Monday, June 6, 2016

Living My Life Sentence of Adult ADD


Some people close to me know that I have Attention Deficient Disorder. As far as I know, I have had it my entire life. I was diagnosed as a child while in the 3rd grade and re-diagnosed later in life at the age of 28. Everyone has an idea and preconceived notion on what ADD is, but I want to let you in on what it exactly means to live with ADD.

The most common thing heard when taking about ADD is people joking, 'Oh look a squirrel!'. Meaning individuals are having a discussion and the ADD sufferer sees a squirrel scurry by. The act of a furry woodland creature running amuck is just too much for the afflicted individual and is so exciting that he can no longer concentrate on the topic of the conversation and is withdrawn from it. It's super funny, right? NO! No it is not.

People who suffer from ADD are not simple minded. And petty things like an adorable squirrel is not going to derail them. What can distract someone with ADD is something else that they are equally interested in and passionate about, and that is when problems arise. You have heard people say that living with ADD is like their brain is an internet browser. They always have numerous tabs open at once, everything keeps running and they open more and more tabs. This is so true for me, not just metaphorically but also literally. Here is what I have going on just RIGHT NOW as I am writing this post. And honestly, this is a good day as there isn't too many - I can still see them all.

Let me dig down into the nitty gritty of living with ADD. It's not funny. It's not witty. It's not eclectic. It is miserable. You are a prisoner of your own thoughts. Your brain is holding you captive. You can't enjoy the little things around you, because your brain is consumed in so many bigger things.

Here is another analogy that may help you to understand what it is like for a loved one you may know that suffers from ADD.  Imagine your brain is a large hotel with 1,000 rooms with doors that are always open. You are constantly walking in and out of the rooms to finish mandatory tasks that are waiting for you. Soon after you enter one of the rooms, you have to leave. You never finish what you came in to do because you are too worried about what is going on in the 999 other rooms. While you keep trying to finish these 1,000 tasks new rooms are being added to the hotel. More and more rooms are open and need your immediate attention. All day you roam this massive hotel until you are so exhausted, you can no longer move. Someone comes along and asks you what you accomplished in the day, and you tell them nothing. You finished nothing. 

If you suffer from ADD you are nodding your head in agreement so fast, you are now worried that your head is going to fall off like a broken bobble head. I'm right, huh? 

So what's a girl to do? I have gone the medication route, and if I need to stay focus for say a licensing test or something very important that is timed I will take them. However, this is rare. I haven't taken any medication for my ADD in 4 years now. I am not a fan on how it makes me feel.

I have realized that this is who I am. I love that I can think up an entire new blog post while driving to the grocery store. I look forward to getting home from work and trying out a new recipe I created in my head while going through files at work. I can be creative anytime, anywhere. My brain is not limited to thinking after my 9-5 job. It never turns off. It is a blessing and a curse. 

Now, there are things that MUST get done in all areas of my life. My full time job, my blog, my clients I help as a travel agent, and my family. I have all of THAT turned on in my head all the time. And yes, it is my fault that I am involved in so much, but another joy of having ADD is I can not be bored. Ever. I can't handle boredom. So, I fill my life with things I love to do. 

To stay on task I have a notebook I carry with me at all times. I have a page for every day. A normal planner would not work, as I can normally fill that college-ruled page up front and back with my thoughts for the day. Each day is a new page. If I don't finish something from the day before, it goes onto the new page. This has helped me enormously to stay on task. It's my lifeline.

Being able to pull my thoughts and ideas out of that crowded brain of mine and on to that notebook makes my thoughts so much more organized. Instead of bouncing around in my beautiful head, there they are in black and white. Here they won't get lost between 'where should we stay during our next Disney World vacation' and 'did I let the dog inside this morning or is he in this rain'? (I have this fear at least twice a week and I have never left the dog outside!)

I hope my little piece of the internet has given you some insight on what it is like to live with ADD. If you know someone who is affected, give them an extra hug and let them know you love them for who they are. If they told you they will do something for you, they will. Eventually. And reminders, when given correctly, are appreciated!


  1. That hotel analogy really hit home with me. Just thinking about it makes me feel really uneasy, so I can only imagine what it must be like living with it all day, every day. Thank you for sharing your thoughts :)

  2. My son was diagnosed with ADHD which is kinda similar when he was in 1st grade. They wanted to put him on medication and I declined. While he's still a little ADHD/ADD, there are ways to manage it without medication and we've been doing that. I can't begin to imagine what it's like, but I myself suffer from chronic depression and I can tell you that that's just as bad.

  3. I have never been tested for add but a lot of what you were describing with resonates with me. I have literal and metaphorical tabs open all the time and sometimes find it hard to keep up or finish tasks.

  4. I can not imagine having ADD, but I think my husband has it. He has never been diagnosed, but he does seem to manage.

  5. As a teacher, I worked with children who had ADHD and you're right, it is a serious subject not to be taken lightly! This post gives so much insight and hopefully will help others learn more about what it's really like.

  6. I've coached several people with ADD and find that your description is SO helpful. I've found that being reassuring, and letting them know that it's OK take their time, often helps. I also had to nod my head about how you've had to deal with preconceived notions about ADD; I've found that having migraines gets some similar reactions, and there's often a good deal of education that needs to happen. Thank you for helping others understand!

  7. My daughter is autistic and my son, they suspected, had signs of ADHD but he was never formally diagnosed. I do see some ADD tendencies in my autistic daughter though.

  8. I have a friend with ADHD and she has a notebook too. I think finding a strategy to help is definitely a plus!

  9. An insightful reminder on how we should not take ADHD as a light matter. Your description using hotel rooms is really got me. I have crowded mind, and sometimes I feel like I just want to escape from my own crowded thoughts, but I've never get test for ADHD diagnose. Thank you for sharing this insightful thought of yours.

  10. This is a really great article- people who suffer from things such as ADD probably do not appreciate the jokes and "memes", or people saying "oh I'm so OCD, ADD, etc.... thank you so much for the insight!

  11. ADD is definitely not something to be joked about or taken lightly. People that have it can not hold a very long focus and that can be super frustrating. I love your side because my son has ADHD. It is definitely a challenge.

  12. I have another adult friend who lives with ADD. As an educator, I know how much students with ADD struggle academically. Thank you for sharing your story and your struggles.

  13. I have said in the past that maybe I have mild ADD because I feel like my mind is always racing with tabs open. The difference is I am in control of it and ADD shouldnt be the butt of jokes and I wish you well with this diagnosis with you one day overcoming it.

  14. I'm getting a notebook!!!

  15. When I was in high school I had trouble with ADD, it's something my body seems to have moved past (I'm not sure why) but ever sense I've always used a notebook in the way you described. It is a lifesaver. I've heard some people call it a "brain dump" and that is such a perfect description. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic.

    Rebecca Kelsey Sampson

    1. Rebecca some 'outgrow' ADD as they age into adulthood. Congratulations!