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                   Thursday, October 30, 2008 - 3:34AM

The ADD post

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I have a few friends, clients, coworkers and associates that read this blog and know me in person. So, I thought it might be a good idea to try and explain some of the reasons why I am the way I am. I'm ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), or so I've been told. I've even been so diagnosed in high school by a professional over 16 years ago. I do not dwell on that and I really hesitate to identify myself that way. But it is a reality. If you've met me in person before, you have probably seen it a little, or maybe a lot, depending on how long you've been around me. I've become better at masking it as I get older, though not completely.

I'm not sure exactly what ADD is, or if it's even what I am. I don't think that the professionals who are supposed to know what it is even do. If they do, they certainly don't have a clue what to do about it, as I've learned first-hand many times, many dollars and some freaky medications later. The common symptom list definitely fits me 100%, so maybe it is ADD. What I do know is there is something not quite firing on all cylinders in my brain - something that does give me a tangible and evident handicap in everyday life - business, academic, social and personal. It's something that keeps me from realizing many life goals the way I'd like to. At age 33, I'm well past the point of making excuses for something voluntarily behavioral that I could change if I wanted to, if that indeed was what my problem was. If I was just lazy and irresponsible by choice, I'd have dealt with that many years ago - particulary after starting my own business and becoming totally self-sufficient. My actions affect me and me alone now, and I don't have time to play games in life by leaning on some supposed disorder.

Nonetheless, whatever it is has been a part of me my entire life, and remains there today despite my best efforts. And on a daily basis, it costs me in the form of lost business, lost friendships and lost opportunities. Don't get me wrong, I'm generally happy with life - but ADD is one huge thorn in my side to put it lightly. By the grace of God alone do I survive - the fact that checks still come in, my kitchen stays full of food, my car still runs, my mortgage gets paid and most of all I still have good friends and a good job - is nothing short of a continual, ongoing miracle. Indeed if I had to pick a 'life verse', it would probably be 2 Corinthians 12:9: "And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."

Despite its challenges, part of me has a hard time calling my issue (ADD or whatever it is) a 'disorder'. It is who I am, how I was created. I believe there is a purpose behind that - so I'm not keen on sitting here and complaining about it. I'm definitely not ashamed of it, and I can even laugh about it. What else can I do but make the best of it?

So, the main manifestations of this that I deal with are in the area of general task concentration, memory and in social interaction. I lack a general instinct in interacting with people with typical spontenaity and articulation, and come off as a cold and awkward conversationalist. I tend to be a quiet type - simply to avoid the more uncomfortable and embarrasing verbal blunders that come from me trying to initiate and sustain conversation. In a nutshell, I don't 'speak on the fly' very well. If you've ever talked to me before at any length, you've likely seen this fairly evidently - if you've been put off by it, please accept my apologies. It's even worse when I'm tired (like after a long storm observation day). For this reason I am also terrible at salesmanship and avoid pre-sale contact with potential clients as much as possible. Sometimes (as with my video work) I can't avoid this. Most of my sales calls end up sounding like the Chris Farley Show - and when I hang up, I'm often cringing at what I've just said, much like Farley does in his aforementioned skits. I stop short of facepalming and yelling "Man! I'm such an idiot!", but have certainly felt that way many times! Nowadays I tend to just shrug it off and laugh at some of the stuff I say. It's a wonder I still get paid gigs, but the Lord provides.

When it comes to work, my mind is like a TV with the remote stuck on channel surfing mode. No subject, thought, or motivation stays in my head for more than a few minutes - and staying on task is a continual battle. Particularly when I'm working by myself. A 15-minute project can take me an hour or more, which is why I work both during the day and late at home many nights. I am also terrible about answering voice mails and emails, another one of my catch-22s. If I stop to answer an email, I derail my momentum on whatever project I'm working on. Picture a heavy train straining to keep moving up a hill - stop the train on the grade, and it's near impossible to get it started again. But if I don't answer an email or voice mail immediately, I invariably forget about it - sometimes for days. Some of you have found yourself on the wrong end of this, and again, I apologize.

