There should be a warning sign near our desks:

Danger- Do Not Disturb. ADHDer in Hyperfocus.

Get out of our way, do not speak to us, give us a command, ask us a question, or come near us when we are in hyperfocus. In other words, stay away and leave us alone.

Sad, but true. ADHDers get angry, confused, and upset if they are interrupted when they’re in hyperfocus mode.

The people who interrupt you have no idea why you’re annoyed. They judge you, criticize you, and label you a hot-headed, impatient, lunatic. They’re probably thinking; calm down, chill out, what is the matter with you.

They have no idea why ADHDers react the way they do. There is a reason. We’re not flaky, angry, nasty people. Don’t think that I’m using ADHD as an excuse for bad behavior. I’m not. It’s not okay to lose your cool when someone asks you a simple question or invites you out for a coffee. But there is an explanation…

Why ADHDers react the way they do

When you have ADHD, it’s hard to focus. It’s a struggle to get motivated, get started and keep the momentum going. Getting focused is so hard to do. That’s why when we finally get into hyperfocus, we panic that we might lose our thought, work, or creative ideas (that we’re working on) if someone or something knocks us off track.

We’re not nasty, hot-headed cranky people; we just guard our hyperfocus carefully, because it’s so precious and valuable to us.

When we’re in hyperfocus, we forget to eat, walk the dog, or take a bathroom break. It’s a deep, dark place that we get locked into… and we love being in it. It’s the only place when our minds are calm; not racing, ruminating, or zooming around a race track.

Hyperfocus is a place of peace, serenity, and productivity. Your endorphins are sparked. Your brain is functioning smoothly.

How to be nicer when you’re interrupted

  1. Acknowledge it. If you know that you have a harsh reaction to an interruption, you can be aware of when it happens. When you become aware of your harmful behaviors, you can get a grip on them.
  2. Name it. Say what you’re feeling, but say it gently. Screaming, barking, or growling at a co-worker or loved one who interrupts you will only cause a bigger fight.
  3. Pause. Remember to pause before you react. When you learn to Pause, you make no reaction your first response. Then you have time to choose to be wise and make a smarter, thoughtful (less impulsive) choice of words.

How do you react if someone disturbs your hyperfocus mode?

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June Silny

ADHD Coach, Quora Top Writer 2017 & 2018