I was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD when I was a kid (the terms were pretty much used interchangeably back then). My mom fought hard so that I wouldn’t be medicated and instead my parents dealt with a challenging child while slowly teaching me skills to manage my own physical and mental behavior. I’m not sure that I would qualify as truly ADD any more, but it is clear that my brain still functions differently than most. (It’s particularly evident at family gatherings as my brain is much more like my stepdad and stepbrother (who both have diagnosed ADD) than my mom or stepsister).

At this point in my life, I don’t usually see whatever differences my brain has as an impairment since my self-management techniques are just a part of my daily approach to life. It didn’t affect me much while in school (from about high school on through graduate school) other than some sensory filtration issues that meant I did way better on tests when I could listen to headphones while taking them (music helps me filter out other unwanted sensory inputs).

However, I’m struggling right now because one of the major ways that I manage things is by controlling my environment – I keep my house and my work space extremely clean and organized. And, as you might be able to guess, a week and a half after moving into a new home, there is no organization to be found! I’m having a hard time getting anything done as I am constantly distracted by other things to do in the middle of any given task. I know that things will settle down soon-ish, but I wish I could feel focused and productive in the mean time.

In my normal sewing life, I don’t see that my brain differences have much of an effect on me. As I said, I’m pretty compulsively organized which means I keep my sewing space un-cluttered as well. I can get hyper-focused on a project and next thing I know it I’m still sewing and it’s the middle of the night, but, knowing plenty of obsessed sewists, I don’t think that’s necessarily anything to do with my unique brain!

Do you have struggles with focusing or a brain that works differently than most? Does it affect your sewing?


Each week this year I’m going to reflect on an aspect of myself and how it affects me as a sewist, crafter, or blogger. It may get deep, it may get emotional, it may get totally silly. It may be something I’m proud of, it may be something I cringe at, it may be something I aspire to. I may say a lot, I may say a little, I may ask questions, I may not answer them. I don’t quite know where the project will take me, but I’m excited about the journey. I’d be honored to have you join me on this journey. Chime in any time this year in my blog comments, on TwitterInstagram, or your own blog. Join me in my theme for the week or make up your own.

Comments 10

  1. I feel I can relate to some of this. Pretty much all of my genetic family are different from “normal people” in more or less drastic ways.

    I do have a bunch of theories about what I could possibly be diagnosed with, but I’m not officially diagnosed with anything perceived as negative. The reason seems to be mostly that my mother felt very strongly that being labeled won’t help me or my siblings and that she also didn’t consider the medication we would have gotten to be an acceptable solution. Apparently there were enough psychologists who would have been happy to diagnose us.

    Every human being is different and every single one needs to learn to cope with how they are, how they perceive things, and how they feel. My mother felt that giving her kids medication just so they could conform better with the schools’ expectations (at the price of a potential lifelong dependency on that medication) was not worth it.

    I do remember I felt troubled in elementary school because it was all so noisy, boring and exhausting. Recess and other kids was the worst part of it. But somehow I learned to completely shut everything out. I’m actually so good at shutting things out that you can talk to me and I won’t hear you at all when I’m focusing on something. Sometimes it’s a problem when husband thinks he told me something.

    It’s often difficult for me to get started focusing on something because there are so many different things that deserve attention.

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      Thanks for chiming in with your experiences. I think your words are very true – each of us is different in our own way and we each need to learn our own ways to manage our experiences. I appreciate hearing about your experiences and how they are both similar and different from mine.

  2. The older I get the more I realise that everyone struggles to some degree or another with their particular ‘thing’. I suffered with depression at school and through my 20s and was first medicated at 15.

    I haven’t had medication for many years and I have learned to embrace my over-active and sensitive brain as part of who I am. I am probably an introvert, probably a hyper-sensitive person, definitely a creative and (I have it on good authority) a good manager of people and excellent under pressure. Like you, I self manage. I find space by myself when I know I need it (away from the kids for a little bit) and I make stuff because it keeps me sane.

