Disclaimer: Some of my posts may be self-indulgent musings about myself. This is one of those posts. I have, however, been recently asked what it looks like inside my head; so I feel that there is indeed a market for such self-reflection. But I won’t be offended if you don’t read it.
Recently I was asked how ADHD affects my thinking, and I found myself seeking a definitive metaphor. One that works for visualization (although not necessarily from an astrophysics perspective) is the comparison of my brain to space. When I am unmedicated, my thoughts exist in free suspension outside of my conscious mind. They are concepts not yet verbalized, and I often have to pause to search for the correct star before I can bring it to a more cognitively-concrete plane. My ADHD medication brings these thoughts into an orbit (or perhaps a constellation): they are labeled, known, and easily accessible. They are easy to find and articulate and understand.
I’ve always described my brain as having four channels, which I have now decided to categorize: immediate, reactionary, filler, and obsessive. Immediate is the thing which is in front of me, the thing on which I have to concentrate, the thing which I work to process. It can be the text of a book, the images on a screen, the words someone is saying to me, or the problem which I am solving. Reactionary is my response to these things–my own thoughts about what I read, hear, see, or do. I generally confine emotional responses to this channel. Filler is what takes up the unfocused space. It includes the subconscious and unarticulated thoughts–the way I feel about things or the nebulous ideas I have not processed. Finally, the obsessive channel is a fixation–it can be a name, quote, or song lyric repeated over and over. It can be an attachment or an image from my latest obsession. It can be an experience. But no matter the source, it is most likely to be a snippet repeated over and over.
Sudden Realization: When I talk or write, all of the channels seem to disappear. I think it possible that this is the result of a unity of the components of my mind. I will now delve into hypothetical territory. Immediate: the words coming out of my mouth or my pen (or my fingers) flow freely and come from a place of absolute focus. Reactionary: this part contributes to those words through the provision of details, history, organization, and direction. Filler: the larger story and structure that I am assembling take up this space. Obsessive: writing/talking just clears this stuff out–don’t the other three channels seem to be doing enough?
I don’t know what to do with this information or what it all means. But I thought at least some of you would like to know what I mean when I talk about being crazy. And if anyone who reads this has ever experienced such things, please know that you are not alone.
One last note: Often, when reviewing conversations, I remember what I have said better than what the other person has said. I remember my words, but I remember my reaction to their words. I have just decided that this is not just an egocentric response. And I am not a poor listener. I just retain my words through that channel-unity of output, whereas I retain your words as the emotional/impression’d response of the reactionary channel. Sorry about that–maybe I can work on it. 😀