A Singer with ADHD
October is ADHD Awareness Month. Since this is my first October with a diagnosis, I thought I would celebrate! I decided to share some of the things that help me get by as a singer with ADHD. Ironically, these are things I was already doing, and now I know why! So without further ado....
There are a lot of people that mark their scores using various color systems. For me, it's pretty much crucial if I want to absorb as much of the information as possible. I also color code my calendar and planner. I'm not always successful in keeping up with it, but it helps me understand what's going on in my life and in the music!
Yellow My character's text
Pink Music markings
Orange Time signature
Blue underlined double consonants
Purple I like to mark the system bar where the chorus is, even if I am not singing
in or with them.
Blue pen Translations
Red pen Diction markings
A Place For Everything
When I arrive at my housing for a gig I try to unpack as much as possible so I feel settled in. This isn't uncommon among well-traveled folk, but I've realized how important it is for me to have a place for my things when I am somewhere new. It's hard enough living out of a suitcase because I have specific and permanent places in my home for certain things. When the general layout changes, it's hard for me to remember that some of the things I packed even exist. I have to have separate places to sleep, eat, and work. If my bed becomes my work space, i. will. not. sleep. ever.
It is most important for me to have a specific place for my keys and bag so that I'm not late to rehearsals. I have a hard enough time keeping track of my keys at home. This is usually the first thing I establish when I arrive somewhere new.
This can be especially tricky at the YAP stage. There are a lot of times where you are sharing housing with a few other singers and you may not have a lot of space to yourself. In this case, I find a place to work that is outside the home like a coffee shop or a place to sit outside.
Making Decisions Easier
Where color is super helpful to me in learning my music, it is not helpful to me when I am packing a suitcase. I typically pack within a neutral color palette or one that can easily be mixed and matched. Not only does this help with the size of my suitcase, it also helps with decision fatigue. (difficulty in making a good decision experienced as a result of the number of decisions one needs to take.) The fewer decisions I have to make in a day, the more mental energy I have to give to rehearsals and performances.
I also usually eat the same breakfast most days. Or, I try to make things ahead of time so I don't have to think about it. That doesn't mean I don't occasionally change it up, but if I have to pick/ make something new every day....I'm already tired thinking about it.
Breaking It Down
I'm someone who likes to think up big projects to work on or make a to-do list that is a mile long. If I don't break it down, I get overwhelmed and feel paralyzed and don't start at all. It's incredibly easy for me to get worked up over stuff like this. A good example of this would be learning a role. It's best to break it down in smaller chunks to make it more attainable. I have a blog about how I learn a role. Read it here.
Take Care Of My Body
This seems like a no-brainer, but if I don't, then I spend the rest of the day as a no-brainer... (haha get it?) Sleep and nutrition are really important for people with ADHD. Keeping track of both can help regulate our symptoms. When I'm traveling, I have a really hard time sleeping. I usually bring some melatonin with me to help me get good sleep from day 1 of a contract. Eating a diet that works for you is important to have enough energy to get you through an active day. We are athletes after all.
Everybody Shut Up!!!
These Loop Earplugs ***have saved my sanity on audition trips (and in daily life). I recently realized that I can get overstimulated by too much noise going on, especially when it comes time for my meds to wear off. My medicine cycles out of my body after about 8 hours, so it's basically just going back to the way my brain was 24/7 before my diagnosis. These earbuds cut out some of the background noise, but not all so that you can still be aware of your surroundings. New York City has always been over stimulating for me and it doesn't help with audition nerves. So far, I've found when I wear these, I'm a little more calm and focused. It also helps in those YAP houses when you need a little quiet and the walls are thin. :)
Since I'm only months into my diagnosis, I'm still learning so much about myself and how ADHD affects my life. All of this goes to say that it's not always that simple. I still struggle, usually silently. I find these things have been helping me along the way before I even knew WHY I was struggling. If you find these tips also help you, it doesn't necessarily mean that you have ADHD. A lot of tools we use are fairly common among the general population. However, you have been questioning symptoms, it may be time to see a psychiatrist.
As always, I'd love to know what questions you have or hear your experiences!