The ADHD Brain
Alice, of Alice in Wonderland, followed a white rabbit down a rabbit hole, ultimately leading her to an amazing adventure in Wonderland. The rabbit was intriguing to her because it was wearing a waistcoat and had a pocket watch. My wife’s ADHD previously led her frequently down one rabbit hole or another, but the only wonder she seemed to have experienced is how or why it was that she came to experience her unexpected detour in the first place.
As an example, she may start the morning with the simple task of cleaning the kitchen counters, but when she finds an opened box of cereal next to some dirty dishes, she chooses to transfer the contents into a sealed plastic container. As she places the container in its proper location, she notices the shelf’s cluttered appearance and chooses to re-arrange it. While doing so, she discovers something sticky and proceeds to clean more deeply. Without even noticing the various rabbit holes she’s gone down, she awakens to the realization she’s cleaned and re-organized the entire pantry—including the mopping of the floor. She feels self-congratulatory for a brief moment, but then catches a glimpse of her still-dirty kitchen counters and wonders when it was she decided to take a two hour detour of her morning schedule. Arriving home on a day like this I’d often hear her complain,
“I haven’t accomplished a thing today!”
Taking note of her spotlessly clean pantry or some other accomplishment, I always found those comments confusing. Since learning of her ADHD I believe I understand a bit better. She may take pride in her actual work (like cleaning the pantry), but is thoroughly frustrated by not having accomplished the things which were actually on her daily list of desired accomplishments. In other words, she chased down an unexpected rabbit hole of one kind or another at some point in her day.
Had Cory been Alice, of Alice in Wonderland fame, I’m afraid Lewis Carrol’s story would have ended much differently—if it ended at all.
Here’s how her version might have gone:
No way am I following a rabbit into that dirty hole!
There’s an interesting rabbit. I’ve never seen one wearing a vest before. I wonder why he’s so dressed up.
Why is it that everyone who wears a vest leaves the bottom button unfastened?
Who invented the vest anyway? When I see a man wearing one I almost laugh out loud because he looks like a butler to me. It must have been the British.
I’m afraid I’d get cold if I had to wear one; I’d rather have the warmth and comfort of sleeves. I’ll bet that’s why the rabbit has gone down that hole—he wants to get warm.
Is it true rabbits live in holes? Do they dig them or just find a hole in the ground and choose to live there?
My grandpa raised rabbits and they didn’t look dirty. I thought they were so soft and cuddly and I loved to hold them as a child. I remember asking Grandpa why my favorite rabbit was missing…I had no idea we ate him for Sunday dinner!
Okay, now I’m angry and done thinking about rabbits—and no way am I following a rabbit into that dirty hole!
I suppose nobody is perfect at staying on task one hundred percent of the time, but this is a tendency which is particularly strong with those who suffer from ADHD. That’s simply how my wife’s mind works; it takes concentrated effort, and medication, for her to avoid the various rabbit holes she encounters on a daily basis. Since discovery of the disorder, chasing down rabbit holes is much less a hobby than it used to be.
Channeling her energy and narrowing her focus comes much more readily and is more intuitive for her. She delights in learning new methods and creative ways to keep herself on task. There are frustrating days, as there are for everyone, but the frequency diminishes.
She wants these keys for herself, but she is passionately driven to find more options, and better ways for her clients to avoid the same diversions.
About Guest Editor
Cory, asked me, her husband, to write this month’s Journal entry. It was fun to reminisce on what was previously a regular challenge for her, but it was quite uplifting to reflect on the change that has taken place in her life since her discovery of ADHD. She has been passionate in her desire to change those patterns of once predictable behaviors.
I have loved my wife almost as long as I can remember, and it has been particularly enjoyable to watch as she learned to love herself more through her journey of ADHD self-discovery.