ADHD : Hyperarousal, not Hyperactivity

I am diagnosed with the combined ADHD type, the one that makes me impulsive and hyperactive and comes with a deficit of attention and a lot of distraction. But am I really hyperactive? My hyperfocus can make me sit still for hours and even when this ADHD feature is not activated I am not moving around that much. Yes, I have some periods in which I might move more that the average person, but this is because physical movement calms me down, makes me able to focus. I believe hyperactivity is not my problem, it is simply a remedy for the actual problem, my emotional hyperarousal.

My ADHD devil is able to speed up my brain, to fill it with too many thoughts, to connect things that shouldn’t be connected. I have too many thoughts, my brain is not familiar with the concept of rest and because it lacks any kind of filters when it comes to managing the input, whatever is around me is capable of exiting my ADHD devil, to create even more thoughts. I don’t have a hyperactive body, I have a hyperactive brain, a brain that seems to be interested, that seems to get aroused, by everything that is around me. Even the smallest form of input can generate millions of thoughts.

Seven years ago I bought a book, Flatland, by Edwin A. Abbott. The book is a combination of mathematics and fiction, it describes the 2-dimensional world called Flatland, as well as Pointland, 0 dimensions, Lineland, 1 dimension, and Spaceland, the 3-dimensional world. The book contains drawings to help to clarify the description of the different worlds. I love this book and read it often, however in all those 7 years I have never been able to make it to the end, not even halfway of the 83 pages it counts, I always get stuck around page 20, where Abbott describes the process of recognition.

The reason this book interests me, as well as making it impossible for me to read, is imagination. The first paragraph of the book tells the following:

” Imagine a vast sheet of paper on which straight Lines, Triangles, Squares, Pentagons, Hexagons and other figures, instead of remaining fixed in their places, move freely about, on or in the surface, but without the power of rising above or sinking below it…”

Flatland by Edwin A. Abbot, p.3.

This is only one part of a sentence of which the book contains so many, but before I can continue reading the next, or even the end of the sentence, I need at least half an hour to let my thoughts wonder. Why are the shapes written with a capital, what shapes can I come up with, would they all be present in this land, I see them from the top but will they see each other from the side, or will they disappear then, and if they are visible from the side, wouldn’t they all look like flat lines, and wouldn’t that make a variety in shapes completely useless… Even though I know all these question will get answered in the rest of the book, I even read it before, but my mind gets aroused by every sentence, every time. Every sentence starts a process of thoughts, appearing, connecting and colliding, every sentence makes my mind wonder.

Reading Flatland is one of the few things that arouse my brain in a good way, a way that creates thoughts and feelings I enjoy. Unfortunately many times my ADHD devil gets aroused by things I don’t want to think about, things that upset me or things that distract me, often at moments I don’t want my brain to wonder. Often I don’t want it to happen but it is just out of my control. My brain works in a way as a very primitive thing when it comes to choosing things of interest. Like a child in a toy store that gets overwhelmed by the many options of different toys to play with, my brain can also not choose one thing but wants to play with everything. Right now, I’m really trying to write this but in my mind I’m wondering about who came up with this way we make notebooks, the ones with the steel spiral holding it together, the ones that you’ll always crush and then you’re unable to flip the pages which then get loose and disappear, how many times did I have to buy a new one because of this problem, why did I always decide to buy these instead of the ones without the steel things, why do I always try to fit my pinky in that spiral, I know it never goes further without getting stuck, and know it’s stuck… Time for a walk around the house.

I can not choose what I am interested in, I can not choose what arouses the devil inside my brain, even the smallest, most normal and unnoticeable things can make my thoughts get out of control, and one of the things that helps to give me some control back is physical activity. But does this make me physically hyperactive? No, or at least not enough to define my disorder by it. The movement of my body is not what gives me my ADHD diagnosis, it is not the problem I’m experiencing because of my ADHD, it is part of the solution. Whenever my emotions are exploding or whenever my stream of thoughts seems to be focussing on the wrong subject, physical movement is one of the things that can help me to calm down, to clear my head and create some peace and space in there. But the same goes for writing, drawing and my Ritalin. Why am I diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder instead of ADWritingD, ADDrawingD or ADRitalinD? In my opinion because the name was invented my neurotypical brains.

It won’t bother anyone if I manage my hyperarousal by drawing, writing or taking a pill. It doesn’t annoy anyone because I will remain silent, and in position while I do this. But once I start moving, other people will notice, especially in a situation where I’m expected to remain seated. Hyperactivity is the only expression of my hyperarousal that is visible for the outside world, and it is not appreciated and this give ADHD it’s name. It is important to remember that hyperactivity is just a way of ADHD brains to coop with their real problem, and when you force them to sit still when this is happening, you will only increase our hyperarousal, you will only make things worse and give the ADHD devil inside us the opportunity to take over control completely.

Further reading

I have written multiple articles about the problems with the name ADHD, the name that is for sure not made up by the people that own a brain that accommodate the devil and the angel that come with it. I believe the name causes a lot of negativity, it does not cover the truth about the type of brain that comes with it and this frustrates me.

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