What if the puzzle pieces are falling into place…the cloud of despair is lifting…and I could almost deal with life again knowing there are steps to take (non-medicated ones)? What if I can build on my strengths and work around my weaknesses? And most importantly, what if I could KNOW I’m going in the right direction for myself instead of aimlessly wandering around wondering what the eff happened to me.
I think I DO have ADD and I’m going to revisit something I wrote over a year ago in a post called, Hyperfocused yet scatterbrained.
I don’t know whether it’s a gift or a curse to be a highly intelligent person sometimes. If it’s a problem for gifted children to be placed in under-stimulating environments, what problems does it pose for the gifted adult?
I often wonder if I have ADD-like symptoms because I’m now a stay-at-home mom and left the challenging field of biotechnology. I often zone out on the computer, trying to feed my brain while the kids are doing what they do best (playing) in the background.
On Thursday, because I was on a quest to obtain some information, I wasn’t paying attention to the time and forgot to get my middle daughter off to her afternoon class. Oops. That’s not the first time I’ve been driven to distraction in this manner. The internet is a wonderful and dangerous tool for an information junkie like me.
I got to thinking about a lot of my negative ‘traits’ (in another post, I’ll also spend some time about the positive aspects).
I daydreamed a lot (still do), have a great deal of trouble waking up in the morning – but do great by evening (LONG before I was diagnosed with Hashitmoto’s thyroiditis), have a tendency to be on the internet late into the evening (duh…it’s 2 am now). I have periods of hyperfocus interspersed with near catatonic boredom, I was always called the “absent-minded professor” growing up and procrastination is my middle name.
I “self-medicate” with sex (my husband’s a VERY lucky man), the internet, and writing (because things like sex and creative activities like writing increase dopamine), I have trouble sticking with organization. Not that I can’t develop a great organizational technique, I just get bored of using it. And as much as I hate disorder, I can’t seem to stay on task long enough to get it done. I took more risks (running away from home and moving out before I was financially ready to) and, was pretty damn risky and impulsive (but pretty damn lucky too).
Now I know why I chose the path I did (the scientific and highly routinized applied biotech field), and why I argued needlessly, and picked fights, and antagonized everyone around me and needed to fill empty spaces (internally and externally). I was ‘driven’ to ‘succeed’ because the chaos of my life (family fights + college + work + dating + friends) fueled ALL cylinders of my brain. Hell, I doubt my life could have gone better had I had an idyllic childhood.
In Hallowell and Ratey’s Delivered from Distraction, I was stunned when I read the following:
Children may try to change their inner state by getting into fights or arguments. That is not their conscious motivation, but they may be drawn to conflict, as moths to a flame, out of a biological drive. Conflict changes their inner state. It is riveting. Let’s face it: an argument is far more engrossing than peace and harmony. In seeking conflict, the child is unwittingly self-medicating with a powerful drug: adrenaline. Adrenaline is nature’s own stimulant medication. When a person (of any age) feel excited, fearful, combative or stressed, he or she naturally pumps out adrenaline and cortisol.
Children – and adults – who have ADD learn early on that with the aid of adrenaline they can tune in and enjoy life more easily. Therefore, when they feel bored or logy or vaguely out of sorts they learn that they can feel better by seeking excitement, danger, conflict, or even a fight. It’s not that they are “bad”, but they are bored, and they instinctively look to change their inner state. For someone who has ADD, being bored is like being asphyxiated. It cannot be endured for more than a minute or so. When bored, the person with ADD feels compelled to do something immediately to bring the world back up to speed. Adrenaline can do this in a heartbeat.
During fights between my mother and step-father, my siblings all hid out in their rooms, but I was usually (compulsively) listening to all the drama on the stairs. I was riveted.
I had the tendency to get involved in the fights too, willingly. No one told me I had to intervene on anyone’s behalf. Sometimes I’d literally be getting between my step-dad and mother. One time, my step-dad had a large kitchen knife in his hands (he was helping my mother make something in the kitchen when a fight broke out between them) and he was pointing it threateningly at my mother. I stepped in front of him, held out my wrists, stared him down and dared him to cut me. He threw the knife and stormed out of the kitchen.
It was even evident in one of the careers I’d spent time in – the 5 years of forensic service. It combined both structure (the lab was highly organized) and excitement.
It’s probably no accident that I got antsy and bored by the 3-5 year mark and switched jobs. I’m pushing 6 years on the job as stay-at-home mother and I have to say I’m thrilled to have time to consider a new path when all the girls are at school for 6.5 hours a day in the fall.
I’m also thrilled because I have a few good ideas from the book on how to become more energetic, focused and creative.