Eric and the ADD (or Eric and His Damaged Brain Part III or II)
Note: I am reposting this to fourwords.net on May 12, 2016 after some quick editing for grammar. The original posting was January 10, 2012 and can be found here if that interests you for any reason.
I found out that I had ADD when I was 17 (I know, we were a little behind on that); the reason that it took so long is because I lack the hyperactivity usually associated with the ADD. My mom started reading a lot of books on the subject because she’s a school teacher (maybe that’s why she’s too busy to read my blog). She started paying closer attention to me and my little brother’s behavior and decided that she should take us to a psychiatrist to get tested (I say tested, we only talked to a dude, and then he handed us some drugs). For the past 14 years I’ve heard all the arguments about how ADD is bullshit. Doctors and pharmaceutical companies are just trying to make money, and lazy parents are just trying to drug their children into being quiet. Those people piss me off, and I want to punch them in the throat (but I would never do that because I’m a nonviolent person). I will concede that I do believe that it is an overly diagnosed disorder and maybe closer attention needs to be paid to those children to make sure they are getting what is best for them. My argument for the deniers, however, is “do you have it?” ”Do you know what it’s like to live in a brain where it is nearly impossible to focus on something that doesn’t interest you even if your livelihood and your family’s livelihood depend on it?” “No?” “Then shut up!” (sorry about that, I just got really angry for a moment there). Sure, doctors are liars, and pharmaceutical companies are evil, but when I took Ritalin all I could do was focus on the task at hand. It affected my creativity negatively so there was a trade off. That didn’t really matter though because I wasn’t doing anything creative with my life, and I needed to do my damn homework.
Here are some symptoms of ADD that I displayed and continue to display; some of them are more obvious than others. Inability to focus (let’s call that one obvious). Here’s a list I found online years ago (I added the notes to that list, but they seem to have moved it and I can't find it anymore, sorry):
1. “zoning out” without realizing it, even in the middle of a conversation. (this happens to me a lot, but I usually realize it and just can’t help myself)
2. extreme distractibility; wandering attention makes it hard to stay on track. (Duh!)
3. difficulty paying attention or focusing; such as when reading or listening to others. (I’m sure everyone has this problem, right? Do you know how hard it is to read the same thing 37 times in a row and not retain any of it? I’m sure you do. Do you know how hard it is to listen to the preacher on Sunday morning without losing track of whatever it is he’s talking about? You do, right?)
4. struggling to complete tasks, even ones that seem simple. (If a task is boring then yes it’s really hard to complete, problem is that everything is boring to me, even things that interest me tend to lose my attention about half way through or sooner)
5. tendency to overlook details, leading to errors or incomplete work. (Yes, it’s because I get tired of reading something about a quarter of the way through and generally just say “screw it, it’s good enough”)
6. poor listening skills; hard time remembering conversations and following directions. (I actually have a pretty awesome long term memory, but following directions can be difficult for me)
7. poor organizational skills (home, office, desk, or car is extremely messy and cluttered) (Holy Crap! Ask my boss, teachers, mother, wife etc… I can’t organize anything, over the past 2 years I have purchase no less than 16 organizational apps for my phone that I never use. I buy folders, file cabinets, binders, whatever the stacking trays on my desk are called, calendars, and nothing works, at all, ever, seriously!)
8. tendency to procrastinate (I just fell out of my chair laughing, I can’t even begin to explain how bad a problem procrastination is for me so I won’t try until later)
9. trouble starting and finishing projects (are the people who wrote this list reading my journal)
10. chronic lateness (I am actually quite good at forcing myself to be on time for things by using external motivators [being fired is the main one], but I’m late for everything else. I worked at Braum’s for 4 years, and I was late every day for that whole time [I wonder why they fired me?] because they didn’t enforce the attendance like my current job does, and I’ve never been on time to church)
11. frequently forgetting appointments, commitments, and deadlines (No, yes, and definitely)
12. constantly losing or misplacing things (keys, wallet, phone, documents, bills) (I have handled this problem by keeping all of my important items in the same place every day so that when I wake up in the morning I can just grab everything I need for work and go. I used to just throw things any place and would forget them every day)
13. underestimating the time it will take you to complete tasks (YES)
14. frequently interrupt others or talk over them (I don’t do this so much on account of the social anxiety and fear of humans)
15. have poor self-control (I’m 350 lbs. and in debt up to my eyeballs, what do you think?)
16. blurt out thoughts that are rude or inappropriate without thinking (this is the thing that gets me in more trouble than I care to admit)
17. have addictive tendencies (I’m going to have to point back at the 350lbs thing)
18. act recklessly or spontaneously without regard for consequences (That really just depends on my mood, but if I get overly excited of upset I have been known to make an ass of myself)
19. have trouble behaving in socially appropriate ways (such as sitting still during a long meeting) (I’m pretty okay with sitting still and pretending to pay attention, I’m just not paying attention at all, no matter how hard I try to focus my mind will always drift [and holy crap is it embarrassing when they ask me a question and I have no idea what they are talking about])
20. sense of underachievement (CHECK!)
