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The ADHD Reader

I’m not up on psychological jargon, but I’ve suspected for a while that I have ADHD. Or some equivalent. Whatever it is that makes one’s attention fix on something, then get bored, and then ricochet around until another “something” can be fixed upon. And then the process begins all over again. After 32 years of marriage, my wife’s grown weary of telling me to “sit still” during a movie. My foot is always tapping. My mind is fighting to stay focused.

I’m not entirely sure this is a bad thing.

Maybe that’s why I “got” this Facebook Update from writer friend Katherine Coble the other day.

FB-3

Forget that Katherine was referring to something I despise, which is authors using their social media stream just to shill for themselves. It was that first part that I SO totally understand. “I VASTLY prefer the status updates from people who talk about a variety of things in their lives.”

I’m beginning to wonder if my ADHD doesn’t have something to do with that.

In the sidebar of my blog, I have this quote from Blaise Pascal:

It is much better to know something about everything, than everything about something.

Part of the reason that resonates with me is because I don’t have the attention span necessary to know “everything” about “something.” I find it far more interesting to graze through “a variety of things” — science, history, film, pagan cultures, politics, UFO-ology, sports, theology, quantum theory, and gardening — than to burrow into one subject to the exclusion of others.

The world is too big to specialize in one field.

Or maybe my mind is just too undisciplined to be a specialist.

This quirk totally affects HOW I read. For instance, I enjoy the horror genre. But a steady diet of horror? No thanks. I enjoy epic fantasy. But non-stop? Uh-uh. I like sociology and mythology and cryptozoology. But all the time? Sorry.

I’ve never understood how people can read just one genre of book.

Hey, I’m cool with sci-fi nerds, manga enthusiasts, sci-fi experts, and Civil War history buffs. But, man, don’t you ever want to read something else? It would drive me batty to “know everything” about anything, to read about…

  • Just wizards.
  • Just Victorian heroines.
  • Just Calvinism.
  • Just Joss Whedon.
  • Just Chippendale vampires.
  • Just Batman.

I’m having a panic attack just thinking about it!

Right now, I’m on a non-fiction kick. Read a dozen non-fiction books so far this year. Yes, some of it is writing / research related. But most of it is recreational. It is such a refreshing break from fiction. And when I get back to fiction, trust me, I will graze. From Urban Fantasy, to Literary, to Gothic, to YA, to… whatever doesn’t bore me.

I guess you could say I “read broadly.” Then again, perhaps it’s just the upside of my ADHD.

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{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Jessica Thomas July 12, 2013, 6:02 AM

    I tend to be a “grazer” in many aspects of my life, but for me, it’s an outgrowth of my addictive personality. When I find something interesting (usually some sort of mystery or problem to solve), I desire to fixate on it, and I loothe any distraction. I can sit for 10 hours straight at work trying to figure out a coding issue. Then, when I’m done, I totally lose interest in what I was once fixated on.

    • Mike Duran July 12, 2013, 6:19 AM

      Jessica, I do that a lot with my blogging. I’ll spend hours on a post and, once it’s up, I’m already thinking about the next post and have little energy to engage commenters on a subject I’ve already hashed out. That’s a problem.

  • Kat Heckenbach July 12, 2013, 6:18 AM

    “After 32 years of marriage, my wife’s grown weary of telling me to “sit still” during a movie. My foot is always tapping.” <– That is me and my husband. Right there. He taps his foot all through church, too, and I find myself telling him, "You're shaking the whole row." 🙂 I'm convinced he's ADD, too. Which, of course, means when my son is acting like that I can blame him–heehee.

    I'm not at all ADD, I don't think, but I am still like you when it comes to reading. Sure, most of the books I read are fantasy, specifically YA, but I'd go insane if that was *all* I had to read. Ugh.

    Anyway, the wide range of topics of interest vs narrow range reminded me of this "diagram" illustrating the differences between "geek" and "nerd." http://wallblog.co.uk/files/2012/01/geek-nerdSM.jpg

  • Katherine Coble July 12, 2013, 6:22 AM

    It was funny cause I’m reading this half asleep and was like “whoa. I think that’s my face. ”

    Of course I’d read my name twice by that point. I imagine its going to be one of those days where I put the ice cream away in the dish cupboard.

    As for ADHD, if your easily-reordered focus isn’t maladaptive–causing harm to you or others–it’s not a _disorder_. But I do understand what you mean.

    I have a theory that this happens to a lot of people when their sleep schedule conflicts with their instinctive natural processing time. In other words, I’m largely nocturnal, but have trouble with distraction frequently. But only during the day hours when I’d prefer to be sleeping.

    • Katherine Coble July 12, 2013, 6:55 AM

      And clearly I’m still have asleep because I didn’t finish my thought.

      I’m very much with you on books. The Kindle has made my Reading Rainbow much easier; I always try to have at least 6 books going so that I can read the one that matches my mood.

  • Johne Cook July 12, 2013, 6:24 AM

    One of the great epiphanies of my life was hearing the discussion about adult ADD in the workplace on NPR. It explained why I am why I am. All this time I thought I was deficient. Knowing others experience the same thing… it gave me a whole new appreciation for how I’m wired.

  • Margaret July 12, 2013, 6:49 AM

    Oh, yes, I know of what you speak, especially when it comes to reading. I currently have about 16 books in various stages of being read, and they range from ‘Amish Grace’ (nonfiction about the Nickel Mines tragedy) to ‘Jane Eyre’ to ‘World War Z’ (on request at the library). Life is too short and too rich to limit our exposure to and exploration of just one slice of it.

    • Katherine Coble July 12, 2013, 6:57 AM

      _World War Z_: Just finished reading for the first time. It’s now one of my favourite books.

  • michelle pendergrass July 12, 2013, 7:02 AM

    No official diagnosis here, but I’m very easily distracted. And yep, I read about six books at a time, the topics as far from each other as seemingly possible. Right now I’m reading about zombies, werewolves, a girl on a Triumph, connecting to the spiritual realm of the Kingdom of Heaven, and writing advice.

  • Kim Kouski July 12, 2013, 10:08 AM

    LOL!!! I like reading Christian fantasy as that’s what I write, but I also like getting lost in another world. So I’m one of those ‘weird’ people. But I do try to read other genres. I try. Really I try.

  • Bob Avey July 12, 2013, 10:44 AM

    I was going to post on this subject. However, I was distracted and moved on.

  • Timothy Stone July 12, 2013, 6:00 PM

    Have you ever been to a “fox and hedgehog” lecture? When explained, the terms generall signify that the fox is generally good at a great many things, but certainly not the best at much of anything. The hedgehog, meanwhile, is not good at much, but the very few things he is good at, he is the best. I think that in terms of career, hedgehogs are best, but for reading and other leisure activities, one ought to be a fox all the way.

  • D.M. Dutcher July 14, 2013, 12:23 AM

    This is like saying you have ADHD if you don’t like to eat the same food all of the time. It’s fine to have a wide range of interests, and it’s just as fine to specialize in a few. There’s no pathology to how you tend to do your hobbies or recreations.

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