For pretty much my whole life, I’ve been a huge slob. We’re talking gigantic piles of clothes on the floor, dirty dishes all over the house, disgusting bathroom, “What is a duster and how do you use it?” levels of slobbery. I have ADD, and I always found it nearly impossible to focus long enough to clean something up, let alone maintain any semblance of organization. A couple years ago, I decided I was tired of my apartment looking like a frat house, so I made a commitment to change my behavior. I read this book, which is amazing and highly recommended. I learned to work with my ADD instead of against it. I consciously created a bunch of new organizing systems and cleaning habits. Today, I feel like an ADD success story. I’m still no neat freak (dusting will never be my thing), but I clean my house pretty much every day, willingly, and – gasp! — I enjoy it. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way that might help you, too:
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When people find out I take Adderall for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), they often want to know what that feels like. What makes my brain different from theirs? I have a really hard time answering that question, because A) I have no idea what goes on in their brain and how it compares to what goes on in mine and B) it’s really, really hard to explain. That’s why I’m so in love with this video by filmmaker Ryan Higa, explaining just some of the ways ADHD manifests itself in his life. Even though I know I have ADHD, I was shocked to discover just how many of these behaviors — like, 98 percent of them — are similar to my own, including things I never even realized were my ADHD at work. So THAT’s why I can memorize a phone number easily but then instantly forget it the second I start dialing! From now on, whenever anyone asks what ADHD feels like I’m sending them this video. [Laughing Squid]
Being in a relationship with someone who has ADD presents some unique challenges. Conversations tend to jump rapidly from one topic to another. Shiny objects might distract them during important moments. And that pile of clothes on the floor? Yeah, that’s never, ever going to get put away. Of course, there are also many benefits to being with someone with ADD: a sense of spontaneity, endless intellectual curiosity, excitement, and creativity. One thing’s for sure: an ADD relationship is never boring. Here are some tips for loving someone with ADD, from someone who has it: Keep reading »
When I first started taking Adderall, it wasn’t prescribed to me — it was my boyfriend’s. It was 2006, and I had a fun but creatively unfulfilling job at a men’s magazine. On the weekends, I was determined to grow a freelance career that, god willing, would allow me to quit. Freelance writing, especially when you’re starting out, involves a lot of pitching, in particular pitching editors who don’t know you. It’s a lot of coming up with ideas, proposing those ideas, and waiting, hoping and praying, that someone, anyone bites and is willing to pay you a decent sum to write it. To be a successful freelancer writer, you have to be extremely motivated and focused.
I had the motivation. But focus was out of my grasp. I felt stuck literally and mentally. And being stuck make me anxious. Keep reading »
This weekend, I made an horrifying discovery. I have a bald spot. It’s small, but it’s at the top of my head, right where, if the hair around it is swirling in a certain direction, it is visible to anyone standing six to 10 feet behind me. The good news about my bald spot is that I don’t think it’s permanent. I think the hair can and will grow back. But the success of that is dependent upon the bad news. See, I am solely responsible for giving myself a bald spot in the first place.
I have a picking problem. Keep reading »
It didn’t take long for me to figure out something about Nick* was different. Everything about him was outsized, super-charming and a bit impulsive. For our second date, he seriously considered whisking me away to Atlantic City for the weekend to go gambling. After only two weeks of dating, he told me he thought I was “the one.” He chatted a mile a minute, exhausting one topic and moving right on to the next without missing a beat. On our earliest dates, I literally felt as though I was his audience — though I didn’t exactly mind, because he was charismatic and bright and his life story fascinated me. I’m not the life of the party at all, so to be with someone who is the life of the party was extremely fun. When he finally told me after several dates that he had bipolar disorder and ADD, I nearly smacked myself in the forehead. Of course he does! I realized. He’s textbook!
My older brother Eliot* also has bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression). Eliot’s behavior when he has not been taking his medication is almost exactly like Nick’s. He’s just as impulsive, if not more so; a few Christmases ago, he tried to persuade me to ditch our family and drive to Foxwoods to go gambling. Eliot is also very charming, charismatic, bright and the dictionary definition of “the life of the party.” Our personalities are so different that our friends can hardly believe he and I are related.
So when Nick mentioned that he is not taking medication for his bipolar and ADD, I nearly smacked myself in the forehead a second time. Of course, of course, I thought. And then: F**k. Keep reading »