kaigou: this is what I do, darling (2 what I do)
[personal profile] kaigou
I should've said this before: this is LONG, and when I say something is LONG, you can expect it to be about six times as long as the longest long you've seen. I know I go on, but the length here is in direct proportion to the height of my temper. Just so you're warned.

RE: This Is Your Brain On Drugs . . .

NOTE: consider the above link as having a trigger-warning if you have a disability, know someone who does, or are sensitive to sudden spikes in blood pressure when in the vicinity of someone with a big megaphone busy talking out of her ass.

Ms. Lindholm's blog topic on May 20th of this year puts her in the Tom Cruise Denouncing Postpartum Depression category: someone rattling on quite definitively with little to no comprehension of the facts, in a way that essentially amounts to what you are experiencing is not only all in your head, it's a personal problem and shame on you for thinking you should, or even deserve, to seek a resolution.

First, to make this perfectly clear, the issue at hand is ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and its counterpart, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). The two are cousin-conditions that we could generally define as "a state of excessive mental activity, sometimes accompanied by excessive physical activity (the hyperactivity element)".

ADD and ADHD are not mental "illnesses". ADD and ADHD are disabilities.

More precisely, they are cognitive disabilities, along with other cognitive disabilities such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and dyspraxia. ADD/ADHD shade into the class of physical -- because 'chemical' in the brain is still, fundamentally, a physical attribute -- disabilities, while the cognitive side is what impairs or affects thought processes like learning new skills, accessing short-term memory or transferring new information into long-term memory, capturing and comprehending incoming information, and so on.

So, to repeat: ADD/ADHD is not an 'illness'[1]. It is not something that you catch; it is not something you can cure. It is, like so many other disabilities (including learning disabilities), something you live with. You find a way to get through, and if you're really lucky, you find things that will help you deal with the disability, and the stress it causes in your life each time you ask someone around you to put up with, help cope with, or even just feel compassion for, the result of having that disability.

But because this is an alien concept for you, Ms Lindholm, let me make it perfectly clear for you, as well as any readers following along at home. Allow me to begin with a concrete representation of the situation at hand.



I'm sorry, Ms Lindholm, but by your standards, those glasses really must go.

Your eyes are disabled -- through no fault of your own, certainly! -- but you simply can't imagine it's acceptable to attempt to compensate in any way for this. You should learn to live with your disability, embrace it, even! Think of all the creativity you're refusing to allow yourself to express every time you avoid walking into walls, or keep from tripping over obstacles at your feet, or even recognize a friend at a distance.

Really. As you so wisely put it: "Do you [wear glasses] all through college? Do you [wear glasses] during your career years, when you are training on that new software, or reading up on a new client? Where does it stop? Do you ever get to be your [semi-blind unseeing] self again? Or must you forever be slightly modified to suceed [sic]?"

Let's consider what your life would be like, without those glasses.

You can't drive, for starters. You'll need to have friends drive you, or you can take the bus when running errands. Of course, if you do take the bus, you'll be waiting anxiously as each one pulls up, squinting at the signage, and halting the boarding procession each time because you have to confirm what you can see but -- and this is very important -- that you can't be certain you see. Is the correct bus, or is that Q actually a G?

If the wrong bus, you'll have to back up, annoying the line of everyone who'd known already what bus it is. You will apologize: to the driver, to the people in line who move, to the people who won't move, to the people who mutter at you for holding everything up. And if you aren't already ashamed of yourself for imposing on them with your inability to see clearly, their attitudes will make it clear that you should be.

So let's say it's the right bus. Even then, you'll have to slow down and confirm you've got the right bus-pass (and not your library card), the correct bills (since American money isn't sized by currency), and the entire time, you'll be aware of the bristling of passengers stuck waiting behind you, because obviously you're not blind -- no cane, no dark glasses, no dog -- thus, to them, you must be stupid. That's why you'll try to be last in line, so as not to hold them all up; otherwise you risk one of those irate passengers shoving past you to put their money in. And since you can't see all that well, an at-a-glance doesn't work for you. What do you grab to keep from falling? Air? Now you're not only stupid, you're clumsy, too.

