The back story here is my wife and I had been in a "discussion" for about a week. It was pretty intense. She was upset that I got home over an hour late and forgot to call when she'd been expecting me right after work. The family waited on me to eat dinner and so on. So I felt pretty guilty too. The problem is that she just kept on about it. I tried to explain that I don't experience time the same way she does. I can get so focused that the house could burn down around me and I'd ignore it. She KNOWS that's how I am. She knows it but she doesn't really feel it. She acts like ADHD is one of those things you can just conquer with willpower. She said some things that reminded me of school and the way things used to be and it struck a nerve. I went into full on jerk mode. I remembered my therapy. I took a deep breath and told her that I was too upset to be coherent and I'd need some time to cool off, could she please just leave me a lone while I collect myself. She did for about 3 minutes. Then started in on me again. This went on for nearly a week. I was ready to leave her.
Then, inspired by the X-Men movie we'd just seen, an idea hit me. We ADHD people are kind of like X-Men "mutants" we have traits that make us a little different. Like the X-Men, we just want to be accepted and appreciated. That gave me an idea of how to talk about it so it doesn't sound like an excuse.
Here's the tip: I had her take off her glasses and try to read a sign. She couldn't see it well enough without her glasses. Then I told her to concentrate harder and see if it made a difference. It didn't. I told her she wasn't trying hard enough. She could really do it if she had enough willpower. I told her to "will" her eyes to focus better or her brain to compensate for the fuzzy image. After a few minutes, she finally just said, "Stop it. That's not something I can do."
Then I asked her whats the difference between her vision and my ADHD? She didn't buy it at first. Then I said, well, try it with something else. Will yourself to speak a different language or fly or change your hair just by thinking it. I know it sounds like I'm being a jerk, but I was very polite. It got her thinking about it. Eventually she conceded up to a point. She agreed that willpower wasn't enough, then she advised me to "set little goals." I said, what like you trying to learn how to see the letter "J" without your glasses? I set goals, I just forget about them.
The next day, she was sitting across the room without her glasses. I held up a kitchen gadget and asked her what it was. She said she couldn't see it. I started again. Will yourself to see it. She wasn't having it. She said it wouldn't work. So I said, "What if I talk about it and remind you constantly to try harder to see it A LOT? Would that help you see it better?"
She stared at me for a minute and said "Touche'. I get it now." She agreed to back off and let stuff go. I agreed to try to call if I'm going to be late, but I warned her. My brain won't change. This is how I am. She's going to have to accept it and let the bad stuff go and not take it personal. Even with meds, living with ADHD is tricky. It always will be.
She's been a lot nicer since then. She backs off when I do that Therapy trick and tell her exactly how I'm feeling in plain language. So she knows to give me some space when I need it.
I posted this because I thought it might help someone re-think the way they deal with their loved ones with or without ADHD. The main goal is clear communication and being willing to listen to each other. It's easy to let things build up until they become a barrier the longer you know someone. That's when it pays to lighten up and be friends.
That is a good idea. I do set alarms on my phone. I use Outlook at work since I can't use my phone there and I do other stuff. One problem with me is I'm impulsive. If I'm not going to remember to call home right when my buddy says "Hey, come over and check out this new toy I got." I won't remember to set the alarm either. It always just seems like a few minutes, then it turns out to be hours. It's weird. It helps work go by faster though.
For my wife I use the one that sounds like a nuclear bomb is about to go. I also use a variant of that for my wife's ring tone. It says "WARNING THIS IS A CALL FROM YOUR WIFE... etc." She hates it but she doesn't use my phone or call me on it when we're in the same room so it's my little secret.
A few years ago my nephew was diagnosed with ADHD. Followed by his mom, my other sister, my brother and my dad. I was the last one to be evaluated.
I knew I was a bit different in 3rd grade. That year I started visiting the guidance councilor. She asked me a lot of questions, had me draw a lot and watch cartoons. She used a puppet named Do-So Dolphin to explain how to behave in class. I liked it because it was just more entertaining that whatever the 'normal kids' were doing. That year I did so well on the annual testing, that I was a candidate for the Gifted program. I qualified for that too, but my grades weren't up to par so it was over after the first quarter. It was also the first year I was held back a grade.
