When ADHD combines with BDSM it can be intensely fulfilling or intensely damaging. Overwhelmingly hot and positive, or overwhelmingly bad and negative.
WHAT EXACTLY IS ADHD?
In Focus, Forgetfulness and the ADHD sub i shared my personal story of attention deficit while trying to avoid the label.
ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It’s as a subgroup of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and is a neuro-biological disorder that interferes with everyday cognitive processes.
It’s usually identified with low attention focus, distractability, chronic boredom, procrastination, impulsiveness and a range of other behaviours. You can check out the symptoms and diagnosis criteria here. Generally speaking, it is the impairment of specific neurotransmitters that affects our cognitive processes. Meaning, we may not see, read, taste, interact, smell or speak like normal individuals. It’s like an invisible learning disability that can be very difficult to understand, because you don’t actually have a physical impairment.
Everyone is unique in how ADD affects them. Some are more hyperactive than others, some can get into hyperfocus, some have severe low self-esteem and comorbidity with depression, anxiety or dyslexia. For this reason, my descriptions in this article won’t fit everyone.
ADD/ADHD AND SPACES
People with ADHD often experience hyperfocus. We often don’t do anything at all, or we do everything non-stop. Think of it as a Ferrari that can only drive at 200 km/h. Instead of working one small thing at a time, we like to get into the zone and work on one thing 24 hours for a few days.
For instance, when I do my work, I shut myself off from the world and keep working until my hyperfocus ends. It usually last for a few days for me.
Generally speaking, when we are hyperfocusing in Top/sub space, we really immerse ourselves and go under. We can’t get distracted by anything else except our Master/slave. It can be very satisfying for our partner as we go under the water and what we see can affect how our partner feels. Every thing else can be a huge annoyance when we are hyperfocusing.
On the flipside, when we aren’t hyperfocused, no matter what kind of whip we throw, or is thrown at us, it won’t get us into the spaces.
I’m not sure it’s all that far from how individuals without ADHD feel. When you are really into your partner, a romantic kiss will stop time. Having ADHD simply amplifies how we feel in everyday interactions. It is either “passionate and working” or “too difficult and not working”. There is very little room for middle ground.
Of course, it is often not only ADHD at play, and underneath some peoples behaviours may also be dyslexia, anxiety, depression, executive dysfunction or many other coginitive filters.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON MEDICATIONS FOR ADHD?
There are multiple medications that help ADHD. Concerta, Ritalin and Aderall are common ones.
i’ve tried Concerta and Ritalin at different dosage. These medication are central nervous system stimulants based on the core ingredient methylphenidate. What methylphenidate does is block neuro-reuptakes and functions as a dopamine reuptakes inhibitor. That increases the concentration of dopamine and increases neurotransmission related to dopamine and norepinephrine. These are crucial for attention, execution of decision, and focus.
By “attention, execution of decision, and focus” i don’t mean the major event of “going for a business meeting” or “preparing for a presentation”, but rather the everyday small actions, like getting milk, going to bed, cooking, walking and social interaction. All these things that we do in our life require some complex cognitive process related to neuro-transmission. What people with ADHD struggle with is the different (or impaired) cognitive processes because their neuro-transmission is different.
We all drink coffee, and some of us smoke. These substances aren’t that much different from Ritalin and Concerta. They are central nervous system stimulants (CNS) too. In the case of coffee and cigarettes, in comparison to Ritalin and Concerta, they are horizontally different types of CNS, rather than vertically types of CNS drug. In other words, Coffee and Cigarette and Ritallin are CNS drugs, Ritalin isn’t stronger than Coffee or Cigarette, the dosages of these drugs are determining how strong it is, not the type of drugs they are. The difference between ADHD meds and coffee&cigarette is that, it tackles a very specific part of our neuro-systems to increase dopamine, and caffein doesn’t have that specific stimulation, as it stimulates multiple regions of our neuro-system in less specified manner. That is the reason why Methylphenidate may be more effective when it comes to managing ADHD.
HOW DOES ADHD AND ADHD MEDICATION AFFECT OUR TOP/SUB SPACES?
ADHD medication lets us function more calmly, and helps us to better manage our inner drive.
Personally, medication helps me to gain control of my life. It doesn’t mean that with meds my adhd just disappears, but rather it give me some control over something that i can’t control. i still have to drive the car only at 200km/h or 10km/h, but I can organise my time to have multiple 200 km/h periods in a day to get things done. Without meds, it was more like having a temporal moment of 200km/h that doesn’t get anything done and fluctuating into anxiety and depression because i can’t interact with my life and can’t function mentally.
ADHD allows some of us to hyperfocus in our Dominance or submission, and that hyperfocus can dial up to days or weeks without a break if it feels right. Or, it can become frozen for days or weeks, if things don’t work out well.
It can be intensely fulfilling or intensely damaging. It can be overwhelmingly hot and positive, or overwhelmingly bad and negative.
Having medication can allow us to gain more control over the extremely satisfying and extremely damaging experiences.
It can come at a cost though. Medication can take away some thrill and experience in the extreme ends, and i (personally) have found a lot of value in journeying into extremity. Journeying into dark areas to grow together is one of the important things i seek in BDSM.
SOME QUESTIONS I’VE HEARD
Are ADHD/ADD bottoms more into masochism than submission?
Personally, my answer is no. ADHD/ADD may give us different perspectives in our perception of external realities due to different cognitive processes, but whether you are sub, masochist, Top, Sadist, gay or straight has very little to do with ADHD.
Does reward/punishment discipline work on s-type individuals with ADHD/ADD?
In my opinion, yes, but it may work differently if a person’s reward system is slightly different from others. There are things we can control and things we can’t control. Many people with ADHD have esteem issues because they have been berated or punished during school-years because of “behavioural difficulties”, so be aware of potential triggers or damage that can come from focusing on issues outside of your sub’s control.
Is there a link between being a brat in BDSM and having ADHD/ADD?
The use of the term “brat” to mean a person who misbehaves is a common misconception in BDSM. People with ADHD may try to get attention by misbehaving. However, there are many other, more positive, ways of getting attention. Brats also bring many positive attributes to a relationship. Not everyone with ADHD is going to misbehave, or identity with the more positive definition of brat, and not everyone with ADHD seeks high amounts of external stimulation. But, they certainly might do.
Is it healthy for someone who has (diagnosed or undiagnosed) ADHD/ADD to practice BDSM?
Yes and no, it depends on the individual, and i am really against the idea of tagging ADHD/ADD as a kind of “species”, because every person with ADHD is unique and different. Some will bring all kinds of spice into the relationship, some will bring all kinds of poison. It depends solely on the individual, and is really nothing to do with ADHD/ADD.
Does having ADHD/ADD make someone a “disabled” individual?
Yes and no, it depends on the perspective you take on “disabled”. If i am blind, i may be considered “disabled”, but in a society that only consisted of blind people, i wouldn’t be. You might see ADHD/ADD as “disabled” and a “learning disability” in relation to modern society where we need to follow orders, lines and rules. It’s called Attention Deficit Disorder, but really the “disorder” part is that it goes against the order of our modern world.
Can BDSM be therapy?
Yes, i think BDSM can be a form of therapy for mental illness. However, what makes therapy a “therapy” is that it includes scientific understanding and consideration of mental illness or disability in relation to cognitive behaviour processes. Ii think BDSM can be a form of therapy ONLY when it includes profound knowledge in the field of psychology, and knowledge in bridging BDSM culture and cognitive behavioural therapy. Other than that, it’s most commonly said that BDSM can be “therapeutic”, but it’s not “therapy”.