Experience

Why I Can’t Maintain Eye Contact – The Physical Manifestations of ADHD

If you’ve ever had the “life changing privilege” of meeting me in person (I’m kidding), you may have noticed something a little bit off about me. A lot of people can’t quite pinpoint it but I’ll go ahead and give you the answer: I have a really hard time maintaining eye contact. It’s not because I’m shy. It’s not because I’m nervous. It’s not because you’re ugly. It’s not because you’re uncomfortably attractive either. In fact, if you have ever met me in person you would know that I love to talk (really though, I can’t shut up), I love meeting new people, and I love interacting with all types of people. I am most definitely an extrovert. But the reason I can’t maintain eye contact has nothing to do with that. It’s because of my disability.

Although I am diagnosed with severe ADD/ADHD, which is mainly categorized as a learning or cognitive disability, it does have the ability to manifest itself physically. I mean, It sort of makes sense. Because ADD/ADHD causes me to be distracted and have difficulty remaining focused, its no mystery why my eyes might drift when I’m having conversations. It may seem like an easy fix for me but it is genuinely difficult for me to keep my eyes in one position for a prolonged period of time. Frankly, eye contact exhausts me.

As much as I would like people to be more accepting and understanding of the fact that some people have trouble with eye contact, because it is so ingrained in our expectation of social interaction, it’s a hard thing to get around. However, I’ve come up with strategies to “cheat the system” and make my eye contact issue less noticeable. Although writing this article is going to make it a whole lot more obvious.

Weirdly enough, the most helpful tactic I use in large social settings is to wear dark or distracting lip colors. It draws the attention away from my eyes and places them at my mouth. I’ve found that in addition to not noticing my dodgy eye contact, the person I am conversing with tends to be more receptive to what I say. That’s some lipstick sorcery right there. Aside from the distraction method, there are a couple of ways to just naturally roll with it. For starters, If I notice that my eyes are continuously drifting towards a certain object or source of distraction, I’ll bring it up in the conversation so that the other person looks over there as well. It’s kind of sneaky, but this makes the person completely forget that I am not making eye contact because they aren’t either!

Even though I know strategies to help disguise my eye contact issue, I don’t choose to always spend my time and energy doing so. I’d much rather spend that energy having a meaningful conversation with people, without worrying if they’ll care about my eyes drifting from theirs. Building relationships and having productive discussions is always more important than what my eyes are deciding to do.

Until Next Post,

Bekah

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