    Like you, we are also in the middle of a building project and domestic chaos! It’s hard to find a place to be peaceful but the end is in sight. Thanks for sharing x

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      How true – we all have our “thing”. Thanks for sharing about yours. I too make stuff because it makes me sane. I hope your building project wraps up quickly and successfully!

  3. Such an interesting read! And great to hear about your experience. As a teacher, ADD/ADHD affects up to a 20% of my students in any given class. I have to say that the old stereotype of medication doping kids or making them zombie-like is just not true any more. The modern meds that most kids are on are really effective, in my experience, making kids happier, more relaxed, more socially aware (and therefore building better friendships and relationships with adults.) For 3 kids in my class this year, it makes the difference between yelling and throwing furniture daily, and being cheerful, engaged students. Of course there’s no one-size fits all solution for everyone, and the manifestations/managablility of ADD/ADHD are different for everyone too. Just wanted to put it out there that there are a lot more options now!
    (For what it’s worth, I’d make the same argument about anxiety/depression meds – the old stereotypes aren’t true any more, and there are options that smooth out the lows without taking away from the highs! But again, to each their own!)
    Love this series!

    1. Post

      Thanks for chiming in with your experiences. I’m sure that things are very different now and, while I’m glad that my parents made the decisions that they did in my upbringing, I don’t know what my decision would be in a similar situation now. I don’t think I’d be who I am now without having worked through my challenges (my husband says the same thing about his dyslexia) but I wouldn’t wish them on anyone else, if that makes sense? I guess that’s my way of saying that I offer my experiences simply as a reflection of who and where I am at the moment, not as any commentary about whether they are good or bad.
      Glad you’re enjoying the series!

      1. Yes, totally! I’m always in favour of working through stuff when possible – it’s just nice to know that there are other options too when self-regulation fails. When I went on anxiety meds, my doctor’s approach was that the meds would help me calm down enough to put life-long strategies in place. I think for some ADD/ADHD kids (especially those who are also oppositional defiant or have intellectual delays) the meds help then get in better routines and be less fight-or-flight all the time!
        (Now why so many kids have neurological issues these days, that’s a whole other discussion, and one I wish I knew the answer to!)
        Hope you can get your sewing area nice and orderly soon! :)

  4. I understand.

    Although I’m not entirely sure what makes my brain different and never been diagnosed for anything other than depression and anxiety (medication for the latter being the only one that has really helped). In some respects, I’m almost Asperger’s-y. I’ve never quite been the same as anyone. The most frequent descriptions I get are “really tall” and “quite unique”. It can be a double edged sword when you don’t quite get the social configurations on things, but then other times you have just enough difference of perspective that you can offer that helps to sort out issues.

    But getting back to the point of brain function and organisation, I understand. I used to be one of those people who organises books by author, clothes by colour and folds her undies into little parcels that are matched to bras; everything must be neat and tidy! Moving into a renovation has meant that I’ve had to learn to live in utter chaos, while completing an engineering degree, and it’s been incredibly challenging.

    It’s taught me to pick the activity that will have the highest impact on output. If I can focus on one thing it helps to drown out the rest to some degree, but that depends on the day. Some days I am Yoda, some days I’m rat in a cage. And when I can’t manage, I have been known to curl up into a featel position and snuggle my long-suffering hound until the sensation of being overwhelmed by it all passes.

    And it always passes. Everything does.

  5. Yep, I have terrible depression and it really slows me down. When I’m depressed, everything seems hard and sewing a whole project seems an insurmountable challenge. I’ve been working on organisation and time management skills lately; I never learned these when I was younger, but I’m hoping they’ll help me break down projects into small, doable, steps that I can manage even when I can’t manage much. Glad to hear this works for you – albeit for something different – I hope I’m on the right track.

    1. Post

      I have also fought depression in the past so I can empathize with your experiences. I’m so sorry to hear that it is a struggle for you. I do think that many of the same techniques that serve me well for concentration issues served me well through depression, so I hope that you too are able to build skills and management techniques that help you keep doing the things you love through low times. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences.

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