Why It’s A Hard Time To Have ADHD And Why I Wish More People Had It

Tuesday 21 April 2020 13:50

People with ADHD don’t tend to become politicians.

We don’t have what it takes to be ‘yes men’. We’re not followers – oh we’re not leaders either (that needs focus and single mindedness)! We’re questioners.

People whose brains are wired in an ADHD way see and hear everything. It’s why we get irritated by the use of the word “deficit” in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It’s not a “deficit” of attention, it’s an “overload”;  everything gets our attention, like it or not.

Our brains are wired in such a way as to constantly be aware of the ‘Big Picture’, and we’re aware the whole time of not only all that is happening, but also all the possibilities of what might happen; good and bad. We’re bombarded by a constantly running array of “what if?” scenarios in our brains. 

While this is quite mentally exhausting, it has benefits.

I would put good money on the fact that those people in the world with ADHD wired brains could see how this virus situation would pan out long before the rest of the population (and the politicians). If governments had a few more ADHD wired brains in positions of power, I guarantee there would not be a shortage of PPE, lockdowns would have been applied much sooner and enforced with much more severity. And in all probability, a lot less people would have died.

But there’s a caveat.

Those with ADHD wired brains need trusted and trusting – the latter being of equal or even greater importance – ‘partners’ in the fight, who have not one shred of ADHD wiring. Those people are needed to focus on the tasks that need to done, but they need to do so with absolute trust in that which they can’t necessarily see, either right in front of them or, crucially, lying ahead of them.

The politicians with the power to carry out the tasks needed at the moment, must trust the scientists who are asking the “what if?” questions and doing the modelling, and the people must trust that the politicians are right to do so. This is not about something as petty and pathetic as party politics. This is not a time to be placating ‘the people’ and to be asking them politely and meekly to “abide by the guidelines, if you wouldn’t mind, we know you’ll do the right thing, thanks ever so”. This is not a time to be afraid to be authoritative.

Those people in authority who do believe what they’re being told by the scientists, must keep their focus entirely on that, and give clear, firm instructions to the people they’re tasked with protecting. This is not about finding favour, or about necessarily being ‘liked’, either now or looking back. This is about preventing a vast and increasing number of human beings dying. 

Here in the UK, it’s just not happening.

Our politicians, our law makers, and our law enforcers are tip toeing around, anxious not to upset anyone, and none of them are prepared to give the firm clear message that if you don’t do as your told, you will (at the very least) be served a hefty fine (a real fine, not a pathetic £30 for pity’s sake!). We are not seeing or hearing anyone prepared to say they accept that the people may be upset, even furiously angry with them for restricting everyone’s movements, but that they’d rather the people they are charged with protecting were upset or angry with them, than dead.

I am seeing, right here, outside my window, right now, people who think that it’s fine to not quite abide by what, after all, are only “guidelines”. In their eyes a little bit of “bending the rules” is to be expected. No-one (certainly around here!) is enforcing anything. No-one has actually TOLD us not to carry on as normal.

A probable 24,000 + deaths in the UK SO FAR, including those in the community. But they personally haven’t suffered, so it’s ok to bend the rules…

STAY HOME.

Protect the NHS.

SAVE LIVES.

Are these idiots who are behaving as if nothing’s happening, really thinking, “Yes, I know what that’s what the government keeps telling us, and splashing across our tv screens, and on hoardings, and across news sites – but they don’t mean it, not literally.”?

@!*#!@*#*!!

So, it’s ok for them to have family dropping round, to swop between each other’s homes every few days, to go out in their car for long and unnecessary journeys several times every single day because they want a “change of scene”. If they get stopped they know they can claim that it’s their one journey today, that they’re on their way to do “essential shopping”, or they can lie and claim that they live in a tiny flat in an urban situation that provides nowhere for their “one hour of daily exercise” (ie not the reality of a large detached house with ample private garden in a quiet estate with many green open spaces). And they can drive on with a smug smile on their face because in their view they “got away with it”.

They see a tiny bit of the picture, that revolves only around themselves, and is concerned only in this moment. They are consumed by selfish, irresponsible, stupidity and ignorance, and I guarantee that even if they knew the potentially catastrophic consequences of their actions, they would deny any culpability.

Because “the Government haven’t said that might happen”…

Oh mon Dieu! Je désespère!

Anyone can be carrying the virus, and be thus capable of spreading it without being aware that they have it. It’s been proved that symptoms may only present several days after the virus has been caught. Some ‘lucky’ people don’t even present any symptoms severe enough to cause them concern. But they can still spread it.

