People like to throw around the term ADHD as an explanation for not being able to focus for long periods of time or for having a difficult time sticking to one topic in a conversation or even for not remembering to do important things. However, I’ve come to rationalize that although the human race is most definitely a distractible lot, we can’t all have ADHD. I mean, can we?
I can’t deny our collective addiction to technology, which from what I’ve observed is worsening by the minute. I will admit to forcing myself to make a conscious effort to put my phone away when I’m supposed to be doing other things, like talking to people. Sometimes I’ve noticed that I rely on my phone for comfort when I’m by myself in public. It serves a purpose. There’s always something to do on it and much of it, for me, is actually productive and educational. But enough is enough.
I know I must put it away or at least down, lest I get sucked into the visual vacuum that at any moment has the power to swallow me whole. If nothing else, it’s a constant test of my willpower. You might want to ask yourself: Do I or don’t I have the strength to look away from Facebook’s endless supply of cute animal videos? For me, it depends on the day. According to Psychology Today, the reason for technology addiction is dopamine. We tap into this particular brain function when we receive a text, see messages popping up in our emails or get Facebook and Twitter notifications, etc. We process it as a form of pleasure that makes us feel the more we get the more we want.
So I have to ask, is our tendency to be swallowed up by the technology monster a symptom of ADHD? Or is the technology addiction a modern day cause? It’s taken me long enough to do so because I’ve been very distracted. Seriously distracted. But I finally got around to researching the topic and here’s what I found out.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as a “brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.”
OK, yeah---I have that. The proof is in the way I clean the house. I start at least three different projects and do each one for a little while until I get distracted and pushed in the direction of one of the other projects. I move in a no-rhyme-no-reason circle that keeps me in almost constant motion. I am stimulated by this method and eventually, I finish them all. Although it may look like an act of utter lunacy, mania or sheer stupidity to the common onlooker, it works for me.
At some point along the way I experienced pain in doing one project at a time. My desire to push past the pain inspired the invention of the new method, which actually feels like a game designed to fight boredom and depression. I’m still not sure if my game is an act of mindfulness or mindlessness, but since I’m not hurting anyone by carrying on this way, I have yet to seek rehabilitation or a treatment center for this possible domestic disorder.
On their website, the NIMH includes the following definitive breakdown of ADHD, which I also found insightful.
- Inattention means a person wanders off task, lacks persistence, has difficulty sustaining focus, and is disorganized; and these problems are not due to defiance or lack of comprehension.”
- Hyperactivity means a person seems to move about constantly, including situations in which it is not appropriate when it is not appropriate, excessively fidgets, taps, or talks. In adults, it may be extreme restlessness or wearing others out with their activity.
- Impulsivity means a person makes hasty actions that occur in the moment without first thinking about them and that may have high potential for harm; or a desire for immediate rewards or inability to delay gratification. An impulsive person may be socially intrusive and excessively interrupt others or make important decisions without considering the long-term consequences.
Apparently, scientists don’t know what causes ADHD, but it can be treated with therapy, medication and behavior modification. Here are some suggestions the NIMH lists. It amuses me to realize how regularly I employ them all.
- Keeping routines
- Making lists for different tasks and activities
- Using a calendar for scheduling events
- Using reminder notes
- Assigning a special place for keys, bills, and paperwork
- Breaking down large tasks into more manageable, smaller steps so that completing each part of the task provides a sense of accomplishment.