I’ve heard it said that ADHDers can’t see the trees for the forest. I know that’s often true, but sometimes I can’t see the trees because I’m focused on a single tree.
That would be ADHD hyper-focus.
But maybe hyper-focus, or at least focus, is the wrong word. If I look at the forest and don’t break things down, I get overwhelmed.
It’s not that I’m unfocused, it’s that I’m not focusing in on individual trees, or items in my world.
Okay, enough with the shtick, the example is real though. I look at my house and I know I need to clean up, but I just stare at the mess. Or I’ll start on one thing and end up doing another by way of five to fifty little false starts on as many things in between. Arrrrgggghhhhh!
If only I could attach the correct lens to my mind. I’d need a normal lens for seeing whether the house needs to be cleaned up. Then I’d attach my macro zoom lens to focus in on individual items on my cleanup task list. Finally, I’d slip on my wide angle lens to check to see if I’m missing anything important in the big picture, is the house on fire ’cause I forgot to turn the iron off while I was cleaning up. I mean, if the house is on fire anyway, why bother cleaning up? Aw who am kidding, I don’t iron …
The fact is, all these lenses exist in the ADHD mind, and probably in every other mind, but in our minds we don’t use them. We don’t have the facility to realize we need to change lenses when the right time comes.
We try to clean up with the wide angle lens on and pretty soon we’re on our way to the dollar store to get file folders, to put newspaper clippings in ’cause we intend to use them for inspiration for a novel we plan on writing when we get everything together, in order, etc. etc. …
We try to clean up with the macro zoom lens on and we end up surrounded by the same mess we started out with but … we’ve sorted all our straight pins by length and our spare buttons by color.
We try to clean up with our normal lens on and we move everything one degree clockwise from where it was. The pins and buttons are a little closer to the sewing basket, the newspaper clippings are a little closer to the office, the laundry is a little closer to the laundry room …
The thing we don’t do is switch to the normal lens, ascertain that the house needs cleaning, identify the priority tasks and then switch to macro zoom lens mode to attack individual items on that list.
And we don’t swap out the current lens for the wide angle lens to make sure that something more important hasn’t come up. Which of course means that something more important can come up without our realizing it.
Also, something more important will come up and when we try to look at it, we’re again using the wrong lens and the picture we’re getting is a blurred mess. Our inept transitioning might be part of this whole lens issue. It would explain how our lack of focus control plays a part in our being irritated and agitated when we’re blindsided.
Well, that’s about all I have to say on this theory at present, if anything else comes to light we may revisit the idea. Right now, though, I think I need to clean my house.
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Last reviewed: 4 May 2012