How Long Will “Me” Last?

A n admittedly strange question. However, there are different me’s (should that be “mees” or should I say multiple “I”s or multiple selves?) and sometimes the correct “me” appears when needed and sometimes not. Or sometimes the correct “me” appears but doesn’t stay around long enough and suddenly disappears (actually, it morphs into a different “me”). During my years of therapy, one therapist described these multiple selves as an adaptation to an unpredictable environment – my mother. One day she was nice mom, another day – and for seemingly no reason – mom from heck. As a result of this environment – I was told – I “adapted” and, therefore, have different selves. Not exactly multiple personalities but different selves with different dimensions (right now, for example, this is the “writer” self). I lived with that definition of myself (myselves?) for quite a number of years and over the past several years it was no longer part of my “narrative of self.” However I’ve come back to (re)examining this in light of my A.D.D.1

Before continuing I must address a problem that I am having with the word “self.” This blog entry began with the use of this term. However, the word implies a whole, coherent unit which for an is a non-existent entity. In fact it seems that A.D.D. creates only facets of a self and these facets are in continual motion. [Now THAT is really the crux/the CURSE(!!) of A.D.D.] Consequently you feel that you are not a whole person, not “normal” (whatever THAT means). You undermine your own feelings of success (and, in fact, your own eyes may actually show you that you ARE successful but you aren’t going to believe your lying eyes…are you!) because you know that the “self” that others observe is one of your many personality facets which happens to be visible to the world right now and you know that it may not be there – be visible – several months from now. (It might return…but not necessarily when you need it to.)

So “me” is really composed of personality facets that are in flux and the struggle of daily life is to keep a particular facet facing outward for all to see – the “working at my job” facet, the “good Dad” facet, the “handyman” facet. And therefore the question I posed in the title of this entry should be restated as “How Long Will This Facet Be Visible?” And the answer: I don’t know…but I’m working very hard at consistently showing the correct facet at the correct time AND for the correct length of time.


1 – If my exploration of some of the A.D.D. literature has taught me anything it is that being A.D.D. and not having multiple selves is the rare exception. It seems inherent to the definition of A.D.D. that you will have multiple selves.

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  • Madrisa

    Jeff, this is another brilliant post! Thank you for putting the ADD experience into words so well.

    This post blew my mind, because my spouse actually has what used to be called “multiple personality disorder”. Now I understand why I’ve adapted so well to her diagnosis! In fact, her multiple personalities have helped me to accept the different facets of myself better. For example, some of her personalities are young children — and I definitely have times when the child facet comes out. So I finally decided, if she can have child personalities, then I can allow my “child” self to also come out. The same goes for other facets. I think I’ve often felt bad about myself because I’m not a serious, responsible adult all the time. Now I accept all my own facets much better, since I’ve come to get to know and love her different personalities.

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  • bloggingawayadhd

    I can appreciate this post. I often find myself looking back, disappointed, at how I act sometimes – especially when I “blow up” and have a huge argument that could have been avoided.

    Sari Solden also talks about this a little in a book I’m reading now called “Women with Attention Deficit Disorder”, especially how women seem able to “put on a face” for the world because of cultural expectations, but feel completely different inside, like they are barely holding it together.

  • Carmen

    Once again I’m amazed. Both what this post and what bloggingawayadhd says are so great. My pshchologist and I have been working on my “multiple personalities” trying to figure it all out. Due to my past it is difficult for anyone to believe that maybe all that is “wrong” with me is ADD and not a whole bunch of different stuff. So I know what you both mean. I am a woman who puts on a face, a lying face, so that everyone in my life thinks I’m okay. I want to be the singular me that I know is in there someday.

  • Jeff


    Your psychiatrist is wrong. It’s not multiple personalities. It’s multiple interests (an A.D.D. trait). It’s also multiple defense mechanisms that you’ve developed over the years.

    BTW, many years ago I too was diagnosed with some sort of multiple personality thing.

    Finally, the singular “you” happens to be a vibrant multi-faceted person.

  • Carmen


    If you knew all my past you might slightly disagree with that fact that it’s only a.d.d. I just don’t know what to believe anymore.

    “It’s also multiple defense mechanisms that you’ve developed over the years.” This is sooooo true.

    “Finally, the singular “you” happens to be a vibrant multi-faceted person.” Only time will tell.


  • Jeff

    “If you knew all my past you might slightly disagree with that fact that it’s only a.d.d. I just don’t know what to believe anymore.” Carmen, adult A.D.D. manifests itself in some very, very interesting ways.

  • Scott Hutson

    To quote jeff “I’m working very hard at consistently showin the correct facet at the correct time AND the correct length of time.”

    Those are words to live by for me. I cant cure ADD, and the symptoms. Been trying all my life too,even though I did’nt even know ADD even existed until I was in my late 40′s. Just thought I was a great judge of what people wanted me to be. I used it to “Get my way”(control people)and make people think I was not aware of this,and was submissive w/o them knowing,I was doing this for own benifit/pleasure.

    Allot of guilt comes later though. Cheating my way through life, then paying the price(thats the one I didnt plan on).

