It’s that time of year to reflect and ponder, to look at our triumphs and failures. It’s that time when we swear a solemn oath that next year there will be more triumphs and hopefully fewer failures. We look at our list of resolutions knowing hoping, no…PRAYING that next year will be different. Wait a minute! Stop! What moron put “the new year” in the middle of winter? How can anyone who is in a deep depression caused by Seasonal Affective Disorder be able to stick to their new year resolutions? SADers can barely function during this time of year. I propose that SADers create a new calendar. It will be identical to the Gregorian calendar in every respect except one: June 1st will be declared New Year Resolutions Day. If you suffer from SAD, then YOUR new year resolutions start, not in the middle of the winter, but in the middle of spring when your depression is long gone. We know that next year, finally, FINALLY, that we will be all that we can be.
The Blog’s New Clothes, aka Jeff ver. 2.0
In January 2010 I debuted a new look (now “the current look”) for my blog, taking it from the monochrome world to the world of living color. This redesign has, in a sense, given me permission to come out of the ADHD closet. It has given me the ability to go well beyond the written typed word. Through digital images, faux magazines, videos and podcasts I have been able to express myself in ways I never thought possible. Doesn’t everyone, ADHD or not, need a way to express themselves? For me it is my blog (and a few other activities) but the medium of expression can be one’s home (decorating; building/repairing), it can be cooking, teaching, etc. I’ve also created other personas, such as Peter DeLaVerita, Dr. Vinnie Goombatz – The Organized Crime Doctor For The Disorganized Mind, and Dr. Schmaltzowitz – the Jewish ADHD Coaching as yet other ways to express myself. But the redesign was also accompanied by a mashup of non-ADHD topics and I’m rethinking the wisdom of that change. My political views are now on a separate blog and, if time permits, I will resurrect my cooking blog. I will refocus my blog on its “core” values. (More on this later in this post.)
Though currently on hiatus, my collaboration with Zoë Kessler in the He Said/She Said series has allowed for a very different exploration of the world of Adult ADHD. While I am proud of the work done in the He Said/She Said columns (and Zoë’s great editing work), I am proudest of the He Said/She Said videos (here and here). The contrast between us – expressed through language and body style – is quite interesting. In my next lifetime, when I don’t have the curse of being sexy, I’ll attend film school. The hours spent editing the videos made it obvious (to me) how the interplay between text, the video edits and the background music all contributed to the effectiveness of the video. Even the “blooper” sequence at the end of the second video was funnier because of the music. It’s fascinating to see how much a film/video is a technological tapestry woven from various “threads.” While on the subject of videos, I am truly honored to be hosting the Candid Health Series Videos. These videos, dealing with ADHD, depression, addiction and anxiety, exemplify the resiliency of the human spirit despite some significant obstacles. There are many more videos in the series, covering such topics as breast cancer, quitting smoking, stress management and other health-related issues.
Reach Out and Help Someone
No one is an island. Despite my tendency toward being a lone wolf (“I can do this myself.” Yeah. Right. Keep believing that!) we find that when we open ourselves up we find new dimensions of ourselves and of others. Someone who has helped this lone wolf in so many ways is Gina Pera. Through our numerous emails, discussions, her book and her blogs, she has shown that adult ADHD can be tamed…it just takes work. I have also benefited enormously from the discussions I’ve had with Betsy Davenport, Scott Hutson, Katy Rollins and the many visitors to this blog. I also want to thank Jennifer Koretsky for her wonderfully written newsletters and Dr. Parker for the fascinating, path breaking work that he is doing and Dr. Russell Barkley who, it seems, has been channeling some of my earlier posts (see this and this). Perhaps, I’ve been channeling his work. I’ve learned a lot, from the words and deeds, of many other friends and relatives, and especially my cousin whose work inspires me to reach for more. Her Project You magazine is a work of art.
Jeff Version 3.0
L ongtime readers of this blog have seen the emergence of a new understanding and attitude towards ADHD. While there is still some anger that’s trying to get out, nonetheless, I have altered my perspective of ADHD. Though I still consider it a curse, I now own that curse and have come to accept it. Conceptually I have moved ADHD from the center of my (personal) solar system and relegated it to some outer planet. I know I cannot eliminate it, that it still exerts influence and that I must learn how to live with it. But now the center of my (personal) solar system comes from the star of “interests, goals and responsibilities” and not from that dark star “ADHD.”
In 2011 I hope to bring to the blog much more of Jeff version 3.0, the version that has been crystallizing over the past year and which is the result of several years of focused growth and change. Remember, for an ADHDer (and this can apply to non-ADHDers too) personal growth and change can be one step forward, three steps back, one more step forward, tripping over your shoelaces and falling onto your knees, waiting for your scraped knees to heal, then trying again…ad infinitum. It’s the part of Jeff that has gotten much better with time management (though still some struggles), that has rebuilt his home-based business (the last two quarters of 2010 have been quite good and 2011 looks to be even better) and that has taken on some monumental home projects and, yes, completed them! There are still parts of me that need work (that’s for Jeff version 3.5?) and some goals that got lost somewhere during the metamorphosis. But I want to share more of these triumphs with you so that they can serve as an example of what can be done despite ones “gift.”
Some people throw words around like a child throws toys across a room: little thought is given to the harm that could be caused by doing this. In a recent post I emphasized the importance of language, of the need to choose words carefully because words are not toys to be thrown about. Words have real effects in the world. At a recent holiday party I met someone who works as a spokesperson for several health organizations. I mentioned my blog (“Surely you’ve read my blog. Haven’t you?” She confessed…she did not.) to which she replied, “I have some friends with ADHD. I think they are the most fascinating people. I admire their ability to hyperfocus.” I started to explain how there is no such thing as hyperfocus. What ADHDers do is what non-ADHDers call “getting their work done.” Her eyes glazed over. I started to draw in the air imaginary bell curves while noting that articulate ADHDers are at the upper end of the bell curve. When I realized this was falling on deaf ears, I offered to schedule a trip to Riker’s Island (New York City’s main prison) to visit the other people who have this special gift of hyperfocus and ADHD.
My favorite nemesis, Captain Courageous, believes he (still) has superpowers and has written extensively about hyperfocus, creativity, and other superpowers. (Interestingly, he never mentions x-ray vision, ability to fly at the speed of light and, my favorite, inability to pay bills on time.) Despite the obvious sincerity that he pours into all of his writing, this does not compensate for the fact he is perpetuating a romanticized view of ADHD. (In a recent issue of Attention magazine, someone wrote that having ADHD is like having Alzheimer’s your entire life.) While it is unlikely that the woman I met is familiar with the writings of Captain Courageous and his growing League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (and Women) (see this), nonetheless, this woman got her romanticized view from somewhere. It could have been her ADHD friends (and where did THEY get this romanticized view?).
The takeaway from this story is: take your words seriously. If your words should be misinterpreted, do not hesitate to clarify, modify and, if necessary, retract what you have said or written. Words have a real effect in the “outside” world where there are no superpowers to save you. There are only words, the same words that are used to spread the message of hate and misunderstanding, the very same words that are used to spread the message of understanding, empathy and peace. Choose your words carefully. One day they may turn around and bite you.
Wishing all of you a happy, healthy and peaceful new year.