Understanding attention deficit disorder, or ADD, requires getting past the pop culture version of ADHD, also called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and looking at what attention deficit disorder is really like.
First off, you need a basic understanding of the symptoms of attention deficit disorder. Once you have a basic grasp on the generalized symptoms of ADHD, you need to be aware that there are actually three forms of ADD all of which can be present in both adults and in children. After that, you will want to understand both the conventional ADD treatments of therapy, coaching, and prescription medications, as well as the bombardment of new, maybe works, kind of sort-of backed up by scientific data, alternative treatments for ADHD.
Of course, all of that only gives you a basic concept of what the condition is like in some prototype population like attention deficit disorder child or adult adhd labeled groups. None of that gives anyone a real grasp of what it is actually like to have ADD as an adult or as a teen or child. That is why from time to time I like to profile here on Addessories real life events or stories of an adult with ADHD. (It’s me.)
Today’s life with ADD episode comes courtesy of my small home office where I conduct my freelance writing business as a work from home dad. For the past three or four hours there has been a small empty plate on my desk. It comes and goes from my consciousness as I fling my fingers across the keyboard generating text that will hopefully pay the mortgage and more this month. When it arrives in my consciousness, or what I like to call “my front brain,” it annoys me a little bit because I can’t remember how it got there or what was on it. Also, I have had a terrible headache for the past 90 minutes because I’ve been thinking, “I need to go get something to drink,” for somewhere around 70 minutes, but I keep remembering in the middle of writing something and I know that if I stop, it might take me a while to get started again, or more likely, I might not be able to quite remember where I was going with my thoughts and I’ll have to start over altogether.
In a lot of ways this is nothing more than so much whining, except that none of this is uncommon.
When someone calls on the phone or a family member pops by my home office, they almost always have to wait for me to go to the restroom before they can talk to me. You see, while I am working my brain does scatter about distractedly from here to there, but one of the “theres” never seems to be my bodily functions. Rather, my mind wonders if I finished that article I started this morning, if there are better keywords than the ones I am using, and it can’t help but wonder what the plate is doing on my desk.
As it turns out, my wife brought me a sandwich and strawberries for lunch on that plate. Ah, that’s what it was.
Which brings us to today’s lesson in ADHD. People with ADHD are not forgetful, per se. While I struggled to come up with an idea of what the plate was doing on my desk that was less a function of being unable to remember and more a function of being unable to command some of the sections of my brain to stop doing whatever it was they are already doing and focus on the issue of the plate. Once the image of the strawberries popped back into my front brain (one of those brain centers apparently got around to processing some of the things in its queue, like what about the plate) I could remember everything about it.
I remember her appearing at my side with the plate. I remember that she had one too. I remember how good the strawberries were and what kind of sandwich it was. I also remember why I put the plate on my desk. (I wanted to remember to take it upstairs and not leave it on a shelf in my office.)
The point of all this noise is that the symptoms of ADD are not necessarily comical stereotypes of forgetful space cadets, but rather the manifestation of what happens when, in some cases (not all the time), one cannot calm the brain down enough to get it to do the front brain’s bidding and instead, the rest of the brain (the back brain, if you will) continues on with what it already had determined — often at the front brain’s command — what was currently important and that new requests would simply have to wait.
In other words, this isn’t the absent minded professor. ADHD is the command center switchboard with too many urgent requests coming in from the field. The good news is that if you can wait around a minute, your call will be answered in the order it was received.