Overcoming ADD through Writing

It’s 9:00 in the morning, you’re sitting in class, half asleep, trying with all of your willpower to focus on the lecture. 9:15, so far so good. The professor lectures about digital communication. You quickly glance up from your notebook when the girl in front of you pulls out her phone and scrolls through her social media account. Well, that’s rude. You write down more notes. The professor is lecturing, but now all you can think about is your Instagram feed. 9:30, you look up again when, suddenly, you see a guy yawn and stretch his arms. Wow, that guy is so cute. I am so tired. What time did I even go to bed last night? Or was it this morning? 9:45, the professor has changed slides, but you do not get a chance to copy it because a student pulls out a peanut butter granola bar. I love those! 9:50, you continue to write notes while remembering what you had for breakfast.

I’m sure you can relate to this scenario on some sort of level, but for those like me who have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), it would probably be the story of your life if you didn’t take your medication.

If you have ever had more than a 5-minute conversation with me, it’s no secret that I have ADD. Attention Deficit Disorder is a psychological disorder in which your thoughts jumble all at the same time. This jumbling can cause you to become easily distracted, and prevent you from concentrating or focusing for long periods of time. It’s difficult for people with ADD to focus because we have so many thoughts racing through our brains simultaneously. It’s not that we are crazy or unintelligent by any means, we just need something to compensate for it and helps our brains stay clear of random thoughts and focus.

People have found many different methods of coping with their ADD. Most people resort to medication which stimulates the brain. When I was first diagnosed with this disorder as a kid, I took medication. While medication helped tremendously, over the years I have discovered the real medicine to calm my scattered thoughts is not a drug, rather, it is the prodess of writing.

Growing up, it was always a struggle for me to sit down and read a book because of my ADD. I couldn’t focus because whenever  I would read, I would think about other things. It is as if I was reading the words, but my brain was unable to digest them. This changed in the tenth grade when my English teacher had us annotate (or write margin notes) in our books. At first, I thought these annotations were annoying because it would take me twice as long to read the book. However, once I got into it, I didn’t care how long it took because I finally found a way to focus on a book and engage with the text.

Writing margin notes about the plot or just thoughts that I have about the character in the book forces my brain to zero in on the subject at hand and, therefore, I have a better understanding of the text. I have mastered the skill of annotating, and every book I own has my notes in the margins. Even if you don’t have ADD, I would highly recommend this practice because it will not only help you comprehend what you’ve read but it will also help you remember it.

I also write to keep all of my scattered thoughts organized because, sometimes, I feel as if my brain is racing a million miles per hour to keep up with all of my thoughts. Writing is a perfect way to clear your head if you have ADD or anxiety. Whenever I am feeling this way, I write down every thought that has come to me that day, whether it’s knowing that I have to study for an exam, or worrying about what I will be having for dinner that night. Then, I cross out all of my irrelevant thoughts, so that the important ones are brought to my attention.

Writing is a stress reliever, not for just people with ADD, but for those who struggle with any kind of anxiety. After a long day, I will go home, break out my journal, and write whatever comes to my mind. As my jumbled thoughts spill out on paper, rather than staying locked in my head, tranquility washes through my bones.

It is safe to say that dealing with ADD is challenging at times, and you may have to pinch yourself throughout the day or take medication to maintain your focus. Regardless, I have discovered that the more I write, the more organized and creative I become.

Written by Elizabeth Browning