I just graduated university last May, magna cum laude, as an English major with a minor in secondary education. I also learned a great deal about myself through the process. Like KO, I felt like something was “wrong” with me, too, from an early age and my distractability interfered with work performance and relationships in all areas of my life. I am grateful to be getting some help now, but I have chosen not to be medicated yet, focusing instead to work on behavior modification. I have had some unpleasant experiences with medications in the past, so I am planning to wait until this summer to give meds a go.
As we focused on learning disabilities, I felt as though I was studying my own behaviors. I applied the strategies I learned for helping children cope with LDs into my own life and found them very helpful, particularly breaking a large project into “chunks,” consistently using an academic planner and timers. These things cut down my stress quite a bit. The university has a disability support services dept. that worked with my doctor to get me extended time for exams. Nothing like losing my train of thought during calculus exams to shake my confidence, but having as long as I needed allowed me to earn some B’s for once in a math subject. I think that math has actually helped me to work through and solve other problems, line by line, in other areas of my life as well.
Re: relationships–I have been late for everything my entire life and my family compensated by inviting me to attend 30 minutes before everyone else. We can laugh about it now, but it kind of hurts a little to be treated as if I am completely incompetent. My husband still doesn’t believe I have adult ADD, but he did wonder why I had so many calendars–one for school, one for church and one for family/social functions. The calendar system I had was stressful, but it was the only way I could compartmentalize commitments. Losing one of my calendars during my student teaching internship was distracting and devastating as I tried to figure out where I needed to be and when. I am now down to one two-month at a glance wall calendar and a master calendar for longer-term commitments.
My husband still questions why I buy more Drano or weed killer or anything else when we already have multiples stored in the garage. If I stick to my shopping list, I think I can resist the impulse to buy something I don’t need, I think this will help cut down on “inventory.” If your family members don’t believe you have ADD and they refuse to be educated about it in order to support you, I would suggest that you educate yourself so that you can be your own best advocate, find others you can talk to about ADD, and get some literature or a reading list from your doctor that you can pass on to your family/friends when they are ready.
The upside of all of this is that now I can accept myself for who I am, try to figure out systems to help me to be successful, and perhaps inspire my students (when I can find a teaching job) to learn that we all have challenges in life, but it’s how we respond to the challenges that really can make a difference. If we choose to think of ourselves as “differently abled” and not “disabled,” we can use the strengths that we possess to make a difference in others’ lives. This fantastic website is just what so many of us have needed. I think that “normal” is just a word in the dictionary. Blessings to all of you!REPORT ABUSE