  • Scott Hutson

    This may be something for me to think about> While I was in the Navy(78-81? can’t remember), I was sent to a Psychiarist for elavultion. (it had to do with disrespect to an officer,a hang-over,my opinion of his way of running the operation I was in charge of..etc)

    The Dr. was interested in my opinion’s about why I was there, mostly. No big deal. Something he said to me was:”Scott, you sound like a 35 yr.old disgruntled man, worried about sh**, that you should’nt even be concerned about, being an 18 yr. old man. I can’t believe, that you honestly believe, what you are saying.” He was right, I was putting on an act, and he saw right through me.

  • Katy B.

    A previous commenter wrote:

    “Sari Solden also talks about this a little in a book I’m reading now called “Women with Attention Deficit Disorder”, especially how women seem able to “put on a face” for the world because of cultural expectations, but feel completely different inside, like they are barely holding it together.”

    This is me to a “t”. In relationships I often feel as though I literally have two selves. I will barricade off my second self…but sometimes she comes up for air screaming and that’s when I know I can’t ignore her anymore. In many other situations in life I feel that way too. At the mental health center, earlier this year, when they diagnosed me, they asked how I felt about my diagnosis. I said “relieved, because I feel like I live a really awful double life that could come crashing down at any minute, and I’m tired of running from it and pretending”. The therapist just smiled knowingly and nodded, as though he had clients all day long come in and say the same thing…and he probably does because ADHD is one of his specialties!

    Sometimes it’s just so painful to pull the different faces of yourself all together into one picture. I have been through that a lot this year. I won’t turn away from it though, but I won’t tell you it always feels good. As I sort through the various pieces of my double life I am often simultaneously experiencing seemingly opposite feelings, and often that’s when I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. I may feel joy and want to throw up from overwhelm all at once. I feel relief and grief together often. And sometimes I look at some of the things I have done in the past and go “jesus christ, a crazy person did this” and then have to turn around and stare myself in the face. It’s friggin’ ugly sometimes, but…I couldn’t segregate myself from my “self” anymore. It was too exhausting.

  • Gina Pera

    What an interesting discussion.

    I wonder how one factor fits into it. That is, the brain’s prefrontal cortex is where we develop a sense of self. If the neural circuitry to, from, and within the prefrontal cortex is less than solid or steady, that can create a rather fleeting sense of self.

    A person with this fleeting, ephemeral sense of self (or self-concept) might simply react to whatever is in the environment. Given impulsivity, it might also be an impulsive reaction and not one coming from one’s core identity.

    Just a thought….


  • Katy B.

    That’s a fascinating can of worms Gina.

    Yet another reason that I look forward to what ADHD is bound to reveal during my lifetime ;)

  • Katy B.

    Duh, I meant ADHD research…oops.

  • Scott Hutson


    Oh yes! Prefrontal Cortex! Lots of cognition things there, just one of things on my list of brain areas involved in cognition/bevahiour…etc.

    Some on the list, that may or may not, I am checking out> hyperintensity in both hemispheres,left parietal and temporal,right posterofrontal extending into corpus callosum,enhancement with gadolininium……Wow! lots of big words!LOL ..takes time, but is very interesting!

    The brain is amazing, but dose’nt behave well sometimes.;)…Scott.

  • c. lynn

    Validation is what I’ve found here in these posts. Standard ADHD resources don’t reach our inner life experiences. On this particular morning my ability to convey genuine gratitude for Jeff’s spot-on knowledge, experience, and ability to communicate resides in a facet of me that is currently not present. I still feel angry, scared, and paralyzed; compelled to sit here (late for work) to find the answers to all of the problems in the world (my dominant Atlas/ savior state) so I won’t dishonor my newly discovered ADHD- impacted fellows with effusive and phoney gratitude – though that will surface at some point and no doubt trigger a cathartic outburst of joyful/painful appreciation. Meantime – I’ll share a real, solid fear I identified at a young (12ish?) age that must be part of this complex; if “I” stop living in my thought-world and get caught up in “real life” activity – I’ll lose time and this “real thinking me” will face a sort of death. Also, I never know if the “me” who made a commitment will be around to honor it. I never blackout and I fake it to make it (barely and with less success as I am becoming profoundly exhausted) – but at least right now – I know am not alone.

    • Jeff

      “Validation is what I’ve found here in these posts. Standard ADHD resources don’t reach our inner life experiences.” – Thank you so much for saying this, for letting me know that my writing has had made it possible for someone else to understand themselves better and realize that they are not alone. And your comment has also let me know that I have accomplished one my major goals for this blog, namely, to describe what A.D.D. is like “from the inside.”

      “if “I” stop living in my thought-world and get caught up in “real life” activity – I’ll lose time and this “real thinking me” will face a sort of death. ” – Complete agreement. The only self that you really know and can feel confident about controlling is the self that is in your head. You may want to read this post about oscillating states. The ideas in this post expand, a bit, on the problems of the self.

      I think this whole phenomenon of, what I’ll call, following your lead, living in your thought-world, is something that probably plagues those of us who have been blessed with the Inattentive Type of ADHD which, in Parker’s taxonomy, is Thinking ADHD. You may find this review of Parker’s book to be of interest.

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