This Butterfly Brain

Those who know me well, and probably those who have observed me over the years, know about my butterfly tendencies. I flit from one idea to the next, one project to another, never fully becoming successful in anything.

Lately, I’ve started to realize these tendencies are similar to ADD and it makes sense as I look back on my patterns. I have difficulty concentrating, I’m easily distracted, I leave things unfinished and my mind is always one step ahead, forgetting about the steps in between. I dislike school and classrooms make me anxious. I was amazingly able to accomplish 4.0s in nursing school by sheer will and because I’m a good test-taker, I was able to cram the night before and ace the test, then promptly lost all that information as soon as the test was over.

I left behind my nursing career for multiple reasons, mostly because I felt miserable and anxious every time I had to put on my scrubs, even when I found a field I loved working in with moms and babies. I then pursued Chinese Medicine and I was convinced that it was where I was meant to be. After an intense and stressful year, I felt a huge sense of relief when I left the program and realized that whether Eastern or Western, medicine is not where I want to be.

I started my handmade jewelry business in 2012 and subsequently gave up writing the novel that I had spent 6 months on and that I had dreamed about for years. I was distracted by the shiny pretty things and also felt that it would be more lucrative than writing. I still needed a steady paying job, though, and that lead to running the hospital gift shop where I had worked for years as an RN, swallowing my pride because it was fun and I enjoyed it, and my anxiety fell to a manageable level.

Ideas for my jewelry business and the store flew too fast for me to handle and the stress of making ends meet in SF got to me. Diana and I even started working on a company designing pet products that we have too many personal projects to pursue it fully. I have three book ideas, multiple essay topics, short stories, and I’m paralyzed with fear because I need to make a living somehow.

I know that I am not alone, whether I have ADD or it is my bipolar disorder that I was diagnosed with in 2011, or that it is just that much more of a challenge to accomplish things with the unlimited number of distractions within our fingertips. It’s too easy to waste away minutes that turn into hours mindlessly searching through Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, email. Even trying to do some kind of research for a project leads me into an endless pit of information overload that I struggle to find my way out of.

I’m slowly trying to make progress and find small ways that I can regain some type of control over my mind and my actions. Getting a proper diagnosis and the right combination of medication was an important first step.  It’s amazing how much better I can function without my moods fluctuating every day or week without rhyme or reason.

Creating a schedule for myself is important, and trying to develop an exercise and meditation routine is something that I still struggle with, but I know the benefits are invaluable. I have learned to focus on baby steps and giving myself a break when I am feeling down because I didn’t do x, y or z has been the most helpful for me on a day-to-day basis. It doesn’t work for me to sit for 10-20 minutes to meditate, so I focus on my breath throughout the day, especially when I notice I am tense and getting off track.

The 4-7-8 breathing technique by Dr. Weil has been a lifesaver for me and it’s so easy to do. Using a tip from an article I read about eliminating distractions, I turned off all the notifications on my phone except for text messages, reducing the impulse to check an app anytime that little red circle appears.

I still have a long way to go, and I’m trying to take advantage of the time I have now to develop better habits that will help me in both the short and long term. It is helpful when I find other people like me who struggle with similar issues, like Emilie Wapnick’s website for Multipotentialites. She has created a community called Puttylike for “multipotentialites to stop beating themselves up about being unable to find their “one true calling” or fit into a box.”

Can you relate? Leave a comment if you have any tips that have worked for you!


2 thoughts on “This Butterfly Brain

  1. I love this post KT! As someone who also seems to have her hands in many pies while also juggling the anxiety of paying the bills, I can relate. Thanks for sharing! I’m turning off notifications on my phone NOW 🙂

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