Executive dysfunction

Weirdly this is not about governance. Well, self-governance maybe, in the sense that you govern yourself through life.

I was 53 the first time someone told me I was ADD. The someone was my kid. Ask me how he knows. He’s higher functioning than I am — I barely held it together through University, and then it all fell apart — mostly because I refused to believe either of them was ADD because they were like me and no one had ever told me I was ADD. So they had to learn to function without meds or crutches. One of them is way better at it, but he’s finding out it too has limits.

So, how come no one noticed I was ADD before then.

In retrospect, it was floridly obvious. My parents and the teachers who gave me grades and comments like “You could be perfect if you applied yourself” are excused. First because ADD is highly inheritable, and Portugal seems to have a very high baseline of ADD (even if mine is freakish even for there, and was thus noted.) Second, because the concept didn’t exist.

All my other doctors and various evaluators aren’t so. Oh, my family is also excused. Husband because he’s also ADD — but the hyperfocus kind. Or I should say more hyperfocus than I tend to be, though I have my moments — and because my extreme ADD was viewed as doing things to be a pain. (Yes, there are reasons for this. Part of it being because it’s really hard to believe an adult can’t control things like: not wandering off from your full shopping cart, aimlessly, because you’ve been more than two minutes in line.)

As for me? Well, I’d been this way all my life.

A friend recently said that he’s getting very tired of everyone labeling themselves “neuro atypical.” Mostly because when everyone is neuro-atypical, no one is.

Is there even a “neuro-typical”? yeah, sure. There is a range. Out of that range things get dicey.

I’d add there is a range where you can function fine with discipline and non-medicine strategies, too, and I keep trying. I hate medication. But after the last three months, I’m about ready to go back on meds, though still fighting it.

The question ultimately is ‘Are you atypical enough that anyone would notice?” (None of us is standard issue.) AND more importantly “Are you being impaired by whatever it is that most people seem able to do, and you can’t?” And then the money question “Can you mitigate most of your issues by strategies of various kinds.”

Ultimately the question is “Is the work being done?” and “Is the work being done to about 90%” (because people rarely notice that 10% though you might.)

For instance, when I say I barely held it together through University, note I was still getting top grades. My studying strategies, or even the ability to be in class on time, every week, kept disintegrating more every year. But because I was in a field that was a given for me, had a deep reserve of knowledge AND could fake even more knowledge (like a pro) with high verbal fluency, I still could get very good grades. Would that have continued through a doctorate? I doubt it. My brain was trying to check out at 3 years, and I’m not sure I could have held much longer than 5. Particularly since my interest in the field kept diminishing (and it was never high.) Which is why I was disintegrating more and more every year.

However, not only shouldn’t I have been medicated, but frankly what I should have done is be in a different field of study. Now, the result might have been the same because I’m ADD AF (guess) and once I master something, I get worse, but the training time would have been better.

Another friend yesterday posted a thing that said: Let’s face it if you’re ADD the only way things are going to get done is if: It’s new and interesting; it’s an inherently pleasurable activity; you are in a panic and it’s life or death; there’s food at the end of it, and it’s food you like.

His conclusion was that we are cats, and he’s not wrong.

For years my strategy to get work done was to wait until publishers got really mad, then panic and write the novel in under a week. The problem is that I couldn’t do it till that point.

BTW part of the problem is it doesn’t matter how much you WANT to do it. “Executive dysfunction” which is what ADD is, often means you simply can’t start. Even if you want to, you need to, and you think you’re a lazy ass for not doing it. (Chances are you’re not a lazy ass. Your head is just broken.)

If I REALLY wanted to write a novel, I might be able to write it, but it involved chasing myself around for a varying period — could be weeks, months or years — then forcing myself to sit down and write it in a few days. If I were interrupted and it took more than a few days, I had to start again (which is how one of the current novels in progress is 40 years in the making.)

The reason I know it’s not laziness is that some of the stuff I’ve been “avoiding” is quick, simple, easy and I NEED TO DO IT. But I don’t. I can’t start.

Like this morning I got up with a few goals.

The quickest/easiest: BILL FOR WORK ALREADY DONE. This is money I need in the business account, because it’s funding things like my paying an editor. The work was done third week of December. The money is…. well, for most of my years it’s about 20% of income.

Next, not so easy but needed: work on Bowl of Red. Because I’m three and a half weeks late on it. (Yes, I’ve been sick, and?)

Third, typeset Odd Tales to FINALLY get it out.

What did I DO? I looked at and downloaded fonts. I also considered buying some graphics that are things like “Build a person” “build a couple” and “build a family”. Think “components” to all of these, and it allows you to make cartoony covers, super-useful for cozy mysteries, yeah, but NONE OF THIS IS STUFF I NEED TO DO TODAY. Or this week.

So why the heck didn’t I do what I needed to do? Because I couldn’t start. I kept trying to. I.e., I was chasing myself around inside my mind.

One of the things my thoughts do, which is beyond annoying is interrupt each other. Like, I’ll be thinking about potatoes and my mind goes “you know what we need? A recipe for bread.” (No, I shouldn’t be eating either potatoes or bread. And I really don’t. The reason those examples popped into my mind is that I’m hungry. And my mind loves potatoes. Frankly it couldn’t care less about bread. I love baking, but I rarely eat it. Eh.)

When I first took Adderal was the first time I figured out my thoughts interrupted each other. It was bizarre to just be able to think of something to its logical conclusion. This was strange, and had never happened to me before. I do think things through, but in the middle I think other things through. It’s also made easier, if I’m doing something else at the same time, which is why I could never understand why I couldn’t crochet while on panels. (“It makes it look like you don’t care.” “No. It makes it much easier to concentrate.” So I doodled, extensively. Otherwise, I was going to blurt out something completely unrelated and highjack the panel because I was bored. And this had nothing to do with not respecting others opinions. It’s just how I think. I do it to myself too.) And why the minimum I needed to study was REALLY LOUD AND DISTRACTING MUSIC. With words.

My mom who weirdly is just as ADD has had her mind …. uh…. propagandized so she thought what I really needed was perfect silence. And what I really needed in school was to be on the front row and have the teacher watch me like a hawk. This was exactly opposite what I needed. Some of my best years were listening to a lecture, while writing a novel at the same time. And she should have known that, because her most productive years were designing clothes while listening to audio lectures. The problem was in that one thing — and because when I space I tend to space inside, while perfectly calm outside while she’s the opposite — we are actually exactly alike, and she didn’t realize it.

Now there are things you can do to make it easier to get stuff done when you want to. These usually include “establishing a routine” “Not being stressed because potential buyers of house are insane and you’re sick and tired of the whole thing” “not being stressed about money” (Weirdly this stress makes it hard for me to bill for things, or remember to cash checks. Everyone I’ve worked for has been driven insane by this.) “Not having to navigate social landmines and conventions” (part of the reason I prefer to work for myself. Do you know how many times I ignored office politics until I was made into the devil by mean girls of either sex, and found myself fired? Uh… practically every job, including free lance. Part of it being because when someone decides to make me into the devil I’m annoyed and appalled by it, and I disconnect.)

I lost an entire year to my son having issues in middle school. To be fair, this could have been remediated if I’d been allowed to set people on fire. (I told you I’m a dragon.) But — waves hand — NOT ALLOWED TO.

And we’re going on to a year lost to moving, and now attempting to sell the house.

Executive dysfunction affects everything. You might find yourself in the kitchen, eating things you don’t even like, because “it was there.” And “My body wandered off without permission.”

Am I going to have to go back on meds? It’s possible. I’d prefer not to, but it’s possible, if the world in general continues being a peeve, and if I can’t chivvy myself into establishing a routine. Maybe. I really don’t want to do it. And it’s difficult to do it after you moved, because doctors tend to view you as a drug seeker (which to be fair you are, even if sometimes reluctantly.) They also tend to have a lack of understanding for “high functioning” and the cost of ADD anyway. Like, sure, I’ve written 30 some novels. BUT without ADD I could probably have written that in a year. (Okay, probably not, but 3 years is doable and not even a stretch.) Which would be better for me and my family. But they will say things like “If you can write novels, you’re not ADD”. Dude, walk a mile in my brain. Or of course, my favorite — for any illness. I mean someone tried to do this to me for pneumonia, until they measured my blood ox — “You’re just depressed. I’ll give you a prescription for depression” — this is the one psycho-drug every non-psych doctor wants to prescribe, which is bizarre. It’s like they think everyone is depressed all the time. 90% of the time, I suspect they’re wrong. (Or I’m highly atypical. Look, I’m always at least mildly depressed, but I know the limits, and I can control THAT. It’s not executive dysfunction. It’s an evaluation dysfunction.)

Anyway, you know what doesn’t help with executive dysfunction? Convincing yourself you’re both lazy and stupid, and trying to abuse and berate yourself into doing what needs to be done. Or actually, worse, it works great when you’re young and everything else aligns perfectly. but it works less every year.

Which is why I need to figure out how to stop doing it.

And actually fulfill my to do list.

(It would take a miracle, but I’m going to storm the castle, nonetheless.)