I barely skinned by 4th and 5th. But 6th grade was the pinnacle of public school idiocy. As usual, I qualified for gifted but my grades weren't high enough. This time they had me take an extra test where I found out that I have a high IQ whatever that was. They said it means I'm a bit smarter than most people my age. I thought if I'm the smart one, the Earth is doomed. They also said I had trouble remembering things. I tried out for "6th Sense Team" and made it. We competed with other schools Jeopardy style. We finished that year in second for the county. I got a T-Shirt!!! Oh and I was held back that year, didn't pass summer school, repeated 6th grade,qualified for gifted, failed again, and finally passed summer school on my second try. I skinned by until 9th when I quit school.
I took adult vocational classes to learn computers, got an a ward for scoring high on the GED and graduated on time. I joined the Army and got kicked out, married a lesbian and got divorced, beat up a gun toting mugger with a broom and spent one night in jail for fighting with my brother in my parents front yard. I had an interesting career most of it in computers and most of it in weird places. I've had a lot of personal conflict. I've always tried to fit in and failed. I've been angry at the school, my parents and the world for making "normal" seem like something real. What would my life have been like if they'd diagnosed me properly in 3rd grade? Who would I be? An A student? College Graduate? Insurance salesman or executive? Adventurer?
I realize now, that I don't care. I am who I am because of my life. I had to forgive everyone I was angry at for all of these years including myself before I could relax. I've said that I feel more like my younger self now that I know why I had trouble. I think the reason for that is I haven't been myself since 3rd grade. Before that I didn't know I was different and didn't care. I'm in that place again except, I know I'm different, but I don't care. Nobody is normal anyway.
The medicine helps, but it's not the reason I feel better about life. It's just that I'm finally free of imaginary limits and expectations.
It might not be anger. It might be impulsiveness. "Normal" people or most people, might have an impulse to say something snarky, but hold themselves back.
For me, whatever I think I say most of the time. For example, someone might meet a person and think "Wow! This guy is a jerk." but they smile and carry on in a friendly manner anyway.
Same situation, only it's me meeting some one. I meet someone and they're acting like a jerk. Maybe I don't notice and carry on in a friendly way. Then again, maybe I do notice it and I think "Why are you such a jerk?" only it turns out I said while I was thinking it. Now he's mad at me. To top it all off, I can't remember why I'm standing here talking to this angry jerk in the first place. So I walk away.
Through the whole thing, I'm not angry at all. It's just that I pretty much say whatever stupid thing pops into my head without even thinking about it. I also have a tendency to over react emotionally, so the doctor prescribed an SSRI to go along with the Adderall. The two of them working together has worked reasonably well for me.
It's something you're going to have to work on. Talk to your doctor about it. They may have some advice. You should also talk to your family about it one on one and let them know that you don't mean to be snippy, but everyone has to be good at something. Right?
I've noticed that too. I have ADHD and I can tolerate a lot of pain.
I don't know if its tolerating it so much as ignoring it. If I'm in the middle of something and cut myself or drill a hole in my hand, I may not even react to the injury unless the blood is interfering with my work. Yeah sure. It hurts, but not enough to stop me doing whatever interesting things I was doing when it happened.
We have difficulty voluntarily focusing on things. Whatever controls what we pay attention too simply doesn't rate pain as interesting enough to focus on at the expense of the rest of the world and whatever is going on at the time.
Time doesn't register with me unless I think about time. If I'm doing something the time can go right by even if there's something else I was supposed to be doing. It just doesn't click. I think pain is the same way. It's just there, but it's not really important right now.
When my wisdom teeth came in, they came in sideways "Impacted" the dentist called it. They were pushing on my back molars from beneath the gum line. Anyway, the back molars both cracked. It hurt a lot when I took time to think about it, but I went over 10 years before I finally had the wisdom teeth and the ruined molars removed. It just didn't click. Time flew right by. If I didn't know it was 10 years, I'd have said it was a month or two, I think.
This next part is kind of gross so skip it if you're squeamish.
My kid said she had a headache one day. I gave her some motrin and she was fine. Then about a week later, she told me her ear was clogged and she couldn't hear very well. We used alcohol to try to clear it out, but she said it didn't work. So I took her to the doctor. It turned out she had an ear infection that had burst her ear drum. She never even complained about the pain at all! From what we can tell it had to have been going on for a few weeks.
