Archives for October, 2011
I’m having some difficulty trying to decide what to do tonight. It’s Halloween of course, and the obvious answer is to either get dressed up in costume and go out trick or treating, or stay in with a bucket of treats and answer the door. In fairness, there’s also the option to stay home, bolt the door, kill the lights, hide in the basement and eat candy by the bucket full. I suppose I could also not get dressed in costume but still go out. Is ADHD a trick or a treat? Is ADHD a trick or a treat? All this wondering about Halloween has reminded me of the “gift or curse” discussions surrounding ADHD. So I thought I’d list some of the more common symptoms of ADHD here and try again to decide whether they are tricks or treats.
I am a man. And I am a man with ADHD. I’m also a reasonably intelligent man, but I’m still just a man (I can hear all you women out there nodding your heads). What this means is that I have a dog brain. And now I’ll apologize to the dogs out there. What I mean is I have a brain that works like the brain of an excited dog. Not very well. Okay, true, I can do some fairly complicated math in my head. I can hold all manner of trivial info there. I can problem solve with the best of them but when it comes to emotion, I’m lost. “And why is that?” you might ask. Well, let me explain ...
My ADHD means that I am less aware of myself and more aware of my current situation. And by current, I mean this very instant. I may be cleaning the kitchen or replacing the fascia on the front of my house, I might be doing my laundry or cutting the lawn, but my head is in this instant. What does that mean? While I’m doing these things, it is easy for me to get sidetracked, if I go to put the dishcloth in the hamper, thinking I’ll get a clean one and carry on, I’m likely to start sorting the laundry and picking up clothes from the bedroom floor.
Okay, I did some thinking on this subject a while ago and I have to say ... I agree, sugar causes ADHD. Well, maybe “causes” is too strong a word. Here’s what I figured out: There are scientists and then there are people who prefer their “proofs” to be in the form of testimonials. Testimonial truth “I put on my red shoes and stepped out the door last week and immediately fell to the ground. If I’d only read Doctor HighArch’s study on the dangers of red shoes sooner I could have saved myself a lot of grief.” ~ Midge in Santa Mercury Scientific proof Scientists, and their groupies, prefer studies where conditions such as ... I don’t know, broken heels, cracked sidewalks, too much gin for breakfast ... are all carefully excluded from the testing.
My ADHD, that symptom spectrum disorder we're discussing here, is unique to me. Because it is a symptom spectrum disorder, my symptoms don’t match those that belong to anyone else, nor do the symptoms I have in common with other people manifest in the same way. We all have our quirks, one of mine is the relationship between anxiety and timeliness. That’s right, I worry about being on time to the point where I am never late – or so many people think.
It's ADHD Awareness Week, but how do you make people aware, if you're keeping your ADHD a secret? In Friday’s post we met Jessica, a woman with ADHD who has, after some deliberation, decided to keep her diagnosis from her employer. I questioned whether or not that was the right approach, but I only questioned it in order to explore the subject. I believe that each person needs to decide on their own, whether or not to reveal any aspect of their health. And I respect and support the decision that each individual makes, we can’t decide for others unless we are in their situation. On Monday I listed a few accepted, if not proven, negative aspects of our common situation. The purpose of this was to forewarn you of some potential opinions that may, in the future, drive a new wave of stigmatization.
If you worry about telling people you have ADHD, this post isn’t going to put your mind at ease. I’m not talking about telling people at work, like we discussed in last Friday’s post, I’m referring to telling the people you interact with throughout your day-to-day life. Is it a good idea for everyone to know? Currently we deal with the stigma of mental illness when we ‘out’ ourselves. Some of the icons of our ADHD society suggest that we are of higher than average intelligence ... and of course I have to agree – duh! But my believing that won’t make others realize that my mental health limitations are in the areas of time management, emotion, and behaviour, not in the area of intellect.
Hey, this sneaks up on me every year since my diagnosis, that's twice now. Thank goodness people email me about these things. And yes, it is ADHD Awareness Week and I do have some resources to share with you. If you're going to testify on behalf of the tribe, you might as well be prepared. You might want to read tomorrow's post before you go out canvassing the neighborhood, spreading the word, as it were.
Do you out yourself? Do you tell people that you have ADHD? Do you tell at work? Do you tell the boss or just your co-workers? Do you tell people in lineups at the bank or grocery store when you’re bored? Does your dentist know? Your clergy? Your papergirl? Your friends? Jessica (not her real name) works in a profession where she deals with co-workers,her employer, and the public at different times throughout her day.
ADHD is a Symptom Spectrum Disorder. You’ve heard it before. If you don’t know what that means, I’ll explain it in broad strokes. The subject in question manifests a requisite number of symptoms from a set list that collectively have a known negative effect. ADHD is not being easily distracted and it’s not being forgetful. It’s not being hyper-active. It’s not being impulsive. Nor is it being able to hyperfocus exclusively on something to the exclusion of other, possibly more important things. ADHD is not any of these things, but it is many of these things and in extreme cases it is all of these things and more.