I thought I’d take a minute to explain to you what it’s like to have ADD as an adult. Not the “I can’t focus for an hour so I must have ADD” kind of annoying person that everyone knows. I’m talking about the real deal Attention Deficit Disorder that requires heavy medication to be able to function normally.
Now, your first question may be “how did you find out?” Or “why should we care?” Well, you don’t have to care, however, being informed on something could potentially help someone you know (or yourself) tremendously. ADD has made me suffer academically and has caused my marriage to dwindle down to having to fight to keep it going every day. I dropped out of college because of this.
So here’s what I’m going to do. I will list each major symptom (there’s a lot) and describe to you my typical actions involving this symptom. Also note ADD is never simply ADD. It is usually paired with some other mental condition like bipolar disorder. The real bipolar, not the fake one that everyone says they have.
- Having trouble concentrating and staying focused. This can include zoning out. For instance, zoning out during a lecture in class is common for almost anyone, however, zoning out when your friends or family are speaking to you, even if you don’t intend to, is not normal. 9 times out of 10, you don’t even realize you’re doing it. You’ll suddenly snap out of it and try to remember what was just going on. Thrown into the mix of not being able to concentrate and losing minutes of your life to the unknown, extreme distractibility causes me to overlook details in my every day tasks. Forgetting an appointment I made yesterday to take my kids to the doctor is not uncommon for me, in fact, it’s totally the norm.
- Hyper focus. This is essentially a coping mechanism for distraction. Have you ever found yourself jumping from hobby to hobby, going full force and becoming obsessed with the hobby only to get bored with it? That’s what hyper focus is. You delve so far into something new and you lose track of time and even days because you’re so focused on this new thing you learned about. In the 4 years I’ve been with Liz, I’ve gone from computer repair to construction work and building things at home to Magic the gathering cards to professional videography. Surpringly enough, the last one is lucrative, so I intend to stick with it even though I’m already bored with it.
- Impulsivity. This one I suffer from to a major fault in my character. I impulsively spend money because I think something is cool. I say incredibly rude things to people even if I shouldn’t say it. It’s not because I’m blunt, it’s simply because my brain tells me I need to say it, so I do. There’s a different between being a huge dick to people and calling them out and having a genuine issue with your brain. Impulsivity has a range of impulses, mine are usually money and being an asshole. Other symptoms of this is interrupting people when they talk, poor self control, act wrecklessly and spontaneously and have trouble behaving in social environments, all of which I have displayed on occasion but are not prominent.
- Emotional difficulties. Another big one that will affect your marriage and life pretty harshly. I have a huge sense of underachievement, constantly seeking validation and compliments from people. Because of this, I come off as needy, although I’m not. I don’t deal well with frustration.. Most stressful and frustrating situations cause me to freak out and yell at people and ruin my entire day. It’s not fun, it’s quite hard to deal with. One more symptom added to this is hypersensitivity to criticism. Anytime I receive negative criticism on any project I do, I take it 100% personally. As a personal attack against me. One thing to always keep in your head is they are not being mean to you. You asked for the criticism by doing the project you took on or by behaving a certain way, accept it and move on. It’s still hard for me but I manage to do this every day.
This blog may seem like ADD is a super serial disease or something. It’s not. You can easily control it if you catch it in time. It took me 26 years to figure out I had it and now I have to take medication that I’m not able to afford. So for now, I’m trying to build my self-control and be aware of myself and the things that I do so I am able to actively correct my behavior if needed.
ADD, believe it or not, has really put a strain on my relationships with my family and my marriage. It’s not fun to have to constantly apologize to them for hurting them in some way. It’s not fun living with feelings of depression and feeling like nothing you’ve ever done means anything or matters.
I deal with the way I am to the best of my abilities, and sometimes it’s not enough and I lose grip on reality and ignore my problems, which makes it worse. Do yourself a favor, and if you display these symptoms and your education has suffered and your relationships suffer because you can’t stay organized and stay focused on important things, talk to your doctor. Only good can come of it.