21. doesn’t deal well with frustration (does anybody? Because I don’t, at all)
22. easily flustered and stressed out (Of Course)
23. irritability or mood swings (Ask my wife, parents, coworkers, bosses, employees, teachers, and anyone else who has had the pleasure of meeting me)
24. trouble staying motivated (Are these symptoms getting repetitive?)(Motivation is the thing that I lack the most)
25. hypersensitivity to criticism (I don’t know if I can accurately explain how on the nose that is)
26. short, often explosive, temper (I think I’ve gotten better about this one, I feel like I’m more in control of my temper than I used to be, but I do relate to this one)
27. low self-esteem and sense of insecurity (my self-esteem is lower, and I’m more insecure than a teenage girl)
Okay, that exercise might have seemed kind of pointless and a little too repetitive but I needed to explain what it’s like in my brain (also, I should mention, and I don’t know why, but I added the numbers. So, if you’re going looking for the list on the hyperlink I provided it will look differently, but the info is all there plus some that helps explain some myths about adult ADD, which is a real thing). I understand that everyone reading this will probably relate to some of these symptoms some of the time, but I feel most of them the majority of the time and it sucks, or does it? I mentioned that I’ve been on drugs for this, and they helped me immensely to fit into society the way that I am supposed to fit, but they also killed my daydreaming and creativity. My creativity seems to me to be different than the useful kind that helps you to design buildings (my middle brother), or make art (also my middle brother). It just makes me see the world in a funnier way that is entertaining to me and the few other people I’ve been friends with over the years. It is almost impossible to do anything with it that will help me contribute to society. So, I have to get a job and try to blend with the normies (is that how you would spell that?). I want to do something with this writing thing, but it’s hard with all of the distractions in my life (wife, kids, employees, etc…). It is almost impossible for me to write at home without the radio blasting so that I can pretend that I’m the only one there.
The point that I’m trying to get to, and failing miserably, is that I don’t necessarily think that the ADD is a bad thing. I believe that maybe God made me this way on purpose, and I need to find a way to make it work within this society that we live in, or, I don’t know, screw those guys I guess. Except those guys have the money that I need to survive so I take that back. I did a lot of research (by a lot I mean I half read a few articles on the internet and tried to remember what the doctors and my mom told me when I was younger) for this post, I’ve been planning it for months. I’m not happy with how it turned out entirely, but I can’t keep messing with it because I need to move on.
One of the symptoms that I don’t think it mentioned is my inability to let anything go no matter how small or stupid it is or how little the rest of the planet cares about it. That might be a symptom of my undiagnosed autism/ Asperger’s, but I guess that’s a whole other post, or not, I suppose we’ll see. During my research I read a study that said that sometimes people are diagnosed with ADD when they are actually mentally retarded so that’s something I might want to look into considering in my early years of elementary school I took an achievement test that actually said I was retarded (I’ve since taken many more tests that disagree, but that thought’s always been in the back of my possibly retarded brain)
P.S. In case you don’t want to visit that website here’s something I found interesting for all of the haters out there:
You don’t have to be hyperactive to have ADD / ADHD
Adults with ADD/ADHD are much less likely to be hyperactive than their younger counterparts. Only a small slice of adults with ADD/ADHD, in fact, suffer from prominent symptoms of hyperactivity. Remember that names can be deceiving and you may very well have ADD/ADHD if you have one or more of the symptoms above—even if you lack hyperactivity.
Myths and Facts about ADD / ADHD in Adults
MYTH: ADD/ADHD is just a lack of willpower. Persons with ADD/ADHD focus well on things that interest them; they could focus on any other tasks if they really wanted to.
FACT: ADD/ADHD looks very much like a willpower problem, but it isn’t. It’s essentially a chemical problem in the management systems of the brain.
MYTH: Everybody has the symptoms of ADD/ADHD, and anyone with adequate intelligence can overcome these difficulties.
FACT: ADD/ADHD affects persons of all levels of intelligence. And although everyone sometimes has symptoms of ADD/ADHD, only those with chronic impairments from these symptoms warrant an ADD/ADHD diagnosis.
MYTH: Someone can’t have ADD/ADHD and also have depression, anxiety, or other psychiatric problems.
FACT: A person with ADD/ADHD is six times more likely to have another psychiatric or learning disorder than most other people. ADD/ADHD usually overlaps with other disorders.
MYTH: Unless you have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD as a child, you can’t have it as an adult.
FACT: Many adults struggle all their lives with unrecognized ADD/ADHD impairments. They haven’t received help because they assumed that their chronic difficulties, like depression or anxiety, were caused by other impairments that did not respond to usual treatment.
Source: Dr. Thomas E. Brown, Attention Deficit Disorder: The Unfocused Mind in Children and Adults
P.P.S. this is the end of my damaged brain trilogy or the beginning because I don’t know what order you will read them in. I hope you have been enlightened or at least entertained. If not, then what am I supposed to do about it?