Thursday, June 7, 2012

Let's Start At The Very Beginning . . . A Very Good Place To Start

I met with a new writing group last night.  (It was fab, thanks for asking.)  One writer asked how did I suspect I had ADD and it got me thinking: I jumped in the middle of the story with this blog.  The real story started last year with a different blog.  So, here is the original post from my old, disbanded (because that's what people with ADD do) blog, just to catch you up.

 I had never thought of myself as attention deficit before this past year.  My husband has classic symptoms of ADD and he is very open about the diagnosis.  My dad may very well have ADD, but since I'm certain he'll never get tested I have to rely on anecdotal information and personal observations.  But, I'm not terribly like either my husband or father.  When I listed ADD as part of my resolutions, one friend seemed genuinely surprised: "Huh, I never would have figured you as having ADD."  I think the answer to that is, I have compensated for a long time and have good coping mechanisms when needed.  That same friend might realize that, oh right, I was late to work how many times over the six years we worked together?  Or, how frequently was I flustered over unplanned interruptions.  My response to ADD has unconsciously been to hyper-prepare.  When I used to administer educational assessments, I had all of the testing materials laid out just so, plus my binder of notes and instructions.  Just in case.
The trigger for seeking an evaluation last Fall was mounting frustration over my poor organizational skills.  I used to be fairly well-organized in school as a student, but lately I have become the absent-minded professor.  Literally.  My students often correct me or remind me that I was going to return a paper.  One semester I went from a labeled accordion file for my assignments to a manila envelope stuffed with papers to hand back, assignments, and notes.  Lately, the mess has become so pervasive that we have trouble finding space on the dining room table for plates and forks.
Stacks on my dining room table and chairs
Most friends would argue with me that my house is excessively neat compared to theirs; however, I grew up with high standards for neatness and organization.  I also spent my entire adolescence subverting my mother's fastidiousness.  Therein lies my internal conflict: I crave order but I don't want to be myopic in my quest for organization.  Plus there's the fact that I live with three other people - husband and two small kids - a dog, and a rat.  Mess is inevitable and nothing goes as planned.  Somehow, I know there is a balance between being flexible with a certain degree of disorder and being able to find my phone, glasses and ID under a pile of books.  This month I'm going to explore how to achieve said balance.
Here is the DSM IV definition of ADD, inattentive type (that's what I suffer from - not hyperactivity):

  • Inattention
  • Does not pay attention to details
  • Has difficulty sustaining attention at school
  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to
  • Does not follow through on instructions or finish tasks
  • Has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  • Avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort
  • Often loses things
  • Is easily distracted
  • Is forgetful

In order to tackle this issue I plan to read some books and articles recommended to me by a psychologist who specializes in ADD in adults and children, visit my general practitioner to discuss my evaluation and possible drug therapy, implement some organizational strategies in my home (which may entail a trip to IKEA!), develop some coping tools, and maybe even have a consultation with a professional organizer.  The first step I have already taken is to map out a weekday schedule for myself because I tend to get frustrated and overwhelmed by household tasks, everything ranging from laundry to bills.  Hopefully I can plan my days better so that I don't feel like a loser by bedtime.  (I've learned that people with ADD tend to suffer with self-esteem issues because they fail or perceive that they're failing frequently.)

That said, the first day of my new schedule was completely scrapped when my son's preschool called and told me he had a fever.  Order with flexibility, that's my goal.