The Flip Side of Hyper-Focus – ADHD and the Flake Factor

The power of hyper-focus... the single-minded passion that makes a new and interesting thing THE ONLY THING THAT EXISTS RIGHT NOW.

Every time I open Facebook these days, I feel a tiny bit queasy.

I see updates and articles about ADHD, and it’s like a *smack*smack* in the face.  That’s a double smack because not only should I be sharing these kinds of articles in my Facebook community and on Twitter, but the headlines are all reminding me of the reason why I’m not: because I’m epically distracted!

The Flip Side of Hyper-Focus

I have written about the awesome power of hyper-focus before, and I admit that it’s exactly this level of obsession that has allowed me to get where I am today: working from home at a job I love, writing and collaborating with smart, imaginative people on projects that get me excited to wake up in the morning! I love my new job!

Did I mention my new job?!

Yeah, it’s novel. It’s shiny and exciting.

And, because I have ADHD, it’s also THE  ONLY  THING  THAT  EXISTS  RIGHT  NOW.

I have been freelancing for this company since March, but they offered me the full-time job in July (when I was away at summer camp and already absent from my blog). I intended to come back and do all the things, but what I didn’t count on was the profound effect of hyper-focus.

This job was like a big ol’ Christmas present; very exciting! The stimulus has been non-stop. Training, meetings with everyone at the company, new projects, even flying out to company headquarters for a week… and they like my ideas..! Which means, of course, that I’ve given myself endless jobs and projects to do because of my insatiable enthusiasm for all things job-related right now. I love it.

But what about my blog?

What about everything else?

I’ve had a couple friends ask me where I’ve been and why I don’t answer texts anymore. Oddly, they don’t seem impressed with my answer: Because I am really into my job right now!

ADHD and the Flake Factor

I was having a mini-crisis the other night, wondering what kind of person starts a blog like this and then just lets it… sit there? I mean, I haven’t written my own post in weeks and weeks!

And then… I laughed… because the person who does that is The Distracted Mom, that’s who!

The big ol’ ADHD mom in the bio page! That is who gets distracted by her new job and forgets about everything and lets her friendships, the household, and her personal blog go to waste.

My ADHD Reality Check

I picked up a book the other night. The following list is from The Mindfulness Prescription for ADHD by Lidia Zylowska, MD:

Do you have trouble paying attention and are you easily bored or distracted?

Well, DUH. My attention shifts like the wind, and I need new projects and challenges to stimulate me or I get bored to tears.

Is it hard for you to get organized?

The state of my car alone would be enough to diagnose me, I think. It serves as my temporary mail-sorting center, a place for snack storage, and an on-the-go locker for spare clothes and makeup. It’s horrendous!

Do you have trouble starting or finishing projects?

It depends on the project, but YES. I have trouble starting schoolwork (and, yes, I’m taking college classes on top of all this, too!), and I have trouble finishing work things. I tend to leave things slightly undone so I can go back and edit; I never want to finish it. Monotonous tasks are hard for me to do at all. I very much need creative projects to mix things up!

Do you dread paperwork and have trouble keeping up with your mail?

I try to throw most my mail and incoming paperwork straight into the recycling bin unless it looks like I really need to read it. My “to-do” mail pile has been unattended for weeks. My paperwork-game needs some serious improvement.

Do you frequently lose or misplace important items such as your keys or your wallets?

Um, how did you know?? My house keys have been missing for two weeks! Don’t get me started on the daily hunt for my wallet and car keys. I’m actually using my spare keys right now because I can’t find my car keys, either… maybe they’re hiding with the house keys?!

Are you often late paying bills and so charged with extra fees?

Are you stalking me?! I hate that a $20 bill from Express Scripts went all the way to collections before I paid attention to the fancy envelope and responded to them. NOT cool. For $20? It’s not like I’m that hard up! But I couldn’t get it together to remember to pay the gosh-darned bill!