Once you do manage to get on the bus, now you have another issue to deal with: knowing when your stop is coming. Everything outside the windows is a blur, and if the building signs are big enough, you might get a fuzzy impression of blue in a round shape, or red in a square shape. You will probably spend a lot of time either calling for your stop too soon, calling for it too late, and apologizing profusely to everyone you've inconvenienced because you couldn't see far enough ahead to react in time.

You'll be spending a lot of time apologizing, period.

You'll have to explain to friends, repeatedly, that you didn't not wave because you honestly didn't see them, even when they were five feet away. Like driving in heavy fog, you'll be navigating the world at a slow pace, unable to foresee and avoid obstacles like curbs, steps, and parking meters if you're going too fast. You can't catch a baseball, kick a soccer ball, or even catch car keys tossed your way. These things require eye-hand coordination, and you can't coordinate what you can't see.

But other people won't realize that. They'll see you don't register what's around you until you're right on top of it, that you're clumsy and uncoordinated, that you stare for a long time before reacting. Yes, you're attempting to cope for your lack of distance-vision, hoping to trick your eyes into giving you details that the rest of the world takes for granted. That doesn't matter to them. They've already decided you're stupid.

Meanwhile, despite your best attempts otherwise, you'll probably end up continually apologizing for other people's reactions to you. The alternate -- expecting them to recognize, or even respect, that you have a disability -- is untenable, or impossible, or unforgivable. At least, that is, so long as you're convinced that a disability should not be addressed, but is a personal problem, and that the only acceptable option is to live with it, to embrace it, even.

So, no glasses. No contacts, either! That's putting something in your eyes. If glasses are a band-aid over the disability, contacts are even more obtrusive, and don't even consider Lasik surgery. That's practically cutting open -- no, wait, that is cutting open -- your body in order to fix a disability that, after all, is just your personal problem. By your own measure, Ms Lindholm, if you were truly a worthwhile and creative soul, you'd embrace living life as a fuzzy blur.

For shame, to see the eye doctor annually, to demand to wear glasses. That's not a disability, that's simply the way you're made! Oh, it's true the way you're made means your life is going to have a lot more hardship than the average person, what with constant stress, tension, and difficulties as you try in vain to cope with the disability or its after-image negative impact: on your ability to hold down a job, your ability to sustain long-term relationships, your ability to make it through a single day with any dignity.

It's much better to accept this as your lot in life and to find a silver lining, isn't it? Even if you bloody well can't see any linings farther than three inches from your nose.



If it's not bad enough that you must take a personal decision -- to live with one perceived condition -- and make it universal, it's made worse by your ignorance on conflating this condition with another. You just pile more on top when you also reveal your ignorance of what that other condition really is, how it operates, what solutions exist, how those solutions work.

For instance, your gossipy repetition of the drawbacks of Ritalin. Oh, how I've heard this before. It's like the Anti-Vaccine Idiocy of Learning Disabilities. You repeat it, I've heard it, and almost always from a well-meaning soul (like you, Ms Lindholm) wishing to just, y'know, "enlighten me" as to the "truth" (scare quotes intentional) of that possible medication.

I dislike repeating such, but just so there's no doubt how flat wrong you are, Ms Lindholm, I quote you:
Over the years, I’ve heard several funny* stories about Ritalin and its effects. One young friend told about being in charge of a younger sibling’s bath. He got the tub running and kid undressed and went for a towel. But as he passed through the living room, a Discovery channel program caught his eye. ...there he stood, captured by it, even though he knew that the water was now overflowing and the younger sib was yelling for him to come fix it. He literally could not tear himself away. Pure focus.

That, there, is not Ritalin when it's working. That's Ritalin when it's failing.

*Also: that kind of story is 'funny' in the same way that stories about a blind person walking into walls is quote-unquote funny -- ya gotta be sighted to think there's humor in what is really a very frustrating and humiliating experience.

That 'pure focus' behavior is a facet of ADD/ADHD, and it's one those of us who deal it with learn to use as a power for good (if we can). It also baffles many around us, when it's not frustrating them in turn. It's also a lot easier to explain using images, rather than words.



