Constructive ADHD v1.0
This is a public draft of a work-in-progress ebook. Feel free to add your comments and notes wherever. If you’ve enjoyed this, you may also enjoy my 1st book FRIENDLY AMBITIOUS NERD, my 2nd book INTROSPECT (this is the better one!), buy me a coffee and/or support me on Patreon. Only if you feel like it! You can also subscribe to my youtube channel (I try to respond to all the comments!) and share my stuff with your friends.
You might also be interested in my drafts of Uninstalling Copes, Long Games, Less Unstrategic and High Voltage Living.
Constructive ADHD v1.0 1
by @visakanv 1
Preamble / Warning 2
Saying what you’re going to do, then doing it 3
Support, don’t suppress 5
Question the assumptions 6
Put the gun down 6
You can’t intimidate ADHD into submission 9
Trickster spirit 11
Mind palace 12
Iron man suit 13
Some random note-taking advice 13
My style 15
Chaingun metaphor 15
It’s probably wise to seek a role that relies on your strengths 15
Go fast and get it all down 16
Useful actionable stuff goes here maybe, and/or a review of everything 17
Being your own manager when you’re an feral adhd monke 18
Note to self / stuff to expand on 18
Conclusion and further reading and shit 19
Stray notes to myself 20
I’m a fan of the phrase “constructive ADHD”, more so than say “productive ADHD”, because it makes me think of building things. lego. minecraft. cathedrals. skyscrapers. elaborate, byzantine, complex mindcities. learn to use the machine-gun[a] mind effectively.
this is *exactly* what the inside of my brain feels like sometimes. "brainfog" never quite captures the whole picture. there's always something missing. turns out it was the llamas[c]. Sometimes you can hear them grunting and squealing in the distance.
Preamble / Warning
I am not a doctor or an expert or anything of the sort. I am just some guy with some experience and some thoughts. Blah blah. You get it.
Saying what you’re going to do, then doing it
A newer friend once said something like “I like how Visa says he’s going to do something, then immediately does it.”
This was quite funny for me to hear, because… it’s actually an ADHD coping mechanism. if you ask my friends from my teenage days, they’ll tell you that I was extremely unreliable, full of shit, and you simply couldn’t trust anything I said. And they were right! This was true for me both internally and externally. I was a bullshitter by default. I would just say whatever words I needed to make things go away, and then I would forget what I had said[d][e][f][g]. At some point this got me into several tangled webs that led to people getting angry and upset with me. Which was entirely my fault, and I hated myself for it.
This problem took me *years* to fix. And the way I “solved” it wasn’t pretty. My attempted solution was overkill – I tried to impose tyrannical order on my chaotic whirlwind self. I did make some material progress, and I also made myself utterly miserable – which I felt like I deserved, because after all, wasn’t I a lousy person?
A thing I understand intimately– which people who are still struggling are often surprised to hear, because they tend to assume that I’m a natural– is that when you’re wack, your mechanism for fixing yourself is also wack. It’s like looking for your glasses when you can’t see without your glasses. The most “obvious” things become impossible.
The broad question of “how do you rebuild trust that is lost?” I had to deal with that, internally. After all, I had a long history of betraying my own trust! There’s evidence! So how can I trust myself? I didn’t know. I beat myself up over every failure, then wrapped that in jokes and apathy.
I think in retrospect I’m lucky that underneath ALL of that, in the core of cores, I did still have a love for literature and music. I say earnestly that I’d give my life for musicians. I would. I think that’s the light that saved me – the non-coercive, shining spirit of humanity.[h][i][j]
But okay, even if I believe that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, I still have to walk my way out. and the way to do that, when you have zero sense of balance, proprioception, muscle control, blah blah, is to put one foot in front of the other, firmly, and then do it again.
