Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Yesterday my boss told me she thinks I have A.D.D. Well, actually, she said, "You know you have A.D.D., right?" I think there might some truth to this. I actually have been saying that for months now, but thought maybe it was because I'm in an environment with kids with learning disabilities and since this is all new to me, I am prone to try on different diagnoses. It's true, though, that I can't seem to concentrate on anything. But, if I do have A.D.D., does it mean I need to go on Ritalin? That's a scary thought. Or is there an alternative? My Dad would probably say I should meditate every day. There are books that would probably say I should avoid sugar, caffeine, dairy products, wheat, and other things. Maybe I should do yoga or breathing exercises? Maybe I need to get off my butt and start running again (even though I have no time for it)? Or, maybe I have only started having symptoms of A.D.D. since I started this job? Maybe being around others with attentional disorders has a negative influence on me? It's true that I have a hard time figuring out what to concentrate on when I'm not in a degree program. Life is complex and confusing to me when I have too many options and decisions to make. But given that I got straight-A's in grad school, I don't know how bad my A.D.D. could really be. But I'm finding that doing even one class while working full-time, traveling back and forth to Syracuse, and rehearsing an opera is very difficult and is pretty much driving me insane. I don't feel like I can give anything the attention it deserves and that causes me a great deal of anxiety. So, maybe I don't have A.D.D. Maybe I just can't handle having so many things on my plate.


Suze said...

You certainly have a lot of things on your plate. If you think you really might have ADD you should see somebody about it, though a random comment from your boss doesn't count as a real diagnosis!

Steph said...

Without knowing you face-to-face I almost hesitate to comment, but I will just as someone who once received a five-minute diagnosis in a psychiatrist's office during a particularly stressful period of my life. It's possible you'd be better off with an ADD diagnosis and meds. But if you suspect that your ADD-like concentration problems are more a product of your current circumstances and major life changes (like being used to working in really intensely focused environments like music grad school and now being out of that), don't distrust your own instincts because of your boss's comment. People are really facile with psychiatric terminology these days; now that terms like "ADD" and "anxiety disorder" are part of the common lexicon, we've all started diagnosing each other.

Sometimes psychiatrists are not much better. I got a diagnosis for "generalized anxiety disorder" after a ridiculously short and shallow conversation with a shrink, three weeks after 9/11. The meds she prescribed happened to make my life easier for a few years, but that was luck--she threw them at me without knowing hardly anything about me, barely mentioned the side effects (those 25 pounds I gained were a complete surprise!), and was in fact so prescription-happy I had to insist to her that I didn't need a prescription for tranquilizers! Not all psychiatrists are like that, of course.

I guess the main thing I'm saying is trust yourself first and foremost. The world of psychiatric diagnoses and treatment is a great gift sometimes, but also has the potential to be an absolute pain in the ass if it's not really what you need.

andre said...

Dear Pam,

I can go on for days on this one, so I'll try and be concise. . Our consumer habits have been transformed (like the transformers movie) into what we often mistake as a "culture." Really it's a pathology. I bring this up because it's much more difficult to focus on beautiful, edifying things now than in earlier times. . Life as we often live it is so convoluted with these frivolous choices and empty bitts of "information." How is it possible *not* for the body to respond strangely to all this stuff?!

When I get agitated (which is often I'm afraid) I find that it's my body's way of telling me that it's hungry for equilibrium. And the *awesome* thing about equilibrium is that even just *trying* for it will bring it in some measure. Running, breathing, good food and water, reading, practicing with your amazing instrument, fellowship, meditation, prayer. . they can all lengthen synapses. . no one thing will do it alone. . just little baby steps toward no place in particular, but away from negative stuff in our heads. If you find, even in the midst of your best efforts toward sustaining the habits of a good life, that you still struggle with concentration, it may then be time to seek counsel with someone you trust. (perhaps a counselor/work colleague in a semi-diagnostic setting?)

If that isn't the work of the world, I don't know what is!=) There is a set amount of matter in the universe. It is constant. It does not change. No good. No bad. Only *doing.* =)

Pam said...

Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful comments!