Whatever you're doing -- reading this post, talking on the phone, washing the dog, doing your bills -- gets the majority of your attention. But it's not all of your attention; you're aware that you have to leave for an appointment in fifteen minutes, that on your way home you need to pick up cat food, that your partner's birthday is next week. Those secondary tasks don't intrude on your ability to read, or talk, or wash, or pay bills; they exist alongside. Your attention is mostly focused, with minimal diffusion -- and that secondary diffusion, for the most part, you can choose to filter out, and having done so, you do not forget it's there; you can choose to have it filter back in again.

It is true that the first two letters of ADD/ADHD are 'attention deficit', but this is an inaccurate term that really needs to be retired already. A better version of the same is to call it 'Attention Diffusion'.

ADD/ADHD is not a state in which one cannot focus, or an diagnosis that means one lacks the ability to 'pay attention'. It took researchers well into the 90s before they realized that ADD/ADHD people are in fact perfectly capable of paying attention; the key is that ADD/ADHD attention is spread out amongst a range of stimuli that's anywhere from nine to ninety times the stimuli usually in play in an unaffected brain.

That is, the usual person may be aware of ten things jostling for center stage, and actively relegates nine things to the sidelines to pay the lion's share of attention (but not all) to center stage. For someone with ADD/ADHD, center stage -- and the sidelines -- are filled not with nine items but nine hundred, all demanding attention at precisely the same volume. There is no jostling or juggling or moving attention-foci about. The ADD/ADHD brain doesn't have that ability, and therein lies the dis-ability. Maintaining the focus on one thing or another -- and disregarding or suppressing or reducing attention paid to that which is secondary -- is beyond one's control.

ADD/ADHD is, to simplify utterly, the inability to willfully and selectively focus concentration.



It's often repeated that people with ADD/ADHD are statistically smarter than the average population. From what I've seen, I'm inclined to disagree. If the average, unaffected brain can juggle three things, without pause or hesitation, for an hour, the ADD/ADHD brain can juggle thirty things for five minutes before losing hold. Unfortunately, when the study only last two minutes... certainly the ADD/ADHD brain looks like a positive Einstein. It's only in the long-term that you see the insidious effects of this disability.

If we have solid and educated support from family, friends, and coworkers, and if we're lucky enough to have a boss aware of ADD/ADHD (or intuitive enough to catch on and react, even unknowing) -- and we're lucky enough to be in an industry that rewards ADD/ADHD attention-diffusion styles -- then we just might come out okay, or at least a lot less worse off than we could've. Unfortunately, most of the time, we're not going to be that lucky.

ADD/ADHD brains, when given a good opportunity to flex in the right ways, are phenomenal at juggling massive streams of incoming information that bowl over the average, unaffected brain. To the ADD/ADHD person, the overwhelming incoming information isn't much more than what we deal with, every day, when unmedicated. That also makes ADD/ADHD folks, with a bit of self-training, almost unparalled at being able to compile, analyze, and synthesize seemingly random and contradictory pieces of information, plucked from a streaming chaotic mass that to anyone else is, well, just a streaming chaotic mass. We already spend every minute, basically, working to single out disparate discreet items from among the ninety jostling for attention on center stage.

Putting us in a situation, like certain types of multi-informational, high-stress, fast-deadline jobs, where we can use those innate coping mechanisms and processing styles to our advantage is, to the ADD/ADHD brain, a chance to use the fact of our disability to achieve some pretty amazing (if, to us, rather mundane) results. The irony must be noted, however: when you do have a brain that can run on eighty cylinders at once, the mere fact of this being so different from unaffected-brain learning processing means that the ADD/ADHD person often down-plays, or just stays somewhat insecure about, those ADD/ADHD-caused skills.

Others will want to know how, or why, the ADD/ADHD brain can "do that", or they'll wonder why the ADD/ADHD person is so good at the multi-information streams but can never remember a meeting on time. These are simple things, coworkers (and family, and friends, and lovers) will say: how can you not manage this? The thing is, those are not simple things, to the ADD/ADHD brain; those require directed/concentrated attention with the remainder of stimuli suppressed or temporarily disregarded. For the ADD/ADHD brain, that so-called 'simple' thing is the most difficult, if not outright impossible.

