Capacity and Focus

As I enter my second week (haha!) of ADHD medication, I'm starting to understand what the benefits are.

I felt immediately different and in what seemed a good way, but I'm looking now at how it's really improving my well-being and my work.


I think it comes down to two things: Capacity and Focus.

Lack of focus is the outward manifestation or the symptom that tells you something's wrong. This has been an issue all my life. As I was clearly a bright child, why couldn't I also be diligent all day and do what I was told? Why couldn't I get homework done but would go off and do things I wanted to do instead? Without a hook like ADHD to hang it on, my behaviour was interpreted as lazy and rebellious. I eventually internalised the shaming that grown-ups around me used to try to motivate me. I was told I was frustrating and disappointing, that I wasn't fulfilling my potential and I came to believe it. It never helped.

But capacity was also part of the story. One of the things that helped me seek an ADHD diagnosis was seeing people talking about limited executive function. I didn't not do my homework as a child just because I could find more interesting things to do, I was worn out by being in school all day. In my teenage years, pretty much every schoolday ended with me going home, eating a bowl of cereal and going to sleep for a couple of hours before dinner. It was my way of managing being wiped out by having six hours of my day ordered and structured by someone else and being lumped together with other people who worked very differently from me.

In adult life, I've managed the capacity problem through compartmentalising (ghosting) and switching contexts regularly to avoid overload. But that has never worked for long. Every time I've had a burst of capacity and productivity it's come with a crash. I've no guarantee that this won't happen now, but it feels different, it feels like my capacity to work (with a very broad definition of "work" that is basically "not sleeping") is supported by the changes in my chemistry. We'll see.

At the moment then, I feel like I have capacity to work all day like a "normal" person (yesterday I went for a run, did Tuttle, spoke to my church colleagues, did a bit of writing, planning and accounting - on a Friday! and I felt fine at the end of the day!). I want to get down to doing all the things that have been in my head for the last fifty years. And that's where focus and organisation come in. I know how to organise things, but I've just not had the capacity to organise as many things at the scale that I would have liked. Now I've got the capacity not only to do things but to think about how to do them and who I might like to work with, without the fear of overwhelm and exhaustion.

I'm trying to find the best metaphors and similes to explain where I'm at. I think today it's like I imagine it is to have your first car and money in your pocket, knowing that you can go anywhere you like and trust that you can do what you want when you get there and get safely home in time for tea.

Work in progress. Always.

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