After 33 years, I've heard all of the 'solutions' from well-meaning people. 'Keep a list'. 'Get a planner/calendar'. 'Use post-it notes'. Trust me, if there was such a simple tool, technique or software app that would solve all my problems, I'd have found it by now. What people around me need to accept, just as I have had to do, is that this is not going to change. I have simply learned to accept and realize my limitations, and structure my life around what I know I can do well.

So there you have it. Maybe a little too transparent there, but what can I say. This is one of the great benefits of a blog - if I've enlightened just one person, it's worth the server space.

Hi Dan, I share this "disorder" with you. I wasn't diagnosed until spending a couple awful years in college, barely squeaking by. Myself and everyone that knew me knew I had much more potential than that. Was it laziness? That is the question that plagued me. Well, going to see someone and taking a bunch of tested helped me realize that I learn much different than a lot of people and that I have ADHD. In a way, it was nice to go in and have an actual diagnosis (and it wasn't like the doctor was grasping at strings for it, it was plainly obvious based on my performance) ... this helped me realize that maybe I wasn't lazy. They also did IQ testing during the session which helped me dispel any thought that I was just stupid. In fact, it was quite the opposite. So, for six months, I tried varying medicines, which only proved to A) Make me a zombie or B) Make me feel like I was on crack. They didn't work for me. In fact, I felt an integral part of my person was missing. So, here I am, five years later, unmedicated but finally with my meteorology degree. It was a tough road. The motivation to do homework or even pay bills (even when I have plenty of money!) is just not there sometimes. My focus is really hard to come by; I cannot read a book or magazine without daydreaming instantaneously ... this goes the same for lectures in school and especially boring texts. I'll share with you a few ways that I have gotten through it all; how I have dealt: 1) Routine! I know it sounds boring, but a routine can help keep you focused. This routine must include some reward time as well ... things you enjoy doing mixed with things you need to do. I find that once I get into doing something that I "need" to and I have focus, I can really focus on it and get it done quickly. It's starting that is the hardest part. 2) Be yourself. ADD usually accompanies higher IQ and other attributes that you can excel at. Think of it like a video game where you have all your "points" in certain areas. ... go with your strengths! This is just what I've found ... and I don't like taking medicine. I know that it helps others out there with this affliction. It's jut not for me.
- Posted by Dann Cianca from
I have ADHD as well.....I hate taking my meds for it and am probably going to stop soon. It makes me procrastinate big time and that's why I've been going to school off and on for 10 years. I can't sit in the same place for very long. I feel your pain.....
- Posted by DickM from Olathe
Thanks for the comments guys. Some of those medications are downright scary how they can affect you. I'm glad they work for some people but as for me I'm never taking anything like them again. Dann, my hat is off to you for completing a met degree! That's an accomplishment in itself, let alone for someone with ADD. I am at least glad that whatever this is (ADD or not) is finally getting some legitimacy and vindicating people like ourselves who have generally been misunderstood for years.
- Posted by Dan Robinson from Charleston, WV
I hate to think of it as a disorder ... I think I just learn different. It's just tough when schools all expect people to learn the same way. It makes the road longer and harder, but ... even more accomplishing when you're done.
- Posted by Dann Cianca from Denver, Colorado
I just read your blog, son. You are active, brilliant, successful and wonderful. Everyone is different in life and that is what makes us all, special. You continue to amaze us with all that you do. I couldn't be more proud of my son. Give Miss Tess a squeeze!!!
- Posted by Sally Robinson
Just posted on your Tota/softbox post, quickly had a look through at your other posts and - voliá! - we have more than a Tota in common. So has also my son. Just got his "diagnosis" and put two and two together.... Thanx for this post also. And thank you Dann Cianca for your input. Of great value to me.
- Posted by Peter Wittinghoff from STOCKHOLM

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