Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Hyperfocus over Demand Avoidance

Thoughts on compiling my new book, Neurostrands, which examines four neurodivergent conditions I have (ADHD, autism, delayed sleep phase and PDA) by asking the same questions to members of closed Facebook groups representing each neurotype.

The compilation of the book is very much a product of my combined “neurostrands”.  Seeking a positive way to live with late night solitude induced by delayed sleep phase, I have taken to engaging in quiet online projects, such as producing this book. I feel it also worth mentioning that “DSPS (Delayed-Sleep-Phase-Syndrome)” was the first Facebook closed support group I joined, way back before I even suspected my autism or PDA, and many years before suspecting ADHD (which I have connected with most fully through compiling this book).  Unravelling my inner workings (hence this book) is one of my autistic special interests.  Thanks to the discussions transcribed in these pages, I now understand that the hyperfocus enabling me to undertake this special interest project comes from my ADHD, and, finally, I know from experience that dropping hyperfocus allows my pathological demand avoidance to throttle my plans, so I have produced this book with unbroken momentum, despite polite, but anguished comments from the PDA group telling me that the speed at which I’ve hurled out “book post questions” has been causing them overwhelm, overload and triggered demand avoidance.  I have in response done my best to achieve a slow-as-possible post speed which doesn’t cause my hyperfocus momentum to dwindle enough for my demand avoidance to jump in, and have been aiming to post new questions every two days, instead of daily.  This slowed posting rate is additionally arduous because my PDA impulsivity wants me to post new queries right away and ADHD scatty me feels anxious if I delay posting a query even for a moment in case I forget, but then I feel anxious about overloading PDAers and wonder why the Hell I am subjecting myself to this project in the first place.  It’s a tricky balance!

This entire project, in fact, entails a complex mental ballet of holding multiple conversations in my head and weaving them into coherent order via subheadings.  I am certain that I can only achieve this via my hyperfocus.  Hyperfocus is a kind of superpower, I think.  It supercharges my mental capacity for a single focus and, in shining clear, bright light on all that falls under its beam, allows me to spot tiny details I’d entirely miss without it.  That I have diagnosed dyslexia and Irlen syndrome (word blindness) as well, perhaps shows how powerful ADHD hyperfocus is.  I have slow reading speed and jumble the words that I do see, but my hyperfocus blithely overcomes this and enables me to pick up gists, hold them in my attention drifting mind and weave them into the right strands of the compiled text.  If I stop for an instance, demand avoidance tells me it’s too difficult and not to bother.  Even writing this introduction requires hyperfocus in the face of demand avoidance.  I have learned from compiling my first book, PDA by PDAers, to pre-empt demand avoidance hurdles by “jumping” them while in hyperfocus.

In creating PDA by PDAers, I had serious demand inertia with regard to making section summaries and writing the introduction, so here I am, midway through compiling the book and in full hyperfocus thrall, writing this introduction and adding subheadings when conversations are first transcribed then collating these as section summaries.

Using subheadings to avoid future demands has, to my delight, reduced demands even further by making it easier for me find my way around the text. I’d not have used subheadings if I hadn’t been pre-empting future demands, because doing so would have felt far too demandy to bother with!  Yes, it’s complex!

And it is unravelling this complexity of interconnected “neurostrands” that has prompted me to compile this book.  I am very glad that I have because I have learned so much about myself and my fellow neurodivergents as a consequence.  My demand avoidance had put me off learning more about my potential (now known) ADHD and finer, comparative points about the impacts of autism, DSPS and PDA prior to my taking on this project: I had been paralysed by my demand avoidance telling me it was too difficult; too tiring; too time-consuming and just not interesting.  Well, demand avoidance (and thank you, autistic special interest and ADHD hyperfocus) you were so very wrong!  This project has been, and remains very worthwhile and fascinating.

I’m going to use this as a blogpost, because I have been aware and anxious that I haven’t posted anything for some time.  I still have demand avoidance issues against blogging (can’t do it, what do I write, etc) and my hyperfocus is, as you’ve seen, currently running wild pulling my new book together.

Edit: the PDAer-more-friendly-delay I've self-imposed has, I've discovered, all but killed my hyperfocus :/ It's such a hard balance to strike, especially as I don't want to upset "book post" viewers by driving them too hard.

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