And what that looked like, for me, is announcing, “I’m going to drink a glass of water now,” and then drinking it. Hey, look, I just did 1x thing that I said I was going to do. “I’m going to do 10 pushups now.” Hey, that’s 2x things. And I earned my trust back, 1 step at a time.[k]
This process had all sorts of second-order effects. It’s like how you might “just” wanna play basketball with your friends, then you end up quitting cigarettes, eating healthier, sleeping better, etc, all to boost your game. And then you realize that, actually, living healthy feels great![l]
Anyway, a cute vestigial remnant of this whole process is that I still announce what I’m about to do before I do it. It’s like a little ritual I have for myself. Every time I do what I say, I build trust in myself, I build self-respect (which I didn’t have until… 25? 27?)
It still actually surprises me a little bit. When something I say will be done, gets done. [m]When you’ve spent a lifetime making shit up (it all started with “I will do my homework”), it starts to seem like magic. What I say will happen, happens? It’s like magic. I’m a magician! 😂
Of course, I still make mistakes. I underestimated how long it would take me to get my ebooks published and updated. But I no longer think “ah, fuck, I’m a fucking bullshitter and nothing I say has any meaning”. I now think, ah, I made a mistake, I must recalibrate & renegotiate.
What I’m finding is that there’s a sort of “economy” to it? For example, even as I write this, my ebooks are currently “in the red” with regards to my projections. But that’s okay – because my youtube videos are coming along beautifully. I’ve been publishing 1 every single day for almost a month. Joy to the world!
I guess this is just to say, if you feel like you don’t trust yourself, I feel you. I know how wrong it sounds when someone says “well, just start believing in yourself,” like b*tch, you have evidence that you’re not to be trusted!!! [n]I know! The thing is to build the tiny wins.
Support, don’t suppress
My #1 “productivity tip” for fellow weirdos and aliens with ADHD or ADHD-ish minds is – don’t suppress your mind, support it.
At the start of every work session, write down what you intend to do.
At the end, when you have deviated wildly, don’t despair – write down what happened.[o][p][q]
The meandering mind is a feature, not a bug[r][s]. IMO, it’s a sign that you have a stubborn[t] curiosity within you that refuses to follow orders. This can be a great thing, actually, once you learn how to work around it. But few have the patience to teach this.
I have a pretty severe case of this myself and I used to subconsciously beat myself up over it. But over the years I’ve learned to see that it takes me to interesting places. Thing is to non-judgementally go along for the ride, and report your findings[u][v][w].
While it’s true that there are an infinite number of things to get distracted by, it’s also simultaneously true that most things are connected – and it’s all part of the same whole. So write it down. You’ll find patterns.[x]
Da Vinci was clearly one of us, by the way. Check out his wonderfully idiosyncratic todo list. He didn’t have Twitter, so he used notebooks. Thousands of pages of notebooks. Write. Your. Shit. Down.
The writing takes extra effort, but it builds you up tremendously. And without it, you’re left scattered, incoherent, lost.
Note-taking is the Iron Man Suit for the meandering mind.
Question the assumptions
What I've come around to see – from having hundreds of conversations about this – is that people make those assumptions based on what they see in any given snapshot moment. you see a kanye west daydreaming in class and you think he's "distracted"
Most people don't spend much time interrogating the lenses through which they are observing reality, and the arbitrary values encoded in the systems which they've inherited. kid can't seem to do his homework, it's almost always assumed to be the kid's fault, never the homework's[z]
I know the other side of this, I know every side of this. There are domains in which, even outside of schools, tests, bureaucracy, etc, a lack of dexterity will hurt you. it can hurt in relationships. it can hurt in trying to keep your word, to yourself and people you care about
one way in which I describe this is that ADHD minds are like big, lumbersome chainguns that have a tremendous rate of fire. but they take time to spin up. they jam easily. they are no more or less worthy than any other kind of mind[aa]
big part of the challenge of having a neurodivergent mind is understanding how it is different, what are the contexts in which it excels, what are the contexts in which it doesn't, how to seek help/assistance for what you're not good at, and so on[ab]
Put the gun down
Somebody once tweeted, “ADHD is a lot of mentally yelling at yourself to DO something to do ANYTHING while you sit with absolutely no expression on your face, scrolling through your phone or continuing to play a game or whatever as if you have no control over your body.”
With love: in my view, this isn’t ADHD itself, but punitive, coercive self-bullying. It’s likely inherited from the people in your life who didn’t know how to deal with your AD