ADD is a type of curse that I never wanted to admit I had. When I was in grade school, I was plucked out from my seat and taken to a special education learning center because I had trouble focusing in class, which affected my performance in school. To be frank, I remember vividly what my experience was in grade school and I remember straining in pain to stay focused in class. It literally caused me pain in my stomach to focus on classwork. I very much preferred to address the content buzzing around in my head than to be focusing on a topic that I had zero interest in. As I grew up, I learned that that was only the tip of the ADD iceberg.
ADD is very complex and contradictory, meaning that having difficulty focusing isn’t the only thing that defines it. As I’ve learned, ADD is hard to define and hard to distinguish if you’ve had it your whole life. For me it means that I hardly ever finish what I start. My mind darts around to so many ideas and topics that I find myself in a bizarre fuzzy haze of confusion pretty much all the time. I have a terrible sense of time. Everything is either urgent or saved till the very last second with nothing in between. For example, shopping compels me to act in urgency. If I see a pair of shoes I like, I want them now. However, if I have to call my insurance provider to clarify an issue, I’ll save that till the last possible moment. I also cannot stand waiting or being bored. My threshold for boredom is incredibly low. I don’t need to be moving, but I need to be doing something. On the flip side, in those boring 1 hour meetings is when I do my best creative thinking, because how can you possibly expect to retain my attention for a whole hour! Do you know how long that is!?
I despise waiting in lines. It makes my stomach hurt and it gives me a headache. Here is a sample of my inner monologue while waiting in line. “There are three people in front of me. That’s okay, I’ll just scroll through Pinterest to take my mind off of it. Ugh, but why is it taking so long. Oh my gosh, the person in front of the person in front of me is trying to return an item, and use a gift card and get a price check on some item! Oh my goodness, I’m gonna die in this line. No, it’s going to be the Hunger Games. Oh I so desperately want to sit down. I should probably stop watching him scan every item. I wish I could fast forward through this part. Oh finally, that person left. Now one more person to go, then it’s my turn. Ugh, why is she even buying that scarf. That is such a hideous scarf. She shouldn’t be allowed to be in line if you’re gonna buy shitty stuff like that. Why is my boyfriend standing over there instead of over here? I wonder what that girl over there is talking about? Oooo! That’s a cute top. I wonder what I would look like in that top. Yes, I would look good. Too bad I’m already in line! I would so get that top. Ugh! If my mom heard me, she would be so disappointed in my excessive shopping. Do I even need some of this stuff? Yes, I live in the cold and I need a coat. Ugh. I need help. Yes! My turn! FREEDOM.”
Yes, I do think all that in a very short period of time. I’ve learned that ADD is short for you-can’t-stop-your-f*cking-brain-from-running-a-million-miles-a-minute disorder. While it is incredibly useful when applied to creative arts, it is a disaster in schools and in the work place. In college, it was so hard to stay focused for longer than 20 minutes. After that, the quality of my notes would start to deteriorate and my mind would drift off into space. I thought of short story ideas, weird scenarios, song lyrics, ideas for music videos (oddly) and paintings and imagined myself in a cottage enjoying snowfall from inside. Then I was in trouble when it was time for a quiz. Everyone else seemed to have caught all the information they needed from the lecture, and I had to catch up. For some reason, I was still considered intellectually gifted.
ADD is a kind of rebellion from the status quo. It is a screw you to all the people that force us to sit at a cubicle for 7 hours a day and do things we don’t really care about. It’s a screw you to the education system for drilling into kids the nonsense that you have to think or act a certain way to be considered smart or successful. If you didn’t know if you had ADD before reading this article, I hope it has been educational for you. If you already have ADD, I hope this article gave you hope knowing that you aren’t alone.
Do you have ADD? When did you find out? What is the hardest part of it? How have you learned to cope?