Do you frequently feel restless, have trouble relaxing, and find that you have to keep busy all the time?

I’m a woman who can’t even sit down with her kids to watch a TV show because I have thoughts and ideas and I must DO something! I can’t sit down for very long at all unless there is a novelty factor at play: meeting a new person, working on a new and exciting project, watching a show I’m really into. Even then, I often watch movies while I fold laundry or look at Facebook because I can’t just sit there! I also prefer baths to showers because I can’t read or answer emails in the shower!

Do you tend to change jobs more than others or have “too many interests?”

Who me? One of the reasons I love nursing is because of how many different things you can do in with a nursing degree… and yes, I am now on my third “specialty” in nursing… in three years. I also love summer camp nursing and I want to do disaster relief nursing, too… I just don’t have time for everything! So, yes, this is me to a tee.  (I will argue, though, that if I wasn’t the kind of risk-taker who was willing to change jobs to pursue my goals of writing and having a flexible schedule as a nurse, I’d still be stuck in the first job working evenings.

Do you interrupt others when they are speaking or blurt things out even when you don’t want to?

Only when I skip my meds. 😛

Is it hard for you to manage your time well or are you chronically late?

I am not a late person, which seems counter-intuitive, but it’s due to hyper-vigilance. I hate being late and so I have developed a habit of way over-estimating the time to get anywhere, and I am usually early. This means that I waste a lot of time, too, because I over-budget and sit around in my car, restless and frustrated.

Are you often bored, impatient, easily frustrated, or have trouble with emotional ups and downs?

Yes, yes, yes, yes. I have an internal dialogue going half the time that urges people on as they speak: “Hurryuphurryuphurryup! Get to the point!”

I also suffer from what I call “flooding,” where I get so overwhelmed by too much stimuli (which can just be both of my kids asking for my attention at the same time as I have a text coming in on my phone) that I just CANNOT PROCESS. I snap and get angry and tell the kids to leave me alone, or worse – I tell them: “Fine! You can have whatever you want, just stop talking to me right now!” If there was one thing I wish I could “fix” about myself, it would be this. I just freak out when there’s too much happening at the same time.

The solution

Your guess is as good as mine!

I WISH I had a solution, but I’m 34 and I still “disappear” when I have a new obsession.

Forgive me.

I’m glad for this community, and I want to remember what excites me about this blog project, too: Sharing my experiences with all of you and hearing from others who know what it’s like to live an exciting, rollercoaster life with ADHD.


About Carolyn

I'm Carolyn Mallon, RN, and I have ADHD. I'm also parenting at least one ADHD child, so it makes for quite an adventure! I don't have all the answers, but I certainly share the challenges of many ADHD parents! I started this blog as an exercise to help us improve our game at home and at school. Join us!

7 comments on “The Flip Side of Hyper-Focus – ADHD and the Flake Factor

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  2. Hi– I don’t even know which Pinterest induced rabbit trail led me to your site, but HOLY moly. Our lives are almost exactly alike! (And I’m sure you’ve heard that before, lol!)
    I’m even an RN, too! (I taught special Ed before, but couldn’t handle all of the PAPERWORK.).
    Thank you for sharing your story!
    I’ll keep checking back- if I don’t forget.

  3. I literally just found your blog and I can’t believe how your answers to each question are EXACTLY me!!! Thanks for what you do…I’m going to have to go back and read all your posts!

  4. I also found your blog through Pinterest and immediately followed you! We are the same age and you could have been describing me exactly. I have been on medication for 1 year and am SO THANKFUL for it. Was hesitant to look into a diagnosis because what if I was just dumb, or crazy, or really bad at LIFE? Anyway, I have read one post and already know that what you have shared is blessing others, you have blessed me. It just helps so much to know that others KNOW the struggle. Thanks and good luck with the book… Novel? Oh gosh, I can’t remember and can’t scroll back up cause I am on my phone… Hahaha… Yes took meds today but they are wearing off! Either way, happy you are loving your work!

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