I Can’t Decide On A Title: “Memory, Anger & ADHD” or “Take This Gift and Shove It” or “Taming Your ADHD”

I ‘m pleased to report that the Verizon issue, as described in my post Don’t Worry…Get Angry, has been resolved. On March 9, 2011 I received the following email:

Victory! The accounting department acknowledges their error and gives me a credit of $430.21 (Yes…you can click on the image for a larger view)

In case you can’t read that email (even after clicking on the image), here’s the text of the email:

Dear Valued Verizon Customer,

We have processed your request for a credit to your Verizon account.
Please accept our apology for any inconvenience related to your
service inquiry. It is our goal to efficiently resolve our customer's
service request for complete satisfaction.

A credit in the amount of $430.21 will appear no later than your
MAR, 2011 billing statement.

You may also track your billing adjustment by utilizing our bill
view tool at www.verizon.com/billing

Complete the navigation instructions below to view adjustment records.

Step 1: Sign in to account
Step 2: Click view bill below account actions
Step 3: Click payment tab to the right of bill tab
Step 4: Below payment actions on right side of page click
payment/ adjustments history,
scroll down to view adjustment history

Customer Care Team

I assume that Verizon formatted the email with a tiny font because they did not want to give me the satisfaction of seeing, in BIG BOLD LETTERS that I had won. (I think they also realized that, as I am getting older, I am having problems reading such a small font. [note 1] ) But I don’t want to focus on what I won but, more importantly, on HOW I won my battle with Verizon.

My "Externalized" Information

From the beginning of my Verizon ordeal, I kept notes on each call I made. I recorded the date of the call, the length of the call, and a few details that would help me recall the conversation. I placed the notes in a file folder and then in the vertical file holder that sits to the left of my computer desk. Each time I called Verizon I took out the folder and, at the end of the call, I added new notes. By the time I made my last call (the call that finally solved the problem) on March 3, 2011, I was able to explain the sequence of events in great detail. I was able to be extraordinarily patient (admittedly I lost it a bit several times while on the phone but each time I would go into a mini-rant I would then apologize to the person I was talking to) with the service representative and I could tell them, with great accuracy, the (theoretical) result of each previous call. (Several times I was told this issue would be resolved…obviously it wasn’t.) I was able to do this because I followed Barkley’s Rule No. 4: Externalize Key Information.

The lesson in this David vs. the Communications Goliath story is that, despite the gift of ADHD (someone once described being ADHD as like living your entire life with Alzheimer’s disease), I was able to successfully resolve this problem even though it took five months to do so. The combination of externalizing information, of always pulling out my notes and reviewing those notes with the person on the phone (memory recall and solidification through repetition), of always adding additional notes, of always placing the notes in the same place making it easier to locate as needed, all of this (I’m sure there’s more but…haha…I don’t remember!) contributed to the ultimate victory in this battle. It showed me, on a small scale, how slow-but-steady can truly win the race. But there is still that lingering Whac-A-Mole issue: eliminate anger here….and it appears over there.

I contained some of my anger during my phone calls with Verizon. When it slipped out I apologized to the person on the phone and, when I was on hold, I let loose a bit more. Yet there was still more anger that needed to get out and a bit of ranting didn’t do it for me.

Is It Really Anger?

I’m beginning to think that what I keep referring to as an “anger issue” is not an anger issue at all. In an earlier post I wrote that my problem is not anger per se but the way that anger is expressed. I’m still grappling for the right metaphor because anger isn’t quite the right word to describe the feeling. It is more like an internal tension that behaves like a rubber band in a balsa wood airplane. Specific types of events, like these frustrating phone calls, and non-events, such as disappointments or piles of bills (have you ever felt that those piles were mocking you…that they were standing there and sticking their tongues out at you and saying, “Hey moron! Here’s something else you forgot to do!”) add a few more turns of the propeller, twisting the rubber band further and increasing the stored up torque, eventually reaching a point where the propeller can’t be turned anymore and the rubber band’s torque is released and the plane flies and crashes into everything in its flight path until it finally hits the floor and smashes into pieces.

Yeah…that sounds like “the gift.”


