"Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place."
-- Unknown

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Oh... you mean it's not a joke?

For years I’ve joked about my focus problems – self diagnosed as ADD, my thoughts bounce from mundane to complete chaos and back again. Task lists are daunting. Prioritizing? Nearly impossible. I fidget constantly. I start projects with enthusiasm, then easily get sidetracked – never to return.

In school, I was a “doodler” – constantly moving my pen across my paper as I pretended to listen to whatever lecture was coming from the front of the room. I’d start class strong, but somewhere around the five minute mark, my mind would wander to something completely unrelated. “Hmm.. I need to do laundry when I get home.” Or “Oooh, don’t forget to get paper towels at the store later.” Or “I swear, if that girl smacks her gum one more time, I’m going to throw my shoe at her!” My notebooks were a jumbled mess of doodles and shopping lists. I got by. I made decent grades. But most of my work was done on my own. Usually at the last minute. With the aid of large amounts of caffeine.

Most of my professors either didn’t notice or didn’t care about my inability to pay attention. The one who did notice caught me completely off guard and really hurt my feelings. My junior year in Troy, a certain bow-tied professor called me into his office after class and proceeded to tell me how “rude” I was. He told me that it was painfully obvious how little I respected him. When I asked him why he thought that, he told me that day after day he watched me stare into space or scribble on my paper instead of “actively listening” to his lectures. Despite my effort to assure him that I didn’t mean anything personal by my lack of focus, he chewed me out and told me that my disrespect would not be tolerated. He made me feel so bad, I wound skipping several classes just to avoid him. Despite my steady stream of A’s on papers class assignments, he gave me a failure to attend and I had to repeat the course. (I chose a different professor for my second attempt.)

If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you might remember that my frustration with my attention issues had been building. It was affecting my work and causing some pretty extreme anxiety. Finally, after years of dealing with it, I saw a doctor and found out that my jokes about ADD were actually dead on.

Now (with the help of prescription drugs) I finally feel myself getting a handle on things. It’s a work in progress – along with the medication, I’m having to train myself to do things a little differently. The doctor recommended a few different techniques for tackling those daunting tasks lists. And the great thing? My doctor has ADD. And he made it through MED SCHOOL. If he can do that, surely I can handle whatever I need to accomplish.


scarlethue said...

I'm glad you're getting some help. My little brother has ADD but chooses to self-medicate, and it's not helping, not by a long-shot.

I'm very sorry to hear about Toby. I hope someone wonderful and loving picked him up and is taking good care of him and that he'll find his way back to you.

Rachel Cotterill said...

Cool - I hope it helps :)

Jared said...

It sucks that you need a prescription. Maybe someday you will learn how to manage it well enough without the pills.

Anonymous said...

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Little Ms Blogger said...

That is awesome, you'll have to let us know if you notice a change. Many days I feel I can't focus on anything and it is a struggle.

Jenners said...

Isn't it amazing and such a relief to find out that you really do have a "problem" and that you can get help for it?? I know I felt the same way about depression ... it wasn't just in my head, I really did have a problem (of course, it was "just in my head" but not made up.) Good luck ... I'm sure it will make a difference.

And that professor ... what a jerk!

Lacey said...

I'd like to pretend that my lack of focus exists just because I'm a genius or something... HAHA!

No, but really, that's excellent that you were able to make that first step and get help for it. Imagine the projects you'll be able to finish! ;-)

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