Sunday, August 18, 2013

She was the best of friends, she was the worst of friends...

I've been thinking a lot lately about how blessed I am to have friends who have stuck with me.  There are times when ADD makes me a GREAT friend, but there are lots of times when ADD makes me... Wait, what were you saying?

I was comparing notes with one of my work friends the other day who also has ADD, and we were surprised at how our relationships have been so similarly impacted by ADD.  You see, ADD thrives on drama.  We make great friends with anyone who's life is falling apart.  We NEED to be needed, and so we find ourselves giving and giving and giving to needy friends.  Unfortunately there are only two ways for that to end.  Either we give and give at an unsustainable rate until WE'RE the ones falling apart, or our friends get their stuff together and don't need us anymore (so we don't see them for months on end).

That's not to say that I don't have good friends who DO have their lives together, but without the drama I fall out of touch with them very easily.  And it's a real shame, because I really do enjoy spending time with my friends.  For example, I recieved some VERY cute baby pictures from a friend recently, I hadn't even realized she was pregnant.  That's how long it had been since we'd been in touch, and I feel really bad because when I had my baby she and her husband were there for me, brought us dinner, and just wonderful to be around.  It's not uncommon for me to go months without talking to a friend, then when we do get together we see each other several times, spend a lot of time together, and then fall apart for more months at a time.

The ADD brain thrives on stimulation, unfortunately arguments are often more stimulating than when everyone gets along.  I look back and see friendships that I have lost simply because I couldn't stop myself from arguing with my friends.  It's never something I recognized at the time, but in retrospect I can see how I've acted like a real know-it-all, and sometimes I've down-right attacked my friends on what really should have been small differing opinions.  Heck, I think I've actually built some friendships on a basis of argumentativeness, a shaky foundation for a friendship if I ever saw one.

I fall in and out of friendships very easily.  I'll meet someone for two days on vacation, and know more about them than someone I've known for years, but I'll just as easily never see them again after we go our separate ways.  Oh, we'll trade addresses, and I'll have every intention of keeping in touch, but somehow it never happens.  It's not that I don't want to, or even that I don't think of them, I do, and often, but to actually reach out and correspond never seems to happen.

It's something I feel bad about as I look back over the years.  All these wonderful people that I have met and formed what could have been wonderful friendships with, all the lost opportunities.  As I read about ADD, what makes us tick and what we should do to make the best of our crazy brains, I read over and over that maintaining close personal relationships are so important.  I try to maintain healthy relationships, but the ones that receive the most attention are the needy codependent ones.  The very thing that I'm supposed to be doing, is so hard to do.

It leaves me very lonely sometimes, but I'm so thankful for the friends that have stuck with me through the years, through the "debates" and the long silences.  So to all my friends out there, thanks for sticking with me.  I'm sorry I don't keep in touch.  I'll try to do better.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Give me something to believe in!

I've written on this blog before about how ADD can actually make me BETTER at my job, but I've been thinking a lot lately on what makes a job better for me.  I've realized that whatever the task, if I don't see it's intrinsic worth or really believe in the people I'm working for then it won't be able to hold my attention.  At all.  This doesn't just apply to work, but to all aspects of my life.

I first noticed this when I was a music major at Shorter, though I'm sure that's not the first time it actually applied.  At the time I was trying to learn to sing various Italian arias selected by my voice teacher, and I just couldn't do it.  I didn't see the point in singing about some sun god.  The song had no meaning for me, it didn't apply to my life, and the idea of singing about a sun god went against everything I believed in.  I didn't understand it.  I love music, I thought in all forms.  I'd worked hard on music in various forms from piano to church choir from the time I was very little, so to be assigned a piece of such drivel seemed completely foreign to me.  It wasn't the language that troubled me, after all I'd sung in Italian, Latin, German, even Swahili.  And even though I've never been good at spoken languages, singing in them has never been a problem.  But the content, I was used to church music, music I could believe in.  This content didn't resonate with me, at all, it was against everything I believed in, and I was awful at it.

I've found this applies to other areas of my life as well.  My first job out of college was working for a software company co-founded by my best friend.  I didn't understand the software we were working on, or really even understand the need for it, at all.  But I believed in him, and so I learned to believe in the product.  I was able to QA and later support that product because I saw it's applications.  Oh, I knew it wasn't going to solve world hunger or anything, but I also saw that for what it did, it was a very good solution.  It didn't matter that I didn't know the product, I believed in the people behind it and so was able to learn to believe in the product.

Fast forward a few years and I worked on a product that was really quite simple and easy to use.  It did what it was supposed to, and with a little guidance most customers just got it, which was a good thing, because I had to force myself to support it.  You see, I've found that when I don't believe in the people behind a product then it's really hard for me to trust the product as well.  I trusted the people behind that first product.  I knew that when I found a bug, it would be fixed.  I knew that when a customer had a need, it would be met if at all possible.  But when I didn't trust my backup, every little hiccup became an insurmountable obstacle.

That's how it is with ADD.  It's not a lack of attention, it's a lack of regulation of attention.  If you feel something is unworthy of your time (and time is a big deal in ADD, more on that later) then it's incredibly difficult to get it to hold your attention, and if you can force yourself to do it, then it's even harder to do it well.  On the other hand, if you have a personal interest in it, then it's much easier to believe in what you're doing.

That personal interest is key for folks with ADD.  For years I kept hearing folks tell me how to go about weight loss.  They'd repeatedly tell me, "You have to do this for yourself, you can't let anyone else be your motivation."  That's exactly the WRONG way for the person with ADD to go about things.

You see, after years of difficulties and failures, almost all ADD adults have trouble with self worth.  We don't think we're worthy of being taken care of.  So to tell us to do something for our selves is pointless.  Instead you have to point out how taking care of ourselves benefits those we love.  I spent years struggling with my weight, and it wasn't until I realized the impact my being overweight would have on my daughter that I was able to lose 50 lbs in a year (now if I can just do that next year).  I can try all I want on my own, but it really doesn't do me any good.  I have to do things to help the ones I love, and only then am I motivated to help myself.