200 thoughts on “Executive dysfunction

    1. #MeToo. I was actually diagnosed with it in third grade; they tried to put me on Ritalin, and it turned me into a zombie, so my mom made them take me off of it.

      For most of my life, I’ve been able to self-medicate with caffeine (Just another form of stimulant, like Ritalin). I could handle 4 liters of Diet Mountain Dew a day and sleep like a baby. That’s less effective over time.

      Mine appears to be trying to mutate, from hyperfocussed to Can’t Get Started. We’ll see what happens.

      1. I could handle 4 liters of Diet Mountain Dew a day and sleep like a baby.

        Whenever someone posts “I wonder if I have ADD?” my reply is, “can you drink a nice relaxing cup of coffee or black tea before bed?”

        It’s not 100% dispositive, but it’s a pretty consistent flag. Personally, I can overcaffeinate myself so I can’t sleep, but I have to drink a LOT of soda or tea. A LOT.

        1. Not coffee nor black tea. But enormous amounts of Diet Coke. Used to be real Coca Cola, but had to give that up. That pre-diabetes thing I have.

          1. It’s usually Coke for me, too. My ex would marvel at how I could have a can of Coke and then go to bed, when for her if she even looks at anything caffeinated after 4pm she’ll be awake all night.

          1. Well, there is that. One of the reasons having the new puppy a few years ago, and now she is a small dog, wasn’t a big deal. I have to get up to go anyway. Just take her out afterwards. Now that she’s not a puppy anymore, more like let her out, I go do my thing, then she is ready to come back in. Stupid bladder.

            1. 35 years of programming. Zero Code Reviews.

              I have the bladder of an walnut. Not quite that bad, but point made. Hubby gets a tad irritated when we have to stop at the rest area just north of home. More understanding if we got caught in traffic sludge on route home, but when we don’t … There are definitely sections of roads in the US where Rest Areas are absolutely NOT close enough together!!!! Especially between Bend and Ontario, or Baker, Oregon!!!

                1. AND no other place to reasonably pull over!!! (Visibility is a problem. Rather the inability to not be visible.)

                  Then where there ARE rest areas, the “Pet” Areas are horrible. Yes. I do let her go on the grass, in non-pet area. I can’t afford to let my SD be crippled because of thorns.

                  Hwy 1, west across Canada from Banff is worse! One of the advantages of having a fully contained RV is the ability to just pull off the highway if needed. We do not have that option anymore.

        2. Been known to have a cup of creamy coffee (regular w/ 1/2&1/2). Just before bed. Usually after my stomach rebels over diet Pepsi. And if I can’t sleep, been known to get up and have a cup of creamy coffee, so I can go to sleep.

          1. StepGrandpa made a pot of coffee in the AM. Percolator style with it on the burner. Drank a cup reading the paper then a second all the while it was still percolating. after finishing the paper and maybe breakfast, off the burner and a cup went out to his shop with him. Through the day he warmed it by pouring into a small soup pan and heating it on a burner of the stove until it started to boil, fill cup and pour the left over back into the pot (through the grounds, mind). Repeat several times a day. then just before bed, he’d heat the last cup and drink it before going to bed.
            Multiple reheated, condensed black coffee you could stand a fork in.

    2. I may resemble that remark.

      We’re getting daughter tested for ADD right now. We’ve noticed it for several years, but this is the first time one of her teacher’s agreed. Unfortunately anxiety can mask ADD, and her anxiety is through the roof right now, mostly because of my cancer treatments for the last year but also because she’s a perfectionist like her mother.

      I didn’t know about the caffeine-still-get-to-sleep thing until just now. I’ve been cutting back on my caffeine intake the last couple of years, but yeah, I can drink a can of pop and fall asleep within minutes. I’m really good at starting something, then getting distracted and not getting back to original project for years. I started one project, got about 90% done and set it off to the side to do something else one day. A year and a half later someone else finished it for me. It’s a problem sometimes. Mostly I can function OK though.

      1. Mostly I functioned fine, which is why neither I nor anyone who worked with me noticed the issues. BUT some of the coping strategies were profoundly dysfunctional.
        Then sleep apnea and altitude nuked them.
        Thing is, I’m better with just caffeine at this altitude, than adderal at high altitude.
        Might adderal help at this altitude? Maybe. I’ll see how I do as body adapts.

  1. I don’t understand how you think you can function off your meds. I’ve been off mine for 2 weeks and I’m about to hurt somebody. I know you think you can function but this isn’t functional. Really. Stop it.

      1. Dear Hostess I have two daughters both with ADD (slightly different variants, ADD is a huge catchall that describes a whole range of symptoms that is likely several different physical symptoms). Elder daughter is also depressive/ prone to anxiety, this with the ADD is hard to medicate. The tail off of the classic ADD meds can make depression worse, the onset of ADD meds can exacerbate the anxiety. It took her a great deal of searching to find a psychiatrist who understood ADD AND would work with her on the other issues. I’m afraid this is the road you will have to go down. That said having found such a doctor she has been able to get things better in control. And it does make her an excellent teacher in a district with many kids with these issues as she has empathy for them.

    1. There are any number of reasons. (Shrug) in my case, the boost to efficiency comes with an overwhelming side of “hypercompetitive butthead”.
      And the boost isn’t near great enough to compensate.

      That’s setting aside the inherent costs. Losing the hyperfocus skittering across the landscape like lightening, is losing a vital part of yourself.

      This is about the saddest comic I’ve ever seen: https://www.joeydevilla.com/2008/01/08/calvin-and-hobbes-now-with-ritalin/amp/

      1. It helps me, when I’m not super-stressed. When I am it has no real productive effect. (Not the same as no effect.)
        And when I’m not super-stressed I can “simulate” the effect, now I know where to aim. 😛

        1. I never had anybody say I had ADHD symptoms until I was over 50, so I am not too worried about it.

          It takes me a while to warm up, with most activities, and then I want to keep going until exhausted. Not really anything noticeable, if I keep to a routine.

  2. It was about fifteen years ago that I got diagnosed as having Asperger’s and knowing it has helped some but there’s (to the best of my knowledge) treatment.

    The Main Help was that I got Social Security Disability payments so I didn’t have to go through the Job Hunt Hell anymore. 😉

    1. Similarly. I have been suffering from executive dysfunction at least when I was in first grade and my teacher commented on my report card that I was bright but did not apply myself. (I think it was because I was bored.) My parents decided I was lazy and tried to motivate me with berating and punishment. Being physically slow, clumsy, and weak, having limited social skills, and repeatedly tripping over the hurdles that the Educational Establishment places in front of credentials means that what jobs I could get were low-paying and in fields where I could not apply my best assets, At the same time, most of what ought to have been my social support system was telling me what a nogoodnick I was. Fast forward some 40 years when age discrimination started to set in, too. I finally started to decide that hating and berating myself didn’t work. Then I got a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome and learned that I had a heart condition. Those two let me qualify for Social Security Disability so I could finally get out of the Job Hunt Hell. I hate depending on SS, and I’m trying to establish another income…but it’s slow going.

    2. I’ve never been diagnosed with it. Wasn’t a diagnosis when I graduated HS in 1973- the diagnosis then was- “Get your act together!” I’ve taken a few of those online tests for it… Yeah, they all say I have it. Except it’s now “on the spectrum”. But, it explains a loot about my life, and I’m happy I wasn’t diagnosed, because then it becomes a crutch… Probably wouldn’t be happily married with 5 children if I had been.

      1. everyone is on the spectrum, otherwise it isn’t a spectrum. I sometimes get the feeling it started to be used as an excuse to not try to fix problems non-chemically, then as an excuse for failures of broader reasons

        1. I noticed schools started using it as an excuse to warehouse the kids.

          Especially when it’s applied to someone who will “do fine on their own.” Completely remove any stabilizing rules and neglect them.

          …why yes I am steaming at the very idea, when our son has a hard enough time with the schedule disruptions of “humans are not machines.”

        2. Part of it is we all live profoundly unnatural lives. We do more intellectual work than any human is designed for, and later in life than anyone used to live. And we require kids to be awake and attentive times and ages they aren’t designed for, etc.

  3. … some of the stuff I’ve been “avoiding” is quick, simple, easy and I NEED TO DO IT. But I don’t. I can’t start.

    I used to describe it as having to get over a 10-foot high wall in order to start working on things. The medication (Ritalin, in my case) reduced the height of the wall down to about 3 feet. Still takes an effort to hop over the wall to get started, but it’s possible.

    Sarah? Taking medication for your ADD is like using crutches instead of trying to walk on a broken leg. It doesn’t mean giving up: you still have to walk, and walking with crutches isn’t easy. But the crutches make it possible. Take it from me: try the meds. At appropriate dosage levels, they don’t change your personality. They just knock down most of the wall between you and the things you really WANT to get done.

    1. Oh, and one more thing: look online for a doctor that specializes in ADD. That’s what I did when I was in Dallas, and it helped. Because when I told her my life story, it was a life story that she’d heard a hundred times so she knew exactly what to do with me. Doctors who haven’t had many ADD patients might not recognize the symptoms, but those who have had lots of ADD patients can listen to you tell you life story for just 10-15 minutes and know. So look for a doctor that lists ADD (and specifically ADD in adults) on their website, and you’ll have found one of your best allies in getting stuff done.

