Thursday, July 20, 2006

More on AD/HD

So, I'm reading Sari Solden's Women with Attention Deficit Disorder, and learning a lot. Like, sitting on the toilet, reading several pages, and frightening the pets with "Yes! Absolutely! Omigod, I do that all the time!!"

Like, I'm a big time coper. I can cope with most anything life throws my way. Sudden end of 13-year relationship? Yes, I can keep teaching my classes! Mom dies of ovarian cancer? No, honey, you don't need to fly out to be with me (she did, anyway, btw, to her great credit). I cope. And I chalked this up to being the youngest child of a functioning alcoholic, the happy one who tapdances and tells jokes to keep everyone away from potential conflict.

And sure, that's a big part of it.

But what if what I've really been coping with is my own underachieving? Those who know I'm finishing a PhD may sputter, "What underachieving?" But, it's taking me longer to finish that most of my colleagues, despite the excellent emotional and intellectual and decent financial support of my program. Even though I had a partner who was making it financially possible for me to focus on my studies during summer breaks, rather than seek out jobs or take out big loans. Even though I had all the material comforts one could need.

I have, over the years, labelled myself and been labelled by others (chicken and egg, there): scatterbrained, thoughtless, unthinking, dreamy, dizzy, daydreamer, lazy, procrastinating, selfish, self-centered, and more. More positive labels have included "global thinker" and "creative." I have thought of myself as somehow lacking the moral fortitude, the backbone necessary to follow through on the most simple tasks. Why couldn't I be more like my mom? She'd start something and finish it. If she had leftover art supplies, it wasn't because she never did the project. It was because she'd bought more than she needed, and she'd think of another use.

So I was lacking, somehow. And the incredibly emotional hole inside, one that I've never understood through years of therapy, begins to make sense.

Of course, there is that temptation, always, when considering a new explanation for something--whether it's that funny noise in your car or a conspiracy theory or a diagnosis--to make all the data fit the theory. Which would be unreasonable, surely. And yet...when I can go through an entire list of symptoms and check off most of them, that's surprizing. I've explored other health issues--the misnamed Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, for example--and not been able to match up my symptoms with the checklists. And a doctor recently suggested that I keep an eye on neurological symptoms just in case I've got a genetic (thanks, Mom!) predisposition to MS.

But clumsiness--ask me about all those scars on my knees and shins sometime, or for some of my better bonk-the-head stories (seen those pads above bus doors?)--is also indicative of AD/HD. (Now I really need to learn how to roll when I fall...)

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