So ‘what if’ the selfish ignorant irresponsible smug git who goes off in his car for no good reason is carrying the virus. And ‘what if’, when he’s pulled over by the policeman who is putting his life on the line trying to get idiots like this one to see sense, he passes that virus on, maybe by doing something as obvious as coughing involuntarily, or maybe just by the transference of tiny droplets while talking, or maybe any one of a myriad of possibilities. And the officer, during the course of his duty over the next few days, before falling ill and dying himself, and before he’s even aware that he now carries the virus, passes it on to his colleagues, and other members of the public. And they take it home, and pass it on to their partners, and children…

Or ‘what if’ the copper that pulls our arrogant idiot over, himself has the virus already, and what if he does the involuntary cough, or the over spraying speaking…

Or ‘what if’, just because the sun is shining and he’s feeling a bit cooped up at home, the shortsighted and narrow minded self obsessed fool goes off for a drive and has an accident. And the emergency services that are called out could be attending a small child suffering with the virus, who is having a serious, and as it will transpire with lack of immediate care, fatal asthma attack? Or ‘what if’ the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident is carrying the virus and in the chaos and panic of smashed vehicles and trapped bodies, social distancing is completely forgotten…

At this point I’m sure many of you are laughing and declaring something along the lines of “Oh for goodness sake, you can’t worry about what might happen, you’d never do anything!”, or words to that effect. Well, no, I agree in the normal course of life, if you were so afraid of having an accident you never got in a car, that would be extreme. But these are not normal times. In normal times if, heaven forbid, you were alone in your car and you had even a serious collision with another solo driver, potentially two lives might be lost. At the moment, just such a scenario could result in a spreading of the virus that ultimately extrapolated to 20, 80, 500 people dying.

These are not normal times. The ‘normal’ rules simply and crucially do not apply.

Having a brain wired in the way of ADHD is a huge advantage in being acutely aware of the dangers at the moment, and of the means to avoid them; but it’s also a huge disadvantage for much the same reason – or rather, for being acutely aware that other people astonishingly, just, don’t, get it.

Having to constantly observe the actions of others – aware of the potential consequences and yet realising that they either aren’t, or they just simply don’t care, and recognising that I can do nothing about it – is mentally exhausting and paralysing. Seeing (not watching, but unavoidably seeing) the actions of my neighbours repeatedly, throughout each and every day, that have the potential to put an unknowable number of other lives at risk, and being unable to do anything about it, is completely mentally overwhelming. I have very little problem with the lockdown; I’m terrified by what’s happening outside my windows.

I have spent the last few weeks descending into what feels like a sort of madness, and I have now to protect my mental wellbeing as much as my physical health. I realise I have perhaps two options: close all the curtains or at least stay away from the windows (not easy in such a tiny house with rooms, and indeed windows, on one side only), while keeping the windows and doors closed and playing music or podcasts so even the sound of cars coming and going is cut out; or live at night, when the rest of the neighbourhood is sleeping.

I’ve extended the coloured film that I originally added to part of my lounge window so that I would not be in the direct gaze of my unpleasant and frightening neighbours opposite, so it now blocks out their coming and goings entirely. Sadly it also means I can’t wave to friendly passers by, and I lose most of the view of my soon to be blossoming rose. It has helped though.

I get up shortly after dawn and tend my little bit of garden that immediately borders the pavement outside – I won’t risk being out there at all when the constant stream of passers by are inches away; I may in due course just let that part of the garden go wild, or die. I don’t sit outside at all. I keep the curtain closed upstairs beside my desk on the side of the scary neighbours. At the moment I still like to watch people coming and going on foot further along the road. If I witness any more acts of threatening behaviour or vandalism – like the young people spitting at passers by, or the two who thought it amusing to set fire to the rubbish bin – I will close those curtains too; or take that final, and rather drastic action, and move into the night.

The actions of those around me will not improve, in fact I’m sure they’ll get even worse as this lockdown, in their view, “drags on”. I realise that my brain wiring is unable to allow me to do what others would find so easy, that is to ignore it. So I have to take what would otherwise be extraordinary steps to prevent my being aware of what they’re doing, in order to preserve what’s left of my sanity. I’m not sure that actually makes sense to anyone else. But if it works, that doesn’t matter.

So I will continue to do whatever I need to for my mental health, and I have the means to stay safe physically, and I’m grateful for the ability to have seen just how essential that was going to be even before it all became official. Now I just need to deal with the “deficit” bit of the attention – the bit that makes focussing on the essential tasks required to stay safe frighteningly haphazard. But that, as they say, is another story.


(I realise I could have subtitled this: Judy’s Slow Decline Into Madness. Hmm. You decide.)

2 thoughts on “Why It’s A Hard Time To Have ADHD And Why I Wish More People Had It”

  1. Definitely not madness, Judy! I mean, I’m sure the current situation is affecting everyone psychologically to some degree or another, but what you’ve said here reflects pretty much how I’ve been feeling too. There are so many people lacking sense in terms of social distancing and you only have to look at somewhere like New Zealand (among other places) to see how this could have been handled more competently.

    I’m glad you’re able to do some things that help you cope a bit better with what you can see around you, although it’s sad that it has to be done. ♥

  2. I really enjoyed your analysis of ADHD. It’s a real shame you don’t have more of a buffer between yourself and the rest of the world. I think you are doing the best that you can.

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