A Million Miles Per Hour (A Neurodivergent Realization Blog)
(This post first appeared on the Gamer Author on July 31, 2023)
I was reading to Cari last night. We’re making our way through the Harry Potter series. We use the reading as a time to bond, wind down and most importantly, slow our minds down. We both have ADHD, though it manifests very differently. Cari’s mind is always running with real-world ideas. She’s always searching for a problem to fix, or a way to stretch our finances. My mind is run by an over-caffeinated muse that refuses to sleep. The ideas for stories never, ever stop coming. I don’t want them too, either, but I’ll get into that in another post.
One of my traumas involved with reading is a fear of letting my guards completely down. I was a voracious reader as a kid. I used books and comics as a means to escape a violent household. I would sequester myself and whatever worlds I wanted to vanish into between my dresser and bed, and hoped my dad would never find me. I’ve always been able to disassociate really well (staying tethered to this reality is the real challenge) so when my father would inevitably find me, I’d never heard him coming.
But last night, something new hit me. As I’m struggling to move through this trauma, I found myself stammering over every other word as I read to Cari. My mind would read the sentence but my mouth couldn’t keep up. I found the process tedious and frustrating. That’s when I realized that I’ve been living at a million miles per hour since the day I was born.
Everything I do has to be done fast. It has to be done as quickly as possible so I can move onto the next thing, and get that thing done as quickly as possible. And so forth. I have lived my life trying to get things done as quickly as possible so I could have nothing to do but whatever I wanted. Virtually every employer I’ve ever had has always said the same thing; you need to slow down. My question has always been for what? Why would I ever want to function at a snail’s pace?
Several years ago, I literally set the keys to my car down and never saw them again. I wonder if this is why I’ve never been able to latch onto a Mario game (I’ve never beaten any of them). But I can go through most of the classic Sonic titles in my sleep.
I spend the first part of my morning doing some kind of creative writing. I like getting up early, long before the alarm, and using the extra time to draft whatever story I’m working on. After this morning’s work, I was pretty wiped out and couldn’t figure out why. I’d written less than a page. In fact, I’d only managed to churn out a few paragraphs between bouts of obsessively checking social media.
Then I realized I’d been writing for about ninety minutes. Plus, I draft by hand, which always slows things down.
That’s when it really hit me how my mind works, that I try (and fail) to process everything as quickly as possible so I can be done.
Once you become aware of something, you can deal with it.
I decided to try Focus To-Do. It combines a to-do app with a Pomodoro timer. I’m hoping that by blocking off specific chunks of time in which I do nothing but write, or exercise, or whatever will allow me to realize exactly how much time I’ve spent on a task. This way, I can adjust accordingly, rather than beat myself up for ‘not doing enough’.
I haven’t actually tried the app yet. Today (July 31, 2023) will be the first attempt. I’ll post my progress and findings.
Thanks for reading. I hope you took something from this and if you have any methods of managing your neurodivergence, please share them in the comments. Hope you have a good week ahead of you.
Avery K. Tingle, The Gamer Author is a child and domestic abuse survivor as well as a recovering sex addict living in Las Vegas. Along with his wife, Cari, and two cats, he writes about life experiences as well as mental health and the writing process. He is also developing action/fantasy martial arts series set to release in early 2024.