A book of truth and wisdom ...

A book of truth and wisdom …

There is a wonderful book out there called You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?! A Self-Help Book for Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder. And I know that the book speaks truth, but I sometimes wonder how I could have gone for fifty years without seeing my ADHD, without knowing that I even had it. So I’ve done a little soul searching, a little reminiscent inspection of the evidence, and here’s what I’ve found …

Was I too lazy to see how different I was?

In a way, yes. ADHDers have, in general, very poor self awareness. I can believe I’m good looking one minute and know I am a person who would be referred to as having lots of character in my face seconds later. When it comes to our state of mental health, we are no more meta-cognizant.

And speaking of my mental health, I knew when I was hurting, but not necessarily why. I had little understanding of mentally or emotionally acceptable norms.

I spent a great deal of time as a child trying to be like others and even more time wishing they could see how much like them I was. Was that Lazy? I don’t think so. Misguided? Certainly, but far from lazy.

Was I too stupid to see the obvious?

By and large, we ADHDers are of higher than average intelligence. We choose to think of ourselves as stupid, at times, because we, like others around us, are often frustrated with our distractability. It’s okay to do that I guess, but do it quietly. When others see us appraise ourselves in this way it gives them the false belief that it is okay for them to assess us in the same way.

So if we are so smart, why didn’t we see the obvious?

Because we were missing two very key pieces of information. First, when it came to ADHD, we were using the same humorous definition that everyone else was. The boy who climbs trees as an answer to everything and the girl who was staring mindlessly out the window in school. If you were unable to answer the teacher because you were in outer space or dancing on your desktop when the teacher asked a question about his or her current lecture topic … you had ADHD.

But we know that there were times we were enthralled and wanted nothing more than to be asked. We just didn’t want to be asked to answer after the discussion when a piece of paper and a pencil were sitting in front of us. But we did not have ADHD. We couldn’t have!

We thought as fast as they did, often faster. We solved problems they didn’t see solutions to.

The second bit of info we were missing was how we compared to everyone else. We thought as fast as they did, often faster. We solved problems they didn’t see solutions to. Okay, we caused more than our share of those problems. But we were not stupid, so we were … normal?

Was I too crazy to notice?

Or maybe too crazy even to care about the differences between myself and most others? I didn’t really realize what I had until I met someone whose ADHD, though different, matched mine very nearly in many ways. There was a distinct sense of having found a kindred spirit. I’d sensed this before, but this was the first time it had occurred with someone who had been diagnosed.

So not crazy … that leaves what?

There were a few of our peers who were members of our tribe. And our symptoms were present in everyone else, we just suffered from them more, and more often. So our lack of self awareness kept us from seeing our differences.

Thus the book title still holds truth, even for those of us whose diagnosis came late. We are not lazy, stupid or crazy, we have ADHD. And hey, we ADHDers are often late … “Seriously, I didn’t know it was past the time I was to realize I had Attention Deficit Disorder, I forgot to write it on my calendar … honest!”