Sunday, June 30, 2013

Do We Intuitively Understand that we have ADD Before a Diagnosis?

Sometimes I look back over my life and can't help but think that I "intuitively knew" that I had ADD, long before I knew or understood or considered that I might actually have it.

Cryptic? OK, stay with me, here...

I look at some of the ways I've "arranged" my life and my interests... and the way they follow and resemble a number of generally accepted "coping tools" for people with ADD. And yet? I came up with these tools on my own, without ever really having read a description of the condition.

On some level, taking these steps "just made sense."

I am especially aware of the way I have created a work life that seems to "fit" my temperament. And that's it, right there: Until just a couple of years ago, my interpretation of the situation was simply that I had a "scattered temperament" and a relatively poor short term memory.

Humans are amazingly adaptable.

Give just how adaptable we are, it sometimes often distresses me that so much effort is being put into medicalizing perfectly normal parts of the human existence.

I managed to get to where I am through years of treating ADD as a bit of a joke: Around our house we'd regularly say things like "Yeah, you're ADD-ish as frak!" but it was mostly said in jest...

Friday, June 28, 2013

Inattentiveness vs. Boredom

One of the things I have heard a lot over the years is that I "get bored easily."

Actually, nothing is further from the truth-- I very rarely get bored; I'm one of those rare people who can be totally engrossed in watching an anthill or paint dry... for hours and hours.

When looking at ADD/ADHD and the people afflicted with it, it is (just my opinion) very important to have a clear handle on the difference between "boredom" and "inattentiveness."

To most people, when someone doesn't seem to be paying attention to something they have in front of them, it's a sign that they are bored. That may be true in a general sense, EXCEPT when you are dealing with someone with ADD, and especially someone with inattentive ADD.

I say "especially" those with inattentive ADD because of appearances. Most people with ADHD tend to "bounce" away, while those with inattentive ADD are more likely to "drift" away slowly and look like they are falling asleep. Hence the conclusion they are bored.

Truth be known, I am rarely bored with the things I "drift away from." My brain just can't seem to stay on track. And the harder I "try" to focus, the harder it gets to stay focused. This is one of the reasons why I sometimes fall asleep during favorite movies... and drift off while being in the middle of some of my favorite things, like reading a book or trying to create a recipe.

So remember this: Inattentiveness and Boredom are not the same thing!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Falling Asleep in Class

I think I was in about 4th or 5th grade-- back when we were still living in Denmark-- when I first became consciously aware that I had a difficult time staying awake in some classes.

I do remember the particular sequence of events... how it would happen, each time.

It was often during history class, which I found particularly boring. The teacher would be writing numbers on the board (dates) and droning on and on about some event in 15th century Britain that I really didn't care about. Slowly, I would grow aware of the hardness of my chair... that plain wooden seat... and I would start moving my butt around, a bit. Then there would be the sensation of tiny "pin pricks" on my butt... a little bit like the pins-and-needles sensation when your foot goes to sleep.

At this point, all I could think about was the discomfort in my butt. I'd look at the board and the teacher... and nothing would have changed. Or so it felt. Then I would look at the clock on the wall... and inwardly feel dread at the idea of having to sit there for another 34 minutes.

I was well aware that I was "supposed to" focus on what was going on in class... but my eyelids just felt so heavy, like I hadn't slept in several days. But I was acutely aware of how embarrassing it would be if I actually fell asleep in class, so I'd move my head to try to move on. I'd look out the window, at the weather; at anything the moved; trees in the breeze. Our "home room" was on the 3rd floor... and faced a road, across from which was the local train station. I'd watch people come and go, getting ready to take the trains. I envied them their freedom.

By this point, the teacher's voice was just a backdrop for my efforts to stay awake... and my wandering mind, which was mostly on memories of taking the train into the city to visit various family members. History was no longer even part of my awareness.

I'd only look out the window for a while... then I'd "look" back at my desk, or in my history book. I was extremely adept at looking like I was "concentrating" even though what I was looking at was mainly a fog...

From time to time, I'd "snap back" to where we were... in class... teacher talking about some battle.

The "danger zone" came when he finished his talking and started asking questions. I did NOT do well when called on, unless I knew the answer ahead of time.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Vignette: The Fly in my Room

There's a fly in my room.

I expect it got here because we've had mice in the crawlspace above my office, and something died up there.

I realize that my annoyance with the fly's presence isn't what most people's might be, namely "It's a gross disease carrying creature-- ewwww!"

When I see the fly, out of the corner of my eye, it annoys me because it represents "another moving data point" in my existence-- another "thing" to watch, and to pull me away from what I was doing.

So now... I must stop what I am doing and get the fly.

There are layers, at times.