      1. The above was in response to Sarah’s line about not wanting to be seen as a drug seeker by doctors; that’s what prompted me to suggest looking at doctors’ websites to find one with a specialty in adult ADD.

      2. This in spades. Finding a Doc specializing in ADD helps a lot. They’ll also be able to refine the particular issues you have and give guidance on that be it medications or other strategies.

      1. I know there are several different meds, with different chemical formulations and mechanisms of action; if Adderal increases your blood pressure, tell the doc that, so that he/she can give you a different med to try for a few weeks.

      2. As my psychiatrist told me (fifteen years ago), they make meds for that. I went non-stimulant because after three days of generic speed (don’t feel like spelling the proper term), my heart rate was going up. And now I’m on blood pressure meds anyway; probably for working two jobs that are important but don’t pay enough (plus other obligations). I hate job hunting, which probably why I still have the day to day job.

        But yesterday evening’s freezing rain switched to sleet and then the light snow about ten pm. We didn’t lose power and had a little snow cream. The roads might even be passable in a pinch; several pickups have gone by.

    2. I have a special project I’ve been working on for a year. It could have been done in a month, but at every new step (steps I had never done before) I had to nerve myself up to start and dither through trying to make sure it would work before I did start, and researching it more, and fighting my brain because once I start (that new step) I am committed and have to finish, which takes energy away from what I need to do so I end up sleeping instead of working on it. Etc.

      Now I have two steps left, and the ground is frozen. A week or so to complete if I could make myself START. But I can’t until everything thaws out, which is an odd relief because my brain is trying to tell me I’ll fail but I can’t fail if I never start…

  4. Dear Sarah,

    The distractions you are experiencing are real and taking Adderall or any other medication is like turning the smoke alarm off when the real problem is what is generating the smoke in the first place.

    I would be happy to chat with you in a private conversation if you are at all interested in how to deal with these problems without reducing your awareness. I have been dealing with this kind of problem for more than a decade and so far, you have shown no awareness of the real factors behind what you are experiencing. The situation can be handled without drugs of any kind.

    I admire your work and would like to see you continue it successfully for a very long time. If you would like to chat, send me a private message. srtcounseling@gmail,com

    David St Lawrence Spiritual Rescue Technology Counseling https://caring-communication.com/SRTHOME/

    On Sat, Jan 22, 2022 at 3:01 PM According To Hoyt wrote:

    > accordingtohoyt posted: ” Weirdly this is not about governance. Well, > self-governance maybe, in the sense that you govern yourself through life. > I was 53 the first time someone told me I was ADD. The someone was my kid. > Ask me how he knows. He’s higher functioning than I ” >

    1. I KNOW they are real and that adderal helps, except it hasn’t been helping, because I’m worried about stuff that is too loud for them to help. I might have to suffer through this, till I get past it, and can be helped by meds again.

  5. Timers. Using timers helps. “I only have to focus on this until the timer goes off.”

    I use check-lists for house cleaning tasks, or I get distracted and leave *everything* half done. There’s a check-list for every room, printed off and kept in a page protector, with a dry-erase marker with it. I have a daily checklist hanging on the fridge for the “you gotta do these things every day” tasks, like feeding the kids (I have forgotten that I was in the middle of fixing their breakfasts while fixing their breakfasts before coffee), doing the dishes, cleaning the cats’ box…starting to prep dinner…taking care of myself… (Speaking of which, I need to go check my daily routine checklist on the fridge. I feel like I’ve forgotten something.)

    Enough coffee helps. I haven’t had enough today to focus.

    Any task that takes coordinating my entire body to perform? Once I get started, it actually quiets my brain down because every different track is focused on a different part of achieving the goal.

    And yes, I used to knit under the tables when I was in literature classes where we were having discussions. Nobody could see, and I could focus. I still knit while I’m reading/talking on the phone.

    I have never been diagnosed. My son has, and the issues he didn’t get from his dad, he got from me. If one of his dad’s mitigation strategies doesn’t work for something, one of mine usually do.

      1. Music? I can’t write without music. But it has to be the right music either for the book, or for my mood–has to be one or the other, and sometimes it’s hard to figure out.

          1. YES. Ever since I lost my music, I can actually listen to music like (I assume) other people do. Just listen. Not deconstruct, not adapt the melody and scale, just listen and feel the music. I can write to music. I can write to news in the background (as long as it isn’t migraine inducing infuriating news). Dead silence, or as close as tinnitus will let me, gets the squirrel brain scrambling. And nobody wants that.

            If I could audiobook at work, I think that would improve my focus even more.

              1. Haven’t worked in an office in decades, sorry to say. At least not primarily. Construction, cooking, telecom/electrical, factory work, truck driver, skill trainer, tutor, landscaper, and mechanic, sometimes a scribbler of stories, mostly. Last office job I had was managing editor for a small press mag, back in my twenties.

                Maybe in the future, it’s possible. Appreciate the tip, Agatha Christy is far from the worst I could imagine.

          2. I’ve found that instrumental music helps me concentrate- if there are words (or words that I can understand), my mind latches on and sings along. Instrumentals give me a wave signal to ride, so that I can concentrate on a task. I’m about the same age as you- this wasn’t something that was being diagnosed in Texas when I was a kid. I first heard it from my nephews (teacher) wife, when I once described my thought process to her. My daughter got herself diagnosed after high school.

          1. Not precisely, although that would be an interesting idea, and might catch on depending on what movies you chose. No, I can’t get through laundry to save my life. It’s worse than loading the dishwasher AND cleaning the bathroom. So when I have a pile of clean laundry I turn on an action movie. My hands have something to occupy them while I tune in to the mayhem.

    1. I’ve heard of an ADHD guy who would boil pots of water because it felt less arbitrary than a timer.

    2. I don’t think I have ADD, or if I do, it’s the hyperfocus until distracted type (Squirrel!). OTOH, my short term memory has sucked rocks since I was a little. “Why did I go to this room? Um, er, oh yeah, Mom wanted me to get some canned beans. Or was it jam?”

      Shopping lists are a must. I’ve finally remembered that if we didn’t write down bananas, it’s because we forgot to write them down. Had a couple of times where something important got ignored because it wasn’t written. OTOH, the 2 hour round trip is a good incentive to not forget.

      Annual or other long term checklists are a major help. I try (been awful for several years) to swap batteries when Darkness Savings Time starts in the fall, but ’19 was late, and ’20 never happened. (I think between covidiocy and the stolen election, I didn’t want to do normal stuff.) Finally got to “2021” this week, and now every battery in the household that needs to be swapped is, barring a couple of clocks in our shops. Anyway, the organizing tool of choice for that is a spreadsheet. Also lets me ensure I have enough cells of the right type on hand.

      Short term lists use the computer. The 7AM alarm telling me to restart the coffee maker helps domestic bliss, and various other notes help a lot.

      1. I wound up switching to a lithium cell for a clock hanging on an outside wall that would stop when it got Really Cold Out (sub-zero F) and haven’t had that problem since. I am pondering doing similar for another clock, but that seems fine as it’s not a mere AA but a bigger C cell. The “light up the keyhole” gadget on the door does get noticeably dimmer when it is Really Cold Out but doesn’t outright fail, so… *shrug*.

    3. Oooh, saw a cutesey but effective tactic for getting rolling on relatively little, very boring things– do things like when you’re filling the coffee pot, get as much stuff into the dish washer as you can.

      Or when the dish pan is filling, wipe down the counters/microwave.

      Or any other “I have two to five minute” gaps, have a list of things you can DO in that time, and see how many you can get done.

      It’s…basically game-ifying what I already DO. (It can turn into its own disfunction, since I’ll do job A until I hit where job B has to be done and isn’t, and go do B until I get the same point and C needs doing to continue, and…. twenty minutes later my husband comes in to see why it took so long to get a cup of coffee, but the dishes are done the trash is out and the the laundry is started.)

      1. I figured out what was stopping me on the invoicing. I knew something was, but I had no idea what, because I didn’t remember starting to do it and running into three missing pieces of information.
        I’ve been working for three hours on it. One invoice done. It’s the type of administrivia I HATE.

        1. Hm, post-it note time?

          “Aaaargh booger this, I am NOT dealing with this right now– I will WRITE IT ON THE NOTE AND PUT IT RIGHT THERE”.

          Mom use to do that a lot when she was office managing the fair.

        2. … starting to do it and running into three missing pieces of information.

          OH yes, this, so very much this. That used to have a 98% chance of killing my ability to do a task. I’d start it, realize I was missing A, B and C, go in pursuit of A, and if I was very lucky I’d manage to track down A without getting distracted by anything else along the way. Then I’d say, “Okay, I found A. Now what? Oh yes, I know, I was working on (other thing unrelated to original task).” And B and C would never get found, let alone the original task.

          With medication, I can now get A, and remember that I was on the original task. Look at original task, realize I’m missing B and C, go in pursuit of B, and so on. Still get distracted by something else 50% the time, but original task does finally get done eventually, rather than only 2% of the time back in the days before I had figured out I had ADD.

