In a perfect world, we would all be in good health and working in perfect jobs! I, for one, would be a bestselling author on the New York Times list and would be a poster board of perfect mental health.
My case has always been very tricky. I am an adult living with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. I have had an average of no less than one job a year, since I got my first job in 1985. And when I have tried to get understanding about my fine mess I’m in, I’ve been told several times: “Phil, you cannot use A.D.H.D. as a crutch.” The truth of the matter is that if I had been using it as a crutch, I would have shoved it so far up their asses that no other crutch would ever help them to walk again!
Chief among my problems are inability to concentrate for long periods of time; I also tend to be very impulsive (in one case it got me fired!); I am extremely forgetful; I tend to misplace things (and this makes me look very irresponsible when serving as a manager!); I also tend to misread my work schedules, and one time failed to show up as scheduled; and most tragically, most of the time when a supervisor gives me instructions, I somehow end up not comprehending all of it and totally butchering the whole task. All of this, in combination really serves to make me look like an unprofessional idiot.
Some people talk so fast that I think to myself — SLOW DOWN, I’M NOT GETTING ANY OF THIS! Social situations are awkward for me when I see someone I’ve recently met. Because I cannot remember their names, I am unable to make an introduction. So I instead say to my wife or daughter: “I’d love to introduce you to that person over there, but I cannot remember his name.”
All of these are common symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. And sure as bird-shit on a windshield wiper, I HAVE IT, DAMMIT!
In two most recent cases, I’ve had a doctor at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Montgomery, Alabama and one of my bosses both tell me: “Phil, you are able to write books; you do not have any real problems.”
Saying that I do not have ADHD, is like someone saying that Beethoven wasn’t really deaf, since he continued to compose music after becoming so. It’s, without a doubt, sheer stupidity, ignorance, and severe lack of empathy for those less fortunate. People with conditions and disabilities learn to adapt to their situation. But they are still at a severe disadvantage even after doing so.
Sure, I wrote a book! But even to this day, I can find sentences that I could have written better. It took me several drafts before I finally got it write (which is not totally uncommon for most writers, since none of us are perfect). But at one point in my plot line for 2018: An Uncivil War, I forgot a minor detail that caused me a major amount of revision that took a couple of weeks to straighten out. Another key difference between succeeding in a normal day-by-day job and writing a book is that — as a new writer who is not making much at all off my writing — a book does not possess the ability to fire me, taking away whatever key source of income I have coming into my household. A book is a lot more flexible. I can reread it, and change it as necessary. When I make a major mistake at work, it is not as easy to correct. And bosses have a much better memory than the books I write. So all I can do is try to do the best I can in spite of myself.
Sure! I have many different coping mechanisms. For example, I habitually try to keep things I use frequently in the same place at all times when I am not using them. When I first meet a person, I try to repeat their names several times when talking to them in hopes that it will stick in my head and come to me when I see their face again in the future. Sometimes, if something is important enough, I may put a shoe in my bathroom sink to remind me that I have to address it. And sometimes I have to make myself finish a task before moving on to something else.
Basically, being a person with this condition is like being a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.
I can take medication to eliminate much of this static; Vyvanse works the best for me, by far. But even then, there will still be one or two symptoms that will manage to slip in to rear their ugly heads once more.
So, if you are responsible for or to someone — maybe a worker or a family member — with any type of attention deficit disorder, please don’t accuse them of using it as a crutch. Life already sucks enough for them because of this condition; no need to add insult to injury. Instead, try to be more understanding and accommodating. If you do so, I truly believe God will bless you for it in the end.