A.D.D.ers are masters of self-delusion. Our ability to weave mental tapestries to explain anything that needs “explaining away” is our strength, as a source of creativity, and our weakness, as a source of self-delusion. Though we can easily explain anything and everything in the world, we can not explain our own inner workings. This is not surprising. Does anyone really think it is possible to explain in a coherent and linear fashion what life is like when the wellspring of that life is a vortex of emotion and intellect? Is it any surprise that A.D.D.ers tend to digress into addictions (food, drugs, sex) that offer temporary relief from the maelstrom of emotion and intellect? [note 1] It is not surprising, therefore, that many A.D.D.ers mature slowly when compared to non-A.D.D.ers. [note 3] late in life, looks back and sees nothing but the wreckage of their struggles.
Living for over forty years with the shards of my failed dreams and aspirations, I was propelled to search for an explanation of why my life’s trajectory was so different from everyone else’s. [note 4] Years of on again/off again therapy did little, in retrospect, since for many of those years I was misdiagnosed. But four years ago I discovered, through self-diagnosis (confirmed by a therapist shortly thereafter) that I was A.D.D. I continued in therapy for a time but had become frustrated with it. I felt I was too old to rehash old stories or to wallow in discussions of unfortunate toilet training experiences as a toddler. As an A.D.D.er it is easy to craft stories of the past. Our limitless capacity for absorbing knowledge and our limitless ability to reassemble that knowledge into new narratives lulls us into a false sense of therapeutic progress. As the masters of self-delusion we easily rationalize the irrational while placing the onus (perhaps, really, the locus) of our troubles on outside forces.
All of this newfound self-knowledge (and some self-delusion tossed in for good measure) serves as the (new) foundation upon which I stand and from which I move to the next stage of my life. Using this knowledge I carefully and cautiously made my fourth (or maybe it’s my fifth) career shift. Unlike any of my other career shifts, I did this one with my eyes wide open knowing full well that each day would be a struggle, that some days would better than others and that a few days would be an utter failure. I did this knowing that the source of many of my career problems lie within me.
Having just completed 90 days at my new job [note 5] I have successfully monitored my behavior, minimizing the impact of A.D.D. Note that I did not say eliminate. I did say minimize. Realistically speaking, minimizing is all that an A.D.D.er can do. My self-knowledge has given me the ability, to a degree, to control the vortex, to know when I must let it run its natural course and to know when and how to channel it into something productive. It’s a continual struggle and some days are much easier to deal with than others. But I would have no understanding as to how to struggle – and how to win that struggle – if I did not come to know myself. Interestingly, coming to know myself has been a process of learning how to make the best of my creative force while, at the same time, knowing that the source of that creative force is also my greatest enemy.
- Should we even separate the two? Is the separation a false one? Is it a byproduct of a shift in language and the effect of language on our thought processes? I’m thinking here in terms of the work of Walter Ong. I also wonder if we need a term like emointellect.↩
- It is also not surprising that A.D.D.ers see non-A.D.D.ers as being clueless about the world around them since A.D.D.ers continually battle against a world that they always absorb. “…people with ADD are spongy. We absorb others’ energy, we absorb other people’s emotions….” See this article by Jennifer Koretsky. [Note: The Koretsky article linked was updated on Feb. 6, 2010. The original link no longer worked.] See also this posting. Though the latter is in the context of brain maturity, it is an easy leap to maturity in general. Slower maturation can also be a function of all the time required to control – and to learn how to control – the vortex.↩
- See: Is ADHD/ADD a Gift or a Curse?↩
- Watching my daughters grow up before my very eyes was also an impetus to find out what was wrong with different about me.↩
- For an A.D.D.er, a period of 90 days is an eternity since each day seems, from a pure mental standpoint, as if one had lived five days in one day. ↩