I've been wondering lately about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Is it right for me? When I've read or heard about symptoms of ADHD, I stopped and did something else. Then, when I completed the conversation or reading, I concluded: Hey! That sounds a lot like me! Then I got distracted and did something else. (Which reminds me: one of the funniest entries ever, for me, in The Washington Post's Style Invitational weekly humor contest had to do with funny, albeit inappropriate, children's-book titles. Someone -- perhaps the estimable Stephen Dudzik, my alleged half-brother -- submitted something like this: The ADHD Association's First Book of Geogra --Hey, Let's Go Ride Our Bikes! It was phrased better than that, but you get my point. The Not Ready for theAlgonquin Roundtable Society of Losers
can correct me and find the exact entry, thank you.)
(It's arguable that even my persistent use of parentheses, this constant self-interrupting, is the most salient symptom of adult ADHD.)
Lest anyone think I'm fabricating all of this, I must confess I did some research (some, not a lot; of course, I did not have the attention span; which reminds me that some have posited the notion of attention surplus instead of deficit; which is alluring, seeing that we certainly have an avalanche of attention-grabbers vying for our focus; but I digress; and use a lot of semicolons; speaking of digression, did T.S. Eliot have ADHD? Think of his great line in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock: "is it perfume from a dress that makes me so digress?"; the answer, T., is yeah!). The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has a fairly concise and pretty informative piece on ADHD in adults at:
In part, it makes a lot of connections between the diagnosis in children and adults and says "the probability that, of children who have ADHD, many will still have it as adults. Several studies done in recent years estimate that between 30 percent and 70 percent of children with ADHD continue to exhibit symptoms in the adult years. These symptomatic adults were retrospectively diagnosed with ADHD after the researchers' interviews with their parents."
Whoa! Hold on! My father is deceased and my mother is nearing 90. What is she going to say? "He was always like that. Well, maybe his brother tended to be more like that, especially before a parade. And he's still sort of..." Wait, Ma, this is about me, remember? Read my post on Solipsism. Please.
It further states:
"Typically, adults with ADHD are unaware that they have this disorder—they often just feel that it's impossible to get organized, to stick to a job, to keep an appointment. The everyday tasks of getting up, getting dressed and ready for the day's work, getting to work on time, and being productive on the job can be major challenges for the ADHD adult."
I don't want to put my job at risk, or anything else, or want my therapist to think I've been holding out on him, but, how can I delicately and professionally phrase this? Th-th-th-th-that's me, folks!
But if Bill Clinton, Robin Williams, and 97,443,228 million other Americans (yes, especially Americans [another dissertation can be inserted here; and another here; et cetera; ad infinitum; plus, see my recent "Age quod agis" post too]) are reading this, might they identify with it and make the same technically clinical "th-th-th-th-th-that's me, folks" conclusion?
The article goes on to say:
"Diagnosing an adult with ADHD is not easy. ...the first time, [those who diagnosed] will begin to understand some of the traits that have given him or her trouble for years—distractibility, impulsivity, restlessness. Other adults will seek professional help for depression or anxiety and will find out that the root cause of some of their emotional problems is ADHD. They may have a history of school failures or problems at work. Often they have been involved in frequent automobile accidents."
Comment: I'm not THAT bad. But, Pawlie, my boy, Isn't that what everyone says, from the active alcoholic to the, um, um, subway groper [today's paper says they ran a sting on NYC subways and arrested a slew of 'em].
"A correct diagnosis of ADHD can bring a sense of relief. [true] The individual has brought into adulthood many negative perceptions of himself that may have led to low esteem. Now he can begin to understand why he has some of his problems and can begin to face them. This may mean, not only treatment for ADHD but also psychotherapy that can help him cope with the anger he feels about the failure to diagnose the disorder when he was younger."
Well, now I'm a little pissed at the NIMH article writers. I thought psychotherapy was giving me a better handle on my anger, and now you've added a whole NEW reason to be pissed off. Thanks. Thanks a lot, assholes.
"A professional coach can help the ADHD adult learn how to organize his life by using "props"—a large calendar posted where it will be seen in the morning, date books, lists, reminder notes, and have a special place for keys, bills, and the paperwork of everyday life. Tasks can be organized into sections, so that completion of each part can give a sense of accomplishment. Above all, ADHD adults should learn as much as they can about their disorder." [I AM learning about it, I'm just wondering, now, if this is a funny post or an embarrassingly serious one]
Look, I can't afford a professional coach. If you insist, I would settle for an amateur one, but she has to be in her twenties, preferably from either the Czech Republic or Hawaii, and must have at least 36D's -- for the best chance of clinical success, to keep me focussed.
But I like the idea of a coach. I honestly coach myself at work regarding this. And it works. And I am happy to share this truly helpful little tip. If I'm especially scattered, I look at the clock on my computer and tell myself I can't leave my chair for any reason, can't stray from one self-assigned subtask, can't respond to the blip of an incoming email, can't answer the phone unless it is a true business necessity. It helps. It settles me down. It really helps. Which is why I really need a giant poster of Age Quod Agis as an aforementioned prop.
I leave on an upbeat and cheery note; the NIMH piece lists "characteristics of ADHD that are positive—boundless energy, warmth, and enthusiasm."
I like that, but my energy is waning, so I'll stop for now.
A thought pops into my addled little brain: if I don't have "boundless energy, warmth, and enthusiam," now I'm wondering if I'm wrong about the whole self-diagnosis thing.
Which, dear readers, brings us full circle:
Is ADHD right for me?
To help, I've added some shameless props of my own: