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Posts Tagged ‘Adult ADD’

I’m not sure why this is just hitting me now, especially when I have had moments of clarity in my past.  I guess I never learned.  I over-commit.  This is a trait of the ADD adult.  According to Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo of  You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy? ADD adults have a terrible time finding balance in their lives, much like alcoholics.  Similarly, we feel out of control.  They say we take on more than we can do because we fear the boredom of routine.  Check!  I have balked at scheduling my life in any way up until this year.  I can’t do it anymore.  I have two kids.  That’s four schedules in our household and I am the schedule-keeper.  So when I volunteer to serve on the PTA board, I know it’s crazy but I do it anyway because I believe in the cause.  And when I open my mouth to create a new fundraiser – a read-a-thon – I know I’m crazy because it requires organizing both materials and people.  At least I found a wonderful co-chair who is detail-oriented.  The balance between our working relationship is what is keeping me sane through this process.  If my life were just harried because of the fundraiser next month, I would have enough balance in my schedule to not feel overwhelmed.  Let me share with you the reality of the situation:

  1. First week of the month: two doctor visits, a talent show rehearsal and actual talent show (my daughter).
  2. Second week: dinner fundraiser at son’s school, my last MFA packet of the semester is due, dentist (daughter), field trip chaperone (son), major rehearsals begin for ballet performance (daughter), daughter’s first slumber party (not my house, yay!)
  3. Third week: (This is where it gets really fun) My husband is out of town, end of fundraiser–volunteer at school one morning and one full day (daughter), 3-hour ballet rehearsal.
  4. Fourth week: Book club, children’s consignment sale (I’m a vendor so I must price clothes, drop off clothes, shop for kids’ spring-summer wardrobes, pick up clothes that don’t sell/donate), 2-hr. ballet rehearsal (Thursday), 4-hr. ballet rehearsal/leave school early (Friday), ballet performance (Saturday night), ballet performance (Sunday matinee).
  5. Fifth week: (wait, there’s five weeks this month?) Piano recital (day after ballet performance) and nothing else (really?).

I remember my friend Michelle once told me the most important word she ever learned was “no.”  I need to practice saying no.  Kelly and Ramundo recommend making a weekly calendar.  Check again!  But they also suggest that you take into account “an accumulation of demands on your capacity for work and stress.”  Be realistic.  How much stress can you handle?  When you write out a schedule, make sure you write in transition time and give a little extra time for unexpected delays.  I have done this for two weeks now and it does help.  I can be very flexible and move things around so I don’t stress when I can’t get the laundry put away on Tuesday.  It will happen Wednesday after the kids go to bed.  No biggie.

Another nod to Kelly and Ramundo: figure out your strengths and weaknesses.  What can you do well and not-so well?  This will help you prioritize.  What are your should-dos and must-dos?  After the analysis, “slice and dice” your schedule.  I’m going to read over the chapter more carefully and see what I can actually use and apply to my own craziness.  I can’t imagine juggling all of this and working full-time.  Props to my friends who do it all.

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Work it!

So, my husband and I were talking about ADD and careers this morning and it got me thinking.  Creative types like us really suffer when we try to conform to the traditional work day, to more traditional, structured jobs.  The authors of You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Crazy or Stupid suggest careers for ADD adults, which are pretty much all of the creative variety.  Of course I’ve never liked the 9-to-5 grind!  I can work within the structure so long as I have a lot of creative license, but that is not often the case.  That’s why I enjoy teaching: I have a great deal of autonomy, I’m only scheduled to be in the classroom a few hours a week and work on my own the rest of the time, and I create assignments to engage young adults.  It’s challenging and fun.  And, of course, I love writing but so far haven’t made enough money from that to call it a job or deduct taxes.  The worst job I ever had was a three-month stint in the slide library at the university where I teach.  I had a strict schedule, dull, repetitive tasks, the same routine every day, I rarely had conversations with co-workers because we had to be quiet, and my boss seriously micro-managed me.  During my breaks, I’d hide in the stairwell and cry or call random people just to have some social contact.  My misery makes so much sense now.  I need variety and creative control, partially from the ADD, partially because I’m a control freak!  But how many people try to be square pegs in round holes day in and day out, believing if they just tried harder, worked longer, stuck with it another year, they’d be happy with their jobs?

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My doctor and I are already tinkering with the ADD meds.  The Adderall makes me feel like a rocket is attached to my heart, so she deemed it a fail.  Perhaps I’m more sensitive than the average bear.  We’re looking at some newer meds and I just made the call to the insurance company.  Looks like Vyvanse might be the winner at $35/month and fewer side effects.  But here’s the thing, I’m all for trying the medication (so long as I stop feeling like a mad dog), but I really want to find an ADD coach.  That’s right, I said coach.  The widely-read ADD magazine ADDitude recommends it, the authors of You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Crazy or Stupid recommend it, most ADD researchers recommend some form of behavioral therapy, but I’m having trouble locating said coach.

Hopefully not my ADD coach

When I told my doc that I have two friends willing to help me with organization, she thought that was nice, but told me I need a medical professional who is trained to help adults with ADD.  Looks like I’m emailing my friend’s husband, the psychologist who read over my evaluation.  He’s the local guru on things ADD.  An ADD coach will help me schedule and prioritize.  I’m not sure why it needs to be a medical professional.  Maybe my psychologist husband can answer that one.  Or maybe you can.  Can you?  Have any of you ever used an ADD coach?

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One of us

Some interesting things have happened since I started posting about ADD.  For one, friends have been writing to me, either on the blog or on Facebook, to tell me about their own ADD experiences.  Some wonder if possibly they have ADD.  This has been gratifying because I now know how big my support network really is plus I feel like I’m offering support back by posting.  The number of responses I’ve received leads me to an observation: why do so many adults that I know struggle with ADD?  I know that sleep, or lack thereof, is a contributing factor and if you are like me and have small kids, you probably don’t get a lot of sleep.  Personally, I’ve had bouts of insomnia since I was a junior in high school.  Feels like a cycle to me — I can’t quiet my mind so I’m awake,  but I can’t focus during the day because I didn’t get any sleep.  Another observation I’ve had is how huge of a stigma is still attached to ADD.  Posting about my own diagnosis makes me feel sheepish, like I’m screaming for attention, but really I’m just trying to figure out how to improve my daily life.  Most of my friends who have contacted me have done so privately, not on my Facebook wall or the comments section of this blog.  Why are we so ashamed of ADD?  Given how many adults I know who have either been evaluated and have ADD or who feel like they have it, but have not been tested, I expected the statistics for adult ADD to be quite high.  Surprise!  Only 2-4% of adults are diagnosed with ADD, or according to the National Institute for Mental Health, 4.1% of American adults.  My own profile is pretty mild, but given the constant demands of parenting, mixed with poor sleep habits and the external stressors of finances, grad school/work, and aging parents, no wonder my friends and I feel overwhelmed pretty much daily.  Do we all have ADD or are we just normal?

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