So what most ADD/ADHD brains learn to do, very early on, is exactly what that kid was doing watching the Discovery Channel while the bathtub filled. I say "early on" but it's more precisely that it's learned automatically -- it's the flipside of the second circle-image, really -- and becomes more of an active tool as one enters adulthood (if you're not lucky enough to have childhood-ADD/ADHD that resolves itself in the onset of puberty).



That single sliver of yellow is not really just one thing -- the bathtub filling -- it's everything else that was in the second circle-image, squeezed into an incredibly compressed state. And, like a blackhole, when it reaches a point of ultimate compression, it will inevitably spring back, shattering the hyperfocus and sending everything into chaos on center stage while all the disparate stimuli run around at top speed. Until then, though, the hyperfocus can be almost complete, and in some cases truly complete, to where the filling bathtub no longer even exists.

And that's not something the unaffected brain can do, either. For the non-ADD/ADHD brain, there is always a chunk of long-term memory, a kind of mental operating cost, that quietly but continuously maintains all the other stimuli, bringing forth what's needed as needed, and settling down those that might jostle in the background. You could say the unaffected brain has a capable stage manager, while the ADD/ADHD brain does not. To give decent focus to one player on the stage, the ADD/ADHD brain can't get the others to pipe down, so instead it banishes them completely from the theater. Until they bust the door down to get back in, they are truly out of sight, out of mind.

That is the ADD/ADHD brain, when unmedicated.

Ritalin, when it works, makes the brain look and feel and operate just like an unaffected brain.

Here, I must also add: Ritalin is a medication. I take huge exception to the fact that Ms Lindholm, following in the fine tradition of ignorant fools everywhere, prefaces her anti-disability-medication position by starting off talking about how she's never done illegal drugs, or at least never inhaled. Perhaps the readers at home will see it for the manipulative false-analogy it is, to rephrase it this way: I've never done crack cocaine ... so I wouldn't take insulin for diabetes, either.



On top of all else, Ms Lindholm, you say: "You have to be who you genetically are."

I'm sure Mr Hines, and all other diabetics I know, would be happy to be genetically who they are -- except then they'd also be dead. [2]

I'm sure people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy would love to be genetically who they are, and be able to live without a daily dose of Verapamil (among other things). But then, they'd be dead, and my father along with them.

It may be true genetically that I have a pretty good chance of getting two decades more on this planet, maybe two and a half if I'm lucky and very careful. I have twelve great-uncles and great-aunts and two grandparents (on both sides of the family), five uncles, and three aunts who have all died of massive heart failure between their fifty-eighth and sixty-fourth birthdays.

Genetically, that means my life is more than half over.

Genetically, that's who I am.

Genetically, I fucking refuse to accept that this is all I fucking get, and I sure as hell refuse to let some ignorant fool with a megaphone shame me into ever believing otherwise.

I am not solely the sum of my genetic parts. I am not going to live my life blindly stumbling into walls. I am not going gently into that self-delusion that I'm a better person by refusing any possible treatments.

I have a disability. A treatment exists. I have the right to use that treatment. And above all, I have the right to live without being shamed or ostracized for my disability -- or my wish to treat it -- by people like you, Ms Lindholm.

[ continued in part 2 ... yeah, had to break it in two. sorry. ]



To clarify a few things that might've gotten buried:

[1] Many mental illnesses are also disabilities. I'm only focused on ADD/ADHD here, but a lot of what I say here could be extended easily to autism, bipolar, OCD, and others. What I dislike is the hidden connotations in that term: mental = "all in your head" and illness = "something curable". As though it's acceptable to dismiss the illness and/or expect one to get better! The truth is that any long-term condition, even those manageable with various tools/treatments, are (to me) not 'mental illnesses' but '[mental] disabilities'; they infringe on our ability to live as full a life as we'd have without them, and thus on a practical level are all disabilities to some degree.

