Fresh Starts, Fresh Views: ADHD? ADDED!
Finally, the break of a new year, which always smells of a fresh start. Even in the midst of a pandemic. This is probably why the concept of a “new year’s resolution” is so popular. Also, why it often doesn’t work.
Don’t get me wrong. On January 1st, two years ago, I began to seriously write my first ADHD fantasy novel. While I haven’t yet finished, I’m still at it, always progressing. Is that the result of a new year’s resolution? Quite the contrary: it is the result of an incessant series of tiny decisions to start again. I strive to start afresh not only each day, but multiple times a day, even if there isn’t much I can actually do. It’s a state of mind: Forward.
Here’s why: “I messed this up; let me try again” allows me to move forward, while “I messed this up, as I always do” gets me stuck in a backward-moving loop. I should know; I do mess things up again and again, multiple times a day, in the same way exactly — I forget, I lose focus, I get lost in time… But, after each and every time, I try again.
Decades of living with my ADHD brain have taught me that I only have two options: forever lament who I’m not and what I can’t do, dwell on my “deficit” and “disorder”; or celebrate who I am, take what I have, for better or worse, and work with it. Yes, even though I know I’ll forget again, my mind will drift again, I’ll struggle with starting everything again and again, and then, again, with ending. It’s very easy to focus on that. However, it is possible to make a deliberate decision to stress the other side: my incessant new ideas; my natural tendency toward novelty; my mind’s way of jumping between thoughts, randomly connecting them, thus coming up with unexpected solutions. My wild imagination. My never-ending energy, which is, yes, in constant need of direction, but is nonetheless there. All of these are just as much a part of me, and of my ADHD, as my distractibility and my other hurdles.
Once my brain, in its endless hopping from thought to thought, reached this mind-blowing conclusion — I couldn’t anymore see myself as someone with a “deficit” or a “disorder”. How can this be beneficial, anyway? “ADHD” had to go. in its place, I chose to call my neurodiverse set of traits “ADDED”. Firstly, because this is an actual word, not just four letters standing for words I disagree with. But mainly, because it’s true. I do have ADDED distractions, compared to the majority of people. I have an ADDED energy, which is another facet of my ADDED restlessness. I have ADDED imagination, inventiveness, ideas and thoughts; ADDED creativity, tendency to initiate and launch, and yes, also to desert and ditch.
Surprisingly, I found that one doesn’t even need to face any specific difficulty, challenge or difference to see themselves as flawed, and focus on their past failures, rather than look ahead and keep trying, because that’s what life is about.
This year, as every year, I am resolute to forgive myself, and to put a much stronger emphasis on looking forward than on lamenting on what was or wasn’t. I am determined to continue, rather than just have ADHD, to be ADDED.
How about you?