My Brain Is A Fussy Toddler

The ADHD is really messing with me today.

If I’m honest with myself, it’s not just today. If I’m really honest with myself, it’s responsible for…everything I’ve never accomplished and feel like I should have by now. If you’ve ever followed me on a piece of social media and gotten tired of hearing me talk about it – this is why. Days like today are why.

Today, I think, I should get something done about not having started a YouTube channel yet. I should do that.

But there are so many things to do involving that, and it’s not just a question of “make yourself do it.”

Working with ADHD is somewhat akin to trying to get a toddler to eat dinner.

No matter how hard you want to feed it mashed-write-a-script or pureed market research, you can’t make it eat something it doesn’t want. So I go down the list and ask my brain what, on this list, it wants, and it turns up its nose at everything but playing Elder Scrolls Online, and I go yet another day without having a YouTube channel.

It’s a really embarrassing thing, because for all outward appearances, it looks like I’m just lazy and unmotivated. But I’m not! You should see my folders full of three-quarters-written scripts, or the amount of video equipment in my house, or the number of times I’ve posted a video, hated it, and then taken it down. It’s a pretty regular thing.

I work on things in short, hypermotivated bursts and then never touch them again. Look at the state of this website. At this point in time, it’s got three husks of Dragon Age articles on it, all formatted beautifully, with pictures and clever titles and subheadings. But where’s the actual post? It’s all lorem ipsum dummy text at this point in time, because three months ago I thought I could do all of it in the span of two days, got those parts done, and then burnt out and stopped.

My room looks like that. Little projects everywhere, half-finished and then abandoned.

Some knitting, half a dress, a cosplay prop. My longest burst of motivation lasted a month – for the entire month of January I managed to be a person who got up, made her bed, drank water, and worked out. But then it just. Stopped. My brain burned up all the motivational fuel it had when other things got stuck in the gummyworks, and I couldn’t keep up doing it anymore.

The ADHD brain needs constant stimulation.

It needs “new” all the time. Positive feedback is the name of the game. That’s why we like video games so damn much – it’s constant positive feedback. You know that thing that all parents say, where they’re like “you can play video games for four hours, so you can do your homework?”

Literally nothing has ever been less true for an ADHD person.

A video game will reward you constantly with a sense of achievement. Your homework will tell you that you’ve dishonored your whole family, your mother, and your cow.

ADHD’ers don’t need our brains telling us that more.

All the mistakes we make, the friends and family we disappoint or inconvenience, the projects we haven’t completed – those tell us we’re not good enough plenty.

So how can we fix that and get things done already?

Right now, I’m sitting at my desk. I’m dangling all the pieces of “make YouTube videos happen” in front of my toddler brain, trying to see which ones it might decide to eat.

But it’s not happening. All the overwhelming pieces flash in and out of my head. There’s so much to do. All Brain wants is video games, which are the dinosaur chicken nuggets of food.

But wait, Em, that’s dumb. Making a YouTube video isn’t that complicated.

Have a peek:

  • Me: we should work on the YouTube channel
  • finish a script?
  • maybe the Romine brothers one
  • Brain: no.
  • Me: maybe the Star Wars one it’s really long
  • Brain: eh
  • Me: maybe the one about Outer Worlds that you should have just finished when that was relevant?
  • Brain: definitely not
  • Me: maybe a new one?
  • Brain: that is So Much
  • Me: we told ourselves we would finish recording yesterday.
  • Brain: I almost have enough gold to buy a house in ESO
  • Me: wow this is a problem huh. we need medication
  • Brain: LOL. You need a job for that one, loser, and we already know you’re not getting one of those.
  • Me: …:(
  • Brain: you know you have to record this when it’s done, right? and edit it? and then make thumbnails? and then post. I mean, you’re never going to make one of these in a week, and so you should probably just make four of them so you’ll have a month’s worth or no one will want to watch anyway.
  • Brain: actually, make a whole year’s worth of videos before you even THINK about posting.
    Me: :(:(:(
  • Brain: also you forgot you had clothes in the washing machine again.

You get the gist. Basically, the order of things is Try To Get Motivated, Get Overwhelmed, Have Meltdown.

If you’ve noticed, I’m not playing ESO right now. Fortunately, when you’ve had enough stupid meltdowns, you learn to spot the pattern. I’m going to play some more in a little while, but one of my meltdown tricks is to jot down three things that would make me feel like I’ve at least made small progress towards a goal.

For me, it’s going to be these three things:

  1. blog post
  2. clean my vanity for ten minutes
  3. work on a script for ten minutes

Since I have a handful of scripts nearly to completion, and ten minutes is not that long, I can tell brain that yes, we’ll have some dino chicken nuggets…as long as we eat just a little bit of broccoli first. I’m not cleaning my whole room, producing a whole video, or even correcting all the messy things about this blog. But I’m doing one thing, today, and that’s more than nothing.

And that’s it, I guess. The blog post is on the list because it helps me work out some of the anxiety from the meltdown, and I hope it helps you a little too. Everyone should have some sort of meltdown emergency plan. Just ten minutes can do a world of good.

Photo by Ross Sokolovski on Unsplash

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