WHY DO I RUN UP ESCALATORS?
Because I always feel I have to try harder than others to get to the same place.
What does this have to do with screenwriting? Well I can be prolific – sometimes I can write 50 pages in a day – it’s a frenetic frenzy of activity that I can’t control – it literally spews out of me until it stops. Other days, I’m crippled by self doubt and can barely write a page. Writing for me is a mania at times, it takes over me and my brain cannot stop. So why I am I like this?
I grew up thinking I was stupid. I couldn’t remember things, really struggled at school, couldn’t articulate myself well and struggled with bouts of self-doubt, self-loathing and depression. This continued well into adulthood and in some ways, still does. My teachers made little to no effort to encourage me – but when the odd one bothered… I gave them everything to prove I was good enough to be worthy of their praise – even when, in the end, it didn’t mount up to much. I was however, always praised for my imagination – the flipside of which was often being told I had my ‘head in the clouds’.
All my friends were more clever than me and all went to uni – but I didn’t – years of feeling thick, unworthy, useless, made me think I wouldn’t cope – so I quit before I even started. My issues were compounded by a crap childhood that condemned me to stay at the bottom of the pile. But I fought with all the misguided strength I could muster, to be the best at everything – often failing – it always took so much effort – everything seemed so much harder for me than other people. I had to fight ten times harder just to keep up and often still fell short.
At times, life for me is exhausting. Fighting my inner doubts, fighting that voice that tells me I can’t – the voice that tells me my teachers and my mother were right – I’m not worth anything. This, combined with a brain that seems to sluggishly drag behind itself, constantly distracted and trying to keep up with itself, makes things that other people take for granted, hard as hell as times.
2 weeks ago I was diagnosed, at 47, with ADHD. My doctor said it was a clear cut case – being born 9 weeks early from a Mum who smoked and drank, probably caused it.
I look back at my life before being a screenwriter and actor and despite trying to be the best me, what a mess I’ve made of so much of it – ADHD has stalled my previous career, contributed to broken relationships and so much can be attributed to the fact that my brain, as it always felt like, simply does not work properly. It’s not all because of ADHD, by any means, but it’s a big chapter in the book of my life.
Over the years I’ve found ways to thrive in my internal and external chaos – it turns out ADHD is as much a superpower when it is recognised and managed well. The obsessive nature of ADHD, the ability to problem solve complex issues, the ability to belligerently cut through the crap, challenge everything, while often frustrating (for me and others), has helped me get to a great place in my life and it really helps me be productive as a writer.
I’m in a place where I am happy. I understand me better now. I understand WHY I am me. Knowing, gives me a sense of why it isn’t all my fault that everything has been so hard. It helps me look back with less regret, less self loathing and more forgiveness for myself.
ADHD wasn’t a thing when I was a kid – we were just seen as naughty, thick or hyperactive kids. Teachers these days handle kids like me so much better. They see these differences and know how to channel the different energy, style and learning needs. Kids with ADHD can thrive – I’ve seen it first hand a number of times.
Why am I sharing this? I don’t know really. A lot of people I know are on the spectrum of neuro-divergence – a lot of them are in the arts – a place where your differences don’t have to hold you back (unless you have a lot of lines to learn like I often do). I’m not looking for sympathy – I really don’t need that – I think I’m just sharing my experience in the hope it might help someone in a similar position. You are never too old to get to know yourself better.
We all have our reasons for the people we’ve been in our pasts – I’d like to think I’m now the best me I’ve ever been – but I’ve wasted so many hours days and weeks of my life hating me. I fight that battle still – and must thank those friends and family who, over the years, have stuck by me, despite my differences and difficulties and self-destructive streak.
If this sounds like you… or like someone you know, ask your doctor. I did – it took a year, for some it may take longer but… there are treatments and support – even as an adult.
Thanks for reading this far. Ironically, if you made it to the end, you probably don’t suffer from ADHD Oh and keep running up those escalators anyway…. it’s good for you.
As for whether it’s a superpower, I don’t know – it seems to help me and hinder me in equal parts – but long may the frenzy continue if it keeps me being so prolific! What’s your superpower?
The very thing that makes your life tougher, may be the thing that makes you so good. It’s easy to write yourself off – as I have many times. I think with ADHD though, I’ll treat it as a superpower. It fuels spurts of creative madness that I need – it’s therapy – a way of purging all the noise in my head.
If you think you may have ADHD, why not see? They can check, do tests and diagnose. It might not make a huge difference to you as a person, but it might help you understand why you are.
Below is the link if you think you may have it – it’s not easy, it takes time, but here it is.