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Train

I always wake up with a song in my head. This song either entertains or tortures me while I shower and have breakfast. Today, well, Drops of Jupiter. Gah. So I go through my morning routine (“tell me, did you sail across the sun…”), water the plants (“one without a permanent star…”), hop in the car and decide, in desperation, to turn on the radio, hoping for a cure. “…and did you fall for a shooting star…”

*cries*

So I’ve been meaning to begin writing about something pretty personal, though important to me, but it’s such a big subject I’ve been putting it off. I figure I’ll dive in a little at a time.

I’ve always thought of myself as the “absent-minded professor” type. I often walk into a room and forget why I was going there. I used to lose things constantly, and fly into a frustrated rage trying to find them. This led to a lifetime of building organizational skills and routines. I’m more or less an expert. I don’t lose my keys because they go in the exact same place, every time.

I have trouble prioritizing. I’ve been in trouble on many jobs because I was working on something the boss didn’t see as important. I have a hard time estimating how long things will take. Well, that’s an understatement–I just have no idea how long it will take me to do something. If I’m asked for an eta, I give a doe-eyed guess, and am always wrong by an order of magnitude. Worse, I have trouble getting started on things. Sure, I get them eventually, but very often I’m frozen in place, unable to begin the things I want to, paralyzed by guilt and fear and anger, knowing that if I could start, I would enjoy it. When I do begin things, I begin a dozen things at once, and finish none of them. I finally decided that craft supplies were like toys, and I could play with them as I chose, and not have to finish anything. Of course, this tendency to be full of big ideas, yet finish nothing, is a much bigger problem at work.

There’s more, but that’s a good start. Sounds like pretty much anyone, doesn’t it? I think we all have problems like this from time to time. As always, the measure of a problem is how much it interferes with your life. In my case, it was absolutely ruinous, especially the inability to begin things. Miserable and frustrated, I finally brought the problem to my therapist, who had been successfully treating me for depression. I went to him knowing that this was the last Big Thing that was triggering depressive episodes. I figured there was really no help, and that I had some nebulous fear of success or failure or was missing some Pillar of Self Esteem.

But that’s not what he said. He gave me a worksheet to fill out, and looked at it for a few minutes. Then he turned to his computer to type something in, and said: “Let’s see if you can guess what I’m thinking. What do you think is wrong?” I floundered and spewed half a dozen things I’d read in books on depression and procrastination over the years. He turned around. “What do you know about ADD?” My jaw hit the floor. “Nothing,” I replied.

So we talked about Attention Deficit Disorder. We discussed my school history, which was full of “Cat isn’t living up to her potential” and “Cat daydreams” and “Cat is very bright, but doesn’t complete her homework.” He was already familiar with my family history–a long line of self-medicating depressives, going from job to job, trapped in their own inability to use their talents.

He recommended I read Driven to Distraction, which he said was very helpful for people new to ADD, and he prescribed Ritalin.

Driven has been an astonishing eye-opener. If you even suspect you or a loved one may suffer from ADD I recommend this book and a trip to a competent therapist. ADD is not a joke, it’s not a symptom of modern life, it’s not something everybody has. I wasn’t sure about it myself until I started learning more. And the Ritalin, well, frankly, it’s been miraculous. Suddenly, I have a brain. I begin things. I finish things. I enjoy myself immensely. I used to wonder how the hell everyone else got so much done; now my envy is replaced by action. At 42, my whole life has opened up. Where I saw a lifetime of puttering a futzing before, now I see…everything.

And that’s enough writing for now. I have things to do.

1 Responses to Train

  1. Kai says:

    I have grown up with ADHD, and my son was diagnosed when he was two years old. I have taken it in stride, and have found jobs where I can multi-task and have little chunks I can bite off and finish. It’s kind of a pain sometimes but my friends, especially boyfriends, get used to me being hyper. Here was my take on it from my blog:

    http://livinbythetracks-kai.blogspot.com/2007/02/adhd-wait-what-am-i-writing-about.html

    You’re doing great!