Image Source: http://modelsaviation.com/Rubber-Band-Powered-Airplanes.html

Post Script

I do not want any ADHDer who has read this post to think that, “Wow! Jeff has really got his shit together! He can now handle these long, drawn out tasks and even win. And he’s learning to deal with this anger and to get past his ADHD.” This is part illusion, part of the pitfalls of blogging and even the pitfalls of narrative that what you read follows a logic in order to make a particular point yet that point is only a slice of reality. (Did you catch the reference earlier in this post about the piles of bills mocking you? I wrote that because, while writing this post, I caught a glimpse of a pile of bills and at the top was an invoice dated for January that…surprise, surprise…has not been paid. Yet if I had not added that parenthetical observation you would not know that the nice narrative about Jeff being able to stay on top of an issue is part illusion…that the narrative forces the writer to push, outside of the narrative, those other forces that are at work…and I’m trying to bring into the narrative that which often escapes the narrative…I’m trying to capture that blooming, buzzing confusion of reality through parenthetical digressions, post scripts, italicized alternate voices.) Writing this post has helped me to remember that, yes, I CAN accomplish things in life…that, yes, I CAN do things when I am focused. But, fuck, the fucking effort required to really stay focused is the real killer. THAT’S what rips your fucking insides out. THAT’S the unending source of rage, of frustration, of internal tension. You can’t fucking escape this ADHD shit. The more I think about my struggles with ADHD the more I hate those fucking Gift of ADHD people. I despise them. I think they are fucking delusional. They are the fucking Jim Jones’s of the ADHD world, handing out their Gift of ADHD kool-aid. I’ve said it in the past and I will say it again. ADHD is a form of madness. Isn’t madness (as we think of it in lay terms) that voice in your head that won’t go away, that internal drive that you can’t turn off when you want to, that force that pushes you in the wrong direction all of the time? How dare anyone, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO DO NOT HAVE ADHD, how dare they refer to this as a fucking gift! I can excuse the ADHDers since ADHDers are quite adept at fooling themselves (I’ve referred to ADD as Adult Delusional Disorder) but I cannot excuse those who do not have ADHD but still spout their la-la-la version of ADHD.

What is great about this fucking gift (or maybe it’s not the gift at all but my other curse, intelligence) is that I can hear the voices of others in my head. I hear them saying, “Boo hoo. I can’t live with my ADHD if all I see is doom and gloom. I need to always find something positive.” To those voices I say, Fuck You! Are you a moron? How can you fix something if you don’t confront it in all its ugliness? To always “see the positive in the negative” is NOT to confront the reality of the issue. In fact, it is the opposite. It is to RUN AWAY from the issue. It is a refusal to see reality as what it truly is and, instead, to substitute a fairy-tale version of reality.

Okay, Jeff. Calm down. No one likes anger. Gray skies are gonna clear up. Put on a happy face. Spread sunshine all over the place.

  1. Has anyone investigated the possibility that the reason why people gain weight as they get older is not because their metabolism is changing or because they are becoming more sedentary but that it is a Darwinian adaptation to decreasing visual acuity, hence the body gets larger in order to make it easier for other older people to see it?
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  • cmb

    I love it! Reminds me of own battles with a particular insurance company. I just read both Verizon posts to my husband (a non-ADHDer) who had his own months-long battle with Verizon over disconnecting our land line (because anyone we would want to talk to already has our cell numbers!). As you said, it’s not an anger problem — he gets just as angry, but he doesn’t explode (though there often is a controlled string of expletives which doesn’t bother me).

    You said: “I’m still grappling for the right metaphor because anger isn’t quite the right word to describe the feeling. It is more like an internal tension that behaves like a rubber band…”

    I think it’s the built-up frustration of not being able to satisfy our need for immediate gratification. The longer it’s delayed, especially by someone else who unreasonably withholds what we need, the worse it gets. Waiting is bad enough. Waiting without any control over the problem or predictability of when it might be resolved can be unendurable. Maybe exploding helps dissipate just enough of the frustration to give us the ability to tolerate trying again.

    • Jeff

      My therapist couldn’t believe that I won the Verizon battle.

      I’m still not happy with seeing it as frustration. It’s a bit more like trying to straighten out a coiled garden hose. Each time you straighten it, it wants to go back to being coiled. That’s the tension that’s taking place. You are trying to shape something into a shape that runs contrary to its “natural” shape. (Hmmm…sounds redundant.)

      • http://www.alookonthelightside.com Judy

        Yes, winning the Verizon battle would be a major coup for anyone!
        Far from helping you choose between your 3 titles for this post, I would like to propose a 4th:
        “I fought the law…and I WON!”

        Re: the anger — when objects aren’t where I expect them to be, in my house, but instead are in my way (think shoes, backpacks, briefcases), I sometimes get angry and kick them. (Only objects, folks, not people or pets!). This is because the world did not conform to my expectations/needs. Could that be the source of anger/frustration for you, too? Because the world does not conform to the way you need it to be?

