Since I wrote my post about finding out I have ADD, I've had several people tell me they sometimes wonder if they have ADD too. That's how it started for me. I'd work with a diagnosed ADD client and see myself in their challenges. It was like Deja Vu. I had similar struggles and had learned to overcome them. I decided to specialize in ADD and learn more to get even better at helping them. The more I learned, the more I saw myself. It was so weird to being seeing profiles of what my life had been like in so many books and training classes.
I kept seeing that all my own "unique" and "unconventional" organizing strategies were actually ways I had developed to cope with, or compensate for, the way my brain works. And many of them, that I thought I had invented, were WRITTEN DOWN IN BOOKS ABOUT ADD!
FLOW STATE, PEAK PERFORMANCE, or HYPERFOCUS?
I had never thought that my personality characteristics like super high energy, ability to hyperfocus, get so engaged that I lose track of time, were anything but my creative and achievement drive. Heck people were always telling me they wished they could concentrate like I did. Or that they had my energy. People PAY for training programs to become more creative, to work in "the FLOW state" and become so passionate and engaged that they "lose track of time" It's called "Peak Performance Training" in the sports and corporate world. How could that be part of a Disorder?? It didn't make sense to me. But there it was in writing, along with many other characteristics that were my secret shame. I would never have guessed they were all connected. So I went to a psychiatrist who specializes in ADD to find out for sure.
TO MEDICATE OR NOT TO MEDICATE
At first, when I actually got the diagnosis, I was surprised at how vehemently I resented the idea of being labeled as a disorder, but I wanted to see if medication would make a difference for me, so I had to accept it. Medication is controversional; especially for kids. In fact, it is not always necessary.
See Dr. Amie Ragan's wonderful post on Myths About ADD in which she
discusses Diagnosing ADD and Treating ADD without Medication.
After all, I did survive 48 years fairly well without it. In a way I'm glad I didn't get medication as a kid because at least I know who I am "au natural". And, I had a chance to develop character strength and confidence in my OWN ability to overcome my personal challenges without medication.
That said, I was managing and doing fairly well before taking medication, but it took a lot of energy and I was inconsistent. With the medication I'm taking (a low dose of Concerta) it's much easier to stay on task. I'm still not perfectly consistent, but I'm much more consistent, and I really am better at getting even the tedious tasks I dread accomplished.
GETTING DREADED TEDIOUS TASKS DONE
For example, I've been working on my backlog of 5000 unread emails since January - plugging away it every day. I'm down to 78 today!!! I also doing MUCH better at remembering to eat during the day, managing my time and stress levels. I'm seriously letting go of my tendency to overcommit to everything that sounds interesting to me. I've become so much stronger at saying no to things. The more I've learned about ADD, the more I've learned even better ways to work with it and the medication does make it easier for me. I have far more good days than bad now.
LETTING GO OF SHAME
Essentially, even though I was doing very well in the eyes of my friends and colleagues etc. I was acheiving, but I knew I had even more potential that I wasn't living up to. I now feel like I might actually be able to fulfill my true potential. I'm feel more able to match my actions to my intentions. It's changed my life dramatically and I feel like I've found a tribe of people with ADD that truly understand me like no one ever has. It's so validating. And such a relief to be actually be able to talk more openly about the internal struggles that I never talked about out of a sense of shame. Letting go of shame is like losing 50 lbs. It's so liberating and makes it easier to connect with people authentically and from the heart.
If you suspect you have Adult ADD, I highly recommend learning more about it. Even if you don't, you will learn a lot about how to deal with culture that is all about trying to manipulate your attention. The bottom line is that ADD strategies like simplifying your life, and designing a life that FITS you, work for EVERYONE! : )
For another perspective on "What It’s Like to Have ADD" check out these great articles by Dr. Ed Hallowell and "50 Tips On The Management Of Adult Attention Deficit Disorder"
See Dr. Amie Ragan's wonderful post on Myths About ADD in which she discusses Diagnosing ADD and Treating ADD without Medication.)
If you suspect you might have ADD, I recommend reading CRazyBusy ...it's all about distinguishing the ADD life style and culture from real ADD.
My ADD ADHD REsource List listing websites, blogs, articles and more