Saturday, November 27, 2004

A Different Dance and Scattered Thoughts

A neurobiochemical style of brain wiring. That's how this author defines ADD. She believes it is not a disorder or a disease or a deficit - simply a style of brain wiring that leads ADD people to do things in a way that are not always compatible with the surrounding culture.

I've been on a journey of discovery for the last 5 or 6 years, trying to understand who I am. Part of this has been coming to the realization that I probably am/have ADD. The first hints came about five years ago, listening to a psychologist talk about ADD at a parent meeting at my daughter's school. That was the first time I heard about Adult ADD and what that might look like, and I strongly resonated with her descriptions.

About two and half years ago, my counselor introduced me to the book "Healing ADD, The Breakthrough Program That Allows You to See and Heal the 6 Types of ADD" by Daniel Amen. This doctor has worked to study and identify the underlying physical causes of ADD (and identified 6 or 7 different types of ADD), rather than just looking at the behavioral characteristics. I took his online ADD test, and while I tested fairly strongly towards at least one type of ADD - I couldn't piece it all together, couldn't completely relate to the descriptions of people in his book. I tried to add some of his nutritional strategies to support ADD into my life, but gradually drifted away from following through with it all.

Then recently I was somehow drawn to looking at this issue again. I got the book Women With Attention Deficit Disorder by Sari Solden, and she described my life! I cried my way through much of the book. She describes two main types of ADD - ADD w/ hyperactivity (ADHD), and ADD without hyperactivity (sometimes called Inattentive ADD). She says that ADD does not equal a Deficit of Attention, but attention irregularity and inconsistency; ADD does not equal Hyperactivity, but a dis-regulation of activity and arousal levels, with extremes of activity levels from high to low; ADD does not equal Impulsive Troublemaking, but can be a quieter, less obvious kind of impulsivity, with excessive shifting of tasks or life directions.

It's hard to describe what all this has meant to my life, and it's hard to talk to people about. ADD has become such a controversial subject, with all it's related issues of children and classrooms and medications. There is also the idea, throbbing in the air between me and others with almost every conversation about ADD, that ADD is an excuse. An excuse for all my disorganization and the dis-order of my life, a way out of my responsibilities. My mind is tempted to layer more shame on top of the layers of shame that living this way has already produced.

But I am embracing a statement from the latest book I am reading, "ADD and Creativity", by Lynn Weiss (linked at the top of this post). She says that ADD is not an excuse but an explanation. I love that. Understanding my ADDness is illuminating so many of my experiences that have been hard to understand, it is explaining so much. I have again taken Dr. Amen's ADD test, and see how clearly I do test positively for Inattentive ADD. I am excited to again explore how I can learn to work with my life and my brain-wiring type.

Most importantly, I am working to leave behind many of those layers of shame, and to walk in freedom and deeper self-acceptance. This post is the boldest statement about believing that I have ADD that I have made (except in talking with my husband and my counselor). I usually pervaricate around the issue ("I think I might have...", or "I think that I probably might be..."). I am not looking to excuse my weaknesses, but to understand and explain the experience of being me, which may be different than many people's experiences. A Different Dance.

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