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January 20, 2009 @ 11:56 pm

An ADDitional Piece of The Puzzle

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Update 10/30/14: Bringing back a condensed version of another of my old posts, originally published on 1/20/09:

So, I emailed my therapist last week about something (not related to the topic of this post), and I mentioned that I have so much trouble switching my focus from one thing to another.  If I’m on top of things at work and have a productive day, then when I get home I can’t seem to switch gears and take care of the things I need to do in my personal life because my head is still at work.  If I get involved in working on a novel or a web site or some other project at home, then when I go to work, I can’t seem to stop thinking about that project and focus on my work.

My therapist commented that difficulty transitioning is a strong indicator of adult ADD.  I’d actually wondered, four or five years ago, if I might have adult ADD, but I quickly discounted the idea because (1) I’ve never been hyperactive a day in my life . . . or really, anything that even resembles any usage of the word “active”, and (2) I’m sometimes very able to  focus, even to an extreme.  I have a small web design business and have a half-dozen or so web sites that I maintain and I often build new ones for personal use, and I’ve been known to work on a web site for 14 hours straight, focusing on it to the exclusion of everything else except the occasional need to pee or eat or drink water or coffee.

As it turns out, hyperfocus is a symptom, and can be a good thing, when channelled properly.  I guess I just need to learn how not to forget to take care of other things that are important.

I found this ADD web page, and the majority of what it says is so on-the-mark.  My therapist offered to do a formal assessment, or not, as I chose.  I wavered a little, thought about it, and then finally decided to just do it and find out.  What could it hurt to find out?  The results were pretty clear.

And this explains so much.

Now I am realizing that finishing NaNoWriMo felt like such a big deal to me for very good reason.  All the introspection, all the trying to figure out the psychological reason(s) for my apparent fear of success, and coming up with nothing that really rang a bell, other than “If I succeed, people will expect me to keep succeeding, and I’m not confident I can do that” . . . it makes a lot more sense now.

The never finishing anything (one of my friends pointed that out to me just recently, that in the three years since she’s known me, I have begun several projects, novels, etc., and she never heard me ever say I’d finished any of them, and I’ve been this way for years and years), the hyperfocusing on one thing while forgetting to do other very important things, the stupid mistakes at work that would (and understandably should) have gotten me fired a long time ago if my boss hadn’t given me so many chances to redeem myself, the way I so often “zone out” in conversations (that used to drive one of my exes batshit – I don’t mean to do it), the inability to get to work on time more than about six times a year . . . so many things make more sense now.

I hadn’t been aware there was still another piece of the puzzle that I didn’t have.  I’d been blaming all my focus and concentration problems on the different health issues I have that can all come with those symptoms.  That, and I did believe that underneath it all I must just be a lazy loser.  I thought this was as good as I was going to get, and that I would just have to accept it.

Knowing about the ADD, though, is a good thing, because now I can finally let go of that “I’m-a-loser” mantra and start forgiving myself and working toward solutions.

My therapist loaned me her copy of Driven to Distraction and I started reading it last night.  I’ve already found some information in it that I think will be very helpful.  I did have to laugh, though, at the idea of reading a book about how to deal with ADD when reading retention and reading the same paragraph over and over are symptoms of ADD.  But the authors both have ADD, so I’m figuring if they could manage to write it, I can manage to read it.  And I do read a lot.  It’s just been taking me longer to read something in the last several years than it used to.  I’d been wondering why I was having so much trouble following a novel anymore.  I can never guess whodunnit anymore because I confuse and forget little details about certain characters and mix them up.

I’m even thinking the reason I tend to eat the same thing for dinner most nights is possibly ADD-related, since I have so much trouble planning ahead and figuring out all the steps involved in making something different each night.  I’m also even more pleased, now, with my decision to just make that quirk work for me and go ahead and eat mostly the same things on my diet as well.  And it’s still working, so far.

Leaving you with some interesting myths from the web site I linked to in the fourth paragraph:

Adult ADD Myths: Fact or Fiction


MYTH: ADD is just a lack of willpower. Persons with ADD focus well on things that interest them; they could focus on any other tasks if they really wanted to.
FACT: ADD 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, and anyone with adequate intelligence can overcome these difficulties.
FACT: ADD affects persons of all levels of intelligence. And although everyone sometimes has symptoms of ADD, only those with chronic impairments from these symptoms warrant an ADD diagnosis.
MYTH: Someone can’t have ADD and also have depression, anxiety, or other psychiatric problems.
FACT: A person with ADD is six times more likely to have another psychiatric or learning disorder than most other people. ADD usually overlaps with other disorders.
MYTH: ADD doesn’t really cause much damage to a person’s life.
FACT: Untreated or inadequately treated ADD syndrome often severely impairs learning, family life, education, work life, social interactions, and driving safely.
MYTH: Unless you have been diagnosed with ADD as a child, you can’t have it as an adult.
FACT: Many adults have struggled all their lives with unrecognized ADD 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 the usual treatments



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