While I don’t have an actual diagnosis of ADHD, I’ve long felt that it’s something I very likely have at least to some degree. Whenever I see any ADHD content, from medical information to memes, I find myself going “yep, it me”. So I wasn’t altogether surprised when I also found this piece from my friend Redridingbrat (she/her) deeply relatable.
I feel very strongly that kink is for all consenting adults who want to engage in it. Many of the images we see online and in the media are reductive, exclusionary, and harmful. That’s why it’s so important to me to represent a diversity of experiences on this blog. To that end, I’m thrilled to bring you this piece from RRB on ADHD and submission.
As always, you can help me to pay more lovely guest writers by chipping in via the tip jar.
Being a Submissive with ADHD by Redridingbrat
What comes to mind when you think of the perfect submissive?
Perhaps it is someone who is entirely focused on their Dominant, able to follow the rules and pre-emptively do whatever their Dominant might desire.
How does this change when you have ADHD?
ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a medical condition that affects the way a person thinks and acts. This often presents as someone being inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive – three things that can often clash with the pop culture view of submission. As a submissive with ADHD, I have had to work with my Dominant to make sure that my submission isn’t adversely affected by my ADHD.
One of the ways inattention in ADHD can affect a D/s dynamic is forgetfulness. Forgetting rules, forgetting tasks, forgetting where things have been placed… not something that is in the picture-perfect view of a “sub”! Thankfully, this is something this can be easily accommodated. Having the rules written up and displayed somewhere is a straightforward way of not relying on the memory. Having things placed in see through or open containers lets you quickly see where they are. A long-term solution is to have your Dominant help you create habits, so you do not need to remember a thing.
Another annoying symptom of ADHD is being prone to distraction. Sitting in a corner with no stimulation is my personal idea of hell. It isn’t just me who can suffer as a result of this, though; losing interest in an activity halfway through a scene can very quickly make a Dominant feel like they failed at a scene, and make the submissive then feel guilty for not being able to concentrate. This does not have an easy fix but there are things that help. Doing shorter activities can do wonders, as this gives less chances for the brain to wander off. Sensory deprivation can also help as it can force the submissive to focus on their other senses. The biggest things that can help are open communication and being self-aware. By letting your Dominant know when you are having a bad day focusing, you can reassure each other that neither is at fault when focus issues arise.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, another symptom of ADHD is hyperfocus; getting so consumed by a task that everything else is ignored. When a task is interrupted by something else, it can be extremely hard to bring yourself out of the task and into the new thing, regardless of how urgent it may be. In extreme cases, this can lead to ignoring the need to drink or use the toilet for hours on end. One thing my Dominant has found to help with this is simply asking “when will this be done?”, helping me to verbalise what done looks like as well as giving me a subconscious queue to start bringing myself out of the task. Having a set routine and structure also helps with this as it ensures that my body becomes accustomed to performing certain activities at certain time, with an external check (my Dominant) making sure it is adhered to.
Another symptom of ADHD that is often overlooked is internal motivation. I can often sit in “standby mode”, endlessly scrolling social media whilst given tasks go unfulfilled. Part of this is that a larger task can be overwhelming if not broken down into smaller steps, making it physically uncomfortable to get started. Something that can really help prevent situations like this is breaking a large task down into multiple smaller parts, while also being clear about what signifies completion of each part. For example, “make yourself presentable for me” can be broken down into: “Go shower, style your hair into a high ponytail, put on a full face of makeup with red lipstick, and wear the red underwear. I want these tasks to be complete by 5pm”. Rewards-based dynamics are also excellent for those who require the internal motivation to be turned external. Extra orgasms for doing a large task? Yes please!
Whilst I have spoken at length about the challenges of having ADHD, it does come with a number of positives too. Those of us with ADHD often excel when in “crisis mode”, meaning we can be very good if something goes wrong in a scene. ADHD folks are also creative in our problem solving, making us the perfect people to do puzzle-based tasks or mend broken toys. And ADHD people can also be more adventurous, making us the perfect partner for trying new activities in the bedroom.
ADHD can make submission hard. It breaks many of the pre-conceived notions of what a “good submissive” looks like. Someone who is forgetful, distractable, and hard to self-motivate is not the “ideal” that is written about in popular literature. However, there are things that can help overcome the barriers that may come up in a D/s dynamic. The main thing to remember is that D/s is not one size fits all. You can customise and change how your relationship looks. You are not a failure if it does not look like the glamorised novels. Anyone can be a submissive. All you need to do is identify as one and find someone who adores you and your style.
Redridingbrat is a switchy brat who loves nothing more than to engage her submissive side. Her main experiences involve rope, D/s and discussions surrounding disability within the kink community.