A new friend of mine, Matteo, was asking me about the ADD hashtag (#ADD) on my twitters. I knew it was going to take more than the pre-requisite 140 characters, so I ended up a rather longish email. He requested I post it, so here 'tis.
I have a long history w/ADD. I was officially diagnosed in my late 20's because I was tired of not understanding why I wasn't like everyone else/couldn't easily handle tasks everyone else could handle/was having the same problems at every job I'd had, etc. By everyone else, I mean co-workers, relatives & friends.
One of my best friends suggested I check with an ADD specialist. She and her brother had ADD & she saw a lot of similarities between us regarding tasks, getting stalled on things, etc. I saw a local doc who performed a series of tests on me. The result was ADD, but not ADHD. Physically I'm not hyperactive (though my brain has its moments).
One of the issues for me with ADD is I have never been able to find a consistency for getting things done. "Work the Plan" type of consistency. My house is never clean, I never have enough hours in the day to get things done, I get distracted, I get bored, etc etc. Looking back (and discussing my history with the ADD doc and several therapists) I've had this issue since childhood. I can remember my mom getting so angry with me that I couldn't stay on task/complete a simple chore. There were "never enough hours in the day" for me, etc.
John and I have discussed it a lot over the past year (what with a new baby and all) and while I'm very good at taking care of Rowan, I'm incredibly inconsistent with housework. It's hard on him because he never knows if it's going to be a productive or unproductive day. I'm on meds, which helps me a lot. Most of the anxiety I had with the ADD is gone when I'm on the meds. I can focus and stay focused more easily. The noise in my head is much quieter when I'm on my meds. The caveat is that I HATE being on meds. (That's another story, though.) I made a decision when I was pregnant that I would be regular with my meds. Fucking up my head (taking meds inconsistently) is one thing, but with having a child I needed to have my head on as often as possible.
In the past 9 months (Rowan is just 9 months) I've had maybe 3 lapses where I didn't take my meds for a few days. Before then I would go weeks without taking them. It was very frustrating for John because he wouldn't know how to talk to me about it. At that point I would be productive for a few days and then PFT, nothing. Now I am productive for a few months (consistently) and then a few days or a week of nothing.
The #ADD tag is mostly to remind myself when I look back at journal posts or reflect at the end of the day on why things don't get done. "Ah, it was one of THOSE days."
I get sucked into TV very easily, which is one reason I'm glad we don't have cable. (Mainly we don't have cable because it's wicked expensive and our budget can't handle it.) I add the rationalization about the ADD because it makes me feel less like a freak about no TV. (I grew up with several tv's in the house, all my friends watched tv, etc etc. I know it's far more the norm in the Ithaca area not to have tv, but I still feel freakish that we don't have it.) One manifestation of ADD is being ashamed. My house is far from perfect and I get very anxious when people stop by because of that. I'm ashamed of how the house looks, but I can't ever get it clean enough. I'm ashamed of the fact that our finances are such shit that we can't afford cable. These are huge triggers for me if I think about them too much.
TV was my escape when I was younger, and when my Mom started limiting my access to tv, books became my outlet for escape. I can get lost in books and tv (via netflix or hulu) at the drop of a hat. I will be late for appointments or cancel appointments so I can finish watching/reading. No matter how many alarms I set, if I'm engrossed in a show or a book it's very difficult for me to get out of it.
Lately I've been watching Dexter (wow, great show!) and it's screwing with my daytime/eve schedule. I'm trying to watch it all at once so I can move on. Really I should just ration it to 1 or 2 eps a day, but that's not what I'm doing. Yesterday I had to teach in Tburg and I left 30 min after I wanted to because I was watching Dexter and playing farmville. Distraction city... Happily I wasn't late (I try to build extra time into my day now), but I could have been.
Overall the diagnosis has been quite helpful, as have the meds. I try not to use it as a crutch (Oh, I didn't do the dishes... ADD strikes again!), and I get less angry with myself for not getting as much done as I want/planned to get done. It's not always a day-to-day struggle anymore. I am more productive more consistently. I am less ashamed of things. I am less anxious. I am less angry. I am more balanced. I can sometimes use the ADD hyperfocus to my advantage (though sometimes I get so focused I lose track of time). My day isn't as much of a crapshoot as it used to be.
Forgive the rambling. I woke up early and didn't really get enough sleep. I also haven't written much about ADD and how it effects me. We can chat about it more if you want.
Happy New Year's Eve!
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