Tuesday, August 24, 2010
living with ADD....attention deficit disorder
I dream of living a life without ADD….(attention deficit disorder)
I remember the day that I finally had enough. I finally realized that things weren’t “normal” for me. I was sitting in my living room with a group of friends during a meeting. I purposefully watched as each of them sat still while everyone else talked and they seemed to focus on what was being said. In the meantime, just like every other meeting before, I crossed and uncrossed my legs – I sat on one leg and then switched to the other – I got up to check on things in the kitchen. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested, that wasn’t it at all. This has been the way it has been for as long as I can remember. This wasn’t the only indication that made me think that I had ADD but this was the one that made me the most self conscious. The next day I made an appointment with a counselor to see if there was anything I could do. As I sat in the waiting room I questioned even being there. This was ridiculous. Everyone gets sidetracked and jittery. There is nothing wrong with me.
After we had talked for awhile she gave me a “test” to complete. It seems like it was 10 pages or so. I remember thinking that was the dumbest thing to do to a person with ADD - 10 questions was overwhelming enough…After I completed it we went through the answers together and at the end she told me that she believed with overwhelming certainty that I did have ADD…Now what – “yippee??” what do you say to that:? She talked about medication but I had no interest in that at all. Honestly, the reason is that in my history of medication I never remember to take it consistently so that was too much pressure. The more we talked she commented that throughout my life I had come up with ways to “deal” with things already. That is very common with Adult ADD.
One of the things that is probably the most irritating to me is reading. I LOVE reading!! I can’t express that enough, I LOVE READING!! But for me to read anything is so time consuming. For instance if I pick up a newspaper to read. The first thing that I have learned to do that allows me to calm my nerves is to look at headlines first. I open it up and scan through all the photos and headlines just to get a feel for what is there. After that I can then go back and pick a small article to read first. Then slowly I can go onto another one. Same thing with a magazine. If I open up to a page, before I can read anything, I have to “let” my eyes wander around the page – Top, Bottom, Right, Left and then I can somewhat begin to read what I would like. I say somewhat because even though I have already went through my routine I very seldom get through a complete article. It is not only my eyes that are fluttering wildly while I do this. My heart rate increases and I feel my hands begin to tremble.
I enjoy reading self help and motivational books but I can only read pieces at a time because my mind gets overwhelmed. The purpose of reading books like that is to learn from them so I really want the information to stick. If I just read normally I would read a paragraph and look up and honestly not be able to tell you anything that I read. Mainly because I am going through that first step like I do with a magazine. I am not taking in, I am just getting comfortable with the words. So then if my mind tells me it was something that I want to remember I reread it and reread it again. This makes reading for me so time consuming and a struggle. Reading fiction is much easier for me because I don’t have to comprehend and it allows me to relax. So I usually have several kinds of books going at one time so I don’t overwhelm my mind and my eyes. (just a side note.. if you ever have handed me something to read real quick, this is the honest truth - I will take it, stare at it and my eyes willl be fluttering like crazy - I will hand it back to you never having read one word...I can not tell you how many times that has happened in my life...LOL)
I have the same frustration with my moving around all the time. If I am in a movie theatre or seated where there are people close to me I am constantly aware of my movement. I can’t do my normal crossing and uncrossing of my legs as often as I would like so I find myself giving myself permission to do things like stretch my right foot and then my left or bend my toes, any kind of movement just to calm my nerves. It is almost like I am claustrophobic and if I don’t continue to move my body I will suffocate. At my age I have done this so long that I don’t think of every move but if I stop to think “am I doing it now?” there has never been a time that I haven’t caught myself not doing a movement or in the midst of needing to move.
The book that the counselor recommended that was a life saver for me was Driven to Distraction by Edward M. Hallowell and John Ratey. I have never read anything that explained my life like this book. In the book there is a woman named Sarah that made a list of her symptoms and she might as well have copied a page from my journal. Here is just some of her list:
* Daydreamed a lot as child
* Called “lazy”
* Like novelty, lots of changing interests
* Have lots of ideas but have a hard time structuring things so they actually happen
* Desk cluttered
* Work best in a framework: things need to fit into the whole picture. Feel like I’m always looking for a structure
* Have always felt that I think differently from most people
* Handwriting: sometimes I write things I don’t mean to; skip letters or form them wrong
* Bathroom cleaning on Sat: look at job, feel overwhelmed. Turn on radio to get me going. Find the music irritating later and turn it off. Remember the job and tackle it. Often I feel like I have to push through a wall to get into a job.
* No matter how organized I try to be, I always mess up!
* Always trying to organize things, but it doesn’t come easily. If I don’t organize them I won’t know where they are.
* Lose what’s in my head easily
* Organize my life around projects. They give me something to think about
* Inwardly feel desperate. Reassurances from other people don’t help.
* Doors and drawers – never close them after myself, then come back and see them and close them
* Inside, I feel like I’m saying, “I’m not stupid!”
* General problems with distractibility and disorganization
* Most at peace when I’m doing something with my hands like gardening or on the computer
This is my life daily!!! I fight with my head and my body everyday. Right now as I write I have been at this one post for over almost 5 hours. Stopped to go to town with my son - Back at it – stop for lunch - Back again – go look for my book – back again – go watch tv with Becca – and now I am back again and those are only a few of the breaks I took. All the while my arms ache from shaking and I move from sitting to laying positions over and over.
This post is difficult for me. It lets you into a side of me that not a lot of people know. Now, I am constantly joking around about my forgetfulness and stuff – it’s easier to make fun of it all. That is how I cope with most things in my life. But there is also a part of me that also thinks that people will read this and say – Linda, everyone struggles with this stuff. It’s no big deal and I should be able to cope better. Maybe I just hope to be understood a little better. Another step to being real and authentic. This is me and it's another piece of the puzzle that makes me who I am.
If you ever get a chance to read this book or offer it to someone else it is such a great resource. There is so much more that goes along with the symptoms that I have described so far. There are many other conditions that may accompany, resemble or mask ADD – for me some of these are - anxiety, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), Hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism and depression.
Well I realize that was a big chunk for today but today I dream for you the ability to be honest with someone about something that you are dealing with…you never know how it might help to free you and even help them in the process…have a wonderful day friend….