Being Socially Motivated is Not a Disorder
Unpacking body doubling, “executive dysfunction,” and the pathology model of ADHD.
Skye is passionate about the craft of needle felting. With a few overstuffed bags of wool roving, a pack of needles, and her callused hands, she’s constructed everything from hats and vests, to small decorative dolls, to an entire barnyard scene complete with pigs, cows, a feeding trough, tiny felted chickens, and a massive, two-story needled felted barn.
Holding up a small needle-felted BB-8 from Star Wars, Skye laughs and tells me, “This is what keeps me from losing my shit at my boss. I stab this cute little guy so I don’t stab anybody else.”
Skye’s been active at needle felting conferences and selling her work at craft shows for over 25 years; there’s no questioning her dedication to the hobby. But unless another person is in the room near her, working on some craft of their own, Skye can’t focus enough to do any felting at all.
“When I’m alone, there’s too much going on all at once in my brain,” she explains. “And there’s also, somehow, nothing at all? There’s this void of no motivation. Even my meds don’t help.”
Skye is a 46-year-old ADHDer, a person with attention deficit hyperactive disorder. She was diagnosed and began taking medication in her early 30s, after being fired from numerous jobs, and she does find that being on a stimulant makes it easier to stay on-task at her desk during the day. But when it comes to activities that benefit Skye rather than her boss, like cleaning her house, baking cookies with her kids, or attending to her hobbies, she finds it nearly impossible to get started without a little social support.
“I started going to crafting nights at this yarn store that used to be on Thorndale,” she explains. “I hadn’t done any felting for over three years when I first walked in there. And I was really beating myself up over it. But being around other people crocheting and knitting and watching a movie, my hands just went back to work again…And I’ve been getting events like that together ever since.”
If you have ADHD and you need help initiating an activity, or you’re the loved one of an ADHDer who’s feeling stuck and you want to offer them…