I try to avoid talking about my A.D.H.D. because people are so understandably skeptical. There for a while, and maybe still, it seemed like every kid was diagnosed with it. The symptoms of A.D.H.D. when listed out, just sound like, ok, so your kid’s a kid and could probably use more discipline. I’ll be the first to admit that I think it’s over diagnosed and that parents are way too quick to medicate their children.
That said, A.D.H.D. is a real disorder. Its cause is an underdeveloped or underfunctioning fronal lobe. Basically, that part of the brain that stores, organizes, and processes information is broken. Because its broken, you can’t just try harder or write things down. It’s not just a matter of being more organized or putting things in the same place all the time. Believe me, I try. I’ve worked hard to develop habits of organization. I carry a planner everywhere I go and I try hard to write everything down. I have learned to ask for help. I try to keep my work area clean and organized so I can find things and remember things and not be distracted. The problem is, on my very best day, I can’t do those things as well as most people on their very worst day. It makes me crazy.
Admitting that I can’t control it is the hardest part for me. I strongly believe that, while medication can be helpful, people need to make a conscious effort to control their thoughts, moods, and actions. I believe that if you don’t consciously choose to be better, no amount of medication can make you better. Because I believe this so strongly, I was off of medication from around third grade until half way through law school. It sucked.
As a kid I remember having panic attacks because I got to school and didn’t have an assignment that I had no recollection of having ever been assigned. I remember my desk being dumped out on the floor in front of my classmates and crying as I was forced to look for some forgotten worksheet. I remember even up through high school, being told that I was lazy, that I wasn’t trying, that I just needed to get organized. In my professional life I’ve been denied promotions because of “careless mistakes”. I’ve been written up and even terminated because I just couldn’t complete the task I was assigned in the time I was given with the level of accuracy they expected. It has been a non-stop frustration for me that, despite the fact that I am extraordinarily intelligent, I am unable to adequately complete even the most menial tasks.
In law school I finally caved in and asked to be put on medication again. My grades immediately went up a full letter grade. I was able to work better and more efficiently. I no longer had to read the same page 3 or 4 times because my eyes were moving over the words but my brain was doing something else completely. Being on medication again made me realize why everything seemed so much harder for me. I realized that I wasn’t just lazy or careless. When I was on medication, I didn’t lose time. I didn’t wander around wondering what I was doing all the time. I didn’t constantly lose things. I didn’t always feel confused. For the first time in a long time, I felt fairly confident that I was in control.
Since being out of law school, however, I don’t have insurance and my income is unpredictable so I am once again off of medication. The thing that sucks most is knowing what I am missing. I find myself once again making “careless mistakes” at work. Mistakes that I agonize over to the point that I can’t sleep. I’ve tried to avoid them. I have proofread and asked others to check my work and still things get lost or there are typos or despite the fact that I am certain I was told to send a letter to a particular address, it should have gone to another. I can’t think of words when I’m speaking! Basic words, words that I use every day. I sound like an idiot. It’s so frustrating. I am trying my very hardest and my hardest simply isn’t good enough. I don’t know what I am going to do. I don’t think I am in danger of being fired or anything. Overall I think I do a good job. This just really isn’t the stellar impression I wanted to make. Mostly I’m afraid this isn’t the type of performance that will lead to a recommendation or permanent position.
There’s also the matter of the bar exam coming up in a few weeks. I am trying so hard to study but everything distracts me. If my work space isn’t clean, or I’m uncomfortable, or there’s noise, or there isn’t noise, or the dogs need out, or there’s dinner to be cooked, or there’s something shiny, or whatever. Something is always distracting me. I know I should be studying and I need to study and believe me I am TRYING to study. I just fail, a lot. My biggest problem is losing time. I am constantly shocked that it’s already 7:00 or 8:00 because all I did was come home, feed the animals, and make dinner. The thing is, all of that takes me forever because I constantly get confused and distracted. It’s awful. It is absolutely awful that I can’t do something as simple as make tacos and read without putting such great time and effort into it.
So that’s where things stand for me currently. I am trying really hard and I am extremely frustrated. Mostly I’m just doing the best I can and getting by. I guess that’s all any of us can do.