Ten things you might not know about your loved ones who have ADD

Ten things you might not know about your loved ones who have ADD
photo courtesy of Pablo Fulin Diaz Kopec on Flickr https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

We’ve probably all self-diagnosed ourselves at some point with a Buzz Feed-type quiz:

Yes! I do lose my keys! I must have ADD!

In the last decade or so, ADD has become an overused catch-phrase to describe anyone who has ever even forgotten someone’s name. Such overexposure begs the question: How prevalent is the affliction that sounds like a fishy pharmaceutical campaign, like “restless leg syndrome,” or “ankylosing spondylitis.”

But I’m here to tell you, from experience, ten things you might not know about ADD, starting with the basics:

1. ADD is real.  I assure you it goes way beyond losing your keys every once in a while. I will now try to convey my own experience with ADD by using a Willie Wonka analogy. Natch.


Remember in the Gene Wilder/superior version of Willie Wonka, when Mike Teavee gets zapped into a million pieces, and floats around in the air before being reassembled into a tiny little dude?

My brain is Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory. Each thought is a Mike Teavee. And ADD is the machinery that decimates the “Mikes” into thought confetti.

So when I say “ADD,”  I’m talking about a brain disorder that  can shred a smart girl into a total ding-dong. For reasons you can surely surmise, I call it Pencils in the Dishwasher ADD: PITD ADD

If you have loved ones who suffer from PITD ADD, then please know…

2. We can see the bewilderment in your eyes: You love us. You are sure you love us too much to get annoyed by a little scatterbrainage here and there.  You might even think it’s kinda precious how we are so like that.

But, eventually, you do get annoyed with us. Very, very annoyed.

Our “where are my keys” shtick gets old pretty quickly.  How can we possibly think it’s June when it’s September? Heyyyyy, when we first told you that story, it was a little different.  How can someone forget so many details about their own life? Are we just making shit up? Are we liars?

We see the light dim in your eyes. We see the WTF knitted into your furrowed brow. It’s easy to spot. We have seen it our entire life.

And we still feel a little embarrassed when we get “the look,”

3. We have taught ourselves ways to camouflage the effects that holes in the brain have on inter-personal relations. We become “the funny ones” so you can laugh “it” off. We become the “wallflower," because wallflowers don't talk much, right? We identify as introverts, when really, we just don’t want to risk putting “it” out there.

4. There are two reasons why things always take longer for us to do.

  • We need a block of prep time before we can even really BEGIN. We don’t resume: we reorient.  (Even if we were working on the same project earlier that day) This also means that if you ask us for some details about that thing we are working on, there is every chance you might get a blank stare, and no good answer.  We can’t just dive back in, cold turkey. We have to step into it, slowly, like it’s a scalding hot bathtub.
  • We procrastinate, in part, because we know from a lifetime of experience that we are about to screw something up, and we are in no hurry to run back into that burning building.  Imagine if every time you cooked a dinner, one part of the meal had to come back to the kitchen to get either re-heated, re-spiced, or replaced. Every damn night.  For Pencils in the Dishwasher ADD-ers, we know that with every paper/project/assignment/plan we “turn in,” someone is going to point out a correction that needs to be made. Someone along the way is going to make a face at what we have produced, and think, “Come ON…” At the least, it will be inconvenient: a wrong date on a memo. At the most, it will be devastating: a wrong date on a plane ticket.

"proofread” you might suggest.

“Pffft,” we respond.  Our brain doesn’t suddenly and magically focus the second time around. Because then it wouldn’t be ADD.

5. Checking Facebook actually helps us stay on point. While it might seem our constant Facebook-checking is further evidence of a handicapped attention span, oddly enough, it is an ironic solution.

Think of it as an ADD vaccine: a strain of what ails us to prevent an even bigger outbreak.

Here’s the fake science behind this: PITD ADD leaves a film on our brain, like a slug crawling on concrete. We have to continually clean it off, or it builds up to where we can’t see through it at all, as happens when we try to stay focused on one task for too long. Facebook  acts as a mental wasabi, clearing the thought palette. It is a windshield wiper for the frontal lobe. It empties the cache, so to speak.

6. If you saw how long it takes us to do even the most basic things, you would never see us the same way, again. And when I say basic, I mean it:

  • Adding a column of numbers (even with a calculator): five tries, three answers.
  • Counting things. “Did I already say ‘seven?’”
  • Filling in time sheets. (Yeesh….never less than three false starts on hand written time sheets.)
  • Making a bed: Nope. Next.

7. It makes things worse if you watch us working on something. Please don’t watch us over our shoulder as we navigate Word. Or the internet. Or a remote. We will freeze, because we don’t want you to see the caca-mamey way go about stuff. It works for us, until someone sees it.Then it seems ridiculous to both of us.

8. When getting directions, we can only be responsible for the first two directives. After that, it’s all you. Because after “Take a right, then take the first left at the stoplight…” we only hear a buzz saw.

9. None of it is personal: I’m not going to say that you have to throw your hands in the air and accept that our shared space will always be messy. In fact. PITD ADD folks do well when we are held accountable and given parameters. But just know this: if you see us walk by that plastic fork lying on the ground next to the cat box five times in a row, don’t assume we are taking you for granted, and are expecting you to pick it up. Chances are our brain isn’t registering that fork. It would stay on that ground even if you weren’t there.  We suffer from ADD, not insensitivity.

10. There is one thing PITD ADD can’t scramble: How much we love you, back.


That's my piece, and that's my peace. Thank you for taking the time to read my silly words. It means the world. Carry on...

Old Single Mom
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