          1. Since I was sick, I think what I got distracted by was sleep…. It’s been taking up vast portions of my day, honestly. Which is weird because I don’t normally sleep during the day.

  6. In reading your thoughts and descriptions, I see my son. When he was in elementary school he was tagged gifted and talented, but we soon learned he was not “achieving”. My mind told me that all he needed to do was, “do what you’re supposed to do when you’re supposed to do it”. Reinforced that verbally a thousand times to no avail. (I’m not ADD, but still don’t get everything done in time).

    Over the years he’s seen many doctors, therapists, and counselors. Nothing has really helped. When ADD seemed to become the diagnosis de jour that’s what he was told. He did not get along with the meds and they didn’t generate much of an overall improvement anyway. I see him as displaying bi-polar symptoms, and maybe there is some overlap there with ADD; high creativity but low achievement, can’t get things done on time, big time procrastination. Lithium put him in la la land.

    Executive dysfunction has several possible causes or coexisting conditions. Not the easiest thing to expose and treat properly, although the problems are as plain as day. Add the possible resistance of the person to admit or attack the problem. Hypnosis could be the next stop before more counselors, doctors, and life coaches. I think I’ll be dead and buried before it improves enough, if ever!

      1. ehhhhh…….

        theres a large space of ‘ can’t start/can’t finish projects’ in bipolar as well.

          1. ehh, i’d have to meet and hang out with you on a regular basis, its also possible you are what they used to call ‘hypomanic’ but have now realized is common enough that they call it ‘type 2 bipolar’ (as in they’ve realized that something like 40% of bipolar people are hypomanic- i.e. tends toward depression)

              1. Yep. Depression is when you cannot accurately evaluate events in a fashion that reads as normal or supranormal (better than they are in actuality). At least that’s how I view it. I live with depression and stave it off with a sharp stick on good days. Sometimes I have to stop and go back over things because there’s no reasonable way that all the things are bad and wrong and none of it will get any better no matter how hard I try (depression lies like that).

                Being depressed doesn’t mean that I *don’t* want to go around with a heavy stick, bashing idiots upside the head when they spout obvious lies and nonsensical things like they were gospel. You can still get angry, frustrated, and bored while depressed. Happiness and contentment are somewhat harder to achieve.

                That is why I tend to lean optimist with some force behind it (once I have identified an obvious depression trap), because that is usually the polar opposite of my natural inclination.

              2. Didn’t mean to imply you are bi-polar, but I beg to differ about the overlap.
                As Draven acknowledged, it comes out in a lack of achievement. During the highs the thoughts and plans tend to be on the grandiose side and many actions are impulsive and not to any plan. In the lows there is depression and inaction. So you see hyperactivity, depression, and lack of achievement.

        1. IDK, but both Adderall and Ritalin speed up brain activity. Some take it for fun, to party. Not a good idea. It can be habit forming.

        2. I really have no idea. I should say part of the reason I’m cautious of meds is that for instance Singulair made me suicidal. It’s a known effect, though no one knows WHY, but it only hits like 0.1% of people, so — And the number of times I run into this kind of thing…
          Also honestly, since the ADD got way worse every year, I don’t know if it’s one of the side effects of the autoimmune, which the altitude exacerbated. Well, that and stress.
          Since it’s through the roof right now, I suspect that’s stress, same as the fact I have eczema on my hands, which is stress-based.
          I’d like to get past the house bullsh*t and evaluate if the ADD is STILL that bad. Because it might not be. I mean, I was always ADD, but it didn’t use to be that bad, once I was in a routine, etc. (But I’ll still walk away from cars, unless I have something to read, but that’s because I HATE shopping.)

          1. I’d like to get past the house bullsh*t and evaluate if the ADD is STILL that bad. Because it might not be.

            Here’s hoping it’s at least partly medical realted!

  7. “I’m never more productive than when I’m procrastinating. Or there’s a(n externally imposed) deadline.”

      1. Most people think sloth is more “putting your hand in the dish and not bothering to bring it to your mouth.”

        It’s really hard to think of it as “making yourself busy with things other than what you should be dong.”

        1. The vernacular really does a job on finer meanings, but sloth is sorrow with the spiritual good. Whatever keeps you from doing what you ought to be doing.

          (Hence all the people wallowing in Hunger Games and other tales of resistance while complying mindlessly and wanting those who resist thrown in concentration camps.)

          1. Acedia usually included restlessness, wanting to travel to other monasteries, being disgusted with prayer and routine (for no good reason), and being disgusted with the brethren (for no good reason), as well as not wanting to work or do things or pray.

            Cures included nailing bad thoughts to the Cross (mentally), persistence in routine, slight intensification of prayer, and “psalmody psalmody psalmody psalmody!”

  8. One of them is way better at it, but he’s finding out it too has limits.

    Summarizes the REAL kung flu crisis.

    Most folks are mostly functional, most of the time.

    Getting on two years of EXTREMLY high stress, after at least four of a reasonable minority being under stress….

    Folks are finding their limits. The bad way.

    1. Yeah, I’ve haven’t been sure if I’ve hit a limit of some sort, and had the bottom fall oout. Or if it will be easily fixable, once I know how to fix.

      Little bit productive onf the fixing front today, so may be fixable.

    2. This. Walking into the kung flu after dealing with over 6 years of 24/7 caretaking of someone with terminal illness… nothing wants to work and I am so tired. (And pfui on every news report that says there are jobs going begging. I keep applying and those jobs all apparently want twenty-year-old guys.)

      ATM I’m running mostly on “universe wants me dead, it has to come over here and kill me”.

      May have to try more caffeine. Used to be one cup of hot cocoa-with-trace-coffee would be enough to get through the day and keep off the worst of the black dog. Lately, no, not by half.

      1. I have *no idea* what is going on with some of these things– you’re at least the third person I’ve heard mention they can’t get an interview, but I also know places that are actually trying to find people to the tune of “will train” and they can’t *get* anybody unless they hire high school kids, with all the extra paperwork that involves.

        (Obviously, you’re not going to work at a pizza place, not with your allergies, but there SHOULD be something.)

        1. I got one in-person interview yesterday at a paint store. Was made clear they wanted someone who could heft 40-50 pounds. (This was not in the job description, BTW.)

          Which I can actually do. I know I may not look like it, but I can. I said I was fine with it. Asked questions about the paints, what they did, etc….

          Guy told me “well, the job just opened up, we’ll have to interview a lot more people, just keep checking your email.”

          …Well. When I got home, in my email was, “based on your video interview, we have decided to move forward with another candidate….”

          Yeah. I’m not having a good month.

        2. One theory I ran across was that there are places advertising jobs they don’t actually want to fill because of the requirements for I-forgot-the-name-of-the-grants.

          1. I can’t seem to find any grants that work that way– although it *would* explain why the places that are above-board enough that I’m talking to them, and seeing them hire kids even with the vast difficulties involved, are having issues while other places are basically creating issues.

            1. It was a condition for business COVID relief funds / loans that they had to try and hire back the same number of employees they had at the start of the pandemic. Obviously, if they can’t find workers, they shouldn’t be penalized. Very similar to employers putting out adverts for IT positions worded in such a way that American workers “weren’t available”, so obviously they needed H1Bs.

              1. I found some grants for hiring eligible workers, which seemed to be aimed at “replace your missing people,” but….

                I am getting heavy “fake ads for H1B” vibes from folks’ stories, too.

              2. employers putting out adverts for IT positions worded in such a way that American workers “weren’t available”

                Yes. 100%.

                Seeing that at my old employer. Rumor that the Canadian private equity firm that bought the business, has talked about farming out the programming portion to India. Difficulty finding programmers and keeping them. I just laughed. I can guess the reasons why. Going overseas won’t make the backlog get done faster.

      2. ATM I’m running mostly on “universe wants me dead, it has to come over here and kill me”.

        That’s the ticket. Live, if only to spite the bastards. Raise the Finger and tell ’em to go to hell.

      3. “universe wants me dead, it has to come over here and kill me”.
        Been running on that for over a decade. If it tries, I’ll probably say “Cool, but I’m not going alone!”.

  9. I don’t have ADD. I have “I don’t want to do it, so I will ignore it until I have no choice.” With the occasional round of “I don’t want to work that hard, so I will do another project/assignment/task instead so I am not being unproductive.” (Today I also have the sinus crud, which is not helping.)

    1. How you can tell it’s executive dysfunction: I just do weird things. I call it falling down rabbit holes. Like I’ll do stuff I’m not that interested in. But it’s there, and I started, so I do it.

      1. Younger daughter has ADD with STRONG executive function issues. It’s really weird. I remember that shed get stuck on homework or tasks like cleaning up would send her into a tizzy almost to the point of throwing a fit on the floor. All she needed was someone to do the ordering for her, do this then this then that. The act of planning itself when compounded with the tasks would overwhelm her. Even today having learned many coping strategies and being a very competent young engineer she will wedge herself and need to call or text someone and have us talk her down off of the ledge metaphorically.

