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How I Handle My ADD

It ain’t ADHD, by the Way

(Originally published on Medium)

Photo by pina messina on Unsplash

Attention Deficit Disorder. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

There’s a fine line between the two. I used to have the latter, but it matured into the former. And much like my depression, it’s been a lifelong companion.

Consider: I have pictures of me as a child of 3. I am connected to my mother by a chest harness and a leash.

Before you start screaming “Child abuse!” you need to understand it was the only way she could keep me safe, short of keeping me in a stroller. Put me on the ground and I’d take off running.

That phase — the ADHD — lasted until I was about 7. “Your child can’t sit still in class.” “Your child is so fidgety that it distracts the rest of the class.”

Fortunately, I outgrew the hyperactivity. Or rather it matured into something else: ADD.

My mind still made lightning-quick connections between random thoughts and ideas.

It still does.

There are medications now that we didn’t have in the 1950s. And I can’t say how grateful I am for that. Not that we have them, but that we didn’t have them back then.

My Creativity is Dependent on My ADD

I enjoy having ADD. It’s part of who I am. I appreciate the way my mind zips from thought to thought, making connections which at first seem random but in the end come together and make perfect sense.

A professor at uni once told me, “ It’s amazing to see your mind at work. It’s like a lightning bolt, zipping from cloud to cloud. But eventually it hits its target. All in about 3 seconds.”

That’s Why I Write

My ideas come faster than I can write them down. Writing forces meeting to focus on one idea long enough to commit it to the screen.

Since I know that what I’ve written is probably incoherent to anyone else, I set it aside for a time. Then I go back and massage it until it makes sense, until it’s right.

Consider: since I started writing this piece, I’ve gone back and changed the title at least 3 times. I’ve edited the story so many times I can’t remember how many. And I’ll keep editing, massaging, until it’s RIGHT.

And that’s a benefit of ADD, and how I cope with it.

Stop Saying Suicide Is Cowardly

This is going to piss off a lot of readers, but I don’t care. The people it will piss off are the ones who have already pissed me off by their uneducated, ignorant claim in the first place.

The first thing I’m going to say that will piss them off is this:

If you have never been plagued by depression, or never watched a loved one crippled by this disease, kindly shut the fuck up.

I can’t state this enough. You have no business pontificating on a subject about which you know nothing. And by making your statement, all I hear is, “I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I’m going to give you my opinion anyway, because I know more about it than you do.”

I hate to burst your bubble, but here’s an uncomfortable truth: People with depression don’t want to die!

People with depression don’t want to die!


Here’s the thing: on both occasions I tried suicide, it wasn’t because I wanted to die; I simply wanted the pain to stop. I was in a place where I could no longer think rationally. After all, do you really think that if I could see any other solution I wouldn’t have chosen it instead?

And that, dear friends and critics, is the difference between my depression and your “sanity:” the inability to think clearly and rationally. Did I really want to die? Did I consider how my death would affect my family? My friends?

Of course I didn’t: I was so overwhelmed by my depression and its pain and agony that I was incapable of any thought at all, much less rational thought.

Was I a coward? Or was I in a state where suicide was my only rational choice?

Do you see the contradiction here? That I was in such pain that I was incapable of clear, rational thought that to me, suicide seemed to be the only rational solution.

Unless you’ve been there, you won’t understand. And being there, you don’t see any other solution. Which is why depression can so often be a fatal disease.

So before you call suicide “Cowardly,” or “The easy way out,” or any other stupid thing, stop and think: what would you do if you saw no other way out of a soul-deadening, horrifying life of agony, with no hope of improvement?

One more thing: there’s a reason J. K. Rowling modeled the Dementors on her own depression.


Rebooting and Continuing

I woke up this morning with the intention of shutting down this blog. I’ve been in a deep, black depression for months, and I’ve felt for some time that I simply don’t have the energy to keep writing.


But then I realized that if I quit, the black dogs, the Dementors, will have won. And so I’m continuing.

Think of it as a reboot. Whenever my computer gets bogged down because of memory management problems inherent in the operating system, I shut it down and restart.

So that’s what I’m doing today. I’m rebooting my brain. Steve Wozniak, after a near-fatal crash in a small plane, said he had to rewire his brain from 0 to 1. That’s a pretty good description for what I’ve been going through for the past few months.

I’ve rebooted, and am ready to go on with my life and with my writing.

To Blog, or To Journal?

BLOG: (noun)
1. a website containing a writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other websites.

2. a single entry or post on such a website:
She regularly contributes a blog to the magazine’s website.
http://www.dictionary.com/browse/blogging

JOURNAL:
The definition of journal is a diary you keep of daily events or of your thoughts or a publication dealing with a specific industry or field.
http://www.yourdictionary.com/journal#Siti5uupUCzDVOrm.99

My standard disclaimer applies: These are my own thoughts about things that work for me. They may or may not apply to you.

Blogging and journaling are two forms of therapy that work for me, with this difference: what I post on my blog are random thoughts and ideas I feel comfortable with sharing with others. My journal, on the other hand, are my deepest thoughts that I keep to myself. They’re not things I’m comfortable sharing with anyone else.

Both methods help me keep centered. From time to time, I may go back to my journal and discover something I am comfortable in sharing, and so I’ll post it on my blog.

For more information about the health benefits of journaling, I’d recommend “A new reason for keeping a diary,” or “Journaling for Mental Health.”

I’ll admit I’m biased in favor of the URMC article, because that’s where I’ve been going for my mental health help for the past 8 years, and because I know one of the reviewers of the article.

Regardless, take a look at both articles and see if they offer any insights for you.

Friday Nights At Ed’s

Yes, it’s been a while. The Dementors had a hold on me for far too long, but I’ve shaken them off.

A large part of shaking them off was Friday Nights at Ed’s. And therein lies a tale.

I first met Ed near the middle of August. I needed to find a place to live and I found Ed’s post on Craig’s List. He had a room to rent, and I answered. A week and an interview later, I moved in.

Ed hosted a small gathering of friends on Friday night. It was a potluck, with Ed providing the main course, and everybody chipping in with side dishes and desserts.

The first time I went, I hadn’t planned on attending. I went downstairs to the kitchen to fix myself a sandwich, and somebody—I think it was L.—told me to grab a plate and join in.

That was at the beginning of September, and I haven’t missed a night since. It took me a while to feel comfortable, but I managed to overcome my Social Anxiety Disorder and fit in.

It helped that I wasn’t the only one with emotional or mental issues. E., L., and J. suffer the Dementors, so they understand.

S. enjoys philosophical issues, as do I, so we have that in common. We both also are wrestling with weight issues, as we are both Persons of Size.

D. always serves as the bartender, and he mixes some wicked-cool drinks, which also help me relax. But let’s be clear: I know my limits, and only got drunk once. The rest of the time I’m a Good Girl™.

G. is always good for the herbal blessings; sometimes I participate, but most of the time I don’t. He’s also the permanent Dessert Queen, and his choices are always scrumdiddlyumptious. Just as some people have a knack for pairing foods with wines, G. is a master at matching for the munchies.

Other people drop by from time to time, and they always are a welcome presence.

Oh…one other thing: many of us are gay or lesbian, so I blend right in.

The point of All This

The Dementors feed on your loneliness. They strike while you’re at your lowest ebb, because that’s when you’re most vulnerable.

There are various ways to fight them: professional help—whether a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other form of counselor—is always at the top of my list of recommendations. Group therapy can also help you cope by putting you in touch with others who can share their experiences and help you that way.

For me, my group therapy is Friday Nights at Ed’s.