Disclaimer: Although the He Said / She Said series is a collaborative effort between Zoë Kessler and Jeff Siegel, each author speaks for her or himself and the opinions expressed are solely those of the respective authors, in both the He Said / She Said series, as well as in their respective blogs [ADHD from A to Zoë and Jeff’s A.D.D. Mind]
Our first chat was scheduled for 8:00 p.m., Tuesday, June 22, 2010. I find it amusing that, even though we planned it hours in advance, a few hours before eight rolled around, we’d each separately e-mailed the other to beg for a later starting time, for various reasons. Classic!
By 8:23 p.m., we were in full swing. Also humorous is that, while we’d scheduled our first chat for a half hour, we weren’t offline until nearly an hour and a half later! This included a couple of breaks for re-grouping, using the litter box, or whatever, and a few false starts while we figured out how we’d know when the other person was finished “speaking.” (Always a challenge for us ADHD ers, eh?)
So, dear blog visitor, for your enjoyment and edification, here is our inaugural blogchat, He Said / She Said: Examining the ADHD Life…
[It has only been edited slightly. We wanted to convey the rawness, the spontaneity of the dialogue. Think of it as cinéma vérité for the blogosphere.]
Blogchat #1, Part I
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
8:23pm Jeff Heya!
8:24pm Zoe Hey! Here I am! Ta-da!
8:24pm Jeff Just reading your latest post. [ref: Cooking with ADHD – Spicey. And…Dangerous!]
8:24pm Zoe kwl
8:24pm Jeff Funny…I’ve been cooking for over an hour.
8:25pm Zoe …need more time? lol
8:27pm Jeff No…I’m done…made dinner…then made ceviche. And I have all my fingers! FYI…I’ve cooked for 30 people…without a problem…so…I’m the exception to the rule.
8:29pm Zoë Maybe I’M the exception to the rule. What’s the rule, anyway? I didn’t think ADHDers had rules??
8:29pm Jeff We make our own rules!!
8:29pm Zoë You got that right, bro! Hey, the coolest thing just happened…while I was awaiting our chat…
8:30pm Jeff Tell me!
8:31pm Zoë I was sitting out on my balcony, and my nervous ADHD rush came on, and I was bombarded with creative ideas for my next blog post. Damn, I love being under pressure! Feeds the mind! Do you have that experience, too?
Adrenaline-rush creativity, that is?
8:32pm Jeff Creativity hits me first thing in the morning (in fact…I wrote a post about it…should go live next week or so) and becomes a flood.
It also hits at night when I do some reading…and when I am on a train…when my mind can wander.
I can’t capture the thoughts fast enough.
8:32pm Zoë You say all that like you have a choice about when your mind wanders…
8:32pm Jeff I have no choice when the mind wanders…that’s for sure.
8:33pm Zoë lol phew I thought it was just me! I wanted to ask you, how did you find out you have ADHD?
8:34pm Jeff Hmmm…happened by accident.
8:34pm Zoë Tell me about it.
8:35pm Jeff My life was falling apart…I was yelling at everyone…divorce was around the corner. I was always nasty and blamed it on my wife. But, something in my head clicked and I thought…hmm…ADHD
I went to Barnes & Noble & got Hallowell’s Driven to Distraction. It was like reading my autobiography. [Ed.: Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M.D., authors]
8:36pm Zoë What initially made you recognize the signs of ADHD?
8:36pm Jeff Everyone in my family is in education. Teachers, principals, supervisors…so…I always hear “education talk.” I had overhead a discussion about ADHD. The definition was kind of rattling around in my head but I never connected it with my behavior. I was a master at convincing the world that THEY were the cause of my problems.
8:40pm Zoë One of the things that happened to me when I was first diagnosed was that I suddenly realized that while my whole adult life I’d believed I was a master at communication, and had great self-awareness, in fact, I really didn’t in many ways. I was CRUSHED. Did you at all have a similar experience after your diagnosis? It was like having my guts turned inside out. Soooo painful!
8:43pm Jeff Oh boy…well…
I assumed I knew myself inside out. Nobody could tell me how I worked. I was the master of my thoughts. For me, the kick in the stomach was when I would spend years trying to succeed (financially) only to find that I hadn’t really moved much at all. I noticed other people – nonADHDers – making some real progress. How come THEY were able to buy a new car? How come THEY were able to afford a vacation? And so on. So I thought I knew myself so well when…in actuality…I did not.