        1. I used to call that phase “spinning”. When I’d have to start a new project as a programmer. Never really worked on a team so that wasn’t the problem. Not even my last job where we were working on the same program system and programs (no matter what the boss said, nope, not a chance). That was before I took the BSA Woodbadge (Adult Leadership the BSA way). What I realized was on new projects I was experiencing the same new team dynamics in a group of 2: 1 person, and one project. The process I worked out, worked for me? Others? YMMV. Ones I shared with didn’t appeal or didn’t work.

          1. Perhaps we could train Havelock? No that’s not going to work. First he’s a cat and as XKCD has taught us IQ varies inversely with distance to a cat. Second he’s a cat and being helpful is against their basic beliefs.

        2. Not the same thing, but I am reminded of the fellow who seemed to panic when confronted with a big-looking problem. In this case, “find the resistance between A and B of this network.” I’d simply cover up most of the diagram and ask him to work out one series or one parallel set of resistances. Then move the covering. Repeat. Repeat. Etc. “Oh, look, it’s done. That big problem was just a bunch of little problems ganging up.” This happened multiple times. Eventually he did realize he didn’t me to cover things up and could focus down all by himself.

  10. My parents and the teachers who gave me grades and comments like “You could be perfect if you applied yourself”

    Triggered! 😀

    I was diagnosed with ADD* at age 48, so almost nine years ago. My marriage was foundering, and I was desperate to figure out if there was something I could do about it. I went to a psychiatrist who prescribed anti-depression meds (because I was depressed because I was blaming myself for all my marriage problems), but that really didn’t work and the meds made me feel awful

    At a friend’s suggestion, I looked up a doctor who specialized in ADD. His assistant had me fill out a nine-page questionnaire (that I now know was copied from three or four popular books), and then she took it back to the doctor in his office. Fifteen minutes later, he brought me in and said, “Let me tell you your life story,” and he got everything right except for the “f***up in school” part.

    I did well in school because I was interested in learning stuff, so while I always got good grades I could never remember to bring back my permission slip, or sign up to check out my band uniform, or any of the myriad side tasks required by school. Like Sarah, by the time I got to the end of college I was done for — I failed a hard class I never should have taken second semester senior year, because I stayed up late watching TV and couldn’t get myself out of bed to go to class. After making up the credit over the summer, I went to law school, and the same thing happened: I was moderately interested in the subject but couldn’t ever make it to class because I no longer cared.

    Also, I’m not a very extreme case: I’m not jumping-out-of-my-chair hyperactive (although I compulsively fidget) and I don’t wander off from my shopping cart. I’m a hyperfocus type. And I don’t seem to have the self-interrupting thoughts problem — although a different psychologist I saw started our initial interview by deliberately going off on multiple tangents on top of tangents, and when I followed right along without getting confused he said that was a diagnostic signal he used since he also had ADD.

    I’ve deliberately maneuvered myself into a career where I get to do something I’m interested in — web development — so I’m not a screwup at work. (Before that it was digital prepress, and when I got bored with that I switched careers.) And helpfully, my work situation is one where nobody really cares if I goof off for a few days and then get my task done in the last couple of days of the sprint. And I’ve informed all my managers that if they want the best out of me they’ll point me toward new work instead of maintenance, and keep me out of the management track.

    My problem (and I think I’ve mentioned this here before) is that while I can concentrate on the big interesting thing I can never remember the uninteresting little things. On that doctor’s prescription, I took Adderall for about six months, and all it accomplished was to make me grind my teeth and clench my jaw and lose (temporarily) fifteen pounds. It did not help me concentrate on my job, because I was fine doing that already, and it did not help me remember the side tasks like, oh, calling the electrician, or stopping by the store to get that one kind of bread my wife wanted, or what have you, and that stuff is what made my wife so angry.

    So I stopped taking it, and concentrated on survival strategies instead. I never lose my keys, because they’re always in the right front pocket of the pants I’m wearing or were wearing last. And so forth.

    I find it pretty easy to work on house projects or sewing projects, but I put off washing the dishes until I’m literally out of clean ones, and I can’t seem to bring myself to clean the catboxes regularly, and I still can’t remember to call the $PROFESSIONAL. Oh, I’ll think about it, and then inevitably find something more interesting to do instead. And if I have a deadline I still put off the prep for it (costume for a party or whatever) until the last minute.

    Anyway, you know what doesn’t help with executive dysfunction? Convincing yourself you’re both lazy and stupid, and trying to abuse and berate yourself into doing what needs to be done

    Oh hell yes. One of the best insights I learned from reading about ADD is that there is no “just don’t make mistakes”. There is no “I can just control how my brain works.” Blaming yourself for neurodivergence (and I kinda hate that term too) is like blaming yourself for tasting soap when you eat cilantro.

    I know a lot of people who have been helped immensely by medication (I just happen to not be one of them). Prior commenters were right that there are a lot of different drugs and different formulations, so keep trying until you find the right one. And definitely look up a doctor who specializes in ADD diagnosis and treatment, because often they have it themselves.

    (* I commented on someone else’s FB post about them wondering if they had ADD, with much the same content as in this comment, and a third person came on to scold me that “we call it ADHD now, because ‘ADD’ is stigmatizing.” I responded with “1. Adding ‘hyperactivity’ is somehow *less* stigmatizing? 2. I’m not particularly hyperactive. 3. ADD is what it was always called until about five minutes ago. 4. Finally, I’m the one with the syndrome, not you, so I’ll call it whatever the hell I want,”)

      1. OK, WTAF? Run, do not walk from that doctor. There was a pediatrician that filled in for the girls pediatrician who thought there was no such thing as ADD whatsoever (older dude). He caused more trouble in the couple months their pediatrician was out on maternity for the girls that took us at least a year to fix. That kind of attitude is still out there in the medical community, and not just about ADD, but about other issues which do not have obvious physical causes and it does a lot of harm.

      2. Second the “run, don’t walk, away” advice. About the only part of that that is remotely true is that the hyperactivity that many ADHD kids exhibit gets toned down in adults. I was constantly fidgeting as a child; as an adult, I fidget no more than most non-ADHD people do. Physically, that is; my mental processes are a different story. But the hyperactivity part is no longer visible in me (or in many adults with ADD). However, I doubt that’s what your doctor meant.

    1. One of the things that got me to clean the cat boxes regularly was cleaning up messes made by the elderly cat that didn’t want to use a dirty box.

      And a clean box that gets bleached once a month seems to result in fewer UTIs. Also, you can’t tell there are cats in the house until you see them!

      … sometimes I feel like I should miss having cats, but I think I don’t.

    2. If I let myself, I will rave for paragraphs on the theme of ‘I hate the word neurodivergence’.

      Yeah, on “can’t just willpower up, and make the brain operate ‘properly’ or at least more functionally”. I’ve tried hard enough that I would have had a little success, if it is possible for anyone.

      Forgiving myself for this issues, and figuring out productive coping mechanisms, or fixes to immediate symptoms, has gone a long way.

  11. I have ADD and executive dysfunction, as does the Dragonette. I tried Adderall about 10 years ago, and it did nothing for me. I need to put the effort into finding something that works. My Dragonette is handling things mostly by having a schedule and using rewards (she gets a sticker for every completed school assignment and a bonus for completing the semester on time. Yes, she’s 16). She needs to avoid medication because she wants to go to Mars, and use of meds like that disqualify her for military service.

  12. I felt like you opened up the top of my head and looked inside and said things.
    Not exactly, just really close, as if the ball was bouncing on the right wall two out of four times.
    In a crazy way, reading this blog helped.
    And Foxfier nailed it, too. A couple of years of insane stress has pushed us all in a different direction.

  13. Reading this sounds so much like a conversation my youngest brother and I had while we were at Dad’s place for Christmas. How all four of us siblings have trouble with attention and focus. How we struggle to do tasks that don’t engage us, but can “fall down the rabbit hole” on something that really engages us, to the point other important things zoom right past us. Our difficulty with things that seem to be just arbitrary hoops. How we don’t react well to being surprised or startled, and getting punished for “panicking” only ensures a worse reaction the next time.

    I’m doing better on keeping focused and moving forward on projects than I was during most of 2020, but I’m still having trouble. And I’m wondering whether I’ll be able to maintain progress on the writing when convention season starts in a little over a month. Last year I was going fairly well in the first several months (once the Inauguration was over and it was clear we were in this mess for the long haul), but once we started having conventions, writing became fragmented again. I kept up with my weekly newsletters for a while, but I stopped doing swaps because I didn’t want to promise someone a swap and then not get it done because I was overwhelmed with convention stuff — and my sales promptly flatlined. And by October, even getting newsletters out at all was getting hit and miss (not helped by whatever knocked me flat the weekend after Indiana Comic Con). I didn’t really get back on track until the beginning of this year, when I told myself I had to.

    Making a daily to-do list is helping — but I have to make sure to get items on it, especially one-offs and things that happen irregularly, as opposed to daily, weekly, monthly etc. and projects in progress. But I still have trouble getting started with certain kinds of tasks: anything tedious, especially involving arithmetic (taxes are an uphill battle every year, although I’ll tell myself this time I’m going to start early), anything that causes anxiety (especially stuff that’s socially fraught or apt to cause unpleasant conflict), anything that’s big and complicated to the point it’s hard to see where to start or the sheer magnitude makes it overwhelming.

