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Equal and Opposite

(Photo: I wish I had his equanimity.)

[A warm welcome today to my new visitors from StumbleUpon!]

One of the hardest things for anyone with Attention Deficit Disorder like me to do is acknowledge a difference of opinion. Not because we’re too wrapped up in our own opinions to notice (although there is a variant of ADD that elicits a knee-jerk opposition to the input of others).

More likely, we recognize someone else’s potentially dearly held alternative opinion. But by the time that sinks in, our focus is often off and running after some other, shinier tangent. We don’t mean to run roughshod over the requests, suggestions, and outright protests of our friends and loved ones. But a lot of the time, that’s what we do without realizing it.

That’s not exactly true. Usually we figure out what we’ve done a few hours–or days–later. After our miffed BFF or snubbed significant other has stewed for awhile and then (from our ADD perspective) unexpectedly let us have it. In most cases with verbal fits, although from time to time airborne fruit and/or furniture have been known to be involved.

If I had a nickel for the number of times numerous ex-boyfriends accused me of throwing to the wind their carefully worded suggestions, intensifying complaints, or screamingly angry death-match-level protests, I’d be writing this Chicago blog from a renovated two-bedroom atop the Hancock with a Lake Shore Drive vista, not a ghetto-rific studio halfway up the low-rent, blocked-view side of Marina City.

It’s enough to make an ADDer yearn for a gated community full of short-attention-spanned compadres. A welcoming place of sanctuary where every forgotten appointment, lost set of keys, and accidentally ignored promise or protest would be met with a sly grin and a knowing nod. A Whoville of sorts–only one where half the community would have to hum the Christmas Day lyrics around the Who tree because they never manage to remember the words.

If only our friends and lovers could roll out the same patience we ADDers have to unfurl for them. Talk slower? Write things down? What do you mean we said that already? So what? We’re just trying to make a point! You understand us, don’t you? You are aware our behavior is due to uncommon neurological pathways in our brains and not because we don’t “try hard enough,” right? Didn’t you know all of this came with the territory when you signed on to have an ADDer in your life?

Well, ok. Maybe you didn’t. But if you really care about us like you say you do, how about throwing us some slack? Do you really think your ADD loved one is trying to drive you up a wall intentionally? Especially considering how annoying it is from our perspective to have to hear all the time how we are quite possibly engaging in a nefarious plot bankrolled by big pharma to force you into therapy and a high daily dose of overly expensive anti-anxiety medication?

Actually, sometimes we do goad you just for sport, but in our defense, half the time we think you deserve it, too. If only for your lack of patience with us.

As with all things, there are two sides to every story. In any difference of perspective between people, no one has a license to claim theirs is the right one. All opinions are valid ones. I think that’s what gets ADDers and their loved ones into battle in the first place.

The Buddha Dharma would say one of the surest ways to get yourself in trouble with anyone is to go around defending your own opinion. In a perfect world, we’d all be secure enough in our own viewpoints that we wouldn’t feel a need to have them validated by others. (You did remember I’m a Buddhist, didn’t you?)

This is especially key advice for ADDers and anyone in their collateral damage zone. If every ADDer could just take it for granted that when their loved ones tell them they’ve forgotten to do something–like listen, especially–it’s the truth, and if every blast-zone denizen in their lives could get it through their heads that their beloved ADDers really don’t mean anything by their forgetfulness, there would be many fewer tumblers of eggnog flying across living rooms this Holiday season.

My plan–at least through New Year’s or as long as I remember, whichever period expires first–is to do likewise. Actually, it’s always been my plan to apply this particular Dharma to my personal affairs. At all costs. It’s amazing how often I forget to do so.

But it’s not surprising. I am an ADDer after all. And if you want to hang with me, it’s best to school yourself on the lay of the land. You’ll understand that in the heat of the moment I’ll likely be little help in that regard, so you better do your homework.

On behalf of my fellow ADDers, we promise to do our best to take our loved ones at their word and defuse disastrous differences of opinion before they arise. But we warn you, you better be as diligent in your efforts as we. Otherwise, next time you find yourself on the receiving end of our annoyingly forgetful behavior, it might be on purpose.

That might not be the Dharmic thing for us to do, but hey, no one’s perfect.

Categories: ADHD Love Spiritual Awakening

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Michael Thaddeus Doyle

I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.

