I heard a report on NPR this morning about the number of “older” [their word] adults being diagnosed with ADD these days. They defined “older” as people over 50. I am using the parentheses because I am one of these “older” adults recently diagnosed with ADD - and I do not consider myself an “older” adult. I’m guessing those who know me don’t consider me an “older” adult either. I don’t think I’ll ever be an “older” adult.
My dad has been suggesting I talk to someone about ADD and, more to the point, get meds, for years. I have brushed it off, I function just fine thank you very much. I had no intention of taking drugs or any such nonsense, there is nothing wrong with how I walk through the world.
As you have read here many times over the years - I suck at housekeeping. A friend visited in July and said, you have too much stuff. I said, no I don’t, look around, there isn’t that much stuff, I just don’t know where to put it. Eventually he agreed and said, I’m coming back and we are going to get you organized.
In August he came back and we spent two days cleaning and organizing.
My place wasn’t a complete disaster, it wasn’t so bad that I only had paths to get around the house, but it wasn’t good either.
I made it through the first day alright, probably because I had to leave at 11 for three hours to work. At the end of the that day I made a comment about ADD, not the condition as a whole, but related to something specific. My friend said, you know . . . ADD has come up a few times with you, you might want to look into that.
Yeah sure whatever.
The second day was brutal. I was pushed to my limit. I was frustrated. I was angry. I was pissy. I was really lucky my friend stayed and kept working.
I was also watching myself move between tasks. And I did not complete one single task all the way through the entire day. Even the tasks that got started in the middle of another task didn’t get done without another thing happening. I would notice my glass was empty and I’d walk from the living room where I was doing something and I’d notice something else and the glass would be put down and then I’d notice something else and something else and something else.
About six tasks later I would notice that I was thirsty and I’d have to go searching for my water, having absolutely no idea where it was. In my head it was wherever I had been doing the original task. In actuality it was wherever it got put down on the way to fill it when some other thing had caught my attention.
I looked at my friend at some point and said, holy crap - I don’t do one single thing all the way through, it’s driving me insane!!
And the next day I called my doctor for an appointment.
That appointment is a whole story in itself. Suffice, for the moment, to say that I walked out of there with a prescription.
A prescription that seemed to make some difference.
Then I was speaking to another friend about this pseudo-diagnosis and she said: I could have told you that years ago.
WHY DIDN’T YOU?
Was what I thought. Though, in her defense, I would never have listened.
Then she recommended a book, Driven To Distraction. So I went to the library and, after a bit of delay as there was no copy available, I read it.
It was a revelation. I recognized elements of my life in every case study in the book. It was astonishing. And enlightening.
It turns out that my house and finances aren’t a reflection of me being an incompetent adult, they are a result of how my brain functions. Or how it doesn’t function.
Insert happy dance here.
I am thrilled.
I have people who come clean my house now. Have had since August. After my friend helped me clean and organize I found Top To Bottom Cleaning in Westfield. Lynn came out to my place to assess, commented, you really don’t like to clean do you? I was devastated, but smiled and said, not so much. We set up an appointment for an initial visit and they came and cleaned the crap out of my place.
To the point where I felt like the cleaning police might pop out of a closet when I started cluttering stuff up.
I was freaked out.
But I got used to it - they come every two weeks now. It’s not as extreme as that first visit, but it makes my life infinitely better.
Lots of folks would find my place cluttery and uncomfortable, but it is fine for me.
The young ladies who come must find it difficult, but they do an amazing job and I do my best to leave them with a less cluttery space when they come.
Here’s the thing about all this - you may have noticed that I mentioned my housekeeping AND finances - I can’t afford housekeepers, not even sort of. But I’m a massage therapist and Lynn, the owner of Top To Bottom Cleaning, agreed to accept gift certificates in exchange for housekeeping.
What? A clean house and no money stress?
Because I have plenty of money stress elsewhere.
But I have a place where I can think and I can find a bit of calm to deal with the chaos that is my life.
Because I don’t have a handle on this ADD thing yet. I’m in the process of learning how it manifests in my life. I’m starting to notice the supports and framework I have created on my own - the hook next to my front door where I hang my keys every time I walk in the door for the last 15 years so I’m not running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off every time I try to leave the house, among others. I’m learning that acknowledging the limitations ADD presents in my life is not presenting ADD as an excuse. I have so much to discover.
Instead of looking back and thinking, wow, what could have been, I’m accepting what has been up to this point and I’m looking forward to changing what will be.
I’ll finish up with this, be kind because everyone is going through things you know nothing about and will never understand - because it’s not your stuff. Someone much wiser than I am said that, but it is a thought I carry close to my heart, especially now - even I had no idea what battles I was fighting. I think it will be a little easier now that I know what I’m dealing with, but all my life I’ve heard just . . . whatever the issue of the moment was. Just whatevering was literally beyond me because of chemical differences in my brain. That person that just cut you off on the way to pick up your kid? They may be running to the hospital to see their kid. We just don’t know and kindness, which usually isn’t our first response, is always our best response.