Monday, April 14, 2008

Name it so you can claim it.

I've read recently on a couple of blogs that the term "ADDer" has been deemed offensive by some folks. I've seen it referred to as a "cultlike" term (like perhaps, Scientologist? Heaven's Gate? Jim Jones?). I also saw it pronounced as un-PC, in the "I'm not just my ADD" manner.

Wow. I had no idea that a term that others have considered a term that I've often used to be so derogatory.

As you might expect, I also have an opinion on the subject: if you're looking for a cause to fight for, this isn't a worthy one. Feeding the homeless and saving the environment? Worthy. Offended by the "ADDer" label? Not worthy. In fact, I think that worrying about "ADDer" is what Cheryl Richardson called a first-world problem, meaning it's something that garners concern when we have all of the trappings of a comfortable life as opposed to people in third-world nations.

I don't mean to turn this into a "eat your peas because children are starving in Africa" lecture. Quite the opposite, actually. Count me as someone who proudly wears the ADDer monniker.

Is there more to me than my ADD? Of course! I'm a spicy snack food afficionado, a loyal and patient friend, and an American Idol addict. And those labels just scratch the surface. Unless you're Madonna, Cher, or Prince, one word will never describe the entirety of you.

But after being on this planet for 37 years, discovering that I am an ADDer was the best thing that could ever happen to me that didn't involve George Clooney. For the first time ever, I could focus, listen, and pay attention. I've heard many stories from my inattentive ADD childhood of absorbing myself in books instead of playing with the other kids. I learned to overcompensate in school and worked my tail off to get really good grades, only to crash and burn on any exam that included reading comprehension, including the SATs. I suffered through hundreds and hundreds of pages of reading every week in graduate school, but couldn't remember a word of what I'd read, which in part compelled me to leave my program. At work, I would still be in the office at 9:00PM working on a simple assignment by desk lamp because our office powered down the overhead lights at 8:00PM because nobody was expected to be in the building. And along the way I lost all too many things: money, friendships, sleep, keys, and the list goes on.

I come from a family of tidy morning people who are always 10 minutes early and can focus like a microscope. Interestingly, many of my friends also fit that description. As a result, I've felt out in left field for most of my life. One of the reasons that I write this blog is to have some sort of connection with other ADDers out there. After all, we're the only ones who know what it's like to be inside of our own heads. For me, having the label of ADDer provides me a connection to others to which nobody in my offline life can relate. And that's a label that I'm glad to have.

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