That same year, she had a lump on her back that turned out to be an infection that the doctor had to drain. She stood there hugging me, while the doc used his hands to pinch and poke the thing to drain the stuff out of it and clean it. The whole time she was just humming a little song and looking at the posters on the wall. You'd never know anything was going on by looking at her face. The doctor looked at me and whispered "If anyone did that to me, I'd be howling right now." We were very impressed that she didn't react at all. She said she felt it and it hurt, but that's it. We told her she's "Viking Tough" because of it. Now we know if she says something hurts we need to take her to the doctor.
The funny thing is, she'll suffer a burst ear drum and an infection on her back in silence, but she won't drink medicine without acting like someone took a branding iron to her.
I have ADHD/OCD. This combination of traits is probably the reason I'm so good at my work. I'm a technician. I primarily work on computers, but I love solving all kinds of problems. I tend to volunteer for the most challenging projects that no one else wants because they're guaranteed to be learning opportunities and involve solving interesting problems. After nearly 20 years in the field, I have developed a wide skill set. I can write computer code, repair circuit boards, configure routers, pick locks or whatever. If I need to learn a new skill, I'll do it. I never give up until the job is done. Obstacles rarely slow me down. I'll go over, around behind or plow through anything that gets in the way. I love it when I do something I was told was impossible.
That stuff sounds great at the job interview. These skills got me may last 2 jobs. They also cost me those same jobs.
When the employer puts me on a task and says do what it takes, they don't realize what might happen when they become the obstacle. When I need access to resources controlled by others, there's always tension. I can't always explain what I'm doing in a way they understand. If someone causes a delay and they don't respond quickly with a reasonable explanation, I try to solve that problem by the same means. I can't stop myself. If they don't understand how I work bad things happen... to me.
I lost my job 3 days ago after I sent what I've been told was a strongly worded email to everyone in our group asking if anyone else was having problems getting parts they'd ordered 7 months ago. The parts person responded as if I was saying she wasn't doing her job. I asked her why she didn't answer me at all when I asked what was going on. This was a circular conversation. I say "Where are my parts?" she responds "I'm doing my job!" Eventually, she said she had documentation to back up her position. I replied "Show me." When I realized she was upset, I apologized, but it was too late. The next day, they called my company and said don't send Chris back.
Nobody let me explain, not even my company. It's like I no longer exist to them. Now, I think I was set up to fail. I was on a deadline, I had no parts and no information. Requests for help went unanswered for months on end. Nobody in my chain helped me find the parts or verify they'd been ordered. But they kept telling me to make the customers happy. No resources. No help. No ETA. Angry customers and me right in the middle. Anxiety, ADHD and OCD guy left to the wolves until they just kicked me to the curb for trying too hard to do my job. I never made a secret of my condition or why I had to take medicine and go to therapy. That didn't bother them while I was solving problems, but when they had to do their part, they kept my info and gave me the boot without even shaking hands.
The problem is I was a "temp" they just called the company and canceled me like a cell phone. It's not right. It's not fair and it may be illegal.
How should I proceed? Do I call law enforcement or a lawyer or what? Who handles these types of cases? Where find more info?
Thanks. But, truthfully, it's probably for the best.
The other techs had mentioned people who had been let go for rocking the boat before I got there. Anyone who's read my other posts probably knows I don't respond well to threats and intimidation. Basically, I will not work for jerks. (I can't say that the way I usually do here, but you get the idea.)
Once I was warned about a certain Doctor who could "destroy you." I said "No. He can't 'destroy' me. He can only stop signing my pay check." The point being, nobody has to put up with anything unless they choose too. Remaining employed may outweigh personal comfort. That calculus belongs to the individual. For me the math is easy. I'm only going to be in this life once. I'm not going to let a bunch of jerks take any more that the absolute minimum of happiness from me. I'm willing to give up a crappy job rather than suffer fools in the chain of command even if I have to eat Ramen Noodles until I find a new job.
Working for people who use your contractor status as leverage is like waiting for your mom to pull off a band-aid. Each day is like pulling it slowly a little bit at a time. I'd rather just rip the thing off and get on with the rest of my day. It hurts a lot. Once, and only for a few minutes. But it's better than suffering daily until it finally comes off anyway.
I hope that makes sense. I know it's a tough economy, believe me, but I'm simply not capable of being a sheep and staying in the pen even if its better for me in the long run. It's not in my DNA to stay inside the box for long.
Oh, well. Enough rambling. A new job isn't going to find me. I have to find it. Back to the work of looking for work.
