I’m preparing for my first contact with someone who will evaluate me for ADHD on Wednesday, so to focus my thoughts (squirrel!) . . . I’ll post the reasons I think I have ADHD:
1. Consistently Inconsistent. When it comes to email, paying bills, putting away dishes, teaching classes, exercising, playing the guitar, anything, I will be fabulously productive and competent one day and a total mess the next. I’ll set up a brilliant class activity on Monday and then not do the photocopying on Tuesday and decide it’s a dumb idea anyway and ditch it. I’ll answer all my email within an hour one week, and not answer any at all the next week. On Friday, I’ll be sure I’m a Deep Image poet and by Monday I’ve decided to write a novel about Thomas Jefferson. I can’t remember why I came to the grocery store, but I vividly remember why I missed the bus in 5th grade. I’ll probably think this whole blog idea is stupid and will want to delete it in a month or so.
2. Failure to Follow Through. I have a wonderfully remodeled kitchen that is 90% done. It took me a year to get to 90%, and it’s been at 90% for three years. I have a beautiful handmade wooden kayak that is 90% done, also not touched for three years. I have an abandoned Ph.D. that is 75% done. I have dozens of quality poems ready to submit to journals that sit here in a pile in my study.
3. Frustration, Frustration, Frustration. Number 1 and 2 above create a constant feeling of not living up to my potential. My symptoms sabotage my good work by not getting it done and out there. My high school guidance counselor haunts me. I’ve tried every organizational/self motivational system from GTD to Covey. Doesn’t work. Same old habits resurface after a month or a week or a day.
4. Where’s the Beef? Send me to the grocery store for a beef roast and I’ll come home with 10 other things I thought of that we needed, but no roast.
5. A Rose By Any Name. Names fly out of my head soon after they enter. I’ve learned to tell students in my class that I care about them and they are important to me, but I cannot remember their names. I’ll see a student 5 years after a class and remember what that student wrote about in class, but the name will escape me.
6. Start Me Up. The hardest part is getting started. If I have email to answer, and there is the slightest bit of uncertainty or anxiety, getting started on it is like the reaching-into-the-insect-cave-to-pull-the-secret-lever scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Gnaaaah!
7. Diablo II. I wasted a good part of last year on this game. Had to delete it and my account at Blizzard to get some semblance of mindfulness back. It was great fun for the first month, but I kept playing obsessively for weeks after it stopped being fun. Hyperfocus, anyone?
8. I Can See my Piles and Piles. ADHDer’s organize things by setting them in piles. Next to my laptop on my desk are piles of bills to pay, a manuscript to edit, catalogs to read, ideas for blog posts, and three coffee mugs. The oldest thing is the manuscript which hasn’t been touched in a month. In my garage are piles of wood, garage sale items from a year ago, and things I meant to throw out. I leave a wake of cast off clothes, dishes, and papers wherever I travel. (I’ve yet to find dirty socks in my office at the University, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I did.)
9. I’m not Jonathan Taylor, but I play one on TV. Big ol’ imposter complex. Someone thinks I’m a good teacher, and I think “Well I sure fooled him!”
10. New car, caviar, four-star daydream. I’m bad at managing money. Can’t follow through, can’t or won’t pay bills on time. Huge student loan balances at 40 years old. The only thing that disappears faster than names is my pocket money.
11. What was I saying? I have terrible working memory. I’ll have an idea, or something I need to remember, and if anything else gets in the way of immediately acting on it, the idea will be buried or gone. I’ve found research (about PowerPoints) that says that people can remember three to seven things in the short term. I can remember three things at the grocery store without a list, but not four. And the three items stay in mind with intense mental effort. I feel like I am an intelligent and insightful person, and yet certain things require much more mental energy of me than the average person, like facing an inbox full of email to process.