  14. Writing used to be my go-to distraction when there were things I *needed* to do (just not right then) but didn’t want to- yet. I built entire worlds complete with myths, history, squabbling factions, heroes, villains, normal slobs, parents, children, pets, and magic. I scribbled down ideas that snowballed into stories. Somehow along the way I ended up with a few things that other people read and enjoyed.

    I’d like to go back to that place, where I could write for hours on end and only stop when I had to go to the bathroom (food? sleep? I tend to forget about such things when focused). Nowadays finding time to write and actually writing has gotten harder. If you find a magic trick to get that gotta-do-it thing going, don’t Bogart the goods. Share, eh?

      1. Yeah, must love the story. I can’t do it on command, and also have to be *really* into the story. And, oddly enough, when I’m slightly sick or extremely tired sometimes the words just flow and I don’t even notice it.

        Eh, I’d think you were weird if you loved *every* story. I mean. All of them, all parts and pieces? Who does that?

  15. A lot of this sounds familiar to me, too, though these days it’s more of a frustration from the boring nature of the work even on busy days at the Realm of the Overlords (not helped by mandatory overtime and frequent department drama) thing combined with me not even wanting to game on days off. And getting focused on stupid things online zombie-style, including ones I’ve read several times, keeping me from that or from playing with the cats, who I missed a lot while I was out. I feel like I owe the would otherwise be therapy cats R and C better than this for an extra helping of guilt. And like Fox mentioned, the Covidiocy does wear you down, like the scare we had with jab or weekly test plus diapers (no, wait, Moronic means we all diaper up now) at the Realm before the mandate was officially blocked (they were trying to hide behind OSHA to do it and were acting like their victory in court was inevitable for extra jab pressure). Not sure what it’s going to take to restore my own functions, especially since sleeplessness has been a big part of it, but here’s hoping I can do so soon. I’ve got a big move to finish and not a lot of time to do it in…

  16. Never been diagnosed with ADD or been on meds. But oh boy, do some of the above stories relate!

    Ability to sit in class or meeting without zoning out, unless able to fidget. Not a chance. Not in school, which is why I wrote (disposed of) or read. Not my entire working career. I’m 65.

    One of the advantages of my first career … no meetings. Just measure, and write down judgements, all outdoors (stupid owl and mountain). OTOH not very interesting an kind of rote work (too easy to mess up on important after action steps).

    My second career and being hyper focused … well there is a reason why my desk had to, and I do mean HAD TO, be facing the door or cubical entry point. Even better in cubicle if I could put a wall between my desk and the opening making whomever coming in had to detour past that wall. I’d be so focused on what I was doing that it was just a matter of time before killing someone having a heart attack when interrupted. Pure routine maintenance programming was hell heck. Luckily didn’t do much of that. Oh, I repeatably worked on same programs, but routine maintenance was not the reason. They needed new functionality and expansion.

  17. Is it possible that chemo and prednisone rewired my brain? I am always telling myself not to be lazy– and I can’t seem to set up or stick to a routine (for the last five years now). I used to be able to hyperfocus and can’t anymore. Squirrel!!!!

    1. I also get bored with a field after ten years. (that’s the normal me) I like new things and new thoughts. I can’t seem to finish things unless I push it.

    2. That sounds like exhaustion– especially “not enough sleep” type where you might be getting the hours, but the sleep you get is the kind where your body is shutting down to get enough repaired for so long that it doesn’t get time to do the REM you need.

      1. Well I do wake often because of the dialysis machine. Will be two years in May. Plus I do get day naps… I feel lucky if I get one major thing done. LIke tomorrow I’m making bread.

    3. a) Exhaustion or a metabolic change could easily be everything.
      b) Brain chemistry /is/ extremely delicate, and can be permanently changed by temporary things.

      Prednisone? That isn’t so uniformly kind and gentle a drug that it would be impossible.

      And Chemo is notoriously harsh.

      Could be, a lot of the issues that are screwed up neurochemistry are not exactly completely and fully understood.

      1. I’ve noticed a huge change in my ability to think as it applies to IQ. So I wouldn’t be surprised if that also caused other problems. But exhaustion could also be part of the problem. Sadly I don’t see how that will change for the next few years — due to my dialysis taking place at night.

          1. 🙂 lol I know. Don’t hurry too much. I found that if I get that transplant too early, Medicare will quit paying the bills until I turn 62 (or 65). They drop people who are young after they get a transplant. I’ll get it when I get it and it will be GOOD>

      2. When I get a transplant– then I’ll be back on prednisone and an immunosuppressant. I’m not looking forward to that. I hope there is more research in the kidney field by the time I need a transplant.

    4. Yes, chemo brain is a form of closed head trauma. Damage can be localized but often it is diffused throughout and impacts the neural connections and information storage functions. It is difficult for medical people to recognize and treat, though the medical profession is getting better at it. Endocrine changes may be especially pernicious and affect mood, pain, energy levels, and other regulatory pathways.

    5. There’s a whole school of thought that ADD can be caused by head trauma, and different varieties of ADD map to injuries to different areas of the brain, so I think it’s entirely possible that a chemical, non-traumatic brain injury might induce ADD.

      (My dad definitely did not have ADD and I don’t think my mom did either, and I certainly fell on the ice and bonked my noggin plenty of times when I was little, so…)

      1. When my husband was a kid he was diagnosed with “minor brain injury” because they hadn’t figured out ADHD yet. No word on how he was supposed to have injured his brain though. I don’t think either of his parents were ADD or ADHD, but maybe his mom was, I don’t know. Maybe it’s recessive, too?

        My mom is likely where I got my ADD (not diagnosed). My husband spent a good number of years toasted on ritalin. My kids, two have it bad. Two seem normal, but that’s compared to the rest of us, so…

        1. It’s possible that women are just better on average at making coping mechanisms– that social skills can cover up for a lot of symptoms. (Can be rephrased as expressing differently, since sometimes the coping mechanisms are worse for the individual than the thing they’re coping for! Say, being easily socially overwhelmed.)

          It’s also possible that there’s multiple routes to the same symptoms. 😀

      2. Since I was on immunosuppressants (one of them Cytoxan) for 16 years and prednisone for at least ten years– I think I could be a poster child for brain trauma.

    6. This is a big maybe. Back almost 10 years ago I had a run in with lymphoma and ended up with chemo once every 21 days for 6 sessions ending each session with high dose prednisone for 4 days. The prednisone made me feel like a squirrel on meth. And definitely near the last two treatments I had pretty severe chemo brain. Even now 10 years later I approach the date of that 5th treatment and I feel some dread that I can’t call out. Closer in time wise I used to feel ill on that date like Frodo re experiencing his attack by the ring wraiths every year. It was darned weird and disconcerting, and lasted 4-5 years. I have a hard time telling if the chemo took a toll on my abilities that is permanent. I feel slightly less capable but I am 10 years older now 60+ so that might be it too. I have noticed that my voice (singing especially) got more resonant in the lower range, but that too could just be aging. Still have some neuropathy in my feet from that time, but type 2 diabetic so might be unrelated to chemo. So at least in my experience not so as I can tell. That said who knows, one of the drugs I had is derived from mustard gas after an accident near a cancer hospital in Italy exposed many patients to the mustard gas and some got better (for a while). Drugs like that are rather powerful and have many unexpected side effects. Many of the Chemotherapy drugs are like the early arsenic treatments for syphilis. Cure the patient with doses that kill the bug but don’t (quite) kill the patient.

      1. I was on immunosuppressants for 16 years– Cytoxan for 1 year, Methotrexate, Imuran and Cellcept. I was on Prednisone for at least 10 years including a year of weaning. I’ve only been off the immunosuppressant for 2 years. For the prednisone I was on 100 mg daily for six months and it took years to wean to 40 mg. More years to wean to ten. Then to zero took at least a year or more. I have an immediate reaction to prednisone when I am put back on it even when it is only for a five day period.

        1. I do know that there has been permanent damage to my ability to remember things– although I do a lot of alternative methods to remember what I can. When I go to the store I used to remember long lists. Now I’m good if I remember three things. Even with a shopping handwritten list, I will lose at least one of the items. So fun times.

        2. Prednisone for 10 years? Madam you have my deepest sympathy, I could barely stand it for 4-5 days 6 times. And yes prednisone can exacerbate incipient Type 2 Diabetes. It can also make cataracts worse, or start them in younger folk.

      2. I should mention that folks with my disease found that they would get Type 2 Diabetes from prednisone and some of the immunosuppressants which would carry over after they were weaned from the drugs. Did the meds cause the Type 2? I think so– The doctors are more squirrely on the subject, but they test every one on these drugs for diabetes while they are on the drugs. I was lucky to not get that side effect.

  18. I wanted to paste in the Princess Bride gif, but WordPress delenda est.

    Might try Concerta this spring. It seems to be given to kids more than adults, but if adderall didn’t cut it, maybe give that a try.

