Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Realizing Your Limitations

or... Why I'm Not Really an A-hole, I Just Have ADD.


I know we all joke about ADD. "Oh look, I just saw something shiny and I got distracted -- I have ADD."


When you actually have adult ADD, it's no joking matter (though it's me, so I'll likely allow it.) Every day is a struggle. I can feel my brain wanting to pull away and look elsewhere as I write this post. It's bizarre. I used to think it was merely a poor discipline thing. Lately, I've been investigating the mindfulness thing, which helps a bit. But mostly, I feel like my brain is wired wrong and I have no idea how to fix it. Some days, I'm ready to take meds to stun my brain into submission.


Being on time is a struggle. I cannot even explain to you how this is the biggest source of strain on our lives. My inability to time manage, my constant lateness... I used to think that I chose media as a profession because of the deadlines. If people gave me a deadline, I had to stick to it right? But it's a struggle. I can't focus easily, get distracted easily and before I know it I am panicking and rushing to meet my deadlines.

I am pretty sure I was like this as a child too. They just didn't have this sort of diagnosis back then. Instead, my parents were constantly trying to challenge me academically, so that I wouldn't get bored. I would hyper-focus on something that I loved (usually reading or drawing) and totally space out on other tasks.

Not procrastinating is a struggle. I got a speeding ticket a while back. I could have saved myself a lot of hassle if I just filled out the damn paperwork to have a court date to contest it -- meaning it would likely get thrown out or reduced. Instead, I ignored it, hoping it would go away. The first notice arrived. I stuffed it in my bag hoping it would get dealt with somehow, but no matter how many times I schedule "ticket" or "expenses" or "insurance benefits" paperwork onto my calendar, I push it back, trying to justify it by completing another task I'm late on instead. Needless to say, I had to pay a lot more money than the original ticket to get everything back in order with my license, etc. This is very common for ADDers. We can't actually perceive time correctly, so we always think we have more time than we do.


Balancing books is a struggle. I am impulsive. I have no clue about money. The only clue I have is that I should have way more money than I do, but I can't tell you where it goes. I am not a crazy shopper like I once was. I just have no idea how to budget. I lose things of value and pretend it's not a big deal, as if losing a 20 dollar bill would be no big deal. Or I'll need to return something, but procrastinate till it's too late and then act like it's no big deal. It's bizarre, my relationship with money.

Talking to people is a struggle -- you either show them that you have no filter really fast, or you talk over them constantly. It's quite normal for me to blurt out something completely inappropriate in a meeting, or to space out and completely miss the conversation. Or respond to someone without fully understanding what they were saying and then having your reply come out sounding like you're Heidi Montag.

Listening to people(and NOT listening to people) is a struggle. Contrary to what you might think, I don't suffer from a deficit of attention, I suffer from an abundance of it. I might be listening to you, but then my brain thinks, "Hey, look at that thing over there." Or, "What's that they're talking about on the other side of the room?" Every sound, every thought becomes a distraction.

Having sex with people is a struggle: Once, during sex, early in our marriage, I blurted, "Did Kev leave his jacket here?" DURING sex. I now know that was ADD.

Being tidy is a struggle. I pick up the mail and suddenly I remember to write something down on the calendar, and then I set the mail down without thinking about it, in an unsuitable place to set the mail down. Then I can't find the mail later and I get frustrated. Clutter is everywhere. I know where to find things that are important to me, but my husband walks around the house picking up after me.

I think a lot of authors probably have ADD (creativity is one of our gifts). I remember an interview with Diana Gabaldon, where she said she often has three writings going on at the same time so she can cycle through them when she gets "stuck" on one. Wayne Johnston spoke of having a soundproof room built where he can take no calls and works till dawn. I am constantly wishing for that kind of quiet so I can hyperfocus on my characters without being interrupted to fetch someone a glass of milk.

Living with ADD and me is super hard on my husband and my kids. J says my hurdles are insurmountable to the rest of them; that they are stuck because I can't get myself unstuck. But lately, I've been doing well to get myself unstuck. I'm not cured (doubt I'll ever be), but I'm on top of it instead of letting it steamroller over me.

More to come. Thanks for your patience.

11 comments:

Marla said...

You might also want to look into monochronic vs polychronic references.

http://hackvan.com/etext/monochronic-vs-polychronic-time.html

There are good book suggestions there too.

It's interesting how many of the symptoms overlap with ADD.

Marla said...

Here's another great summarization:

http://www.harley.com/writing/time-sense.html

It's a wonder Steve and I are still married, as my other name for my monochronic spouse is "the Unitasker"

王美妹 said...

在莫非定律中有項笨蛋定律:「一個組織中的笨蛋,恆大於等於三分之二。」. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

moplans said...

wow babe, this looks tough. I have a tich of the distractible and poorly focussed, but am hyperfocussed on time. Maybe I am overcompensating?
who knows,
I am glad you are on top of this.

flutter said...

If it makes you feel better, I think you kick ass.

佳瑩佳瑩 said...

我們能互相給予的最佳禮物是「真心的關懷」。..................................................

kgirl said...

I think a lot of this is due to the fact that you are incredibly intellegent, and process information very quickly. It makes it hard to spend focussed time on something because your brain was there 10 minutes before the world caught up. I swear, I have almost all of the experiences you describe on a pretty regular basis. I was told that it was from having a high IQ, I swear to god, many psychologists have told me (and my parents when I was younger) that. Obnoxious, huh? Either way, it makes you special.

許惠吟許惠吟 said...

出遊不拘名勝,有景就是好的..................................................................

La Blogueuse said...

I agree with kgirl...you just pretty much described me and I've never thought of myseld has having ADD....I've always jut thought that I had too many things to think about in too little time...(which with my superiority complex maked me a genius), hehe

JM said...

I relate to: Every. Single. Thing. You. Posted. I am pretty sure one of my parents has (and always had) adult ADD. My sister and I read up on it, and wondered if we were on the spectrum too. Not extreme enough for most people to guess, but enough that it is a daily struggle in exactly the ways you have listed. I think you're amazing, too, though. Hugs!

Deb, i obsess said...

I just keep replaying that moment after I stopped talking in the session at the conference where you said, "oh my god, you're *exactly* like me." and then went into gales of laughter. BECAUSE I COULDN'T FUCKING SHUT UP.

argh. it's all so very argh.

love you. you foxy bitch.