Dysfunction Look-and-Find, and Doodling for Focus

((Featured image – an example of ‘drawing so I can also focus on something else that’s happening’ from a few years ago, I just called it “Colorbomb”))

I did a google search on “artist with A.D.D” and found an interesting blog write-up on someone with A.D.D that has many similarities to mine – undiagnosed throughout my childhood and early adult years, just thinking certain things were normal and that other people just dealt with them more adeptly.

Article: http://www.avrilejean.net/2013/01/27/attention-deficit-disorder-and-art/

My favorite and the most accurate-to-myself bits (things like these help me remember the insights and progress I make in figuring out what issues I have, and hopefully how to work to correct them before I forget it all or lose my place and have to restart any effort):

“I always knew there was something amiss in my head, but not what. I was tired a                 lot, moody a lot, unable to cope a lot. I would cry on the way home when I worked                   full time, wondering how no one else seemed to be as traumatized by work as I was. I            thought of it as a big wall I just could not get over, this thing that blocked me from                doing some of the things I wanted to do.”

“One thing that I did do, all through primary and high schools, and uni, was I drew on          my class notes and my lecture notes. I drew incessantly.”

“You know when you go into a room and forget why you’ve gone into it and you stand            there helplessly? Apply that to almost everything – work tasks, going shopping,                      where did i put my car, what was I just thinking, what did I mean to do now, how come          I’m doing the washing, I thought i was in the middle of the dishes – wait I am, better            go start the vacuuming…..”

“I have used art work to sooth and calm the swirling in my head for years. It started in          class when I drew on my work, and that in effect has been the thing i go back to                      whenever i need a time out from trying to concentrate or think. I find i can direct the            energy and concentration and turn off the chaos by getting out a pencil or a brush,                  and working on a piece of art.  Selecting and choosing colours and working on a bit of            something till it looks right, is awesome therapy for the messed up brain, it soothes it          and calms it and gives it something to look at. I guess art to me is self-medication, it            is the thing I can hyper-focus on.”

(Avril Jean, 2013)

It makes me hopeful to know that others in similar mental configurations figure out how to be at least reasonably successful in life and living with A.D.D. Avril also mentions that forming habits has helped combat a lot of the chaos that tends to make normal life things so complicated. This is something I am still working on…habits seem so unnatural to me, so innately repulsive to my more free-spirited and impulsive self, but I know that they will be vital to me accomplishing anything.

I still often end up a slave to things that just help me forget and block out the world, like video games or shows or just…drawing and not using my work for anything. I suppose part of the habit forming process will be working to un-learn my bad habits and tendencies. I’d really like to be able to find a great psychologist or some variant that could help me not only with my mental state but with getting the foundations of habits and strategies that work for me into place. I haven’t had tremendous luck there, however.

So combining the aspects of myself that are very…control freak, plus the unlimited way I view just about everything (Perceiving type MBTI) many endeavors are just too enormous – too many possibilities, too much work needed to feel I have a decent (complete enough) grasp of the information to make a decision. Add to those how easily I can lose my progress from one day to the next, and my need for an environment that won’t sabotage my attention and it feels impossible to take on anything that can’t be completed in one cram-all session on a day where I have nothing else scheduled (even small shifts at work or appointments that won’t take very much time seem to weigh down and consume a day…).

So here’s to hoping I can figure it out, and find someone who can help me with that. I hate feeling like I am wasting so much potential and talent floundering around in such an inconstant manner. I hate almost ALWAYS being at the mercy of my impulses and moods. I hate how alone I feel in it, which is also on me – shutting almost everything else out of my life in an attempt to get my dreams and future on track, while still keeping my head above water in terms of survival and basic life necessities.

Mood Mode: Mental Malware

It is so very frustrating and defeating to be so violently at odds with my own mind. It seems everything positive is countered by an equal and stalemate-rendering negative, or conditional, that consistently keeps my progress at zero (likely the most consistent thing about me…). My mind of contradictions. So I learn something, gain a valuable insight, become inspired and motivated and hopeful about progress on an artwork, sales, becoming more organized,  developing healthy routines, implementing A.D.D-life controls to give me even one thread of solidity to follow through the whirlpool-tsunami of chaos that is my life as interpreted by my brain….it never sticks. It’s all so clear one moment, and easy and logical…and then it’s gone. Be it a distraction, a necessary (annoying) life requirement like eating, grooming, work-for-money (ugh), etc…and I lose the trajectory. Sure I write it down, and re-read it like I’d read a work of fiction: a novel idea that seems like it could work – just not for me, because these things never work for me. I gain the knowledge, but it’s proper and effective use is lost to me. If I’m not in the proper mindset or mood, all the knowledge in the world seems useless. The steps I made are erased. And even now, amidst surely a thousand things to say, I am tickling in an anxious and unpleasant way, remembering the awfulness of melancholy, and how revisiting it out of that mode so conveniently conjures it back up (unlike my useful progress moods, which won’t come when called). I don’t know what I need or how to fix it, and feel quite forlorn and useless. Perhaps all I have is a grand legacy of self-defeat, and an epic example of how not to accomplish anything, despite having quite a lot of potential. My brain makes these beautiful things – I am looking at one now – one of my paintings that’s going well (why haven’t I posted it? why can’t I do the easy simple things I know I should?) but then I remember all of the weights – how long it took, how I can’t post it easily like a smartphone-owner with an instagram (how I don’t even want an instagram, or at this very moment, any social anything anytime – which is equally variable by mood), how it’s not ready yet or should have a watermark when posted or a million other things BRAIN SHUT UP, LIMBIC SYSTEM CHILL THE FUCK OUT and STOP TINGLING for FUCKS SAKE. Ahh and back to a contradiction of how the relaxants that might ease my mind will counteract the stimulants which distract my distract-ability. I’d better move on before I start twitching.

