I am often asked how I know that I have Attention Deficit Disorder. The truth of the matter is that I didn’t know until a few months ago. I ran across an article somewhere on the web about adults with ADD. I was shocked that I had almost all of the symptoms and personality quirks that go hand in hand with ADD, from depression to hyper-focusing , to being temperamental, and easily distracted.
I have a history of problems on the job, problems with personal relationships, etc. etc. I never understood why. I’m a good, conscientious person. I am loyal and loving, and I am a hard worker. I simply don’t relate to the world the same way that people who don’t have ADD relate to the world. That is the root of my problem.
Having been officially diagnosed has helped me in many ways. I am on medication that helps my brain to function better, but most important I realize why I react to some things the way I do so that I can try to change my reactions. It also helps my family to understand that I’m not just being a demon. My mind reacts before it engages.
Now, I know why my temper flairs so badly when a person interrupts my train of thought. For one thing my thoughts are like a train. If I am hyper-focused on something and someone speaks to me and breaks my train of thought with something that my brain feels is unimportant, I tend to bite. I did a lot of self examination to figure out why I react that way. I’ll use the train analogy to explain it. I’m hyper-focused on writing this blog, for instance. My husband comes in and asks, “What do you want for lunch?” In my mind it’s a stupid question to be asking at this time. Who cares about lunch right now? I’m busy. My mind is focused on writing. It’s 11:45 AM, but I’m not aware of the time and lunch is the farthest thing from my mind.
The reason I get quick-tempered is that my mind doesn’t just register a slight interruption in my thought process. My mind completely disengages from the task at hand, switches tracks to communicate with my husband. Once I’ve bitten his head off and he goes away, my mind has to completely switch tracks again and find its way back to the writing. The track switching for that simple interruption is so complete that I have to re-read every word that I written to get my train of thought back. That track switching process gets old quickly. Woe be to the person who insists on interrupting me.
I’m sure you can see how the track switching thought process causes problems on the job. I simply can’t deal with the constant distractions of phones ringing, co-workers talking, and bosses giving orders. For one thing, if the boss comes in and tells me that he wants me to do something on Thursday, my mind thinks “Ok, that’s Thursday, this is Monday. It’s not important right this minute” and immediately trashes the instruction. I don’t intentionally ignore the boss. My brain just does it without consulting me as automatically as it makes me breath without my being conscious of taking a breath. Sometimes I’ll remember the instruction on Thursday, but more likely I will not.
At any rate, I found a wonderful article on the web that you may want to read if you suspect that you or someone you love may have ADD. It is written primarily for artists, but applies equally to non-artists. It’s a very good read. Artists and Attention Deficit Disorder by Bonnie Mincu.
As usual, I welcome your comments and questions about Art and ADD. Feel free to leave a link to your website or blog as well.
Until next time,