A Life with ADD

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This article sent in by a middle-aged woman who has recently discovered she has ADD


My childhood was somewhat different to other girls I knew.    As a very young child I apparently was 'into everything' and excessively chatty, asking questions etc.  As I got older,  I was very much a 'tomboy'.   Dolls weren't my thing (they didn't do anything!) - although I did have some Action Men, complete with tanks, talking Action Men etc.   I had a cowboy outfit, a wonderfully noisy machine gun, and even a Scalextric set.  I was an avid footballer,and a great fan of Manchester United (especially George Best!).  My parents have photos of me, with the caption 'our little boy'.  I did daft things occasionally, including trying out how it would feel to hang myself.  I made the noose out of the ropes from the skylights in the greenhouse.  Fortunately I succeeded in only giving myself a rope burn.

I did well at primary school, and had no behavioural problems that I can remember - other than the occasional whack for failing to stop running when dancing around the maypole (and therefore knocking people over).   At 11, I went to the local Grammar School.  I was always the clown, the prankster, the one who dared do things others wouldn't.  I got bored, cheeky, even hit a teacher once.  On one occasion I locked all the teachers in the staff room,  and one of them eventually climbed out of a window.  I was always loud and just OTT.  Academically, I wasn't doing so well.  During my teens I became quite depressed and started drinking alcohol - at school too (disguising it in a small lemonade bottle).  At home too, but my parents were very busy and not aware of most of my escapades.  I punched my fist through the kitchen window with anger on one occasion (they were obviously aware of that one).   I stole money from my parents, and from my employers.  I thought a lot about death, and obsessed with what it would be like to be buried alive. 

Alone in my bedroom one day (age 15) I'd had enough.  I placed a plastic bag over my head.  I didn't want to die - that terrified me - yet, I didn't want to live either.  Again, I was unsuccessful (never could do anything right!) - my sister knocked on my door and brought me to my senses.

I left school with the barest minimum of qualifications, and I don't doubt the teachers were very pleased when I left.  (I had spent several years sitting at the front of classes where they could both watch me, and clout me with a book).   I've always felt that I failed school, but perhaps they failed me (but maybe through no fault of their own)

At 18, I moved away from home.  A year later,  I became very depressed and anxious.   I couldn't sleep.  I went to my GP  who prescribed an anti-depressant, tranquilliser, and sleeping tablets.  I was written off as 'neurotic', 'if you're like this now, what will you be like when you're 40', and 'you have an overactive mind'.  I lost 2 stone in weight, and my work suffered somewhat. 

Since that time, I've learned to cope.  But I still have my moments.  

Today, I am disorganised, forgetful, restless, anxious, fidgety, act the clown, have low self-esteem, have poor social skills, impulsive, put things off, fail to follow through, have a chaotic household, am always in a hurry, suffer much embarrassment, impatient,  shout a fair bit, fiddle with everything, never still, unable to relax, high levels of energy, daydream, tend to be abrupt, easily distracted, laugh/shout/sing at inappropriate times, intolerant,  tune out frequently, spend impulsively, frequently regret words/actions, always on the go etc. 

I've always been aware of being different and weird, and am well used to being called  'crazy', 'stupid' and 'hyper'.   I've also had obsessive/compulsive symptoms, and many repetitive movements and thoughts.

I recently completed an online diagnostic  screening tool for Adult ADD.  Out of 20, 12 is necessary for ADD.  I scored 19.  There is little doubt that I have Adult ADD, but I remain undiagnosed.  It has helped enormously, to understand myself.  To know why I do what I do, why I am who I am.  Over the years, I have developed coping strategies that I see listed here.  For instance, I have to stick to a fairly rigid routine, I use lists and more lists, if I need to remember something - then I write it down there and then (on my hand if necessary.  I even send myself e-mails to and from work, or leave messages to myself on an answerphone), I write all activities (even regular ones) on a calendar.  I have frequently tried to use diaries/personal organisers - but I tend to forget to use them!  Housework and other chores  just don't  get done until it becomes absolutely essential.   Once a month I set aside a Saturday afternoon to pay all the bills, catch up on paperwork etc.  As long as I stick to those basic rules/routines, then things tick along.  Any change to that tends to throw me off.  I rely heavily on the computer (and internet)  - not necessarily for organising (although that's useful too) but for keeping myself busy, interested, stimulated. 

It's a great relief to know that it is a neurobiological condition, that it has a name, and that in spite of it, I've done OK.

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