[2] I am not saying that diabetes/heart-disease/ADD is a simplistic direct correlation, that because diabetes has clear-cut medication requirements, so does ADD/ADHD. Technically, the analogy fails already at 'heart disease', since that disease's medications are a cocktail to be carefully navigated to fit the particular patient, just like any medications for ADD/ADHD. But in terms of those who carry social prejudice against medication for mental/cognitive disabilities, the diabetes/heart-disease analogy does work, or I wouldn't freaking use it. Like all analogies, it breaks down when you go too deep, but for my purposes it holds up: medication is a valid tool.

As someone who, ironically, has responded to very few medications for ADD/ADHD, I will never tell you that my life is intact due to medication. In fact, I'm still here in spite of modern psychiatry, yet I continue to believe medication is a valid and crucial corner of the triangle of treatment. It may not work for every disease and every person, but it should not be discounted as an option, out-of-hand, either. The patient-and-doctor in question, ultimately, should make the decision -- not social prejudices about the mentally ill.

[3] If you are, or know, or think you may know, someone with ADD/ADHD, the best book I've found for concrete behavioral coping mechanisms -- with info for supportive family/friends, too -- is ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life by Judith Kolberg and Kathleen Nadeau. Just FYI, if you wanted more concrete info on how to help yourself, or a friend or family member.

[4] A much-shorter follow-up on what's going on in the brain (roughly, very unscientifically) when it comes to ADD/ADHD medication, cobbled out of the explanations of a whole lotta doctors & neurologists.
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Date: 11 Jun 2010 03:58 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I remember the difference it made to my oldest brother when he was diagnosed with dysgraphia and ADD just as he was starting his second attempt at college.

He spent years with teacher's getting on his case for not getting assignments done because no one, not even him, realized just how harder then normal the assigments were for him. It's a very unpleasant place to be.

Kat

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From: (Anonymous) - Date: 11 Jun 2010 02:28 pm (UTC) - Expand

YES.

Date: 11 Jun 2010 04:06 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] wilhelminabenedict
I wanted to make some kind of post on this but struggled with putting together all the words the subject deserved. I think I'll link to you.

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Date: 11 Jun 2010 04:41 am (UTC)
law_nerd: Our 1/2 Lab puppy stares intently off into space. (Default)
From: [personal profile] law_nerd
There's a million and one other things that I could say (have tried to say but they all devolve into incoherent flail), and they all pretty much boil down to: Yes! and Thank you!

Especially, Thank you.

Date: 11 Jun 2010 05:04 am (UTC)
kathmandu: Close-up of pussywillow catkins. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kathmandu
"Our society equates "medicine" with "feeling bad", therefore, feeling good means no need for medication!"

[snark] Since I'm not pregnant right now, that means I can stop the birth control pills, right? [/snark]

Date: 11 Jun 2010 05:06 am (UTC)
onyxlynx: Egret standing on drainage pipe at the lake. (No Egrets)
From: [personal profile] onyxlynx
This is a thing of beauty. (35-40 years ago, I knew people who encouraged people with biochemical imbalances to stop taking the medications that gave them some equilibrium, as well as someone who had, and -- Um. Not good.)

I'm linking to this both because it says everything and because I thought the "assistive technology" example was apropos. Zowie.

Date: 11 Jun 2010 05:36 am (UTC)
manifesta: (Default)
From: [personal profile] manifesta
Word.

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From: [personal profile] manifesta - Date: 11 Jun 2010 07:12 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 11 Jun 2010 07:00 am (UTC)
mikkeneko: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mikkeneko
I remember brushing the fringes of this argument before, although what I mostly remember from the argument was someone photoshopping an old Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. In the altered version, Calvin is working diligently on his homework, and remarks that the medication is really working. Hobbes suggests that he come play, is ignored, and reverts into a stuffed animal.

The message being, I suppose, that by giving medication to our children we are killing their creative souls. Leaving aside how wrongheaded an approach this is -- that at least in my understanding, ADHD is as destructive to CREATIVE impulses as it is to everything else, due to the inability to maintain focus on them -- what pissed me off about this argument is the assumption of outrage that, for Calvin and by proxy every other child with ADHD, it's more important that their creative expression be allowed to run unchecked than that they should be able to do school and house related everyday living tasks. After all, schoolwork is dull, it's boring, and worst of all, it's conformist. Children should be able to play every day all the time!