I broke off writing an article, when I saw the fly... and realized that I wanted to add these words about how I experienced the fly, in my space. Now I am breaking off these words, so I can go deal with the fly.

Sometimes... it gets hard to get off the "branches" and back to the main tree...

Monday, June 17, 2013

I am not an Expert on Inattentive ADD-- but then again, I AM

What makes someone an "expert?"

It depends on who you ask. Some people would argue that you can't be an "expert" on something unless you spent 12 years in university studying the problem, and now how have a bunch of "initials" after your name.

By that measure, I am NOT an "expert" on Inattentive ADD/ADHD.

On the other hand, as of this writing I am 52 years old and have lived with the condition all my life. So you can argue that I have "52 years experience in the field." And that certainly accounts for something. Would you listen to someone who's been avidly gardening for 50+ years if-- however-- they did not have a Ph.D. in Horticulture?

Two important things to keep in mind about this site:

1. I am not pretending to be an "expert" on anything, I am merely sharing my personal experience. These are not "how to" columns, rather they are my stories of "I did this, as a consequence of which that happened." I'm not saying it's gonna work for you, merely that it worked for me (or not!).

2. I am not pretending that this site is an "advice column" or a place that "prescribes" a specific healing methodology. I am not a doctor or a mental health professional. Again, I am merely sharing my personal experience, from living, breathing and eating "this thing," every single day of my life.

"Expert" is a bit of a nebulous term, in my experience. Somebody with a Harvard doctorate in business management will bring something different to the table than somebody who's been running a business for 30 years. Neither is necessarily "right" or "wrong." They are just different.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Early Memories of Cleaning my Room

It's funny how old memories re-visited can sometimes lead to insight.

My mother-- like most parents, I expect-- was eternally trying to get me to keep my room clean. Or, at the very least, trying to teach me how to keep it from looking like a bomb fallout area.

By the time I was eight or nine, it seemed like her frustration at my clutter-- and let's add here that my mom was a "neat freak"-- seemed to reach a peak. I remember her words, to this day "I just don't understand why something as simply as keeping your room tidy has to be SUCH a big production! WHY can't you just do this very simple thing?"

Retrospectively, maybe it was a fair question. I had a fairly good sized room, with a good sized closet, and we'd been to IKEA and had bought all manners of "organizational units." IKEA is really good for that sort of stuff.

And yet? My world was always a cluttered mess.

I remember responding to my mother-- on several occasions "Mom, I am just a FUNDAMENTALLY LAZY person."

My mother, of course, was horrified and insulted by that idea. She replied "What utter nonsense! No child in this family is lazy!" or something like that.

My point, though, is that it wasn't a "flip" comment, on my behalf. I'd actually thought about it, quite a bit. I loved my mom, and I didn't want to make her unhappy... and yet? Cleaning my room felt like... SO. MUCH.  WORK.

I distinctly remember how I would start off on a day of tidying up... and I would start to feel "heavy;" almost sleepy. I would get my Lego neatly put away... and I would feel so tired and groggy. Which was really weird, because I was "that kid" who could never take naps. It was so much "easier" to just stare out the window at the branches of the trees, moving in the wind.

My nine-year old brain reasoned that because I wanted to "sleep" rather than "work" it meant I was lazy. It was truly a genuine argument, not a "put off" answer.

Of course, 9-year old will go to some length to not have to do their chores. But looking back at the way I understood "not cleaning my room," it seems more evident that inattentive ADD was playing a part in my life, back then.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

An Explanation, of Sorts...

I need another blog, about as much as I need another hole in my head.

Ironically, my decision to start this one serves as a beautiful illustration of the condition I live with: I am an adult with the "Inattentive" version of ADHD. Or, rather "ADD." Because there is nothing "hyperactive" about me...

Even though I already have a dozen-odd "perfectly good" blogs, I have gotten sidetracked into taking on another one. "Sidetracking" is pretty much my middle name, as well as the bane of my existence.

There's a lot of information about ADD/ADHD on the web... but the vast majority seems to be about the "hyperactive" variant.

I'm not really sure what I am hoping to accomplish here.

Perhaps this is just going to be a "sanity journal," of sorts. Or it might end up being where I store useful information I find, insights and ideas. Then again, maybe it will turn into some kind of "social tool," through which I connect with others in the same boat as I.

I really wanted to use the name "Letters from La La Land," but that name (and the corresponding web domain) was already taken. So I nabbed this one, instead.

So what exactly IS "La La Land?"

It's the strange "brain fog" inattentive ADD sufferers live with. It's really hard to describe briefly, and by looking directly at... but in the months and years ahead, I shall endeavor to share experiences that might at least hint at what I am talking about.