        • Jeff

          “the world does not conform to the way you need it to be” – No doubt there’s an element of this. And…I swear…I won’t tell anyone if you kick people or pets. ;)

          “I fought the law…and I WON!” – I like that! That could be a song. I’m actually surprised by how many people have congratulated me on winning one for little people. You realize I now need to hit the lecture circuit…”Yes! You Too Can Learn How To Beat Verizon!! In Just 25 Easy Lessons And All For Just $19.95! That’s Less Than $1 Dollar A Lesson! Operators Are Standing By Ready For Your Call!”

  • http://addmsorboth.blogspot.com/ Scott Hutson


    Congrats on your verizon victory. You already know my thoughts about ADHD (or any mental or psychical disorder) being a “gift”.

    I think all three title’s were good for this post. Your words: ” I was able to do this because I followed Barkley’s Rule No. 4: Externalize Key Information” are an important part of this post. It ain’t easy to do all the time, but it feels good on those days we do.

    • Jeff

      I think one of the biggest problems I’m having with externalizing information is that the amount of information to externalize seems to grow exponentially.

      • http://addmsorboth.blogspot.com/ Scott Hutson

        Oh yes it does Jeff! I think I may need to buy another refrigerator and a giant box of magnets…;)

  • http://www.bonniesrandomthoughtsaboutlife.blogspot.com Bonnie Irving

    WTG Jeff!!! I so Totally Identified with what you described about Adhd in your Post. I am just NOW coming to the place when i can communicate my thoughts & Ideas to People completely w/o them giving me that “what the heck are you talking about” look. I Still struggle with keeping up with my Blog Posting, ( as indicated with the date on my last blog post! Gonna making myself do it either tonight, or after work tommorrow UGH) anyway, i don’t feel gifted either! Phooey! I have really good days.. & REALLY BAD DAYS and that is it! Its just learning how to cope, & how to not let this “thing” make you feel like a total Idiot.

    • Jeff

      “WTG Jeff!!!” – Thank you! And welcome to my blog or…if you’re a long time reader and first time commenter…welcome to the “comment crowd.” ;)

      You certainly shouldn’t beat yourself up if you don’t keep up with your blog. Unless you are getting paid to write…you’ve got other priorities in life.

      “I have really good days.. & REALLY BAD DAYS and that is it! Its just learning how to cope, & how to not let this “thing” make you feel like a total Idiot.” – Oh yeah….I know this all too well as do many other ADHDers.

  • http://18channels.blogspot.com Katy R.

    HAHAHA, don’t worry Jeff, we who share the curse understand that you are not cured :) But we still appreciate you sharing the imperfect experience.

  • RG

    The more I read , the more I find we think alike on this subject anyway.
    I got kicked off a site of making a statement similar to this.

    I don’t want to placate this disease with a prosthetic or a placebo.
    I want the electrical connection fixed in my head, period!!

    Any thing else is unacceptable, to me!!!

    People who profess the positives of this ADHD shit are either selling something or capitalizing on it in some other way.
    I think they got their head up their own or someone else’s ass, to believe ADHD is a good or positive thing in any way or form.

    A person with any handicaps (blind, crippled, missing body parts or any mental issues) gets special treatment, parking and what not. I never hear any of them  exalting the positives of  being this way and the positive benefits they derive from the shit they have been dealt in life.

    And then some ADHD people do so, promote this as a gift.
    Is a venereal diseases considered a gift ? 
    Lucky US.
    Is it a wounder people don’t see the destruction this creates in our lives and the people that care about us.
    Oh the JOY!
    The Beat Does Not Stop.
    Thats it from me.

    • http://twitter.com/punkymama Jo-Ann Rogan

       As the wife and parent of two people with ADHD I agree with this.  Considering ADHD a gift is just another ploy to minimize the struggles people with ADHD go through when trying to live.

      • http://jeffsaddmind.com Jeffs ADD Mind

        “Considering ADHD a gift is just another ploy to minimize the struggles people” – Finding the balance between the ugly reality of ADHD and day-to-day need to smile…there’s the challenge. It is doable. Just not always easy. I wrote this piece about finding the balance: http://jeffsaddmind.com/science-versus-the-add-self-481.htm  We can “pretend” it’s a gift while knowing it is not a gift.

    • http://jeffsaddmind.com Jeffs ADD Mind

      Yes, yes, yes! Agreed on all counts! I can, however, understand the need to see it as a gift since the current negative connotations are, well, so negative. (See, for example, http://jeffsaddmind.com/marko-ferek-and-the-holy-trinity-of-self-delusion-11648.htm ) However, this past weekend I was at the National ADHD Youth Leadership Summit in Philadelphia, PA, where they are actively working on changing those negative connotations. I think they hit on the right formula for doing just that. (More info here: http://www.adhdaware.org/ )

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