- Mental Health
Adult ADD--"You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy?"
This hub is a commentary on the subject of Adult ADD and the book, "You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy," by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo. I'm partial to this book on the subject of ADD, because it's written by women and does a wonderful job addressing the specific issues in trying to identify, treat, and understand ADD in girls and women. I have lost the book, (fitting), so I'll have to do this commentary based on my recall of the book. I read it about a year and a half ago, when I was exploring the subject for a friend. I found the book to be light-hearted, but factual. The authors certainly don't write up ADD as an animal that needs to be reigned in and/or killed, but it does not dismiss it as a collection of quirky, little mishaps either. It's a good balance.
The diagnosis of ADD in a female is a tough one, as addressed in the book. It's hard to overlook the reality that a hyperactive boy in class tends to be an unruly, but almost adorable troublemaker, that teachers are often charmed by. That's the truth. For all the ways that Jimmy drives the teacher crazy, she's sighing, shaking her head, but also laughing to herself. I saw this a lot. An unruly girl is an entirely separate issue--defiant, headed for trouble with boys, and doesn't she know any better? Why won't she just behave? Personally, I have 3 brothers, two older, and one younger, and I got in more trouble then all 3 combined. I had detention so much I thought it was a class!
School-age boys, usually find any attention to be good attention, and their unchanging disruptive behavior will get them a doctor's appointment and a Ritalin Popsicle before the end of the day. Girls, on the other hand, usually respond quickly to negative feedback from their behavior, and will very likely change. For a girl with ADD it likely means introversion and shyness. There are boys that would react this way as well. ADD is many things, but it starts as a neurobiological illness. I don't love the word illness, because there are many aspects of ADD that I love and am grateful for, but there are aspects of it that really do require awareness, and treatment. ADD is very misunderstood, very under treated, and very complicated.
How We Are Lazy: As brought out in the book, the average ADDer will tire easily from an overworked mind, and give the impression of laziness. In my own case, I was always, and still am, very energetic, but a mundane task would literally take me hours to complete as a kid. If my mother told me to wash the dishes, that would likely take the whole evening, because at some point, I probably was washing dishes in a time of war, and there had been a tragic war accident of a soldier, and he needed my dishtowel, and some dishwater, and...that's ADD for ya.
How we are Stupid: Adders have, drum roll...a hard time paying attention. In class, that looks like poor comprehension, slow test-taking, possibly slow reading, it could mean stuttering, it did for me. Adders are usually not without thought, they are usually with TOO many thoughts and will come out in a disordered way--for some verbally, and for some their writing will reflect completely scattered and disconnected thoughts. Teachers are often at a loss with the average ADD child, as there is usually something about them that defies their school performance--IQ tests, or even some sort of talent or ability, In my own case, I would repeatedly test out of average classes and in to the coveted 'gifted and talented' classes where I would get mostly C's and occasionally B's. My father was sure I wasn't trying hard enough. So was I. The average kid with ADD is pretty sure they are broken, or "stupid" in some way because that's what they're told. They may be told that they are not living up to their potential--but they may not actually see that potential. In my own case, I certainly was not ever told I was stupid, but when everything is not adding up--why is the smart child not succeeding in school-- then that child will eventually doubt themselves. And will likely continue. Just as an illustration, my nursing board exam--I took it in 40 minutes, without sleeping the night before, and somehow passed. But I was certain that I failed that exam. I literally cried all the way home. But that's just self-doubt, which is almost never reality. What helps a person with ADD the most with respects to the emotional issues associated with ADD, is a supportive environment and social network.
How we are Crazy--This one's my favorite! People with ADD often excel in a creative environment, or any situation involving alternative or "abnormal" thinking. This may look like craziness. (This may BE craziness). Those of us with a little hyperactivity probably also do well in anything that involves staying busy, or in motion. ADDers on average tend to have heightened sensory response, specifically to light, touch, and sound. This usually makes for an exaggerated impression of both good and bad things in life--the fodder for great artistic work. Let's just be honest. How a person with ADD sees things, experiences things, or describes things will often come out very funny, or at least in a unique way. I usually don't see things normally, or I will see things normally and then 10 other ways. Because of this, I broke many molds and stood down many barriers which I credit, in part, to ADD. I just didn't think any better of being bold, impulsive or crazy. Even so, I have to watch it, or listen when others are watching it. ADD is not a free-pass for rudeness, or being irresponsible. Channeled in the right ways, however, the "crazy" of ADD can make for one very happy individual.
A note about ADD and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Following a traumatic event, I learned from this book that person a with ADD has a far greater ability then average to repress, and block the memory, but that when the memory returns, it can come back in a very dramatic and extremely stressful way. The ADDer's ability to displace is what will act as a mental anesethetic of sorts, for a time, but the ADDer, due to higher sensory perception may experience the kind of flashbacks and recall that resemble a nervous breakdown to an observer.
In this same vein, in my own research, I found that children with ADD are more vulnerable to child predators, as they tend to be sensitive and trusting as a rule, and are oftentimes "fringe" kids socially. Parents with children with ADD have to exercise twice as much caution, as well as providing direct and frank information about child predators.
I definitely recommend this book to those who want to understand, and explore ADD in adults. Fun reading!