Okay Rosseau, that's fine when we have Calvin, a comic strip character who is never going to grow up. He'll stay six years old forever and he's never going to need to be able to write well and coherently, to do simple arithmetic, or have even the slightest understanding of the world in which he lives. He can play in the woods and pretend spaceship games for the next thirty years with no untoward consequences.

But for real children who exist outside of comic book strips, they don't have this luxury. Because real children grow up. We grownups don't force kids to go to school and do homework for sadistic kicks; we do it because the purpose of childhood is preparing an incomplete human to function as an adult in society. And yes, that involves the tedious details of learning to do arithmetic and the basics of written communication. The idea that a child should be allowed to go unmedicated because you find their crazy antics to be more entertaining than 'boring' schoolwork is, to put it simply, monstrous.

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Date: 11 Jun 2010 09:04 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] maire
I'm torn.

I love the Calvin and Hobbes fan-cartoon, but your post is both moving and *right*.

I don't know Ms. Lindhom, and I don't know enough about her daughter or her daughter's friends to know if any of them suffer from any disorder that would make Ritalin a useful drug for them to take.

However, I do know that I don't want to live as who my genes say I am, and I don't think anyone who has a better option should have to do so.

At times when nothing else has helped, antidepressants have made my life infinitely more livable. I don't like the side effects, which have included loss of creativity while on the drug, but I'd take that any day over the crippling anxiety, pain, and depression that the drug was there to help with.

The equation of emotional and mental disorders with creativity is an oversimplification at absolute best, and pernicious at worst.

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Date: 11 Jun 2010 10:05 am (UTC)
seren_ccd: (Default)
From: [personal profile] seren_ccd
Thank you very much for writing this. It not only restores my faith in humanity, it is simply good to see others that understand how things really are.

So, thank you.

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From: [personal profile] seren_ccd - Date: 11 Jun 2010 10:58 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 11 Jun 2010 11:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cairmen.livejournal.com
Astonishing post. Thank you.

Date: 11 Jun 2010 12:24 pm (UTC)
marina: (Default)
From: [personal profile] marina
Thank you for this post. Just... thank you, a lot.

Date: 11 Jun 2010 12:46 pm (UTC)
laughingrat: A detail of leaping rats from an original movie poster for the first film of Nosferatu (Default)
From: [personal profile] laughingrat
Mental illnesses are disabilities too.

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Date: 11 Jun 2010 02:03 pm (UTC)
littlebitca: (Default)
From: [personal profile] littlebitca
Brava!

My great-nephew just finished first grade with the help of ADHD medications (in his case not Ritalin). He's on one dosage in the morning that lasts him through the day and until about 6-7 pm, when you can actually watch his ability to focus dissolve. His pediatrician doesn't want him on two doses, at least not yet, and they've had to adjust dosage amounts with his growth spurts. What this does is help him be functional during the school day and homework time. It doesn't destroy his creativity, it allows the others around him to work in an environment that isn't being disrupted (as much as that can apply in first grade, heh).

Her stories about how 'all' her daughter's friends take Ritalin as if they were drinking coffee weren't anything but anecdotes about how Ritalin can be abused. It's not an attention-enhancing drug of choice, which is how she portrayed its use. Seriously, if their physicians were prescribing it for "use if needed, as determined by a teenager" then I have to question their credentials.

I know I can be cynical, but what I read underneath all this was "I am bipolar, and not taking any medication and that makes me awesome -- I even read a book that says it makes me awesome -- so if my daughter doesn't use medication she can be awesome too!!" Yeah.

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From: [personal profile] telophase - Date: 11 Jun 2010 10:15 pm (UTC) - Expand

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From: [personal profile] telophase - Date: 11 Jun 2010 11:03 pm (UTC) - Expand

Thank you

Date: 11 Jun 2010 03:15 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I'm here via AndrewDucker (I'm meaningrequired on LJ)

This is beautifully written. I would like to print out multiple copies of this and carry it around, giving it to people as soon as they try to criticise. Your diagrams are perfect descriptions of the attention problem.

