The personal struggle of living with ADD

Now I know this is rather uncommon for me to post an article relating to my personal life but I feel that I need to get this off my chest. At a young age I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. I was in denial at first, forced to take stimulants (which I now realize was for my own good, even though they had side effects), and generally had a rough time at school as a child and up to adulthood. It wasn’t that I couldn’t concentrate, it was that I could only concentrate for a long time on things that peaked my interest, or by teaching myself things to myself through books or the internet. In school I would completely ‘zone-out’ and continue to do so today.

One could see how this could lead to low grades, and the frustration of knowing you could easily ace all of your classes if only you had the attention span and motivation to do so. There is another side of this though- largely due to my personality in which I get very intensely focused on topics that peak my interest. The points of focus vary from time to time, most recently it was understanding economics and society at large. It was only after reading Smith, Keynes, Marx, and others that I actually came to the socialist conclusion. I’ve tried to know everything I possibly can about Space, about the Titanic (the ship that sank in 1912), and other obscure topics which some may dismiss as boring. These things of course divert my attention away from my studies- and therein lies the problem. Being intensely focused on working out problems and mentally trying to find solutions to real world problems- whether real of philosophical, leads one to do poorly in school if they cannot also focus on their studies.

But all hope is not lost, even if at times it seems as such. There are stimulants I am prescribed to ‘treat’ the issue. They do work, I will not deny that. But they work at a price. For one my creativity, the ability to really think creatively, intuitively and come to logical conclusions to real world problems with little effort is essentially done away with. I become mentally numb- so to speak. I become socially awkward, and extremely focused not on one particular topic of interest but everything. And worse still, I become extremely anxious. It has reached the point where for long periods of time due to anxiety I am unable to take my medication because they give me anxiety attacks. So instead of taking my medicine, I have gone the whole summer and semester without them. But at what cost? On one hand I have learned more about economics, sociology, human history, and philosophy then I ever would have before. My personal relationships (the few that I have) are flourishing, and my mind is capable of thinking clearly, concisely and non-linearly (how I come up with some 90% of ideas that I come up with). For me, ideas spring into my conscious mind with little mental effort naturally. But on stimulants most all thought becomes linear, and thus the spark of human intuitiveness and creativity is somehow lost in the process. These are all good things that I have experienced. I have read more books in this period then when I actually was on my medication. But on the other hand, my grades suffer severely. It becomes such an issue that I cannot focus on something I find utterly and completely boring (90% of school) for more than 5 minutes without going off in my head mentally trying to solve some problem of thinking about something. At first school is easy as I know the basics of many of the subjects taught- especially in the easier classes I am taking. But actually doing the homework, showing up on time to class and generally doing the work becomes a challenge which I cannot mentally overcome without some actual existential fear. Thus my only option at this point is to face my demons and take the stimulant. If I do not I will almost certainly do poorly in several classes. But if I take this mind numbing drug I will certainly succeed in all of my studies. The only problem is that last time I did this I ended up having 4 panic attacks in one day, but such is the price of progress I suppose.

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