I think the OCD is the root of the problem for me in this case. I can't stand to see my own work unfinished. I feel like these broken machines are sitting there and everyone is looking at them thinking Chris isn't working. ADHD just adds to it because I can't stand to be bored for long. So find stuff to do. Sometimes I guess it just isn't the right stuff to do.
ADHD comes with Hyper Focus. OCD comes with Obsessions and Compulsions. Compulsive Hyper Focus I guess is one way to describe it.
On the one hand they says "This is an important job. We really need you to succeed." and on the other hand they're saying " You're job is to get them fixed. Our job is to get the parts. You do your job now and we'll do ours when we feel like it."
Did I mention this place is a Hospital? That just adds to my anxiety. Formally, the work order classification they use indicated all of my work orders were "affecting patient care." To me, that meant, someone wasn't getting the help they need because this machine that I'm supposed to repair is out of order. I can't stand feeling like that.
Getting the parts became my focus. That's all. Nothing sinister or crazy. It was just an email that someone didn't like.
I'm 100% positive that if I'd had a chance to explain. The whole thing would have blown over and we'd all be friends now. It's just stupid when people are afraid to talk to each other.
Being a contractor makes it easier for them to pull the plug on you than deal with you.
Oh well, it's in the past. Thankfully, my ADHD is kicking in and the whole situation is rapidly fading in my rear view mirror. The best thing about ADHD is "NOW" is always more interesting to me than "BEFORE" or "LATER". I hope I said that in a way that makes sense.
Would you go to your mechanic and ask them for a medical diagnosis? Probably not. That's not really their job is it?
Unless your parents are Psychiatrists, they probably aren't qualified to make a medical diagnosis like that. The human brain and mind are very complex systems. Even experienced doctors may take some time to even get close to what's really going on in our heads.
At 37 years old I was diagnosed with ADHD and later OCD/Anxiety. It took my doctor about 6 months to decide if I was Bipolar or not. Bipolar is so similar to ADHD / OCD that I take the same medicine I'd probably be taking if I did have Bipolar Disorder. My brother has ADHD and Bipolar. The biggest difference between the two of us is he has wild mood swings and violent tendencies. I don't get violent. Just loud and obnoxious.
My advise is to find a psychiatrist. Have them diagnose your symptoms. You might get a second opinion just in case. Then instead of having your parents tell you whats not wrong, you can present your case from a much stronger position. If the doctor decides you need treatment or therapy. you can ask for ways to include your parents so they can learn about how your brain works and what they can do to help you fit in better. You may not need anything at all or maybe it's not permanent. If its a stress reaction or something like that, you might fight it by removing the stress. The main thing is NOT to go into it with the attitude that you already know your own diagnosis. Listen to the doctor. Answer the questions she asks without trying to figure out where they're going with it. Lots of times they ask some questions to rule out something else. You want to avoid trying to steer the conversation in any particular direction. Let the doc do her job. Be open and honest and don't hide anything that might be relevant. Otherwise it will just take longer to find the right treatment.
Once you know for sure what the problem is, you can begin to address how to approach your family about it in a productive way.
I completely get that. I like lots of noise as long as it doesn't sound like words I understand. What I mean is if I listen to a song in English or even Spanish lately, I get distracted by it especially if I can't hear the words clearly enough but get the idea I might be able to understand it. It's like I HAVE to figure out what they're saying, then whatever I started on gets left behind. If I can't understand the language at all, I ignore the words and just let the music block the distractions.
My parents thought I was on drugs when I was a teen, because I'd crank up that harsh heavy metal or death metal music as loud as I could stand it and take a nap. It blocked out the distractions and gave me a break from all the stuff going on. It only worked if I picked a band where the singer is basically screaming and you can't understand him at all or if they were foreign and I didn't understand the language.
Fast forward twenty years, I'm listening to what my Mom might call Elevator music, but not quite. I still like loud metal, but I also listen to classical now. If I'm writing code, I use Mozart Requiem to keep me in the zone. I've liked that one since I was in school in the late 80's. I also like rain storms, water falls and white noise. Not so much white noise as Pink Noise. It's not as harsh as white noise.
With very little effort, I can watch TV, listen to an audio book and read technical manuals or at least peruse the schematics and block diagrams and still retain quite a bit of each. It's like I scan for important bits, then focus and move on to the next thing. If I start building Legos with an Audiobook in the headphones, I'm gone for hours. My own little stay-cation. Drives my wife nuts.
Sorry to ramble. I just like this topic. I think we think alike on some level there, Matt. I ramble out of solidarity.