Motivational and inspirational writer, Bryan Hutchinson is the author of several books about life with ADHD including the highly acclaimed, best selling "One Boy′s Struggle: A Memoir" and the author of the hilarious eBook that went viral "10 Things I Hate about ADHD"

Do people with ADHD Scare the Living Heck out of themselves?!

Or is it just me?
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I don’t believe in ghosts, I don’t believe in ghosts, I really, truly don’t believe in ghosts!!!
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I really don’t, but sometimes, well, maybe I do!
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Okay, this post is not entirely about ghosts. It is about the ADHD brain taking something and making it much bigger than it really is. Last night (a few hours ago) I was watching my latest episode of Ghost Hunters. I love that show! Anyway, I fell to sleep and about 3am I woke up suddenly because I hear a loud bang! The sound came from the kitchen. I lay there for a few minutes, frozen, of course, my mind coming up with all kinds of scenarios (and yes, the supernatural is involved) so finally, ever so slowly, I get up and cautiously go check things out.
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Everything looks okay, nothing out of the ordinary. It seemed that way for a moment.
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So, I go back to bed and after a long while I finally fall back to sleep, but no sooner do I think I am asleep before I hear another sound, this time it is a slow creaking sound. This is starting to freak me out. I get up, all the while berating myself for watching Paranormal 3 last week and I nervously head back to the kitchen, but before I get there I notice the living room door is half open (oh!). The problem is I had just closed it! Oh, this isn’t good. Again my mind swirls and swirls with thoughts (made me dizzy), so I check the front door and make sure it is still locked. It is! Thank goodness (or maybe not)!
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Now I decided to check the living room. This is the point where I really should have turned on the lights, but of course, I must think I am ghost hunting, because instead of thinking like a normal person (which I am not), I grab my flashlight. Ah, the brilliant reality of ADHD!
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I go into the living room and I see something out of the corner of my eye! Was that a shadow? I am almost certain it was! I point the flashlight that way. Nothing is there, I thought. Now I am adequately freaked out. It’s time to turn on the lights! You would think, right? But here’s this thing when my mind is whirling with fear and anxiety and other spectacularly unhelpful thoughts, I just don’t always think straight. My ADHD brain starts to play tricks on me and I start to make little, but painful, mental mistakes. The next thing I knew I tripped over the short glass living room table. Yep, hit the corner just right – you know, in that perfect spot in the shin. Best place to hit it if you’re going to do it. That hurt like crazy! And I know it will leave a mark, after I stop the bleeding!
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Okay, finally, thanks to the sharp pain in my shin and kneeling on one knee with the other shin firmly gripped in my hands, I finally decide it is time that I might want to turn on some lights. There’s nothing here. Nothing at all. However, with the lights finally on, I figured out what happened. (If something had been there I would have been toast anyway!)
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I’ll tell you what happened in a second, but like a good ADDer that writes a blog, I want to write my thoughts on the subject first. I mean, why go back to bed when I can be writing? I’ll be sleep deprived, I know that, but I’ve got to write about this. When you have ADHD, waiting becomes impossible at times and if I don’t do what I want to do RIGHT NOW then I won’t be able to sleep anyway (how do you think all those books I write get written?).
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Can you relate? I’ll be honest, I don’t even know if anything I am writing makes any sense right now, but I do know that writing is kind of calming me back down, bringing me back to center, giving me Zen or Chi or hey, I could stop this and exercise Tai Chi instead. See, I can’t even get my thoughts in order. How are you supposed to understand them?
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Okay, this is how this all relates to ADHD and kind of reminds me of my childhood and school. Whenever I become filled with anxiety I just can’t think, or rather I think too much and thousands of thoughts erupt in my head and I can’t tame them right away. I need to walk around, investigate and sometimes walk into the side of a table with my shin in order to STOP (I should take care of that bleeding before Joan sees it). That’s why Tai Chi helps me so much, but in moments when I put myself in a frantic state all the Tai Chi in the world doesn’t help.
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Obviously, the smart thing would have been to turn the lights on first! The next best thing would have been to take a deep breath and remember that our heating system cycles at about 3am in the morning sometimes creating a loud sound exactly like the one that woke me up! Then I should have also remembered to firmly close the living room door when I went back to bed. The living room door isn’t exactly balanced and tends to slowly swing open if not closed entirely shut (debunked!). Hind sight is twenty— twenty and I can think of all the right things now, but when my ADHD gets rolling and the anxiety kicks in I can’t seem to figure out which way is up and if there’s a ghost in the house or not?
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Solution: Stop watching those addictive ghost shows! No, I need another solution. I mean, why take all the fun out of it? Anyway, I am tired and need to go back to bed, so my solution for the moment is to leave the lights on. Yeah, I know it was the heating system, but still.
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Good night.
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Judy February 3, 2012 at 1:44 pm

LOL How can we all not recognize ourselves?
Hilarious we are and never a dull moment.

Bryan Hutchinson February 5, 2012 at 6:24 am

Indeed! :)

Alicia February 3, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Wow, this is me! You really think it’s from the ADD? Weird…I also have a morbid fear of large statues, and I have never learned to drive. I am not on medication for the ADD right now so I’m waiting to take driving lessons until I’m medicated, and then I’ll be going to a special driver’s ed program for people with learning disabilities but the thought STILL scares the heckout of me. Am I blowing it all way out of proportion? I mean, plenty of folks with ADD drive, right? I just know the statistics for ADD drivers are not comforting. I’m terrified of hurting myself or my child or god forbid someone else’s child!

But yeah…I’m always hearing the things that go BUMP in the night. I cannot watch scary movies before bed!

