What time is it?
I really don't understand the concept of time
Last week, I met with an accountability group within the London Writers’ Salon where we debrief our weeks — the celebrations and the challenges. There were several other people in the Zoom room who also have attention deficit disorder. So, when one member made a suggestion to one of the other neurodivergents about time management and planning, I just had to laugh.
“You do realize you’re speaking with someone with ADD,” I said. “We have little concept of time — there’s only NOW for us.”
People laughed, of course. But another member of the group piped up.
“You’re in good company,” she said. “Mystics strive for that sense of being only in the here and now.”
“Well, if this is Nirvana, I want to know what the other side is like.”
“No, you don’t,” she quipped back.
So, are you also someone who is perpetually late for appointments? Do you get so focused on a task that you lose track of time? Have you been told you have time management issues?
Hello, welcome to my club.
If like me, you have attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder, there’s good news and bad. (The hyperactivity is in parentheses because not everyone with ADD has the H — lucky me, I do).
The good news is that despite its label, you don’t have a deficit in attention. In fact, you probably often get into what’s known as hyperfocus — that’s when your brain is so engrossed in what you are doing that you consciously lose track of time, sometimes to the detriment of essential bodily functions like eating or sleep.
Mind you this is different than a manic episode such as those associated with bipolar disorder. So it is not hard to imagine why so many people with ADD are misdiagnosed as having bipolar disorder.
Anyway, as you may have figured out, the bad news is that you LOSE track of time or you may not even have a true functional understanding of time. Health care practitioners refer to this aspect of ADD as “time blindness.” But I cringe at the use of one disability to describe a manifestation of another. It’s just disrespectful. So, I prefer to say I have difficulty with time awareness. Maybe we can call it dystimia, not to be confused with (although often associated with) dysthymia which is persistent depression.
And it is a real thing as noted in several studies including this one that states:
“… it may be hypothesized that the perception of time is a mediating factor between ADHD and deficits in executive functioning and can result in significant difficulties for people with ADHD.”
But don’t fret. If you are in the club, welcome. And please know there are ways to address dystimia and the other effects of your neurodivergent brain.
I use Google calendar to great success, especially its notification function that pings me a half hour before upcoming appointments. The calendar combined with a bullet journal in which I plan my weeks and days helps me stay on track … most of the time. This essay has been languishing on my laptop unfinished for more than a week. But here it is. And here are some useful tips on time management from ADDitude magazine.
What has been your experience with time? Do you struggle or are you on top of it all? I’d love to hear from you. But in the meantime, I think I have an appointment to get to … Stay kind!
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