I know that the ability to get really absorbed in a topic of interest can be adaptive and that non-Autistic people tend to exaggerate how problematic our interests are, but…
I actually kinda hate my episodes of hyperfocus. I don’t like how they feel. I lose track of time and my daily obligations. I don’t eat when I should. I can’t attend to the things that I actually have to attend to. I have a really hard time carrying a conversation during these periods because I can’t attend to what the other person is saying unless it’s about the thing I’m focused on.
I don’t like that there is so little middle ground, for me, between “not paying attention” and “trapped in episode of laser-like focus.” I hate that all the ADHD medications I’ve tried simply make me more likely to end up on the “laser-like focus” end of the spectrum, without actually widening the middle.
I hate hyperfocus episodes so much that I have spent most of my adult life desperately trying to avoid things that I’m too interested in, unless those interests are somehow “useful.” I avoid looking at or touching jigsaw puzzles. I refuse to ever even try MMORPGs because I am afraid of how long I’ll spend playing them. I am pretty obsessed with a particular singer, Morrissey, but when a friend of mine gave me a book about him I had to put it down only a little bit in because it was interfering with my ability to think about anything else. I refuse to pick it back up, ever again.
I like my most recent blog post, but I hate that I just spent four hours writing it. I didn’t have anything else that I needed to do today, but it’s not what I wanted to do all day, and I hate sitting in a chair for that long when I don’t have to.
I understand that my hyperfocus can be adaptive – I can sometimes switch them on on purpose, which has helped me do well in school – but I would still like to have more control over it. I sometimes find myself procrastinating on tasks because I know they’ll trigger my hyperfocus and therefore take too long and I don’t have that much time. I avoid things that I like for the same reason. One of my biggest challenges at work is increasing my ability to write things quickly and concisely, and increasing my ability to switch back and forth between tasks. I’ve actually gotten pretty good at it, but today seems to have been a “bad day,” and that is frustrating.