Monday, October 29, 2007

My ADD, my compass

A month ago, I went on a first and last dinner date with a guy I met here on the Internets. Our evening agenda was supposed to consist of grabbing a beer or two and chatting, which is my preferred, low-key way of getting to know a fella. At the last minute, he insisted on taking me to dinner, and so we supped at one of my favorite local Tex-Mex eateries.

As the guy and I exchanged the usual get-to-know-you small talk, I noticed myself tinkering with the tortilla chips and playing with the straw in my water glass. To someone else, I might have appeared nervous with my fidgeting. But really, I was bored, and playing with the table items kept me engaged. I couldn't relate to his delight in spending all of his vacation time with his parents at their beack house, and he certainly didn't endear himself with his little snarky comments about his ex-wife. So when we suggested that we head to a local watering hole for a nightcap, I told him that I was ready to call it a night.

Many folks who read this will likely think I didn't give the guy a chance. Some might want to regale me with tales of first dates with the love of their lives who didn't wow them on Date #1. Others might gently point out that a late thirties lady like myself should probably resist being so picky. Believe me, I've heard these things before.

One thing I've realized in learning to manage my ADD is to trust my gut more. We ADDers are an intuitive lot. But sometimes, the chaos and disarray in our heads makes us ignore our intuition and either go against our gut feelings or seek advice from a third (or fourth or fifth) party. Often, we take the advice of others or buck our intuition and then feel frustrated by the results. In my case, I often sought advice from friends who were married or in long term relationships, because they obviously were successful in the love game, right? Never mind that many of them haven't been on a date since the before the Soviet Union broke up!

Thanks to my rockstar of a coach, I've learned to trust my intuitive compass much more. Doing so has curbed those opposing viewpoint thoughts that bubble up in situations that don't seem to be working for me. So instead of tolerating situations that I know don't work for me, I've learned to cut my losses.

So, the hunt continues for the future Mr. ADD-Libber. I don't know yet who he is, but I do know who he isn't.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day: How to help your ADD and the environment!

Today is Blog Action Day, where bloggers write about one topic -- the environment -- as it relates to their blog. If you think about it a bit, it's possible to save the planet and manage your ADD at the same time. Here are three ways:

Go paperless. Just about every financial statement or bill can be obtained and paid electronically. You can save them to your hard drive (and back them up, too!) for your own recordkeeping. This means that you won't have to file these documents in your desk, stash them when company arrives. You also won't accidentally throw them away or spill anything on them...not that I would know anything about gravy-stained brokerage statements...

Reducing your use of paper at the office also helps you to keep your desk organized. Scan documents into .PDF files and save them on your computer, rather than in piles on your desk. I've found it much easier to organize files on my PC than on my desk. Even when I don't organize them well, searching on my computer's easier than rifling through a pile. When you receive a document as an email attachment, review it on your computer and print only if necessary.

Freecycle your junk. The Freecycle Network connects people who want to give away stuff and those who want the stuff. No money can be exchanged in the process.

Sure, you can make a few bucks by having a yard sale. But that requires all sorts of non-ADD friendly steps such as pricing your unwanted possessions, hanging up signs, dragging everything outside, and dealing with early-bird buyers. You'll then be tempted to toss unsold merch into the trash (Destination: Landfill) rather than drag it all back into your house.

Or, you can Freecycle your stuff. Just list your items on the Freecycle listserv in your area, and folks will gladly take your stuff and pick it up from your house, too. What's not to love? Thanks to Freecycle, I've found happy new homes for many items I'd had stored away for years.

Stimulate your brain with foot power. Dr. Hallowell and many others underscore the benefits of exercise for the ADD brain. When you have a bunch of errands to do on a Saturday morning, grab a tote bag as well as a portable music player or a friend to gab with, and do your errands on foot. As a result, you'll have toned calves, raised endorphins, and a cheery demeanor for not trying to find a parking space at the Post Office on a Saturday morning. The environment will thank you for reduced consumption of fossil fuel.

Who knew that ADD would be so good for the environment?!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hotel Zen

I just returned from my second work trip within the last 3 weeks. I'm glad that my job gives me ample opportunity to travel, because there's nothing that ADD Me likes better than getting out of the office to shake up the routine of the workaday world.