  19. So a question for everybody who’s commenting: my Kid is ADHD in everything but diagnosis, and I’m working on that. (I may well be myself, but I have reached a working truce with my brains.) The best metaphor I have is that she has an amazing engine, but she can’t get any traction for her wheels. And watching her try is tearing me up.

    So: mid-teens, homeschooled, blindingly quick-witted but depressed because she can’t be as effective as she KNOWS she could be. Any tips?

    1. Go through the “ADHD coping mechanisms for adults” and make a list of the stuff that isn’t make-you-feel-better?

      Stuff like this:

      I’d rephrase it as something like:
      Schedule exercise every day;
      recognize that this stuff is you trying to fix the problem;
      schedule transition time at least a few times a day;
      write out a system to set priorities;
      examine what you have now that works, and if possible why;
      make your schedule based on priorities and what works for you;
      break jobs down into relatively short steps;
      keep examining what you’re doing to identify what is working.

      Some of these are useful both because they are aimed as solving the problem– and because they let you know where the problem isn’t. It’s a tool against the blanking black dog that is insisting that you’re useless and can’t do anything.

      1. Thank you. The black dog runs all over our family with gigantic saucer-sized paws, but ADHD is…not something I’m used to dealing with. Even if I DO have suspicions of my own personal brain. 🙂 We’ve done tolerably well with half a year of homeschooling, but I’m gonna rearrange about half of it for the second part of the year.

        1. I swear, the more I hear about coping mechanisms, and symptoms, and methods for dealing with stuff, the more I see *massive* overlap– and adding in that apparently for a *lot* of these things, girl are able to paper it over with better social skills at the cost of very high anxiety?

          The amount of misdiagnosis because so many things are based on symptoms and fads is just awe inspiring, and not in a good way!

    2. Try this site for support and resources: https://www.additudemag.com/
      I have found many useful things to help me help students find things that work for them. After the last two years, I am seeing a huge increase in students referred to occupational therapy for testing and treatment to address issues of ADD and ADHD as it is negatively affecting their learning and school performance. I suspect the lockdowns and social isolation have had an inordinate impact.

    3. OK as noted earlier I have 2 daughters both ADD and related issues (though they did public schools) my recommendations
      1) Find a professional that does learning testing (particularly ADD/ADHD) and have your daughter evaluated. Why? First there is a HUGE spectrum of things that present as ADD and knowing particular limitations/difficulties helps find fixes/ coping strategies. As she should be about ready to take SAT/ACT having that diagnosis may be able to get her accommodations for the testing which will make it less frustrating and a productive session for her.
      2) Look around and find a local set of educators/tutors that specialize in helping students with ADD. With the above analysis they should be able to help her by adding some coping strategies and techniques. Both my daughters benefited from this, and the tutors were delighted to have high functioning ADD folks to work with as many of their charges have very severe impairments.
      3) When/If she goes to college make sure she has a copy of the testing and takes it to the schools educational office. This may again get her accommodations that will help make her college experience less stressful. As these things are part of the Americans with Disabilities Act schools take this seriously. Both my daughters did this, one at a Christian Liberal arts school and one at a competitive engineering school. In both cases it was an immense help, but in college SHE will have to take the action as she will be 18 and the school will not talk to you other than to take your money

      That survey in 1) will take $1.5-3K but will be well worth it for the stress reduction she’ll get in a variety of things and in the ability to focus other efforts on overcoming the specific issues she has.
      Good luck and G*d bless.

  20. As a mom of an adult child with Executive Function Disorder and a speech pathologist who has worked with children and adults with ADD/ADHD and various cognitive issues that don’t always neatly fall into their own category, I feel your frustration. Please find a specialist/ therapist who has a lot of experience in your diagnosis. Try looking at university speech clinics where they work in this area. This person should have more of a life coach approach and not one who just wants to immediately throw the standard meds at you and walk away. You will need to find a balance of when to medicate and when to wean off. For example, medicate when you know that you will absolutely need to be on top of your game and wean off when you need to tap into your creative side. It will require working with someone who is objective and can help you ferret out what works for you and fine tune it. My daughter’s problems cannot be helped by medications, only compensations. She’s incredibly bright, but mildly brain damaged from a late diagnosed genetic condition that put extreme pressure on her brain for years as a child. She had no symptoms for 7 years. She compensated well until AP classes in high school. Her working memory basically misfiles complex newly learned information and then under pressure cannot quickly or accurately recall it. She bombed tests, but would pull up her grades to B’s or A’sthrough projects. College started out fine until she got to her second year and the pace of class and amount of information to process just became too overwhelming to her. She began failing her classes and sunk into depression, feeling so stupid. We tried to help her find a specialist, and did, but at the end of the day, she just wanted to be left alone and get on with her life, which we had to respect. It took some medication, therapy, and time-10 years for her to find her way, but she has. She works as a cashier in a business with animals, which she loves. Pay is not enough to live on, but she is happy and has found her group of friends. She lives with me and her dad. Life throws us curves some times. We don’t deserve them, but we do have to figure out how to deal with them. I wish you luck on your journey to figuring out what’s best for you. I believe you will look back one day soon and realize that your ADD is that special part of you that has allowed you to be so successful in your writing.

    1. Oh, and I don’t have problems being creative on adderal. I’m putting off dealing with getting a prescription because it’s “one more thing” while I’m overwhelmed, and because when I’m this stress, it just helps waste time faster.

  21. This is my life right now, and I don’t like it. At all.
    I’ve got school coming up. Need to make sure everything is good for the degree and graduation and such.
    I need to find an internship to fill 120 hours in twelve weeks. And fake at least two to four items for my portfolio (I have two items, maybe).
    I’m lucky that I don’t have to go to campus for at least three weeks (one of the few times I’m thankful for the Crow Flu).
    I’m behind on The Winter Solist.
    I’ve got to figure out how to write two short stories for anthologies.
    I have to get some of my other ideas organized and outlined.
    I need to figure out how to market Solist At Large more, so I can can eat more than once a month at Taco Bell (everybody needs a measurement system…).
    I’ve got to find some joy in that time, because I need to get my head out of my butt and actually have fun, and not a distraction.
    …and spend very little because I’m out of unemployment, I can’t find a job with this schedule, and if I’m lucky the internship will be a paid one…but it probably won’t be paid.

    I’m lucky in many ways, I know. But…my brain sees problems and there’s this little scared scream going on of “I can’t do this!”. And, the only way I can stop the scream is to make sense of things, get organized, and try to Keep Calm And Bugger On.

    1. That’s me with what’s going on with the house, and going “if it doesn’t go through it’s going to be a mess. And do I keep appointment with friend to come and fix it? And– argh”

      1. KCBO, Great Aunt. Keep Calm and Bugger On. That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned the last two years (that, and Adderaol was not what I needed, I needed anti-anxiety meds. Two of the secondary effects of blood pressure meds have done more for me that anything). I’ve got a lot that has to get done-and I’m going to sort like hell to keep on top of things.

        And if the plan fails, time to get a new plan. Worry about the new plan if the old plan fails.

  22. It’s hard to balance two different planes of reality, and try to function at the same time. The miracle is that we can do it with any level of success.

    I have a few good friends who I can have a real conversation with, complete with sidelines on the sidelines and the ability to come back to a topic we covered half an hour ago (or two days ago, for that matter) without a hitch. Few people can do that. I don’t consider it a negative. My best friends are people who can think five different ways at once.

    We’re told all our lives that we need to live up to a neurotypical standard, when that standard is +/- 90 degrees off from where we live in our heads. So there’s a break with reality, with training saying we aren’t good enough (because we don’t fit a very narrow pattern) and our own internal reality demanding to know why.

    Social expectations say keep a clean house–41 degrees off says I washed the dishes yesterday and I have other things to do. Social expectations say that you must wear matching socks. 83 degrees off says they’re both soft and they cover my feet so why does it matter? Social expectations say you must turn in that paper for a grade. 72 degrees off imagines the paper made into an origami butterfly, which leads to the differences in insect species, which leads to thinking through the logistics of a subterranean civilization, and you find yourself staring at two chapters finished on a new story about a space civilization that burrows into asteroids. “How did I get there?” The whole chain of thought takes milliseconds. Social expectations say you must do all and be all to all people, and 108 degrees off ends up researching knitting patterns.

    Following the train of thought that led to a certain point of interest can be fascinating.

    1. I’ve found that you can fake a lot of the “neurotypical” by having a schedule. “When did I last clean my house?” (Six months ago.) BAD.

      “Well, I got an alert that I need to vacuum tomorrow.” (Set it up every other day, because we have dog glitter.) GOOD.

    2. My mother, brother and I would have what I called “braided conversations”. We would be talking to each other on 3 or 4 different topics at the same time. After listening to us one time, my husband said his head hurt trying to keep track.

  23. ADD is highly-adapted predator behavior, and not at all abnormal for a persistence predator like H.sapiens. It’s only a problem when you’re prevented from hunting. (Which can be broadly defined as acquiring targets, of any sort.)

