Either way, hyper-focused or barely focused, the brain (perhaps momentarily) has lost its capacity to direct its attention. Either way, ADD meets bipolar. Either way, bad things happen.
But wait. Hold your horses. We’ve all spent way too much time on Facebook or working late into the night on a project. Likewise, we’ve all experienced those times when our brains bounce from one thing to the other or we forget things or procrastinate. That doesn’t mean we have ADD, do we?
True. But that hardly lets us off the hook, either. Thinking in terms of diagnostic thresholds lulls us into a fool’s paradise of believing there is nothing wrong with us. Whether it’s bipolar or ADD or anxiety or any other condition, it’s never a question of “do you have it?” or “don’t you”? Rather we’re talking about “how much do you have?” or “how little”?
So - how much ADD do you have? We all have issues with directing our attention. Often, this can be advantageous. Einstein famously came up with his earth-shaking realizations when he was daydreaming and probably supposed to be taking out the trash. But he also had what it took to keep his mind on task, to get past the “E” en route to E=MC2.
But suppose you are so hyper-focused on the “E” that you can’t see your way to the other side of the equation? Or maybe your under-focus sabotages your ability to even keep your head in E.
Been there, done that? Maybe you have ADD, maybe you don’t. But there is obviously an attention thing going on, something that can seriously throw you off your game, something that can seriously make your bipolar more difficult to manage. Thus (take home message, here) you need to paying attention - to attention.
Much more to come ...
For the ADD side of the equation in this series of posts, I am relying very heavily on my friend Gina Pera’s highly original book, “Is It You or Me or Adult ADD?” Please check out her exceptionally provocative and riveting blog, The ADHD Roller Coaster.
I am also working off of Eileen Bailey and Donald Haupt’s very informative and straightforward “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD.” Eileen is a fellow Health Guide here at HealthCentral, with extremely useful posts on ADHD.
For the bipolar side of the equation, I am largely connecting my own dots based on my research into how the brain processes information, focuses attention, modulates impulses, and responds to dopamine. I am also guided by the comments of my readers in response to a recent Question of the Week.