Becoming A Refined ADDult.

For the uninitiated, that’s not a spelling mistake.  ADDults are adults with ADD or AD/HD – Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. It’s a condition most people associate with young boys, running wild in the classroom and bouncing off the walls at home.  But ADD (potentially a more old-fashioned/less technically correct term, but the one I feel applies to me personally) or AD/HD is a wide-ranging beast, and it’s media-portrayed image is a very narrow view.

For me personally, the realisation that there might be something in this came when I read an extensive description of ADD – it was my brain in text format.  Since my A-Levels at school, I have felt my previously intelligent brain slow down.  It used to be easy to learn new things: now it feels as if my head is full of treacle.

I forget everything: dates, meetings, sentences I’m in the middle of saying, what clothes I have on (unless I look down of course…), which is left and which is right.  I cannot map roads in my head.  To me they all run in straight lines, at 90 degree angles to each other: I still can’t figure out A – B in the town I’ve lived in for eight years.  Housework is a behemoth – not physically doing it, but being organised enough to do it consistently.  Listening to anyone, I either drift off into a daydream, or get distracted by my brain making some totally random (to them anyway) connection.  I get stressed to the point of tears when I’m trying to learn anything new that isn’t instantly instinctive, because my brain just shuts down and I can barely hear the person explaining it to me….

The list is too long to go on.  But you know what?  Finding out about ADD is the best thing (discounting Hubby and DD and yadda yadda yadda) to ever happen to me.  I’m not losing my mind, starting to descend into dementia.  There’s a tangible explanation.  I have spent the best part of my life so far hating myself – lazy, forgetful, hopeless, waster, clumsy, unthinking.  And hating myself even more for failing over and over again at my manic, self-flagellating attempts to change.  But now, I get it.  I’m not the godawful person I thought I was: my head works differently to others.

Life is so much easier.  I understand how my brain works, and work with it, not against it.  This is a big step towards being the more refined woman I want to become.  I know to slow down, and then I am less clumsy; to repeat questions, and then I understand instructions; to gracefully say, “I’m so sorry – my mind completely switched off for a second,” instead of pretending I heard and having no idea what response is expected; to write down everything I am going to do, and then I arrive on time, cool and calm, instead of half an hour late, hot and sweaty and flustered, fumbling tired excuses that no one believes any more.

If you describe ADD to anyone, I absolutely, 100% guarantee they will say one of three things: “Ooh, I think I’ve got that,” “That’s just an excuse for being forgetful/lazy,” or “Pff, everyone gets days like that.”  ADD has a lot of symptoms that will show up if the ‘neurotypical’ person (I love that term) is stressed, tired, or generally under the weather.  But someone with ADD will suffer ‘significant impairment’ from these symptoms.  It interferes daily with their lives.  I am not, as yet, not shouting my discovery from the rooftops: diagnosis is hard in the UK, where adult ADD is much less understood.  But I am working with it, on it, and learning as I go.  It truly feels as though I have taken my first steps towards becoming the polished mama, and not the unrefined girl.

Links: there are a million resources, but the best place to start is here, a very active ADD forum full of  information.

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