My Bio | My Conversion | My Family Reunion

Contact: mikedoyleblogger@gmail.com

15 replies

  1. Sure. I manage my ADD with over-the-counter supplements, not prescription drugs. I take:

    • Fish Oil (Carson’s liquid form), for Omega-3s which help control overall symptoms of distractability, forgetfulness, and concentration;
    • A daily multivitamin with B-complex and zinc, both of which also help as above;
    • Phosphatidylserine (PS), a rather pricey photolipid (I take 300mg once a day which costs about $40/month) that is a building block of dopamine, a neurotransmitter implicated in ADD symptoms (PS is the supplement I tend to recommend most of all–it helps greatly in concentration and staying on task); and
    • L-Tyrosine, an amino acid which aids in the management of dopamine in the brain.

    I also take St. Johns Wort as an overall mood stabilizer. I began taking SJW during a bout of depression two years ago (on the blog I tend to call it “God’s Zoloft” for how powerfully it helped brighten my mood back then), but find it helps to even out my ADD-related stress.

    And there you have it!

  2. I have to admit, I miss my blog a lil bit. I had more interaction with readers than I do now, I was learning new things, and I FELT more important. Of course, I may have been just another cog in the blogoverse wheel, but at least I FELT like I was doing something significant.

    The new gig feels a bit colder and stiff, but I suppose that’s true of any field when you go from “grassroots” to “mainstream.” I’m also low man on the totem pole, so I have to answer to a lot more editing than I’m accustomed to.

    However, I feel a lot better when I look at my new paycheck and compare it to my old one. Heh.

    I think in a few months, I may start another blog, one in which I can dictate my own hours, topics, etc. However, what I would write about is beyond me. For now, I’ll just tend to my lil’ nearly 8-year-old personal blog/journal.

  3. Oh don’t be silly, Matt. Occasionally.

    Just kidding! Thanks for reading–how is the new, post-Chicago Traveler gig going? Feel free to comment, email, or DM me. As an ADDer, you know how I love to be, um, widely electronically available…

  4. For fullest disclosure:

    The genesis of this post was an argument I had with a close friend over behaviors that stem from my ADD. To be clear, ADD is never an excuse for behaviors that anyone might engage in without self-awareness of their actions.

    However, those with ADD, like me–frequently no matter how medicated by herbal or big pharma means–still have ADD. Nothing can change that. There is no wonder drug, magic surgery, or breakthrough psychiatric therapy that can change that.

    Our behaviors, those of us with ADD, stem from an abnormal brain make-up: portions of our brains are shaped differently, function differently, and process neurotransmitters differently. We would love to wake up one day, every one of us, and be able to perform executive functions like managing priorities, estimating time, and remembering things based on importance instead of emotional relevance.

    Unfortunately, we cannot and never will be able to without the aid of medication. And even then, drugs are not a panecea. At work with our colleagues, after hours with our friends, at home with our spouses and families we will still exhibit behaviors that those around us find puzzling at best, and at worst maddening.

    If you think that sounds like a burden on those around us, let me share this. Imagine an entire lifetime spent apologizing to those around you for things you can do nothing fundamental to change. Imagine an entire lifetime apologizing for how God made you.

    That’s the life most of us with ADD share, no matter how far along in treatment and management strategies we are. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, would you?

    I can’t tell you how many times my friendships, work environments, and love relationships have been affected by my having ADD. It was one thing for this to happen before I knew what I had. It’s something else entirely to have people in my life push me away after they and I both know what the real problem is.

    I’ve done a lot of speaking for other ADDers in this comment. Right now I think I owe it to myself to speak for me. Someday, I deserve to have friends and colleagues who accept me for who I am–the whole package. Some unconditionally do already, but others just don’t get it.

    Most importantly, I deserve a partner who will equally understand and choose to stand with me during my times of crisis and his, instead of shying away because ADD and the stress it brings–for both of us–is too much for him to bear.

    At the age of 38, I have spent a lifetime being pushed away by partners during difficult times in their lives because my symptoms–or even the mere thought of them–are unwanted pressure. Someday I would like to meet a man who’s first impulse is to turn to me. I think I deserve that. Yet, In my entire life I have never had a boyfriend willing to do it. Can you imagine that?

    I wrote this post because I’m tired of making apologies for who I am.

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