The morning robins prance on the deck railing. I swallow my Adderall and stare at them through the window. It is March 3 — only 18 days until spring. The robins are first to the party every year. I imagine what their chirps mean. “It’s warm now! Let’s look for worms!”
“Let’s go over to this wire!”
“Or this one!”
The term ‘birdbrain’ was coined for a reason. But what if it’s not actually about intellect? What if a bird is just so excited for spring, it doesn’t know where to turn first? What if the seemingly random movements are signs of an over stimulated brain, not a small one?
This morning, I am the robin. The Midwest is thawing, and I can finally exit the house. The Pinterest ideas I’ve collected this winter can now blossom into action. Everywhere I look, I see ideas. Our deck stain has faded. Didn’t I see a deck on Pinterest with white railings? Yes, and a privacy screen with beautiful cedar wood slats. Can I build a privacy screen? Yes. I can build a privacy screen. It wouldn’t take that long. I have wood samples in the garage. I’ll go get them. I’ll grab a pint of gray paint while I’m out there. Let’s see what the railings look like with the gray. New deck cushions! Light blue, like a robin’s egg. And we should add a wood bar to the railing. I have a miter saw now (a holiday present from my supportive but worried husband). Should I add a wood bar now? I’ve got time.
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Luckily, the system that regulates my executive function is startled awake, like a grumpy boss waking from his nap.
No! The grumpy boss in my brain says. Don’t build anything now. You haven’t even cleaned the breakfast dishes. The toilet hasn’t been cleaned in two weeks. You still have interior projects scattered across the family room.
Fine, my creative self pouts. No building. Back to the deck paint.
As an adult with ADHD, I store an endless supply of ideas under my wings. I can’t walk through our house, inside or out, without thinking of all the amazing things I could create. I love ideas. I grasp them as they come to me and hang on with talons. It’s exhilarating to fly in creative mode. But though it doesn’t take long to think of an idea, that doesn’t mean I should dive headfirst into that idea.
My ADHD brain glosses over the details. Unlike the grumpy boss regulating my impulses, ADHD is the fun co-worker who sends jokes to your email all day. It’s not that I want to ignore the dishes in my sink. I literally cannot see them. My blinders are on.
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Lunchtime approaches. My husband may stop by on his lunch hour. If he finds me on the deck, he won’t see the possibilities and excitement I see. I see a prototype of a deck railing makeover. A mockup of a privacy screen, designed with scrap wood and a nail gun on a blitz.
My husband will only see a mess. Most people would see only a mess.
Later that evening, I’ve completed my freelance work for the day. My husband is home from work; my twin boys are home from their play date. A glass of white wine calms my brain as the sky darkens. It’s starting to rain, and wood scraps still litter the deck. The can of grey paint, which five hours ago I couldn’t pull out fast enough, swallows rainwater. Sawdust is everywhere.
My husband opens the patio door and silently drags the wood scraps back to the garage, his face blank. He’s done this before. I’m drawn back into reality, and it feels like a hangover. Maybe I shouldn’t have gotten out so much wood. I was so excited. Spring was here, finally. I just wanted to make the prototypes. I could make the space so beautiful for our family. I want a beautiful outdoor space for my family. They know I have good intentions.
The robins have flown home for the night, and the deck is silent. I need to start dinner, but instead I Google the personality characteristics of robins.
The robin is a spirit animal in many cultures, I read. So passionate is the robin that its colors burst through for all the world to see. It jumps from branch to branch, too excited by the possibilities to settle on one location. I envy the robin its restless spirit. I decide it is my new spirit animal, the avian spokesperson for ADHD. I will allow myself a day when I literally chirp thinking of the possibilities for creation and joy that blossom in spring. Every spring, I will let myself be a robin for a day. I will dream. I will not feel guilty.
Like the robin, I will let my colors burst through for all the world to see.
[Read This Next: Stifled Creativity and Its Damaging Impact on the ADHD Brain]
Updated on March 12, 2020