I realized that what seemed like forward progress was really just going in circles. I gave the illusion of movement because I was a workaholic but, as I found out much later, I was a workaholic because I was afraid I would forget some necessary task so it was easier to just keep working than to rely on memory.
I also found extraordinarily devastating, you know, stick-your-head-in-the-oven type of devastating, that for so many years – decades of time had been lost.
I didn’t attempt suicide but, on an intellectual level, I thought of it many many times. That’s why the “ADHD is a Gift” thing makes me psychotically angry.
8:49pm Zoë Man, are you speaking my language!! The old spinning-your-wheels-lots-of-movement, therefore-it-must-be-movement-forward, trap, eh? YIKES!
As for suicidal, I have this bit in my standup comedy routine about that. What it boils down to is that, while I know a lot of ADHDers also suffer from depression (the two, apparently, being quite close biochemically speaking), I am grateful to have never suffered from clinical depression. However, what I felt at first was such a profound level of hopelessness and despair, that I joke that if I had depression, at least I’d have the OPTION of killing myself. I know on one level, that’s totally NOT funny, and I’m not demeaning depression, not at all, but I just felt so stuck and so hopeless. I couldn’t see how, as you say, I could undo years of losing ground.I’ve come to the conclusion, that, if anything, I am what I call, “psychotically optimistic!” They should put THAT in the DSM! ha ha ha…
Even today, I sometimes despair. How can I ever catch up on all those lost years?
8:53pm Jeff There are times when I just want to cry (and there are times when I do, in fact…cry). But I am also optimistic. That’s why we are doing this.
8:53pm Zoë Sometimes I just say, aw, !*#!&! it, just be happy in the moment, and move forward from here. What else can I do? And I soothe myself by looking at my non-ADHD friends who are also struggling financially, losing their businesses, etc., in these trying economic times. We get together and make each other laugh, and it really helps.
Or are they just laughing at the little ADHD girl? Naw… lol
8:54pm Jeff I’m a short term pessimist and a long term optimist.
8:55pm Zoë What the hell is that?!
8:55pm Jeff Seems like a contradiction…but it is not. It should really be…short term realist…long term optimist. I’m hopeful that even this dialogue will be of help.
I’ve opened up the internal flood gates, it’s reflected in my blog – I let it all out. This is my last god damned shot at this, there ain’t another shot…and hell…the world is going to know I was here.
I will write and I will tell it like I see it. I’m not getting belligerent but…heck…I know I’ve got some ideas and insights that can help others see the world. And to me, the thing I love to do the most, is help people see things differently. I mean this in an intellectual sense. I used to teach sociology – there’s nothing like a student’s Aha! moment.
This last chapter of my life is going to be my big Aha! moment and others are welcome to join the ride. (boy…got off topic there)
8:59pm Zoë Do you mean you’re planning a mass, cult-like ADHD suicide?! THAT doesn’t sound very optimistic! lol
9:01pm Jeff I’m planning something even worse…I’m going to teach people to think critically…to turn off their television (FYI…I haven’t watched tv in over 20 years) and to learn how to think and interpret and understand and use logic!
9:01pm Zoë OMG – another similarity!
9:01pm Jeff You don’t watch tv?
9:01pm Zoë Jeff, this is spooky…SPOOKY! I stopped watching TV the day I moved out at age 19!
9:01pm Jeff Hmmm…..
9:03pm Zoë I wonder if this is a common thing amongst intellectual ADHDers? Maybe we’re just too excited about the world, and in my case, too antsy to sit still and watch fake people living fake lives…
9:05pm Jeff For tomorrow, I have a piece called Gardening, Memory and Time. In that piece I mention how I am still fascinated like a kid about the whole growing process. I can’t believe it actually works.
9:06pm Zoë OMG now you’re scaring me…I was GOING to write about my garden TODAY but at the last minute switched to my piece on cooking!!
9:06pm Jeff Really? You sh*tting me?
9:07pm Zoë NO I AM NOT “sh*tting* you! When I was sitting out on my balcony getting all my creative ideas [before this chat], they were about MY gardening post!!
But I don’t want to give it all away…
TUNE IN ON WEDNESDAY WHEN JEFF & ZOË CONCLUDE THEIR FIRST BLOGCHAT!
Topics they’ll cover: leading a double life, sensuality/ADHD, menopause, Zoë’s discovery of her own ADHD, male mid-life crisis, ADHD egotists…and MORE!
DON’T MISS IT!