Living on the ADD Edge

Why do so many people with ADD live life on the edge?

image via Flickr, Riccardo Palazzani

image via Flickr, Riccardo Palazzani

Living life on the edge: procrastinating and procrastinating only to complete the task, once again, at the eleventh hour, pushing the limits of the car’s maneuverability at 75 miles per hour, scheduling ten meetings in a five-meeting block of time, attacking the black diamond slope with beginner’s skills.

Each of these events provides the ADD individual with a “rush”—an adrenalin rush that is a consequence of the stress response. For all of us, the perception of danger sets off this response resulting in increased arousal; this allows us to hyperfocus.

By hyperfocusing in times of danger, we are more likely to save ourselves.

This series of events is clearly helpful for the ADD individual who struggles with focus otherwise.   By using the stress response, the competent individual with ADD is able to pull it all off again and again, making procrastination an art form.

The rush allows him to experience intense focus and, in this way, pull it off at 2:00 AM the morning it’s due, behind the wheel of the car, during meeting number four, and on the ski slope.

There is a rub to all this however; the stress response also results in elevated heart rate, increased blood pressure, and chronic anxiety.

The ADD individual living life on the edge thinking he has, time and time again, successfully avoided disaster in his life is actually a time bomb waiting to detonate.


What helps you hyperfocus?  Is it living “on the edge,” or have other strategies worked for you?  Dr. Liden discusses other ways to avoid the “ticking time bomb” approach in his best-selling book, Pay Attention! Answers to common questions about the diagnosis and treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder.

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About cblmd

medical director of the being well center, ADHD expert, speaker, and author

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