ADD Hyperfocus & the Rabbit Hole

Did you know those of us with ADHD, ADD can experience hyperfocus? You hear ADD and think distractibility. But, as ADDitude writes: Hyperfocus, a common — but confusing — symptom of ADHD, is the ability to zero in intensely on an interesting project or activity for hours at a time. It is the opposite of distractibility, and it is common among both children and adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

And yes, I know this gift well. I do see it as a gift because when I’m focused you can’t break my attention from my goal. However, when I need to eat, go the bathroom, feed the dog….well, that suddenly becomes impossible while I’m “in the zone”.

I have found ways to work through my hyperfocus though not always successful. Let’s face it, launching a new business creates the opportunity to go down rabbit holes no one even knew existed. Well, at least a lot of this is new to me. Before today I didn’t know what a NAICS code was. Now I even know what a SIC code is!

There is just so much to do, so much to learn and you can’t do it all at once (though I have tried and expected myself to actually make that happen!) I never claimed to not be irrational at times.

I start something and immediately feel I should be an expert. Now that’s an irrational expectation. These are things we really don’t need to be putting on ourselves, especially when trying to create something….from nothing.

What I have found that works for me is setting an alarm on my phone. I know it sounds so elementary, but if I don’t have a buzzer of some sort going off I will sit in my office (closet) from dawn til’ dusk and ignore everything else around me. Currently I have alarms set for waking up, taking my meds, breakfast, lunch, walking the dog, and dinner. Seriously, I have to set there alarms or they just don’t happen.

Of course the alarm going off doesn’t complete the task so here’s where the important part comes in: I have to convince myself each and every time that taking a break is not only good for my brain, but necessary so I can manage the rest of my life (and my health).

Plus, I’d be quite the hypocrite if I promote and advocate for self-care yet lock myself in a closet and skip meals all day, every day (yes, my office is in a not-so-small-but-not-huge closet).

This business has helped me to stay on top of my own self-care, absolutely. The entire mission of my business is to get people talking about mental health while promoting the necessity of self-awareness and self-care. If I don’t take care of myself, my words to you just don’t matter. Plus, the very last thing I want to end up ever again in my life is so overworked and stressed that I no longer can see, comprehend or thrive.

We know where that leads. Well, for me that type of living (all out of balance) put me right into a Conversion Disorder episode, landing me in the hospital for days.

But it’s not easy sometimes. I literally feel stupid when I don’t understand something at first pass. Now if you told me the same I would highlight your abilities and express the importance of giving yourself a break, having patience with yourself, and all of that: seriously, I’d be all over you if you with kindness and care if you said that to me. But me saying it to myself, well that’s something entirely different.

Well, we know it isn’t different whatsoever. It’s exactly the same. When my friends beat themselves up I say “hey don’t talk about my friend like that”. I am practicing, daily, that same concept. I wouldn’t allow anyone else to put those types of expectations and demands on me, why the hell would I do it to myself?

So, I am doing my very best to be my very best so I can help others to want to be their very best and then make it so contagious that in the long run, together, we help others to feel and be better themselves. Truth. We can help one another feel better just by understanding ourselves.

I’m so excited about this, I really am. Every new ‘thing’ I come across and have to learn gets me one step closer to really getting this off of the ground. I’m learning so much about myself along the way; and constantly reminded that I am definitely on the right track. I’m where I am supposed to be, right now.

I may have to adapt a few more coping skills to really keep myself from the rabbit holes. I’m always learning and always open to trying new things if they may help me manage the way my brain does and doesn’t work.

As I type this stream of consciousness, I realize I’m procrastinating which VeryWellMind explains here. In my case, right now, it’s because what I need to do involves numbers. I’d rather eat dirt than do math or transfer numbers from one spreadsheet to the next. It’s just not my jam. I get overwhelmed quickly, so procrastination is a symptom of my inability to, you guessed it, know the answers at first pass.

If you want to read more about ADD hyperfocus and ways to make it work to your advantage ADDitude Magazine has a great article with 7 tips (and yes, one is ‘use an alarm’!)

Now I close, because….fine, I’ll go do the numbers.

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