ADHD and the Racing Mind

racingRecently, an ADHD adult aptly described his racing mind as a back and forth dialogue without an appropriate mediator. When stopping to ask someone for directions, he says it goes something like this:

 “Focus on the directions. Focus on where to turn left. Remember which street is one way….

Instead, I’m noticing her hairdo, the sirens in the distance and the store shop window nearby, not to mention the exasperated look on her face while her child temper tantrums down the street…

And suddenly, I’m driving again and still going the wrong way. I’m even more late than I was before I stopped for directions and then I’m still focusing on details around me, like, ‘That looks like a fun restaurant to try’, or ‘Maybe I should go visit Great Aunt Allison this weekend’”

With ADHD, this racing mind – or mental noise – is very real, and very exhausting. The focal points of the conversation are mixed in with every other bit of internal and external data individuals with ADHD experience. Burdened by an inability to regulate focus, rather than an inability to focusat all, ADHD individuals see everything but the main event. Often overwhelmed by it all, they complain of exhaustion and feel debilitated.

Lately though, we’ve been thinking about the silver linings with all this – there are some advantages to seeing the world differently from the way others do.

For example, maybe that girl in class who seems to be ignoring the long division lesson on the board is noticing that one of her classmates looks a little sad today, or that the paintings outside are going to get wet as a drop of rain falls; or perhaps she has drawn a cartoon worthy of publishing, or has thought of a most meaningful gift for father’s day. Or maybe all of the above.

Yes, being able to regulate focus is necessary for life (at least as we currently know it). But, the next time you notice someone with ADHD lose focus on the main event, take the opportunity to wonder, or ask, where their focus is travelling.

You might be surprised what you take in.


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