By Mary Kerr
“Hashtag no filter.” That’s what a friend named me the other day because sometimes I struggle to keep things in. Maybe I used to have a filter, perhaps it’s become slower over the years and isn’t as quick as it once was. Who am I kidding? I never had a filter. My brain goes a million miles an hour and things come out of my mouth that really shouldn’t. Last year at my aunt’s funeral I told this guy that I’d just been speaking to his mum – he said ‘but my mums dead.’ At that point most would say I am so sorry. I’ve made a terrible mistake. But I protested – ‘no she’s over there by the egg sandwiches.’ He once again reiterated that she was in fact dead. Luckily that’s when the shutter finally came down and I admitted that I’d got it wrong.
I was diagnosed with ADD back in the early 90s. It wasn’t a well known acronym then, unlike MC Hammer or TLC. I was about 10 and my school thought there was something wrong with me. It turned out that my spelling was fine, it wasn’t dyslexia as first thought, it was ADD. So I have ADD – Attention Deficit Disorder but without the hyperactivity. Like a special order at a restaurant. Lucky me.
So my brain runs pretty fast and I usually get distracted by lights. I’m like a fly when I see twinkly lights hung up – Christmas is a nightmare. It’s like a runway landing and it’s the one thing that slows my brain down. I usually have about 3-4 threads of stories going at any one time. Like a tapestry – they all relate and for those who stick it through to the end there can be some great connections between what seems to be totally unrelated. Those who stick with it usually have the same brain as me. An ex boyfriend once said it was like I had brain mice in my head. Little mice that are constantly scurrying all over the place – collecting and storing information.
When too many things are going on it’s like when an alarm goes off on a submarine and water starts rushing in. I’ve therefore had to imagi-make life rings for the mice. At night when I can’t sleep I gather them round in a circle and ask them what they are worrying about. If they don’t slow down I imagine knocking each mouse out with a tiny frying pan. I do have one mouse in charge of past grievances who must work through the night. I did have a worry doll. I set it up with a tiny deckchair after a week because I thought it needed a break. It also has a tiny pool and ideally it would have a tiny lilo.
ADD makes up who I am. It’s given me gifts and it’s given me struggles. To read a book as the author intended – page one forwards is a massive challenge and ‘a book finished by Mary’ should be some kind of literary accolade. I’ve never been able to do a straight forward A,B,C job. I tend to go A,G…how old do ants live until? I was once accosted on the street by a charity for ADD and felt I should support it so signed up to donate £3 a month to raise awareness for the cause. After a few years I learnt it was actually a Disability charity in Africa called ADD. https://www.add.org.uk/ African Disability Development. I still think they deserved the support.