I have recently been diagnosed with ADD. I have struggled my whole life, and learned to accept unspoken and spoken criticism. Accepting it, because of course I must be x, y and z, because there's nothing wrong with me, is there? And accepting that I must have a terrible temperament because I get angry and frustrated when I'm in the cinema and I'm overwhelmed by the random perfumes and rubbing of loud polyester clothing.

I'm so angry. I can't seem to stop being angry.

And yet, I feel impotent because no matter what I do, only a handful of people will accept that I am different and make allowances. The rest, even knowing I have ADD will deny it or have their own negative expectations that will make their company unpleasant.

(no subject)

From: [personal profile] lo_rez - Date: 24 Jun 2010 04:47 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 11 Jun 2010 03:19 pm (UTC)
jonquil: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jonquil
Thank you. Thank you so much, for all of this. And especially the part about what it's like to be ADHD in the workplace. The medication I take for migraine makes me scattered in exactly the way you describe, exactly, and I blamed myself -- and then when I finally spoke up and said "You know, I blamed myself for not concentrating, but the truth is that I can't, that this is a medical condition, I need an accommodation", I was punished.

Date: 11 Jun 2010 03:45 pm (UTC)
annotated_em: cross-section of a lemon (Default)
From: [personal profile] annotated_em
Absolutely bravura response to Lindholm. *standing ovation*

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Date: 11 Jun 2010 03:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wieselkind.livejournal.com
"She'll be the person who never lives up to her potential.....hyperfocused into excluding all else in a last-ditch attempt to somehow, someway, get something done without distraction-diffusion tearing her away."

This paragraph ( elipsis for brevity) describes how I feel/behave pretty often. I've forgotten regular evening classes more than once, just because out of sight out of mind really is in my case.

Although afaik I've not got ADD, although I have been diagnosed with dyspraxia/dyscalculia, so there many be some symptom overlap.

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From: [personal profile] maire - Date: 12 Jun 2010 08:43 am (UTC) - Expand

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From: [personal profile] maire - Date: 13 Jun 2010 11:34 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 11 Jun 2010 04:50 pm (UTC)
genarti: Knees-down view of woman on tiptoe next to bookshelves ([misc] words)
From: [personal profile] genarti
Thank you so much for this.

I'm lucky to have a very mild case of ADD -- mild enough that I didn't get diagnosed until my senior year of college, when my little brother was diagnosed (thanks to having a much harder time with assignments and organization than I ever did) and my other brother and I said "Heeeeey. All of that sounds really really familiar." My little brother got a Ritalin-equivalent to take at need for tests and papers, and it did him a world of good. So did I; I almost never use it, but it helps a lot on the rare occasions I do need to focus on something I hate enough that even with deadline panic (my fallback coping strategy) it's hard to make myself prioritize.

My mother I suspect has an even milder version. My father doesn't understand why I couldn't just buckle down and do my math homework before the last minute, and why we always run late.

I can function without medication, in school and in the workplace. Others can't. This doesn't mean I'm stronger or better or a more special snowflake; it means I lucked out and got a really mild case. I absolutely refuse to be complimented by Ms. Lindholm for the luck of the genetic draw. (And the luck of a family that taught coping mechanisms without realizing they were doing it -- and, much more importantly, the luck of a family who has a sensible attitude towards brain chemistry and the compromises one makes to function in daily life. I shudder to think how it would have gone with a family with Ms. Lindholm's attitude and a worse case of ADD on my part -- and I know how, because I have friends in that situation.) I can't function without eyeglasses -- or I couldn't without being the person in your example, with a blurry world and quiet day-long panic -- and my little brother has never needed any vision correction. You use the tools available as best you can to improve your life; that's all.

Again, thank you for your eloquence.

Date: 11 Jun 2010 07:03 pm (UTC)
ajnabi: cartoonic photomanip of my face (with some body) against a colourful patterned background (Default)
From: [personal profile] ajnabi
Thank you for writing this post. It is amazing. I am going to bookmark it (do you mind if I do so publicly?)