So, what’s wrong with me? (part 1)

<Featured image: a sketch of mine from a while back, still living in my “work in progress/concepts to develop folder” – titled “Dark Room”>

I will do my best to keep this succinct despite all that rambles around in my thoughts, almost as if my brain is always on duty trying to sort and process everything stored and find reasoning and solutions to the things that plague me and make everything feel so difficult.

First I will recognize that this article/list on Listverse ( http://listverse.com/2016/03/01/10-fascinating-and-trippy-works-of-art/ ) encouraged me to make a post on the things I struggle with. The article covers artworks coming from those with altered mental states, whether from psychiatric disorders, drug use, or a combination of both. These works are fascinating to me – much more so that your run of the mill still-life (why should I want to see what is already there, already is and is known, when I could gaze upon and contemplate something no one before has ever seen?- the same is said of the work I create; I want it to be new, unknown, open to interpretation as fits the viewer, to stir up and incite and inspire…). Many of these artists create amazing unique and powerful imagery that is both as uniquely illustrative and mysterious as their own incredibly different minds and selves. To me, this is beauty. To know the best and worst of sensations and emotion and pain and euphoria and to put them into something of a communication; a means of linking or connecting and expressing which can bridge where no other channel may exist. It seems to me one of the most powerful methods of allowing the brains and frequencies of individuals who might never glimpse understanding or empathy for each other, who might otherwise never connect in any way, to interface in a manner that allows the conceptual exchange of completely unique human experience.

Let’s start with the depression. It’s been my mental roommate since middle school, when we were first personally acquainted. I won’t bother to go into the turmoils and difficulties of depression, since it has become much more understood/publicized as an issue and condition/related in countless ways. What I will say is I have come to accept that mine is chronic major depressive disorder for which I take medication that allows me to function, and I will always need this medication.

Next: attention deficit disorder. I don’t remember having trouble with this as a kid, but I remember the relief of learning through books and my psychologist that there was a reason behind all the chaos, inconsistency, impulsiveness, and more that were (and still are) making ‘normal’ or ‘functional’ life very challenging (I’ve been putting off finding a new psychologist/counselor whatever for a long time, because having had ones that do not fit with my needs and how I am, it is hard to imagine and harder to identify individuals who might be a good match). The best book I’ve found so far is called “ADD-Friendly ways to Organize your Life” by Judith Kolberg and Kathleen Nadeau. It’s quite helpful, insightful, and I think is one of the main reasons I can operate at any sort of successful capacity – though I am almost certain I will need professional help establishing routines, strategies, and consistency in my life that help me work with, not against, my a.d.d. I’ll list the issues I have that may relate to the condition (for my own memory and troubleshooting purposes if nothing else):

My ADD Tendencies – A Discouraging, but Actionable List I Hope to Tame or Minimize Someday

  • Impaired capacity to develop, maintain, and organize daily life. Problems with self-regulation.
  • Trouble with planning, organization, and follow-through.
  • Difficulty completing tasks without distraction – especially when tasks are mundane, repetitive, uninteresting, and not necessarily chosen.
  • Poor sense/concept of time – time management issues, punctuality issues, and unrealistic time estimations.
  • Inconsistency and forgetfulness. Difficulty developing and keeping habits and routines. Great difficulty with follow-through (finishing things, remembering to do things at a later time, keeping up with maintenance, responsibilities). Frequent trouble with “out of sight, out of mind” concept.
  • Reactive rather than proactive.
  • Focus and impulse control. Distraction (interest-grabbing items push all else aside, cause loss of focus, underdoing things as a result of distraction or improper focus), Variations in attentiveness, Focus control and scope issues (hyperfocus, micro focus,  and inappropriate focus tendencies to avoid larger problems or anxiety), overdoing (overcomplicating), getting ‘stuck’ on things – unable to move on, issues with stimulation levels and self-control.
  • Trying to do everything at the same time.
  • Life feels overwhelming and chaotic all the time, but basic regulatory skills are underwhelming and tedious.
  • Extra: (worth noting) aspects of obsessive compulsive disorder, an anxiety disorder – overfocus on tiny details, perfectionism. Feel like I am constantly organizing without ever actually getting organized.


How exhausting. Maybe I’ll have to eventually make a post on the strategies listed in my book to counter this overwhelming Sisyphean disorder. Stay tuned for part 2 next, covering personality type and traits further rounding out my mental crazy maze!