Tag Archives: ADHD

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UPDATE: A Missive on My Misfiring Brain


Oh, what a difference a few weeks makes. Last we left each other, I was looking forward (??) to finding out if I had ADHD or not. Based on its genetic tendencies (my mom was diagnosed when she was just a few years older than me) and a thorough review of the literature (every frickin article I could suction my eyes to), I was pretty certain I’d also been visited by the attention bandit.

Turns out my hunch was correct—I have it, no question. Although, given the emotions churning inside of me since I received the diagnosis, maybe bipolar disorder might be more accurate: I’m relieved and grateful, and am experiencing one epiphany after another. But at the same time it’s like I’m in mourning, second guessing a life that “could have been.” I’ve bounced between “Aha!” and “Oh, shit!” so many times I might have a concussion.

Relief is the overarching emotion. I was terrified of what “it” might be if not ADHD—this is where my curiosity and love of research is not helpful. Instead, I’m lucky—there a number of effective treatments for ADHD, usually a combination of medication, and new learned behaviors and skills. I’m in the middle of a trapeze act of balancing symptoms with side effects; I’ll gain my footing soon, I’m sure.

I’m grateful my doctor identified “it” immediately: “Do you realize you answered ‘yes’ to every ADHD item on this symptom checklist?” he asked me. Yup…I sure did. “Do you realize that because your mom has ADHD and smoked while pregnant with you, and you were a low-birth-weight baby you were almost guaranteed to have ADHD?” Nope…I sure didn’t, but my dad will be relieved to know he’s not the cause of all my problems. Mom’s finally taking one for the team.

There have been so many light bulb moments since the diagnosis I’m glowing like a human Christmas tree. For instance, so many parts of my life have seemed random and disjointed:

Wanting to be no place other than where you are, physically or mentally, but finding it impossible to stay put and present.
Believing you’re getting so much accomplished thanks to your superhuman “ability” to multitask only to realize you’re no further along with any of it than when you started.
Embarking on a new project with a manic, hyper-focused energy, only to walk away a short time later like you’re leaving a bowl of lukewarm, canned peas on the table.

But in the context of an undiagnosed ADHD brain driving my life’s bus, it all makes sense.

Keep reading for more awesomeness…

A Missive on My Misfiring Brain

Nothing can ever prepare you for it—that moment when you realize you’ve become your mother or father, or both. I had one of those moments a few weeks ago, driving with my husband and daughter. I commented on another car I saw (technically I called out a “slug bug”…yes, we still do that). Then not more than a couple of minutes later, I made the same comment…with absolutely no recollection of having already made it.

“You just said that,” they said to me, to which I responded, “No, I didn’t.” It took some convincing, and even after I cajoled myself into believing them, I still didn’t remember those words coming out of my mouth.

Then the ribbing started: “It’s bad enough you don’t listen to us when we talk to you. Now you’re not even listening to yourself.”

As I began to apologize (for the millionth time for this very transgression), I had a flashback to conversations I had with my mom when she was about my age.

They usually went something like this:

Her: “When do you work this week?”

Me: [telling her the days and times.]

Her [just minutes later]: “When do you work this week?”

Me: “You already asked me that. God, Mom, don’t you ever listen to me? It’s like you don’t care about what I have to say…”

I’ve experienced a version of that amnesiac round-robin with my husband and daughter more times than I can remember (literally). It was during the one in the car that my brain made what could be one of the most sanity-saving connections of my life.

When my mom was about the same age as I am now (mid-forties), she was diagnosed with ADHD. I still remember the day she got the news: She cried with relief because, as she told me, “My whole life I thought I was stupid. Now I know what it really was.”

And I’m beginning to wonder if it’s the same with me.

Keep reading for more awesomeness…