(or How I learned to accept my Neurodivergent tendencies & became über productive in very short, highly energetic bursts that leave me feeling drained for a day and a half, but hey, at least I get shit done)
I can be a super-focused person sometimes. When I’m on a writing streak, I can go for hours without a break for stretching, bathroom or food. Drawing and reading follow similar tracks. And recently, cosplay has become my go-to time ignorer.
But it wasn’t until recently that I learned that this has a name: Hyperfocus. Typically associated with those who have ADHD, hyperfocus is a state in which a person becomes so completely immersed in an activity they enjoy that everything and everyone else simply disappears from their brain. This can be a boon for those who create or do important research; it keeps the mind on track and shoves out all the trivial distractions that can derail a project. On the bad end, however, it can be detrimental to quality of life, relationships and work or school. When you become so caught up in a video game or an art project that you completely lose track of where you are and who you’re with, it might be seen as a problem.
Back to the cosplay: As I said, I can become so intensely lost in what I’m doing that I lose track of time. I may have told myself I was only going to be in the garage for a half an hour, tops, but that quickly turns into three hours if I don’t set an alarm. Losing myself in a project stimulates my brain in a way that normal everyday tasks don’t, giving me a large hit of that sweet, sweet dopamine I crave. However, it comes at a high cost. When I get so caught up in whatever I’m doing, my relationship with my family goes down the drain.
Lately, it’s been bad. I’ve shrugged off several household chores I normally can accomplish in a few minutes; now that it’s been over a week of working on this cosplay, those short tasks have piled into an hour or better of drudgery. That makes it even harder to do because now it’s daunting and scary and time-consuming instead of easy and automatic and tiny. So it gets put off for another day. And another day. And then another day until it becomes a seething, toothy monster that reeks of musty gym gear and garlic.
I can hear you asking me, “But Kat! How ever do you get over this awful condition?”
To which I say, 1) it’s not all that bad (think of it as a high-octane machine full of espresso and happiness pumping directly into your veins) and 2) even though it can damage the household equilibrium, I can harness Hyperfocus and force it to be used for good.
Cleaning comes to mind as one of the things I can easily ignore. I don’t need to shower, I’m just gonna go to the gym tomorrow. Those jeans can be worn at least three more times. Dishes? Pah! We don’t need no stinkin’ dishes. But since there’s kids involved, I kinda have to keep up appearances and vacuum every once in a while. Which leads me to the point of using my hyperfocusing tendencies: just like they teach kids on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, any task can be made into a game. And if it’s fun enough to distract from the nastiness at hand, all the better for my brain to latch onto it and flip the autopilot switch.
Making things entertaining, no matter how boring it is or how much you don’t want to do it, can divert all that energy and focus into doing actual work things. Turning on music or a podcast can trick me into thinking that I am doing something fun, even if it’s just the dishes or cooking a meal. My brain doesn’t know what hit it, distracted as it is by the gravelly growl of Gary Clark, Jr. or the weirdness of The Lost Cat podcast. I can easily finish those boring things I’ve been putting off my splintering my focus just enough to release the Hyperfocus’s hold on my brain.
Granted, sometimes I can become so enthralled in a podcast or a playlist that I accidentally over-rise the bread. But that mess is for another time.
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