  24. Damn, I’m seeing all kinds of things I do listed here. And, I’m seeing some potential coping strategies. I don’t think I’ve ever really sat down and thought about why I do what I do. But the wait until the last minute and get everything done in a week that I had a couple months to do…yeah. And I have a really hard time sometimes getting started on things and I can go haring off on tangents really easily. I’ve just always considered myself a professional procrastinator. The things you learn about yourself at age 60…

  25. I’m not ADD but I did just get diagnosed as being autistic. Still mulling that one over and wishing I knew any autistic women I could talk to. Apparently executive dysfunction is also a problem for ASD.

  26. Wouldn’t matter if you’d gotten a professional pshrink diagnosis with all the bells and whistles. You could still be sitting at the other end of the 00s and 1s aether reading this as a blinding light went off: Is that’s what’s (also) wrong with my brain?

    In other news your Boxing Day cheque went elsewhere, but it’s still top of the discretionary funds list.

  27. I have a very bad habit of frequently not being able to wait for someone to finish speaking. I’ll anticipate by context and end up saying it for them (usually being correct 90% of the time) merely because I’m tired of waiting for them to get there. Wife and oldest son both have ADD. She uses Adderall, he uses Mountain Dew Red simply because it’s cheaper and he dislikes taking meds as much as the rest of us. I suspect I’m close to the ADD range myself, as well as having some autistic tendencies; but only enough to qualify as being odd, and not to the point of dysfunctionality. Hyperfocus? Oh man yes. Coding, martial arts, building electronics, painting miniatures, various arts and crafts, reading, etc. Come to think of it, having a myriad of different things you like to do for a while each might also be a tell for ADD.

    1. I have a very bad habit of frequently not being able to wait for someone to finish speaking. I’ll anticipate by context and end up saying it for them (usually being correct 90% of the time) merely because I’m tired of waiting for them to get there.

      Guilty of this too. I’ve gotten better. Because I’ve gotten tired of getting called on it. Now they complain “you don’t talk”. Would it help if I said “Correct. You cured me of any talking.”? No? Didn’t think so.

      1. :grumbles:
        Yep, either “you never shutup” or “you never talk,” often from the same folks, and don’t get me *started* on getting yelled at for interrupting when I finish the sentence they ran over the top of….

        That said, love this shirt.

        1. I get that from my husband from time to time. He pauses so long between sentences that I think he’s finished and I start to reply. Then I’m interrupting him.

  28. It’s a curse and a gift. The accomodations we make are comical. Study in a quiet library? Nope. Study with music blaring? Yep. I know exactly how long it will take me to accomplish a task and am unable to start until I reach that point. I drive my wife batty with tax returns. I don’t start until the due date and the electronic filing is always ready and submitted 15 minutes before deadline. My brain does not engage until it absolutely needs to but once engaged, it is laser focused. I remember elementary school writing projects where the teacher would demand a series of outlines on note cards as a way of organizing and preparing a final draft. I thought that was the stupidest and most collossal waste of time ever invented and I refused to do them. My first draft was my final draft and somehow my brain had been organizing everything all along-everything came out in order from my brain to the pen. The curse: we know that there is something “wrong” (different) with us but it is the source of our success. And, we can drive our spouses or significant others completely batty as they can never truly figure us out. Just my take!

  29. One thing about making friends with people who understand you because they do the same things is that it starts to feel like everyone is like this and I/you probably are just lazy and need to shape up.

    I paid on my credit card yesterday.

    I’d been starting to feel a growing anxiety and it got bad enough that I realized what was going on and I thought, probably it’s because I hadn’t even checked my bank balance or credit card balance and I should because for all I knew it was over-due, so I sat down and I *almost* didn’t do it anyway, but somehow I managed to find my password, log into the bank, and pay my credit card. Took about five minutes. It almost didn’t happen.

    Am I lazy? I don’t think so. If I don’t have to prepare, organize, or plan, I can work very hard and enjoy working hard. I avoid doing things I enjoy, want to do, and find rewarding.

    But it all ends up to the same place in the end. Are “normal” people really different? Are things really any easier for anyone else or is it the same and I’m just particularly susceptible to sloth? Am I somehow trying to feel SPECIAL.??

    Sarah, you should get the meds, even if only for a period of time, to establish new routines in your new place, get all the executive function taken care of and in a place where preparing, organizing, and planning doesn’t have to happen every time you need to do your billing. You can plan on it being temporary and then trying to go off the meds again.

    Me? I have enough space on my credit card that I should probably just make an appointment for a full in-person psych evaluation for ADD. My insurance pays after a diagnosis, but not to get one. So…I should just DO that. Just saying that and I’m already winding myself up in my mind about how that might not be successful. Brilliant.

  30. “A friend recently said that he’s getting very tired of everyone labeling themselves “neuro atypical.” Mostly because when everyone is neuro-atypical, no one is. Is there even a “neuro-typical”? yeah, sure. There is a range. Out of that range things get dicey.”

    Yes, “neuro-atypical’ has become the “I’m having PMS” of the current year. Any personal failing can be excused by wailing “but I’m neuro-atypical!” and starting to cry. Looks good on a 30 yer old out of shape man, I must say.

    Once upon a time we had a social technology that took care of this sort of thing. By learning and employing this ‘one simple trick’ even the weirdos out on the third-sigma of the bell-curve could function perfectly well in society.

    That technology was called Formality. A set of behaviors appropriate to any occasion. Otherwise known as “good manners” it was taught to all strata of society, from the highest to the lowest. The social grease that allowed Western civilization to glide and not grind horribly when it got to a corner.

    All thrown out the window in favor of the bourgeois bohemian “anything goes” bullshit of [current year.] Now you have to follow the crowd rather closely to appear “normal”. Tempting to blame the Communists, but the foundation of of Western Formality’s downfall was built before WWI.

    1. That technology was called Formality. A set of behaviors appropriate to any occasion. Otherwise known as “good manners” it was taught to all strata of society, from the highest to the lowest. The social grease that allowed Western civilization to glide and not grind horribly when it got to a corner.


  31. “A friend recently said that he’s getting very tired of everyone labeling themselves “neuro atypical.” Mostly because when everyone is neuro-atypical, no one is. Is there even a “neuro-typical”? yeah, sure. There is a range. Out of that range things get dicey.”

    Yes, “neuro-atypical’ has become the “I’m having PMS” of the current year. Any personal failing can be excused by wailing “but I’m neuro-atypical!” and starting to cry. Looks good on a 30 yer old out of shape man, I must say.

    Once upon a time we had a social technology that took care of this sort of thing. By learning and employing this ‘one simple trick’ even the weirdos out on the third-sigma of the bell-curve could function perfectly well in society.

    That technology was called Formality. A set of behaviors appropriate to any occasion. Otherwise known as “good manners” it was taught to all strata of society, from the highest to the lowest. The social grease that allowed Western civilization to glide and not grind horribly when it got to a corner.

    All thrown out the window in favor of the bourgeois bohemian “anything goes” bullshit of [current year.] Now you have to follow the crowd rather closely to appear “normal”. Tempting to blame the Communists, but the foundation of of Western Formality’s downfall was built before WWI.

    Of note is the hilarious attempt by The Woke to re-assert “proper manners” by insisting their racial/gender/victim-group fantasies be respected with pronoun etiquette, trigger warnings, and conspicuous statements of Woke piety in support of approved groups. Example, your Twitter feed must mention support of native land claims, but must NOT express support for freedom of speech.

    As to the rest of it, like beating yourself up so you get more work done, it’s stupid. You’re allowed to be less than 1000% effective 24/7/365. You’re allowed to have a off day. You’re allowed to have an off year. I had an off half-decade, and the angels did not come down to give me a fine.

    It’s not a race. There’s no prize at the end for the guy who works the hardest, or has the most stuff.

  32. I don’t have ADD, but I have kids, and when they’re young, they’re almost external ADD. Right now they’re older, but I’m still very involved, so a lot of my stuff ends up back-burnered in favor of theirs. (I need to do an online training so my kid can sell cookies—long story short, the leader can’t.)

    But what I do have is an iron deficiency. And my pills ran out last week. And the iron deficiency makes me… fatigued. I have gotten my new pills, but the irony of needing to get up the energy to remember to get the energy pills is not lost on me, much like it isn’t lost on my ADD adult friends that they have to have the executive function together to get the executive function drugs—on a monthly basis. (Much easier for me, an adult with a reasonable amount of focus, to get the stuff for my ADHD daughter.)

  33. Check out Neurofeedback. It’s been happening under the guise of biofeedback since the 1960’s. Permanent change to ADD/ADHD, Insomnia and conditions like Anxiety. It’s not a disorder, it is the way your brain functions, but it can be adjusted permanently for the better to improve executive functioning. If you are in the States, check out Braincore. It’s non-invasive and the laziest therapy I have ever done. All you do is watch TV and your brain does the rest. 10/10 recommend for improving executive function (an no, insurance won’t cover it because of the lobbyists, it’s too effective and would put many drug manufacturers out of work…)

  34. I’m in this post and lived with it all my life, mostly without meds. I do self-medicate a little bit with Caffeine (A little bit? Who the HELL am I trying to kid?), but in the end, I function in the large without all of that.

    It’s as much a personality trait as anything else…and you either learn to deal with it or drug yourself. Think of it as a mind in overdrive as much as anything else. All. The. Time.

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