Hyperactive subtype AD/HD comes with some pretty special superpowers. It took me a while to understand that the reason for my struggles was also the source of my strength. I get why Luke Skywalker needed three films to figure out what his deal was. I, too, needed lots of background knowledge, repeated contextual practice and an Obi-Wan to school me in how to use that with which I was blessed. In fact, Luke and I have uttered similar phrases on that journey:
On daily life: I want more than this! It’s so BORING here.
On fathers: I knew I got this from somewhere!
On vacations: It needs to be a very long time, preferably on another planet with no distractions, and I should leave transformed.
On cat-like reflexes in high-stakes moments: I got this, just cover me.
This Star Wars approach to my disability is an extension of my attitude on life in general: everything has two sides. I can usually follow the breadcrumb trails from a terrible moment in my life to something wonderful. The trick is to be okay with looking at the dark side, without drowning in a shame wave. It takes time to be able to do this without feeling like crap. To be able to say, “Yes, I do that sometimes.” and not want to give yourself a thousand lashes. I believe this true for humans in general, not just those of us with high-maintenance neurotransmitters.
Here are a few facets of my own AD/HD:
My favorite place to exist is right between these two columns, like the side seam of a dress. That’s where the action happens for me…where I take “what just is” and make something new. For example, I can sometimes use my Predictions Jedi and influence the Dark Side of Radar. If I know I’m going to a train station, I bring headphones or earplugs so I can focus on where the train is and what time it leaves. If I’m meeting someone for dinner, I ask to sit facing away from the action so I can focus on them. If I’m going to a popular museum, I get up at the crack of dawn so I can be all by myself and actually focus on what I’m there to see. (I slayed Paris in August, no small feat.) When I’m in a meeting, I write down what I notice and wait until everyone else catches up.
Do I wish it was different? Sometimes. But the way I see it is I could either pout-and-play-victim over how hard small things are, or I could do something about it proactively so I can still have those experiences. I’ve never wallowed well. Do I get tired of all this planning? Sure, I’m human. It takes much mental energy to live in the seam, to make one-side connect to the other consistently, and sometimes you get something that looks like this:
But guess what? One error does not a dress make. It will eventually look fantastic on me because I made it, with my own two hands. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.