My husband was listening to a radio station the other day, and a woman was speaking about how ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) usually manifests differently in girls and women than it does boys. Female ADD tends to show itself through clutter (can’t concentrate long enough to finish a project), being late to everything (no real good concept of time), and traits that tend to characterize a person as flighty, lazy, undisciplined, and directionless. She also said that it’s extremely underdiagnosed in women, because usually one sees, say, a homemaker with the above traits and just thinks she’s a slob who never learned how to run a house. And the woman characterized as such believes that, and addresses the fallout (depression, anxiety, shame) instead of the root cause (inability to focus long enough to Get It All Done).
Now, I’m not advocating more medication for women (or anyone) with ADD. I still believe ADD is as overdiagnosed and overmedicated as autism. But just because it is overdiagnosed does not mean some people don’t struggle with it. Adult ADD has kind of become a thing in recent years, and I’ve joked about having it in the past (never taking seriously that this could be my problem, too), but I have to face something in my life: There is something about my brain that does not function like a normal human’s is supposed to function, and it is Making. Me. Crazy.
I’ve always been cluttered. AL.WAYS. I have always been a daydreamer, a people-watcher, more effective at night when it’s dark and quiet and I can pinpoint what I need to focus on. As an adult, I get overstimulated very easily, and I’m anxious, scattered, HORRIBLY cluttered, and exhausted by a busy day — especially a busy morning. I have always sabotaged myself and as much as I intend to finish some things, it just never happens.
When my husband told me about this woman who was basically describing me, he said he began to think that, maybe, ADD wasn’t some kind of throwaway diagnosis, after all. I did a little research on my own, and realized that, sure enough, I now had a name for my dragon! This beast I’ve been fighting for years, and that’s gotten worse with the chaos of having children (and subsequent hormonal and activity changes).
What I don’t want to do with it is use it as an excuse. It’s not that I was poorly disciplined as a child or never taught such-and-such — I’m an adult, and have access to anything I want to learn about how to conduct my life. It’s that I have only ever faced these problems as things to be ashamed of, reasons I am a lousy, unproductive individual — character issues, rather than issues of brain/hormone/emotional dysfunction. What I need are strategies to overcome it. To harness that dragon and make it MINE.
I’m reading a book now called “Your Life Can Be Better: Using Strategies for Adult ADD/ADHD”, written by a psychiatrist with ADD. It’s probably one of the most straightforward, ADD-friendly self-help books I’ve ever read, and I’m enjoying it so far. 🙂
I want to go on and on, but part of my problem is the inability to judge the flow of time. I have ten minutes before I have to leave, but I don’t know if I have ten minutes’ worth of tasks to do to get out the door. So I’ll wrap this up for now, and write something more later. See? Progress! 😀