Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Three little letters....

...which aren't very little.  They've actually put my life into perspective.  They've changed the way I think about myself.  They've made me feel pretty normal, and more accepting of the way I am.

Attention Deficit Disorder

OK, so what's the big deal about those three letters?  They have explained much of who I am today.  The struggles I've faced with so many things in my life are explained by ADD.  My new friend and I were talking more today, and she told me that she feels that I have ADD.  I cried tears of joy after hearing her say that.

Nobody has ever been able to tangibly explain why I find myself unable to do things like send a letter, make plans in the near future, or comprehend something I've read.  In my youth, I was diagnosed with learning disabilities, primarily in math.  All the social workers, learning disability assistance, and tutoring didn't help me understand what I was being taught in school, or why it was so hard for me and not other kids.  

There are just so many pieces that have come together to complete the puzzle in my life, I just don't know how to put it into words.

As I sit here, I have so many thoughts spinning in my head, I can't stop them long enough to catch one and put it into words on this screen.  They aren't able to get from my brain to my fingertips.  I'll just try to brain dump.

I am clausterphobic, but I love crowds.
I love sports and can follow a game, but, can't remember what happened in the last period/half/quarter/inning.
If given $10, I can't spend it because I can't settle on what to spend it on.
I am super productive when my plate is full (even overflowing), but find it hard to complete one task when I have the time to do something uninterrupted.
I get bored easily.

I get frustrated when people move slowly, or not at my pace when we do something together.
I have over 350 friends on FB, and I have no idea how that number got so large.
I get overwhelmed quickly.
I start many things, finish few of them.
I thrive on structure, but, am sometimes lax within that structure.
I channel surf (quickly) on the radio in my car, and can tell you what each song is as I pass it up.
Oh, there are so many more.

I have been frustrated with myself for years, always thinking that I was just neurotic, crazy, or otherwise somehow deficient in some necessary skill that I should have.  Should I have it?  Why should I?  Because there's no reason I shouldn't have that skill.  Well, now there is a reason.

I probably have the skill, but putting it into practice is another thing altogether.  I can multitask 'til the cows come home, and people ask me how I do it.  I ask, in my mind, how they are unable to do it.  

As I sat in my new friend's office today, I could physically feel the difference in my chest as it relaxed, as it released, and as I accepted the words my new friend was speaking.  Seriously.

I would never allow myself to put a label on something about myself.  There are people in the world with real problems, real illnesses, but not me.  My new friend wholeheartedly disagreed.  She said there is something in me that exists, and is effecting my life, and can be treated.  Wow, there is an answer.  Someone else sees something about me and gave it a name.  I am not ashamed, I am not upset, there is nothing to be ashamed or upset about.  

I now have a name for what is behind my coping skills, habits, and other means of managing my life.  There is a way to help me with the difficulties I face each day because of those things.  And now that I have a name for it, I realize that this is a daily struggle.  Planning, scheduling, making lists, and having to follow the plans, schedules and lists.  I'm highly annoyed when something strays from those.  It's a miserable feeling when I can't keep up.  Of course, the pace is nearly impossible to keep up with, so it's a stage set for failure.  As a result, I compensate by adding another plan, schedule or list.  And so it goes.

I really feel redeemed.  I don't have to live this way any more.  I can work on ways to get past the disappointment, frustration, and depression I've been living with.

What makes me happiest is that I can work on my own behaviour, and emulate the right behaviours for my children, and try to lay some good groundwork for them so they don't learn the wrong ones from me.  My biggest fear has been that one or both of my children would "turn out like me". That is to say that they would self-deny, feel badly about themselves, or otherwise have the same frustrations and difficulties that I have because of something like ADD going undiagnosed.  Of course I can't prevent that altogether, I know this.  I can't make them perfect or free of difficulty in their lives.  What I can do is be a healthy mother, so they have a better chance of growing up healthy. 

There is a genetic component here.  I am not alone.  I come from a nice long line of folks with the same personality streak.  This didn't just happen to me overnight, in the last few years, or since I got married and had kids.  It is, however, something that I can live with, treat, and manage.  And, I can be happy.

After having my Barbara Walters "I said I wasn't going to cry" moment in my new friend's office, I really felt as if so many questions had been answered, and they were questions I had never even asked.  People talk about "breakthroughs" or having "that moment", and I honestly never understood what they meant.  Now I do, because I just had one today.  I had my breakthrough, I had that moment.  And it was so cool.

I have ADD.  There, now I said it.