Something that has come up a lot lately is people being completely baffled by my social habits, and getting even more confused when I tell them I can’t [or sometimes just don’t want to] do something because of my ADHD. This isn’t really anything new, but I’ve had a lot of new people in my life so I’ve been having to try to explain it a bit more often than usual. I’ve noticed that a lot of folks either have no concept of what ADHD is, or have preconceived notions that they erroneously apply to All ADHD people.
I cannot speak for the struggles of All people who have Adhd, but I’d like to address the fallacy of inattentiveness. I call it a fallacy because I hate that word, inattentive, it carries so much negativity. So many accusations and insults are carried with and excused by that word; some only ever heard from the other room when I was a child and the grown ups thought I couldn’t hear. Inattention implies a lack of effort, even more than a lack of ability. It even sounds almost pleasant, like you simply don’t notice things. It’s passive. And while it describes the outsider’s observations of my life, it does a woefully poor job of explaining what it feels like to be me.
I am not Inattentive. I attend. I pay attention. I try So gods damned hard to stay focused all the time. And despite all of the effort and energy I give to keeping my attention where I want it, it strays. It strays because my experience of the world is one in which I am bombarded by distractions. Every sound, every movement in the corner of my eye, is like a hook being thrown at me, pulling at me, screaming “Look at ME!” “No, Listen to ME!” People talking are the worst. In an entire life of practice and trying different things, filtering human speech is still the hardest and most exhausting for me. It makes parties difficult at best and isolating at worst.
If it doesn’t make sense when I say that this is exhausting, humor me with an analogy. Every time two people speak at the same time, do a push up, squat, or sit up. Are there multiple conversations going on that have nothing to do with eachother? Add a rep for each of those. The tension, and fatigue that your muscles are starting to feel is a decent analogy. Sometimes it’s subtle, and you don’t notice it, but keep doing it All Day and you will be wiped out before long. Just like eventually you simply can’t do any more push ups until you’ve rested, the more tired I am the less able I am to parse through my distractions and get back to what I was trying to focus on. I absolutely hate this feeling and I do everything I can to avoid situations where I might not have enough energy to at least be able to parse enough to hold a conversation.
Yeah, it feels kinda like that some days: Utterly Ridiculous.