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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