat down on the patio, busted out the laptop... and did little more than open Visual Studio. I can't do it right now. I want to, but I can't. There are a hundred other things on my mind ranging from the death of Betty White to this itchy scratch that the kitten made on my leg. I'm watching the birds (and hilariously, squirrels) on the bird feeder, having memories triggered by music I'm listening to, wondering what I'll have for dinner, texting people I realize I haven't talked to in awhile, congratulating myself at the decision to paint the house because the patio is brighter... and that's all just in the few minutes before I started writing this.

This is all kinds of new self-awareness for me. Using Simon for reference, I know that his biggest challenge is impulsivity, especially when his meds wear off. I don't suffer from impulsivity, I don't think, but focus comes in waves. I built a career on writing code, and even have the open source projects to show for it. I'm capable of doing it, but when and in what circumstances? Friends that have ADHD say they can't adult very well without medications, but I'm wholly terrified about taking any drug that changes the way my brain works. Like I said, I think there are benefits to being wired this way, and it kinds of pisses me off that it's a "disorder" (ditto for some flavors of autism).

Considering ADHD a "super power" is obviously applying bias to one's situation, and I get that, but there is some truth to it. The most counterintuitive ability is hyperfocus, which is the reason that Simon can play a video game for hours without interruption, and it's probably the reason that I have said open source projects with tens of thousands of lines of code. If something is super interesting and I very much want an outcome, I can stick to it.

Is it too early for dinner? Squirrel!


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