I have my own bucket of internalized shit and privilege about medication, and I'm trying to break out of it. I think what I'm realizing more and more is that regardless of whether meds work for me or not, I have no right to judge someone else's decisions, especially if that someone fucking needs those meds to survive (and it is sad that society tends to privilege more visible/"physical" things, as opposed to "mental" things) .... then I really have no right to say anything about it other than to support them wholeheartedly.

My father and many other people have told me so many times that my suicidality and my psychosis is really just because I am *creative*. That my ocd, even when it becomes really really psychotic, is just because I am *such a good person* and I worry about bad thoughts because I'm *so good*. It's very hard to believe that it's okay to take meds when this is the kind of message I get. I still feel like I'm letting myself down. I don't know where I ended and the drugs began. But maybe that isn't the point at all. This summer I'm trying to find a psychiatrist and maybe go on new meds, maybe antipsychotics again.... and I'm terrified, for all the bad things that have happened in the past and all the people who would rather see me be *creative* and *strong* and *good* .... but I'm going to try, I think.

Date: 11 Jun 2010 09:12 pm (UTC)
umadoshi: (Ahiru determined (fritters))
From: [personal profile] umadoshi
This is an amazing post. Thank you for writing it.

Date: 11 Jun 2010 10:34 pm (UTC)
dragonhand: (dark forest)
From: [personal profile] dragonhand
Wow. Thank you. I think all the words you wrote were important to my understanding, so I'm glad you wrote every one. All of the comments, too. Thank you all.

I've been miserable. And angry. Very angry. And my creativity not on meds? Gone. Motivation, creativity, optimism, sense of humor, gone. Me, gone. My other meds stopped working, but I'll look into it again. And add those behavioral and mental and other methods of recovery, too.

Date: 11 Jun 2010 10:50 pm (UTC)
darkrose: (Default)
From: [personal profile] darkrose
Thank you for posting this, for so many reasons.

My ADD diagnosis seemed like opening the shutters in a dark room, at first: there was a reason I couldn't concentrate on anything and that my brain flittered around like a demented butterfly. But it was the '90's, and before long, I got the message that ADD is really just an excuse, and if I'd just buckle down and be serious, I wouldn't need medication. Like my weight, it was simply a failure of will on my part. Lindholm's post brought all of that back. It infuriated me, but I was so angry I couldn't even post about it.

So thank you. Also for the book recommendation.

Date: 11 Jun 2010 11:10 pm (UTC)
nundinae: michiru, mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] nundinae
This post is fantastic and you should feel fantastic!

Btw, my flat mate right now has ADHD, so the graphs were really helpful. I mean, not that I was ignoring her before, but SRSLY a picture is worth more than a thousand words.

Thank you so much!

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From: [personal profile] nundinae - Date: 12 Jun 2010 09:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Date: 11 Jun 2010 11:24 pm (UTC)
leorising: (kitteninfood)
From: [personal profile] leorising
Thank you for educating me about this disability. I am one of the people who characterized it in with mental illness (meaning depression, personality disorders, etc.) and am grateful to have my terminology put on the right track.

What struck me the strongest in your essay is your mention of problems in the workplace. I, too, have had a lifetime disability (if undiagnosed for 50 years) that made it seem to others as if I was acting out, or deliberately self-sabotaging, or any number of other very negative things. The truth was, the harder I pushed myself, the faster I fell apart physically, and would have to take sick days to recover. I averaged about 3 years at each secretarial job I had, because of my many absences and the negative attitudes it generated with my bosses and coworkers.

And you're right, when I was finally diagnosed recently, I was finally able to overcome those negative messages, flip them all off mentally, and regain some of my lost self-respect. What a confidence builder!

I don't have much to say about ADD/ADHD myself, because I haven't had much experience with it personally. I accept what you're saying, though. The eyeglasses example was inspired, and the pie charts were very helpful.

Thanks for this.

Sorry if I sound like a dork, I had to read this in two pieces (slow reader) around a rather long day trip, so I'm tired from the trip, too.

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