Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Life Right Now: Living with ADD

As a child I was labeled a daydreamer. Since I was also shy, I caused no problems for my teachers, so no one really noticed that I wasn't following along, I wasn’t keeping up. In the 5th grade I was transition into resources classes for Reading - this was because I could not comprehend what I read. Again, they pretty much just felt like a was lazy - lovely, huh? 

 I made it through high school and part of college without reading an entire book from start to finish. How did I manage that? I am not sure. I got really poor grades and I remember loving movies that were books (like the Outsiders) - it made book reports so much easier. I have always been a writer so I could easily give you 1,000 words - they may not make sense if you actually read the book, but I still did my work (kind of). 

My condition wasn’t apparent during my early employment, but in my mid thirties I went to work in the human resources field. My job was to create visual posters and manage employee training - super easy for me, but when we had a department rearrange and I had to send mass emails, I realized there was something wrong. I just couldn’t seem to do anything without a mistake. I proofread, but still didn’t catch everything. I had to take minutes for meetings and about lost my mind. I could not keep up. 

As I was completing my training to get my real estate license, I spoke to my doctor and he diagnosed me with ADD. This was eight years ago. My life changed with the first dose of medicine. I had switched jobs, but my work quality increased exponentially. I quickly became the go to person with clients and was given employees to manage. Life was good. 

At the same time my ability to write exploded. I was always able to communicate easier through writing then by talking - and that’s just another quirk of someone with ADD. My mind cannot keep up with conversations, but if you write me and I write back, then things flourish. (this is why you get texts from me instead of phone calls). Now, medicated Dana can carry on long meaningful conversations - I loved the conversations I could have medicated. I am sure that you have been able to read some of my earlier blogs and those came from my medicated time (except while I was pregnant). I used to sit down (at work mind you) each morning and writing at least two (sometimes 5) blog posts before lunch. I could not keep the words from flowing out of me. 

My mind was always going - always creating.  My mind was always going in a good way. Right now, even as I type this, my mind is going, but is scattered. Bekah just walked in the room and now I am thinking about everything I need to do for her this evening before bed. You see in a normal mind that would be something you would think and you would recover. You might even be able to get up from your keyboard and do something to come back to typing and continue like nothing happened. For me, that distraction (my child is not a distraction, but her talking to me does distract me from what I am doing - understand?) would send me down a rabbit hole and it could take me sometimes an entire day to start what I am doing again. I know it sounds crazy because it is. As I type this (with the help of Matt assisting with the girls) I have on headphones with music. I have to block out everything else in a room (even sometimes my text notifications) to get through even the most simple writing. 

I have trained myself during the last year to do things that help me to function. Music helps (but talking commercials in the middle of music don’t) me stay on track and blocks out distractions. I’ve learned that if I am going to clean a room I start in one corner and work out. I cannot leave the room to put things into other rooms, so I keep a tote with to store things until I can leave the room. It is best if I clean while Matt is at home so he can keep the girls upstairs or in another room. I am telling you that I have been cleaning a bathroom and then find myself sitting in the dining room (not that I black out and don’t remember getting there) with a half cleaned bathroom because I’ve gotten distracted. On a normal week each of my rooms are partially cleaned, projects are half done and I stand in the middle completely overwhelmed. 

Overwhelmed. That is the feeling that led me to seeking help again for my condition. That overwhelmed feeling has led to major depression during the past year. I think the depression has come from the fact that I no longer create. I’ve stopped sewing completely because I can’t get through one bunting or one dress for the girls. My writing has slacked off because I can’t stay focused long enough to make my thoughts translate onto the page and I’ve stopped being able to comprehend what I read. These are my loves (besides my husband and children) and they’ve been gone from my life. Then add my inability to keep up with housework and I feel like a complete failure most days. 

That’s my life right now. 

Last Monday, I saw a specialist and finally had a true ADD test done. I was so nervous because going in because I didn’t realize it was an actual test, I thought I would have to explain kind of what I’ve just done to you and beg for him to say, “yes, I agree you have this condition.” Again, communication orally isn’t my strong suite especially when you add anxiety to the mix.  I was relieved with I learned that I would actually be tested, then I started the testing which left me feeling like a complete nut job. 

I first started with recognition. I would have to say wether of not a shape (like a star) was in a line of shapes. I had to answer as many as could in two minutes. Pretty easy. 

Then I had to do something that reminded me of a hidden message decoding. There was a sentence of shapes and I had to fill in the blank with the letter that corresponded with that shape. Pretty standard elementary work. Again, I had to do as many as I could in two minutes without skipping any. I found when I sped up I made mistakes - pretty typical though. 

After that we moved to puzzles and sequences starting with blocks that I had to form into shapes. This I remember from being tested for resource in elementary school. It was slightly harder than the other things, but not too bad. Sequence was doing “what comes next” with patterned shapes. I hope I am making sense. 

Those who suffer with ADD have a tendency to be very visual learners so everything above was pretty easy to get through, then he pulled out the big triggers. He read out to me a set of number and I had to say them back to him. Starting with one or two at a time, then growing to 10. 

This lead to me having to state the numbers in the reverse order than they were given, then I had to repeat them in numerical order. I found my self looking straight down trying to not to get distracted by my surroundings. If I could I would have put my hands over my eyes to help me concentrate on the words coming out of his mouth. 

Just when I thought I was going to lose my mind he started throw out word problems that I was to solve with no paper (so just in my crazy jumbled head). I could hardly do anything of them and I excel in math! 

It was so mentally taxing, but so worth the pain. I received what I need for years - the confirmation that yes I do have ADD. I actually scored the highest for my age level. I’m not just a daydreamer, not just lazy, not just bored - I actually have a condition that I cannot fix easily and I am going to need help to function to the level I need to be. It’s been a relief. 

Tomorrow, I will start medication, again, for this condition. The first thing I have planned is a deep cleaning of my house - exciting, huh? I am over joyed! After that I will finally finish the book I was supposed to review four months ago. Then, I am going to sew! I am so excited for tomorrow and having me back again. 

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