Attention Deficit, Vigilance Surplus

18 Jul

Imagine you’re a caveman – you’re walking through a forest trying to hunt or gather food. A forest is only peaceful if you leave a noisy world: there are lots of sounds, images, colors that can be detected. Being able to notice all those stimuli can make the difference to survive. Today, when survival is more assured, and the number of stimuli is multiplied exponentially, those same skills make success more difficult. This is what it means to be ADD.

The term is “attention deficit disorder,” but the reality is quite different. It’s not that you don’t pay attention–it’s that you pay attention to EVERYTHING. What I’ve learned over the last couple of years is that for most people, people are able to mentally filter out all the distractions of the modern world. People don’t notice the music playing in the cafe, the lawn mower down the street, the birds chirping in your neighbor’s tree. That’s background noise to you. To me, the music in a restaurant is ALWAYS too loud, landscaping day at my complex (Wednesday) is a horror, and groups of more than five people are to be avoided. In order to keep yourself sane, you have to block out everything, because you can’t help noticing everything.

When I was growing up, ADD wasn’t a thing. You were “hyper,” “distracted,” or often, “just a boy.” My school counselor told me, “You’re like a car with both feet on the gas and the brake pedals. When you learn to let off the brake, you’ll do amazing!” This was in junior high! I didn’t know why I couldn’t focus on things, why I got bored so easily… it was just my life.

It was only when my children were diagnosed that I finally started understanding why I do what I do and what I can do about it. Apparently, there is more than one type of ADD, and the regular prescriptions (taking speed to push you over the edge and calm down) don’t work on me. I’ve learned to take a cocktail of supplements which are much cheaper; 5-HTP, Omega-3, and GABA are the most effective… along with a couple minor ones.

However, there are a lot of advantages. I can focus really hard on a project to the exclusion of all else (once I get going on it). I can notice little details that most people miss. I can work really hard on something and then drop it if priorities require me to be somewhere else. I can listen better because I notice all the signals that people are sending. But most of my life does not require my superpowers.

Most of the time, I cope. I learned to carry headphones to block out noise in restaurants; I don’t have to plug them in, just muffle the sound to my ears a little bit. When I want to write, I pump up the trance/EDM music because it overwhelms all other stimulus and allows me to focus on typing. (I never listen it otherwise.) I seek out a lot more alone time than most people because dealing with other people is exhausting.

Does that sound familiar? Or do you live with someone with ADD? Tell me your experience in the comments below!

15 Responses to “Attention Deficit, Vigilance Surplus”

  1. Halbarbera July 18, 2020 at 9:22 am #

    Tune out
    The world
    Tune in
    The inner
    Frequencies!!

  2. penmatrix July 18, 2020 at 11:44 am #

    I can relate. But could that be because I am agoraphobic? Or is it something other; something personal that compels me to usually take things one at a time?

  3. lumeanoastramagica July 19, 2020 at 7:13 am #

    Hi. Nice 👍 Thanks for follow my blog 👍 have a Nice day the Wekeend

  4. joliesattic July 19, 2020 at 10:38 pm #

    This brought tears to my eyes. I struggled with this my whole life and for a good part of it, I blamed the hostile environment I grew up in. The constant barrage of, “you aren’t good enough”. Add to that, I was the oldest of 7 younger siblings down to age 5, I never had time to focus on school work and make sure they didn’t get into mischief. By the time mother got home, I no longer had the desire to do homework. I did my best once when I moved out my senior year into an apartment with a friend where everything was peaceful. So for three months, I got straight A’s. It wasn’t until my youngest child, who is severely ADD, that I realized we shared the same trait. It was his fourth grade teacher who recommended we have him tested. I’m now 74. No one knew about such a thing at the time, when I was growing up. My son is on medication now and functioning fine finally at 38. We never tried the herbals, but we refused to put him on the newly developed drugs of choice at the time. For choosing not to, we were harassed by the schools to medicate him. We pulled him out of public school into a private school, where classroom sizes were much smaller. He excelled in that environment and made honor roll while there. So, yes I so enjoyed your post. I hope many more will read this and have patience for the less than attentive sibling or partner in their life. Great post!!

    • albigensia July 20, 2020 at 8:07 am #

      Wow – that’s a powerful story. Thank you for sharing!

    • What natural things can a person do? What “herbals” help you and your son?

      • albigensia September 26, 2020 at 7:21 pm #

        What helped me is first researching “the 5 types of ADD.” Dr. Amen has a whole practice in LA dedicated to this. It also means what works for me, may not with for you. Adderall would not work for my type, neither does antidepressants. However, I find that 5-HTP works miracles in quieting the outside world, but I only take 50 mg, because it has sexual side effects. GABA is great for concentration. High levels of Magnesium are good. L-Tyrosine and L-Tryptofan can also be effective as 5-HTP, but I haven’t much success.

      • joliesattic September 30, 2020 at 11:44 am #

        I agree with research. I don’t remember anymore what herbals we had used but tried various that we’d learned about. What works for one person may not for the next. Right now what helps me stay tranquil is, Adaptogen, but I alternate it with Ashwagandha. Both are good.

  5. Yetismith July 22, 2020 at 7:11 am #

    Yes…I also hate noise and get distracted by everything…then I wonder where time goes!

  6. Ben Naga August 2, 2020 at 8:39 am #

    And light!!!

  7. Leif Price August 25, 2020 at 7:29 pm #

    That sounds familiar! I’m very much relatable – I also don’t like noises and get distracted by everything!

  8. Hello. I believe I have ADD. I just finished explaining how this issue makes it hard for me to remember to eat. I am obese and an issue I have is that my brain does not tell me when I should eat. I do not get a hunger feeling. The feeling gets blocked because I get obsessed with one thing at a time. The current obsession, which is s different thing every minute, or hour, or day, or week, makes me forget to eat. Frustrating.

    • albigensia September 26, 2020 at 7:12 pm #

      I have the very same problem. I almost always eat because I’m bored, or because it’s the appropriate time, rarely when hungry.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Getting Out of My Own Way | Albigensia Press - March 20, 2021

    […] I could blame a lot of that on my ADD, but everyone has some reason why they can’t succeed, and the truth is that it doesn’t […]

  2. Medication and Self-Medication | Albigensia Press - May 24, 2021

    […] in my life, I have “minor problems.” Dealing with ADHD is part of that, but that doesn’t make me different than 5-10% of Americans. You have to try […]

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