Time for another brutally honest confession, right from the hard, scary place that I hate admitting to.
It’s weird, talking about having ADD. There’s such a odd stigma about it lately. On the one hand, it’s a joke for anyone who has trouble focusing on something. On the other, it can be seen as a cop-out. Even though I’ve been diagnosed, it’s not something I’ve spent a lot of time owning up to, because I don’t like being categorized by it. I was blessed with a structured, caring mother who invested a lot of time into helping me get and stay organized, and who always believed in my ability to accomplish things. I also received help and encouragement in college through the ACCESS office for learning disabilities.
But then, situations creep up where I have to speak out. Usually situations where I’m out of my comfort zone or under a lot of stress. Suddenly, all of my usual coping mechanisms fail and sometimes, I have to do something I don’t enjoy.
Pull out the label of SPD (sensory processing disorder) as a shortcut to explain why I freaked out over a seemingly innocuous sound or physical sensation. Use the label of ADD to explain why I have to relentlessly switch between dull tasks in an orderly fashion in order to accomplish them. It works for me. With discipline, I actually do a lot of things well.
But when stress comes and the system breaks down, then come the spirals. It doesn’t matter what I’ve done or am currently doing. Everything feels like a pointless failure and all I want to do is hide in a new project or twenty, instead of facing the fear that I’ll mess up my current work. Ironically, in exploring those new projects, I miss out on the satisfaction of actually finishing things well.
Oh, did I mention I have a nasty perfectionist side? Plus fun OCD tendencies. All part of living on the very edge of the spectrum.
This when I pray. Refocus. Hit something (exercise and sword-fighting really are good things). Get my husband or a friend to talk over my insecurities and internal lies. And then, so important, they walk with me through my overwhelming to-do lists and get me to reschedule things. Cross things off. Delegate.
Basically, I’m surrounded by awesome people, and the generosity I’ve received only encourages me to pour out that generosity and encouragement to others.
What does this mean as a writer? People with ADD can be good at hyperfocusing, which means I can finish things when I’m interested. I can also manage multiple projects–and usually, I have to in order to accomplish things.
However, when “multiple” grows from 2-3 to 5-6, we’ve got a problem.
That’s when I step back and re-prioritize–and then get my friends hold me accountable when stress tempts me to think up a new project. Or try to turn a little molehill of a side project into a mountain of exciting possibilities that need to get put into the idea box for a later time.
Sometimes I can go through the stages of spiral, freak-out, then reset to manageable standards in about five minutes. Sometimes it takes me a day. Sometimes it takes friends calling me out when I’m trying to frantically eat the Elephant of All The Work Things all at once.
But it happens. It can happen. Change may come slowly, and there might be backslides and moments when we feel stuck, but it’s still worth fighting for.
Even for those of us with chronic issues or mental quirks or physical ailments. Those of us with ongoing stresses and duties and responsibilities. Those of us with burdens we’ve had to carry forever and we feel like we’re the last person who should be dealing with this situation. Sometimes, it seems like too much.
Keep standing. Keep walking. Keep crawling. No matter what.
As for me, I’ll be revising Lawless: Book 1 of The Ironfire Legacy, a YA novel about a dragonshifter convict who must stop a war–if she can overcome her personal demons and societal condemnation. It’s getting released through Uncommon Universes Press this year! I’ll also be working on Shadow Warden, sequel to the mythology/romance novella Storm Warden. In Shadow Warden, Maiwa’s choice to stand against the gods and death unicorns is challenged by chimeras–and their creator, who was meant to be her destined mate. I’m also steadily working through the next Blood Mercy book, Blood Mercy:The Darkest Stain, with my collaborator.
And other exciting ideas? Well, they can keep until later. 😉