My Daily Kos profile says I joined the site on 29 September 2004...9 years ago! Wow!! How time flies...!!
It also rates my diary frequency at "seldom" and my commenting frequency at "often." However, the "comment frequency" rating is not only generous, but recent. If you were to have reviewed my profile a couple of weeks ago, "comment frequency" would have also been rated "seldom." So what happened? And...why start now? Couple of things...
Attending Netroots Nation (in my San Jose home base) last month gave me a big push, but resolving some long-standing personal issues over the past year has been an even more compelling catalyst. After retiring from HP in 2007, I felt my grip on day-to-day functioning slipping to a scary level with stubborn ongoing depression that medication didn't seem to touch. So I finally hit up Kaiser for a psychiatric evaluation which found the root cause to be "attention deficit disorder" (ADD). That was a big surprise since I knew next to nothing about ADD, let alone suspect that I had it.
(Note: you also hear ADHD or "attention deficit hyperactivity disorder" and you can follow the link to CHADD.org for a description of the various types of ADD/ADHD.) The support organization which operates nationally for ADD and ADHD patients is CHADD.org or Children and Adults with ADD/ADHDSo after reading Dr Edward Hallowell's Driven to Distraction, which was like reading my own biography, it all fell into place. My age appeared to be the big problem. I was just born too early...before the education system was geared to detect kids with ADD/ADHD and so I along with countless others in my age group were treated as lazy, unmotivated and unteachable. I can't tell you how many times I got whacked over the head with a ruler for staring out the window, for "daydreaming."
If I still have your attention, please meet me below the fold.
I'm writing this post not just to explain my sudden burst of writing, but even more to alert others who have had a similar life experience to an issue they may have long missed. If you think you may have this condition, I urge you to talk to your physician and get evaluated by a professional. I would further urge you to at least scan through the CHADD.org website just to familiarize yourself with a condition that can be debilitating to an adult and can set a child up for a very bumpy ride through life.
One of the really ugly side-effects of ADD/ADHD is the degradation of self-esteem to the point where the person feels that failure is inevitable, that they just can't do anything right. As you can imagine, this sets up a pattern of failing even before reaching the starting line. And trust me on this: It is now so unnecessary. It can be treated in a vast number of ways, but it's up to each individual to take the first step.
People with ADD/ADHD need structure in their lives and a work environment can provide that. As long as I had my full-time job with all the props, the roles and the rituals that I could use to arrange my life around, I was generally fine. But after retiring and losing all my support mechanisms, I couldn't sustain a steady course and the result was depression, apathy and gloom.
Part of my problem was our American culture of "self-reliance." Countless times I've been told that "I'm just looking for excuses," or that "I need to stand on my own two feet." As Dr. Hallowell points out in "Driven to Distraction:
It is struggle enough to have a learning disorder, but to have that struggle compounded by a string of invidious labels--stupid, lazy, and the like--puts one's whole self-esteem in jeopardy. Driven to Distraction, page 206.
So ADD/ADHD was (and still is in many quarters) viewed as a moral failing, a lack of discipline. To quote Dr Hallowell again:
At the heart of the moral model beats the conviction that willpower controls all human emotion, learning, and behavior. Under this model, the cure for depression is to cheer up. The cure for anxiety is to suck it up. And the cure for ADD is to try harder. (author's italics) Driven to Distraction, Introduction, Page xivIt is truly amazing how that diagnosis changed my whole self-concept, improved my self-esteem and allowed me to effectively address the real issues in my life. I started taking Ritalin which is disparaged by many but for me was like putting on eye-glasses for the first time. My home office had been a total mess forever, but after Ritalin I whipped it into shape in an afternoon.
I'm also writing without holding a gun to my head. Writing diaries on a regular basis was my plan when joining Daily Kos, but while I eked out a few, I could never do so consistently. I'm not sure I can now, but at least I understand what's holding me back and I'm hoping I can therefore deal with it more effectively.
I hope that in writing this, I have alerted someone somewhere to a condition within themselves that has paralyzed me and resulted in my making and holding harsh judgments about my own ability to deal with life's challenges. Just realizing that I'm not a total screw-up has been worth the price of admission.
Besides taking Ritalin, I've attended an ADD/ADHD class for adults at Kaiser and done a lot of reading and I feel like I'm mostly in control for the first time in my life. When I do screw up now, I can forgive myself and say, "It's the ADD."
I welcome and thank any medical professionals or others knowledgable in this issue who want to add information or insights or find any errors or misstatements in my post to use the Comments to supplement my information or correct my errors.
And I'd like to thank all my readers for their time and Attention, which I now value immensely.
Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 10:00 AM PT: To all of the amazing commenters--Several of you deserve a response to your comments and I will get to that, but I'm at VA hospital in palo alto while a friend has a procedure and only have my iPhone for posting and it is awkward so will sit down in pm and try to address your comments. Thanks for yor generous responses. GEldridge
Mon Jul 08, 2013 at 10:01 AM PT: To all of the amazing commenters--Several of you deserve a response to your comments and I will get to that, but I'm at VA hospital in palo alto while a friend has a procedure and only have my iPhone for posting and it is awkward so will sit down in pm and try to address your comments. Thanks for yor generous responses. GEldridge