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How ADHD Is Like a Train Station in My Mind

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If you look at me, you can’t tell. As soon as people find out it is the first thing they say to me… I never would have guessed you have ADHD. That’s the thing, people often have a lot more going on inside then they do on the outside. The second thing that people always ask is if it is real. “I thought it was just something kids who act up in class have.” Well, if you had seen me in primary school you would not be saying that. I may have always fidgeted a bit, but I was pretty much as close to the ideal child as any teacher could have wanted. You can see the outside of me; I may look calm. Yet if you could feel the inside of my brain the same way I can, you would view me completely differently.

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I have spent a long time trying to think of a way to explain what is going on in my brain. I would say that my head feels like the London underground. There are so many people rushing around trying to get to the places they need to be. Some people get lost and that makes them more frantic. Others are slow, taking their time. Yet, they reach their destination in the end, the door to the outside world. Groups of people reach the door at the same time, desperate to be the first, so they all push through at the same time. That is like the thoughts in my head. It is honestly the best way I can think to explain it. There are so many thoughts rushing around my head that my focus point changes over and over. I may fixate on the one person who keeps my interest for a small while, but soon  another person is in my eye line and then another… and another.

Sometimes there is one person in the train station I can’t take my eyes off; they scare me. You could describe these people as what my anxiety feels like to me. I won’t feel safe until they have gone away. Yet within my brain it doesn’t just stay that person. Another terrifying person joins them and they start to talk. Soon they become a gang of people. That’s where my anxiety differs; when you pair it with the ADHD it is not just one thing bothering me. It spirals into so many worries and my mind swarms.

I am stuck in the middle of the crowd on the Underground, surrounded by the people who scare me most. I can’t get out of the crowd; they keep pushing into me. Reminding me they are there. You may understand that intimidating feeling; I believe deep down we are all a little bit scared of the Underground. It never feels like the safest place in the world. Now imagine the feeling of the Underground every second of the day. From the minute I wake up I am at the same underground station; I feel the same rush every moment of the day. Sometimes the station may feel emptier when there are only a few people on the train. But at the next stop, they crowd back on. It is never quiet for long.

Sometimes I love my train station; I don’t know how to live without how busy it is. Sometimes it is comforting; having all those thoughts means that I can get so excited about multiple thoughts in one go. Just like at the train station. Sometimes if you have time it is great to sit back and watch all the people go by, but I don’t always have the time and that is when the problem occurs. When I am in a rush like all the other commuters in the station I become agitated and frantic. My ability to stay focused goes when I most need it to stay.

To the people who don’t think ADHD is real, I ask you: Next time when you are at a busy major train station, imagine what it would be like to have that station in your brain — how stressed you would get (especially if already being in the train station is stressful enough) and how difficult it would be to stay focused and handle day-to-day tasks. It might provide you with an interesting insight. It has already helped me in many ways when I have shared this analogy with the important people in my life. I hope it will help you too.

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Thinkstock image by Alice-Photo.

Originally published: August 4, 2017
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