I found out about my special mental abilities in an ordinary room in a yellow brick building on a busy road in Bromley. I didn't have to go through a fake lobby at the bottom of a mysteriously empty office block, I hadn't been kidnapped and taken in the back of a van by men in black suits, Professor X never turned up on my doorstep, I didn't take part in any experiments with powerful psychotropic drugs and I never once met any Cherokee hitmen with an eyepatch.
All the books and websites said I have a race-car brain that zooms faster than other people's, like - WHOOSH! - like that. They said I have the ability to hyperfocus. Hyperfocus, people! I should be in the fucking X-Men, looking all cool with my fingers on my temples and circles coming out of my head. You'd at least have expected my brain to be hooked up to a booping machine for some experiments with cards with squiggly lines on to have that confirmed.
Instead, all that happened is that I had a couple of sessions with a psychiatrist. The highlight was watching her read, eyebrow raised, through my old school reports while my wife listed all the bloody annoying things I do all the time. I half expected all my teeth to fall out just as I realised I'd forgotten to put trousers on and then wake up with a shock, but that didn't happen. The psychiatrist just told me I do indeed have what the books and websites say I do, made sure I hadn't felt like harming myself or anyone else recently and sent us on our way. It was all a bit underwhelming. My wife bought me a nice lunch to make up for it.
A couple of weeks later, I got a letter that confirmed I am hyperkinetic. That sounds so cool. I'm like a cross between Jean Grey and the Flash, zooming about and flinging people into walls without touching them - but I haven't had any bloody motorbike chases or even nerve pinched anyone yet.
On my letter, next to the word 'hyperkinetic' is the word 'disorder'.
Hyperkinetic Disorder is another term for Attention Deficit Disorder. In reality, I'd make a shit X-Man. My superpowers actually just make me double book myself, forget my keys and get on the wrong train and wake up in Tonbridge. That sort of thing. It's a bit like I was bitten by a radioactive stoner.
All that stuff about having a race car brain is just trying to make people like me feel better about the fact that if you send me to Sainbury's for bread and milk, I'm coming back with some coriander, an ice pole and a Wham! bar.
Frankly, it's no good having a brain that does millions more things at once than other people if what it's doing is simulatneously working out if grizzly bears can become zombies, imagining Rupert Murdoch dancing to Luther Vandross, wondering what happened to the cast of "CHiPS", remembering you've forgotten to do something at work, singing a song about farts, working out where you would have jammed your fingers if that one shifty looking bloke on the tube had attacked and playing Photograph by Def Leppard on a loop as you fumble in the pockets for your keys that you left in the flat because your head was going through the same sort of bloody thing when you left that morning.
Hyperfocus though, that's real. What happens with hyperfocus is that instead of being all over the place and thinking about at least 170 varieties of nonsense at once, your focus settles on one thing and will. Not. Budge. No matter what. This used to happen with obviously rubbish tabloid stories, but it doesn't so much any more.
Both these things would actually be useful if I could control what my brain thought about when it was zooming all over the place or hyperfocusing. If I could think of all my work projects at once, or focus on writing a novel unil it was finished, it would be grand. But I have very little power over what it is that pops into my head or commands my attention from one minute to the next.
The articles all say that ADD means you have no real ability to make your attention settle on one thing unless it's something you're interested in, but that's not quite right. I'm interested in lots of things my attention rarely settles on, while I can get lost in a string of episodes of Cowboy Builders even though I don't give shit one about cowboy bloody builders and Dominic Littlewood irritates me with his righteous outrage schtick. "'Ow can you live wiv yourself knowin' you've left this blind ole lady 'oo can't even feel 'er legs wiv no garridge and substandard brickwork?" - I don't even care but for god's sake don't turn this shit off until I find out!
On top of that is poor impulse control, which makes it really difficult to force myself to stop farting about and get stuff done. I might know I need to take the rubbish down, but I'll just have a couple of fights on EA Sports MMA first. Oh dear, the whole day has gone and I haven't taken the rubbish out, but I am world middleweight champion now, so in your face!
It's all been a bit overwhelming, finding this out. To be honest, I'm still coming to terms with it. The diagnosis explains a whole heck of a lot about what my life's been like, and it's made me look at things in a far more positive light. Instead of 'why did you stop doing that/haven't done that, you useless lump?' I'm thinking more along the lines of 'woah, look at all the stuff you did while you had this weird thing holding you back and making you dance in your pants in the kitchen, singing about Airwolf'.*
But it's frustrating, too. Most of the cool things I've managed to do or wanted to do were probably actually lit from the sparks of creativity that come from having ADD, but it's that very same thing that makes me stop doing them.
With any luck, now I know what's up I'll be better able to work around it and get the things I want to do done. One difficult thing is working out what that is, since ADD makes you crap at making decisions and prioritising things.
I'm allowed Ritalin if I want it but frankly, I don't. It's tempting though. Maybe Ritalin would make things like Limitless, but I doubt it. My hair might fall out for a start. Things are already starting to get better at work and home now I have charts and coloured boxes and so on.
We'll just have to see how things go.
*Yeah. I didn't really get round to talking about hyperactivity. I don't really get it much, but sometimes I just gotta dance. (In private, of course).