25 Nov 2014

Finally, the Tale of my Self-Diagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder!

I love personality quizzes.  They’re fun and although most aren't scientifically sound, they can be quite enlightening.

The most serious one I’ve done is Belbin’s Team Roles.  How liberating it was to discover that I wasn’t supposed to be great at ALL those functions!  I can’t remember exactly what I did come out as (Monitor Evaluator and Co-ordinator probably), but I know that I definitely wasn’t  a Completer Finisher.  The reason for my laziness and always being too quick to move onto the next thing had a name!

A quiz in a magazine article a few years ago had an even bigger impact on me and explained the reason for that and other personality traits in more detail.  The article was about a lady who discovered in her 30s that she had adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), similar to but slightly different from ADHD (presumably minus the uncontrollable hyperactivity).  Reading what she was saying about daydreaming, fidgeting, short attention span, chronic procrastination, low self-esteem and messiness, I was thinking “these things sound familiar”, although my outworking of them wasn’t quite the same.

Excited at the sight of a tick box quiz, I grabbed a pen and got started.

Do you have:

– a sense of underachievement?

– difficulty getting organised?

– chronic procrastination or difficultly getting started with projects?

– many projects on the go at one time, with difficulty following them all through?

– a tendency to speak before you think?

– intolerance of boredom?

– a tendency to tune out when reading or in a conversation, often coupled with an ability to hyperfocus at times?

– a strong streak of creativity and intuition?

– a craving for stimulation?

– high intelligence?

– trouble following correct procedure or going through proper channels?

– impatience and low tolerance of frustration?

– impulsive spending habits and always changing plans?

– a tendency to worry needlessly and endlessly?

– a sense of insecurity?

– mood swings and depression?

– restlessness?

– a tendency towards addictive behaviour?

– very low self-esteem?

– poor body image?

It was only when I finished that I read the instructions.

“If you tick more than 12 of the following, you may have the condition.  Consult your GP for further diagnosis and treatment advice.”

I’d ticked 18!!!  Of the two I hadn’t ticked, one wasn’t true (spending habits and changing plans) and the other was only true 50% of the time (trouble following procedures and channels).   A score of 18 ½ out of 20 then, slightly over the threshold of 12.

I didn’t go to the GP.  I felt that even if I genuinely did have ADD it wasn’t serious enough to warrant medication and there was no other reason to take up their precious time.  The other reason was that, as with everything in life, once I know what the problem is then I look to find a solution.

Some of the characteristics were positive, I thought, and useful if properly managed – hyperfocus, creativity, intuition, high intelligence, needing stimulation.  Some have been dealt with over the past few years as I’ve grown in my relationship with God, particularly worrying and a sense of insecurity.  Low self-esteem and poor body image have also benefited from my faith deepening, as well as just getting older and caring a whole lot less about what people think of me.  Only one habit remains negative and that’s restlessness – I am always picking at and ripping bits of skin.

A tendency to speak before I think was one of my most irritating habits.  During conversations I would often have a thought tangent and just speak it out.  9 times out of 10, it would completely cut across the conversation and seem quite rude.  I had just thought I was socially inept.  Instead I realised that even when talking to someone my mind was racing off in all sorts of directions, often stimulated by the discussion, and when an interesting thought materialised I would just share it.  There was a bona fide and understandable reason why I did that, therefore it could be sorted.  “Hold that thought” became a little inner mantra!

I’m a knitting addict and have to have several projects on the go at the same time.  I naturally haven’t got the patience or concentration to work on just one thing at a time.  I like to have projects involving different items, yarn weights and needle sizes to move between depending on what I fancy doing at that moment.  Thankfully I do ultimately reach the point of being fed up with having too many unfinished projects and put on a Completer Finisher head to get them all sorted.  Before I start again with the next 3 or 4 projects!

Fortunately my self-diagnosed ADD doesn’t manifest in this way in my writing although it does have some effects and probably would have more if extreme concentration (hyperfocus) wasn’t also a strong ADD characteristic.  I've learnt to discipline myself and I also try to manage any ADD flitting by having alternative project options open to me all the time.  As I’ve been editing CAF Book One, I’ve often had plot ideas or imagined conversations for Books Two and Three (and possibly Four!).  When that happens I just pop across to another document, enjoy a quick bit of free vomit drafting and then return to editing Book One.

Writing this blog provides a different challenge and a break from writing YA each week too.  A change is as good as a rest, they say…especially when you've got ADD! Earlier this year I also did a short Writing Drama course with Oxford Uni, which has provided another future project which I'll develop when I need a proper break from CAF.  More on that next week.



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