Actually, there is one thing I like better than getting out of the office. I love hotels!

And why do I love hotels? Let me count the reasons...

Pristine white towels hung on shiny chrome breakfast cooked by someone who's not me...flatscreen TVs...a king-sized bed...ahhh!

During the hotel stay I had a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that I got plenty of rest and didn't rush around from place to place. Heck, I even took a quick nap before going out one evening and ironed my clothes before going to bed, two things that merit entry into the ADD Libber Book of World Records. During the hotel stay I just returned from, I retired to the bed before 10:00 with a book and no TV. Again, that's an atypical behavior for me!

I've mused about the calm and peaceful feelings I've had during these hotel stays. Certainly, the fluffy towels and egg-white omelettes contributed to my bliss. But here's the root cause: when I'm in a hotel, I have everything I need and nothing extraneous. I bring my belongings in a bag that fits in a plane's overhead compartment, and the hotel provides me with and a tidy and orderly space.

About a week ago, the desire to purge a lot of my clutter bubbled inside of me. I ended up getting rid of 32 pounds of stuff that I no longer wanted. No doubt, this urge to purge was a positive side effect from Recent Hotel Stay #1. The downside was that hyperfocus kicked in and I ended up spending a good part of my Columbus Day weekend on the endeavor.

My ADD coach gave me the brilliant idea to create a plan to deal with the clutter in my house. I'm happy to say that it's going well thus far. I'll be able to work on purging stuff that I no longer want, but in a way that doesn't consume my leisure time. Certainly, pairing down my stuff is work very much in progress. But I've already seen the end result during my hotel stays, and it's going to be well worth the effort!

Friday, October 5, 2007

My story: part one

I've read a lot of stories over the years about how adults discovered they had ADD. Mine began in an Irish bar somewhere in Atlanta.

Eight years ago this December, The Employer sent me to Atlanta for a Monday morning meeting. For once, I didn't mind giving up my Sunday afternoon to travel, because I was going to get to see my friend J. who lived there. Shortly after I arrived, he picked me up at my hotel and gave me a tour of the city, which sparkled with twinkling Christmas lights. We then chatted nonstop over dinner at a Thai restaurant, and then retired to a nearby pub to continue catching up.

At some point while we drank our pints, J. set down his glass and unknowingly changed my life by saying, "I think I have ADD." His disclosure surprised me; after all, that's a kid problem, right? J.'s not the type to dart around restaurants like a banshee.

I asked him why he thought that, and he said that he'd been having problems focusing at work. He'd often get distracted and couldn't get anything done. If he heard someone in the next cube speaking, he'd lose his train of thought.

I told him that, to me, it didn't sound like he had ADD. Why? Because I was exactly the same way, that's why. In college, I always had to study in the library and keep away from the whisperers who would distract me. At work, I often couldn't focus on the task at hand, but I chalked it up to not being as interested in it as I was in, say, fashion magazines. But that wasn't ADD, I said. And you certainly don't see me running amok!

J. then told me about a book he'd read called "Driven to Distraction". He said that when he read it, he felt like the book described what he was going through at work. He also noted that ADD's not just a kid thing; it also afflicts adults. That surprised me, as I'd never heard that before.

J. planned to see a psychiatrist after the holidays to get an official diagnosis. To my knowledge, I didn't know of any friend of mine who had seen a psychiatrist, and so I wanted to be as supportive as I could. I told J. that I would check out the book he'd read in order to learn more about what he was going through.

When I came home from my trip, I borrowed "Driven to Distraction" from the library. Midway through reading the first chapter, I burst into tears. I felt that the book had been written about me.


I'm addicted to reading blogs. And then I thought, hey, I'm a good storyteller and I have many good stories to tell. Why not throw my hat into the blog ring?

It seems that the best stories I have to tell have to do with managing my ADD after discovering as an adult that I had it. And I've chosen to blog about these stories because not everyone in my life knows about my diagnosis, this I don't get to tell them too often. (Note that I did not write "knows about my ADD", because they perhaps may already know that!)

Though I'm not putting my own name to this blog, I do hope that by telling my stories, I and other adults with ADD will feel less alone about managing their ADD. Please comment on my posts; I'm interested to hear what you have to say, too!