It’s seven pm on Wednesday 25thJuly, and I’ve been sitting in Café Nero for the past hour trying to write a blog about my executive dysfunction and how it affects both my personal and my writing life. The problem is I can’t decide how to begin, because struggling with making decisions – both large and miniscule – is one of the classic symptoms. You ever hear that joke ‘I used to be indecisive but now I’m not so sure’? Well, that’s me. In a nutshell. All the fucking time.
Equally, I feel frustrated because I don’t know how to precisely explain what executive dysfunction actually is other than simplifying it as ‘a brain injury thing’. And I worry that people will think I’m exaggerating or that they’ll respond with a dismissive ‘oh that happens to everyone’.
You know what, I’m going to jump right in. (And I hope people will be able to grasp the significance of what I’m saying – and I apologise in advance if it all comes out in a bit of a jumble – because I’m well aware that I often tell stories in a non-linear fashion that zigzag back and forth before I finally get to the point – but hopefully after reading this blog yous will all understand why).
The last few weeks of my life have been a proper riot in terms of organising myself. I’ve turned up late to meet people; I’ve cancelled plans at the last minute and failed to call folk back, because my to-do list combined with the invites I’ve recently been receiving for both social and literary events have felt impossible to navigate; I’ve even turned down or avoided writing opportunities because I couldn’t figure out how to fit them into my schedule.
I suppose on the plus side, the difficulties I’ve had with executive functioning have made me more considerate of other people. I constantly worry that folk will think I’m a dick. And that I don’t value their time or friendship. So, I overcompensate… I am usually hyper-vigilant about replying to text messages and emails straight away… lest I forget to reply at all… and I have been known to arrive for meetings super early.
To be honest, the thing that inspired me to write this post was reading Madeleine Dunne’s fantastic article ‘Sex On The Brain: What It’s Like Dating With Dyspraxia’ in The Skinny earlier this month (https://www.theskinny.co.uk/sexuality/deviance/sex-on-the-brain-what-its-like-dating-with-dyspraxia). Madeleine’s humour and unflinching honesty together with the parallels I noticed between our neurological conditions made me want to delve a bit deeper into talking publicly about why I am the way I am. And I wanted to expand the commentary into what it’s like specifically to be a writer with executive dysfunction – because when you struggle with structure and don’t know which storyline or paragraph to remove or put in what order – well – that’s a massive fucking barrier when you’re trying to pen a novel.
Fiction is easier to be fair. (Perhaps it’s because it feels less harsh to edit out a million extra subplots when you’re not emotionally attached to that experience) Well, it’s usually easier than writing this blog. Or an essay. I’m terrible at writing essays because it’s a battle to prioritize both the main point and to construct any kind of argument where I feel capable of contrasting and comparing viewpoints. Despite this, I’ve always fancied myself as an essayist. Even if the idea of discursive writing fills me with abject horror.
I am very tempted to not edit this post, and to just leave it as the ramble it currently is, in a bid to demonstrate the shambles that is my psyche. But I’ve decided against it.
Because new people who’ve stumbled upon the blog might give up reading. The rest of you diehards will probably give me another chance. But I don’t want to test that theory.
I don’t know why I’ve felt more overwhelmed than usual this month. Maybe I’m a victim of my own success because I’ve been asked to take part in various writing panels, or maybe it’s because I’ve stopped spending an average of an hour a day filling in my diary.
Or maybe I’m suffering from a bit of burn out.
The more I try to analyse this, the more my brain feels like it’s collapsing into a mess of sticky marshmallowy goo.
Anyway, it’s now 7:35pm.
So I’ll end things here because I still need to redraft this post into something loosely cohesive.
I’ll probably leave that part till tomorrow.