I’ve been wanting to write about my ADD, or what I believe to be ADD in adulthood. So I sat down at my computer full of ideas and enthusiasm to start this article.
That was 6 weeks ago.
Throw in a text or phone call to further sabotage my concentration and I’m doomed.
It’s not that I haven’t tried—Lord no—it’s just that I lose focus. Or do I? Could it be that my ability to focus isn’t the problem, but my inability to ignore interruptions? Or that I am hyper-aware as I start the immediate task at hand and then notice something else that has to be done, and I do that on the way? And then, like something out of a police academy shooting range that pops out unexpectedly, a loved one/ business colleague/mail carrier makes a request and like chutes and ladders, I’m on a different path? Throw in a text or phone call to further sabotage my concentration and I’m doomed. I suspect that even the most hyper-focused person in the world is as well.
ADD in Adulthood: Chutes and Ladders
I tried taking medication once, but while I felt something, I can’t say it was the altered state I hoped for. I gave it up after a week.
Truly I make light of it, but I have struggled with it mightily. Recently I spent three days with my mother and sister. We spoke of all sorts of things women speak of when left to their own kind, family memories included.
While we were sitting outside enjoying the sunset and watching the wildlife (ok, a bit grand, that—chipmunks and birds to be specific), I was catching them up on the latest grandchild/ niece/nephew development. My sister kept interrupting—mystified at a strange noise. After her third ask, without skipping a beat on my fascinating report, I replied “It’s a robin settling down into her nest.” My mother and sister both looked at me awestruck, or weirdly, I can’t say which. “The wings—that’s what you hear.”
My sister, I’m pretty sure, did the double blink. Then my mother told a story.
The Toad Search
“You know, this reminds me of when you were a little girl. At some point in time you discovered window wells and the unfortunate frogs and toads that would get caught in them. Once you realized this, it became a mission for you to patrol for them and rescue them from their fate. One day while making your rounds you came upon a frightening discovery—not a frog or toad in the gravel, but a bird in the drain pipe, chirping weakly. Waaay down in the house underbelly.
“If the bird was wedged it would drown. Unacceptable. You then called 911.”
First you called our vet. He told you to fill the pipe with water and see if it would float out. Good advice or questionable advice, it was not acceptable to your way of thinking. If the bird was wedged it would drown. Unacceptable. You then called 911. Unbelievably, a policeman showed up. He took one look at you and the neighborhood kids and set to work.”
“How he got it out,” my mother said, “I cannot remember, but for what seemed like an eternity—and a setting sun and kids dwindling—I was dreading it. I hated the thought of, as they say in the business of search and rescue, ‘recovery.’ I did not want you going to bed that night broken hearted.”
The Unsung and The Unseen
As she was telling this, it came back to me—so distant and yet a visual zap: the dark hole with the bird curled up tight, but breathing and chirping, the wing attempting to wrest itself out of such a strange position. The officer, the neighbor kids, a flashlight, and finally, finally, a liberated bird, exhausted but alive. The officer and I sat with it, letting it get its bearings. Then, exquisitely, it flew off.
Yes, I’m guilty of swerving off the proverbial task at hand. Yes, it’s frustrating at times.
So that’s the upside of ADD. If I had stayed laser focused on toad/frog liberation, if I had just followed my formula, if my wheels hadn’t strayed from the road, like they are wont to do to this day, that bird would not have benefitted from a condition so maligned and medicated these days.
Yes, I’m guilty of swerving off the proverbial task at hand. Yes, it’s frustrating at times. But maybe, just maybe, all of us with ADD accomplish things unsung and unseen—and unnoted—but noteworthy nonetheless.