This blog, for me, is all about the funny. I use it to illustrate my idiosyncrasies, nuances and total disregard for normalcy. However, I feel compelled to shed some light on how I finally arrived at this happy place after living years with a larger than life inferiority complex. This is not even close to being in the vicinity of my comfort zone, and it will probably never happen again, so lend me your ears!
ADD has been a serious force in my life, even before I knew that I had it. It was actually much worse for me then because I was CONSTANTLY wondering what was wrong with my brain – and worse, always wondering why I was so “stupid.” My specific type of ADD (inattentive “SCT” subtype) affects your executive functioning, which has to do with “working memory,” and inhibits you from easily retrieving information. This is the part of your brain that also allows you to plan ahead, organize, problem solve and pay attention. It gives you what feels like a “foggy” feeling because of the disconnect or difficulty with information processing.
I was always the person who made careless mistakes, had severe memory glitches, was constantly losing things, and was chronically bored if I wasn’t absolutely passionate about the task at hand. You cannot imagine how frustrating it is and always was for me to try and tell a story or get interviewed, and a great idea or answer would pop into my head, and when I begin to explain, I would lose track of what I started to say in the first place. My answer turns out to be an idiotic spew of nonsensical hogwash. That is a great example of having a complex thought or idea to bear in mind, thus needing to tackle it from the beginning in order to then move on to the middle and finally, the end. That is virtually impossible for me. I always end up having to write it down and draft it out, because my poor memory retrieval inhibits my ability to manipulate my problem solving techniques. Another example of the compromised processing speed is driving down an expressway or interstate and quickly approaching 2 signs side by side. One points to the north, and 1 to the south. Or, a variation of differing signage. My neurological issues prevent the spontaneous decision making that most people have no problem with. I clearly know which route to take, but my anxiety filled brain just needs more time. So, in panic mode, I choose the wrong sign. Again. So what if I end up in Tampa or Tallahassee a couple times a week?
I always knew I was much different than everyone else (at least it seemed that way). My ongoing wish was always to just be “normal and smart” like everyone else. I hated how I constantly forgot stuff, always lost everything, was a highly unorganized, fiery pile of steaming horse poo, was easily bored, distracted and impulsive (damn you eBay and Amazon!) And those were my good qualities. ;).
My slower than average information processing and my poor memory are probably the 2 things about this whack neuro-behavioral disorder that bothers me the most. There have been a couple crap people in my life who have made themselves feel more important by trying to make me feel less intelligent. (anxiety makes my condition much worse, especially when in the presence of said people with Severe Mediocrity Syndrome). I’m sure it’s a “thing.” It really didn’t take much for me to feel worse, as if there was any more wiggle room. There has never been a worse insult for me, especially since I already had such a massive complex about it. I do not speak or relate to hate, so it took me many years to finally sideswipe this cowardly, self-loathing subspecies.
I was legitimately diagnosed at the ripe, young age of 36. There may or may not have been an incident that involves me, a Target parking lot, and a lot of unnecessary panic-stricken paces where I may or may not have been looking for my SUV and never realizing that I drove my husband’s car that day. That may have just prompted the initial call.
I was first given stimulant meds. They were not cheap. I can’t explain how the chains that bound me were released, and suddenly the clarity that struck was like a gift from God himself. I was able to plan, organize, execute, focus, and remember. Aggggh, to be able to remember. I was plowing through checklists! I was making checklists just to check them off! It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. My confidence rose 9 decibels that day. And there are only 11 total decibels on the confidence scale. Then, a couple days later, to my dismay, my great moments of clarity were fleeting. The stimulants ultimately wore off, due to my prominent anxiety. The anxiety overpowered the meds, and in turn, I had to end up switching meds 3 more times. The same thing happened each time, and as brilliant and miraculous as they all were, my hopes of conquering this disorder was very short-lived. What an epic disappointment.
I desperately wanted that feeling back. I wanted to be smart again. I wanted people, for once, to come to ME for advice. I wanted people to say: “Ask Tara. She will know.” Instead, I was back to worse than what I was before, because now I knew better. Now I knew what it felt like to be normal. And now, I knew how they all felt. Everyone. They got to feel that way ALL the time. It was a very short glimpse, but it was enough. I didn’t want to go back, because there was nothing at that moment to me more daunting.
It took several months, but I decided for my own sanity and especially my children’s sake – that I was done. You can take medication for the ADD, but you can’t erase the years of damage it’s done to your self-esteem. And that’s what I had to repair. I wasn’t going to keep chasing the thrill of clarity. As hard as the decision was, I was finally able to put things into perspective and realize: Snap the hell out of it, you idiot! (I’m allowed to call myself that) Me and my family, we were all healthy. Things could be much worse. I am so emphatically blessed to have a perfectly imperfect life. I have learned to not only deal with, but embrace my unique challenges, as cliche as that sounds. I understand myself better now, more than I ever have, and it’s good enough to just be aware of why I am the way I am.
There are 2 phenomenal books that helped me a lot. The first one is: You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy? by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo. The second one is: Driven to Distraction by Edward Hallowell, M.D. and John Ratey, M.D.
I understand and appreciate that there are so many worse things that I could have, or God forbid, one of my children. Once that reality bitch slapped me in the face, I became ok. Nothing will ever get rid of my tendencies, but I now not only accept, I appreciate my special ADD talents. I love to find humor in them. Sometimes, there’s just nothing funnier than spending $50 to get the same pictures developed 3 different times, finding my misplaced fork in my tampon box, or pretending that I intentionally meant to end my sentence with: “and that’s why the turkey chased the snow plow,” when the sentence really started with: “Oh my God, guess how much I paid for these shoes?”
I do need new shoes.