Bryan Hutchinson February 5, 2012 at 6:23 am

Yes, Alicia, you are not alone. Driving can be a scary thing before you get behind the wheel, but I think once you start learning you’ll discover it is not that hard or complicated. It is something that you must actually do before you can realize what it is about. Driving isn’t that bad, take your time and allow your fears a chance once you ‘turn the light on’ on them :)

Tina February 3, 2012 at 4:21 pm

I do the same thing when I watch those kind of shows and my husband isn’t home. I know most of the noises are probably my cats or the wind but my mind can think of many different scenarios. I sleep on those nights with all the lights on in the house and of course jump up at every noise.

Thinking like that is not limited to people who have adhd but people with adhd are more likely to come up with different scarier scenarios even when presented with the actual real cause (ie the wind, your cats, the heater kicking in, excetera) while people without adhd, when shown the actual cause of the noise, can rationalize and internalize it all and can go right back to sleep.

Bryan Hutchinson February 5, 2012 at 7:32 am

lol Tina, yep, my mind can think up all kinds of things, too! Some are pretty scary! lol

Dawn February 4, 2012 at 1:26 am

LOL! For me, I don’t scare myself so much like that but it’s every time someone unexpected walks in a room, I jump like 10 feet. The thing about it thats funny for me is that, my husband lives in the house so REALY, if you don’t have ADHD it’s not unexpected but being that I do have ADHD, I forget he’s in the house and every time he scares the crap out of me. It used to bug him, but now he’s used to it and chuckles at me.

Bryan Hutchinson February 5, 2012 at 7:34 am

That reminds me of Joan, she’ll just roll over in bed and continue sleeping. My behavoir doesn’t phase her a bit.

Trish February 5, 2012 at 5:58 am

I do the same thing. I have watched those types of shows and swore I saw someone walk past my bedroom door in the hallway and into my bathroom. I was frozen with fear. I laid there so long I almost peed myself because I was too scared to move and had to go. My mind could not rationalize that no one would come out of our second bedroom and walk into our bathroom and stay in there for however long it was in the dark.
On top of my ADHD I have had cataract surgery and have a rare eye disease that causes floaters, fuzzy vision and with the cataract my focus is off-I see things all the time that aren’t really what my mind tells me they are and freak myself out.
Dawn mentioned jumping when someone unexpected walks up to her. I do it all the time! My bf scares the crap out of me at least once a day, he’s not trying. he just walks beside or behind me in a room and I will jump and sometimes yell out.
My son is 4 and was diagnosed at 2 1/2 and he gets freaked out over things too. One day when walking up the stairs he started screaming bloody murder “get me off of here, get me off of here” and looking down at the step he was on, frozen in fear. It was a clump of dirt from his dad just coming in from outside but he thought it was a bug and couldn’t handle it. He couldn’t even make himself move away from it, just screamed for us to get him.

Bryan Hutchinson February 5, 2012 at 8:04 am

Trish: oh gosh, I feel for you and your eyes. I can only imagine what that must be like. And as for your son, I could tell you some stories about my childhood fears at night, in my room, on the wall across from my bed… yikes!

Tamara Thorne February 5, 2012 at 8:19 am

While I’m a novelist – a storyteller specializing in ghosts – I’m also a regular “ghost hunter” and am called upon to give talks about the process from time to time. Since I was a little kid, I’ve always been keen on hanging out in allegedly haunted places and soaking up the atmosphere. Who knew that writing about it would lead to invitations to check out haunts, public and private? I sure didn’t. I feel like a kid in a candy store.

In thirty years, I’ve experienced at least half a dozen things I absolutely cannot explain – but hundreds and hundreds of things that I can. In all that time, though, I’ve never encountered anything “intelligent.” Until proven otherwise, to me ghosts are residual energies embedded in walls that play like old recordings. Or free-floating energy that gets molded into poltergeist phenomena by the occasional teenager.

But there’s another source of seemingly paranormal phenomena, and maybe that’s what you experienced, if it wasn’t just a simple case of blowing things out of proportion. I think we (ADDers) all excel at that now and then.

ADD and sleep disorders often go together, or so I was told by my doctor. It makes sense. I’ve always been aware of hypnagogics and ‘pompics — the images we sometimes see between waking and sleeping – as well as excruciatingly aware of the paralysis of large muscles. (This awareness is feels like you can’t move or breathe and is often interpreted as “old hag syndrome.”

It seems so real. You can’t wake up but it doesn’t matter because you think you are awake, and you see and hear things that you believe are real, when they are, in fact, purely the stuff of dreams. My mother taught me about this stuff when I was little so I’ve had decades and decades of awareness; without her, I still might not have figured it out. That’s how real it feels when it’s happening.

As an adult, I had a “bogeyman” appear at my bedside repeatedly for several years, causing me to wake up screaming — I thought it was a living intruder and in the dream I would always decide that screaming was the best way to scare him off. It didn’t work; I just embarrassed myself. (I’m too macho to scream.)

It got bad enough that I finally took a month and learned how to lucid dream. Within days I “killed” the bogeyman in the dream and he never came back. (Though they often do. . . Just ask those kids who live on Elm Street:-))

ADD and ghosts go together. We like the excitement of a ghost story. What’s better than a creaky house, or a tale told ’round the campfire? Whether or not we sense things that “aren’t quite right” more easily than non-ADDs, I have no idea. I tend think not since it takes a quiet mind and usually a lot of focus to sit there and wait for an alleged ghost to do something.

I’d say you probably just had a dream brought on by those movies. Probably…

Bryan Hutchinson February 5, 2012 at 8:31 am

Tamara… probably… PROBABLY?? OMG, don’t do that!

Tamara Thorne February 8, 2012 at 10:56 pm

Probably. If it keeps happening, let me know. There are plenty of fixes. At least one will work. Probably;-)

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