Last week I had a mole removed from my foot. It was so itchy! I went to bed that night with my wooly socks on to protect the bandage. It was so itchy there was nothing else I could focus on. (I found out later that I had an allergic reaction to the anesthesia.) But dang! I remember thinking about how hard it was to do anything with all that itching.
I was forgetful and struggled to get anything done that night. I couldn’t even sleep. And as I lamented my plight, I remembered that I felt the same way before I had medication for my ADD. And poof! The ADD and itchy socks analogy was born.
For those without ADD, I’d like to describe what it’s like for me. I know a lot of people make lists, but I had to write anything down that I wanted to remember. Even grocery items would not stay in my head for more than a few minutes. The distraction happened in conversation, in my writing, and even while doing chores. It would go something like this:
I would start to do laundry. As I was gathering clothes, I would get to my son’s room and start gathering socks off the floor. Then I’d see piles of toys that needed to be put away. I would abandon the laundry and start picking up toys. But so many of them were in the wrong place! So I shifted and began to organize the toys by size or type. But the organizing needed bins, so I would leave the toy project and go in search of the bins. The whole day would be like this. I never got anything done!
It wasn’t always that bad. And I managed okay until we started homeschooling. I would get so distracted trying to plan lessons and activities. There were times the whole day got away from me before we even got started with schooling. Then we joined a co-op where all the moms were required to teach. Soon it was just too hard to juggle everything.
So I went to the doctor. One of my girlfriends who has the same personality had just been diagnosed with ADD. It gave me hope that maybe I would not be so distracted my whole life. I worried about taking a stimulant, but it totally had the opposite effect on me. It was like the world slowed down, and my thoughts cleared. I could finally think and remember things!
When I taught the kids, it had been so hard to keep my focus. Each time someone asked a question, I forgot where I was in the lesson and was easily diverted onto a different topic. I was also in charge of the rock climbing class. I would supervise 15 kids while they climbed at a kid climbing gym — but it was hard to be around them. There was so much noise and chaos that I felt I was facing a wall of noise every time I got close to them. I wanted to curl up or run away.
After starting the medicine, suddenly it wasn’t a wall of noise anymore. It was like the noise shrunk till it was just a bubble around each kid. It was so much more manageable. I started to enjoy being at the climbing gym with the kids, and I felt less stressed while I was there. For some reason, the medicine calmed my overactive senses and my nerves didn’t get so frayed.
Lessons became easier too. No longer did every question lead me to another subject. I could keep my place and return to it easily. And I remembered stuff. Kids would ask for further explanations and I had the information available in my head. It was delightful! Lesson planning became easier. When I was called away, I came back and remembered where I’d left off.
I am grateful for ADD medication. It’s made a difference in my life. No longer is a proverbial pair of itchy socks stuck on my feet. It took till I was 40 to learn how the other half functions. I never listened to my mother when she told me I probably had ADD because literally everyone else in the family does.
We all gain a sense of self awareness at different speeds. I am glad I have finally learned about this part of myself.
This article is cross-posted on Abby’s page at Patheos.com
Abby is capable and caring. She is learning more about Autism and parenthood every day. And even though she is the first to admit she makes a lot of mistakes, she is so grateful to be on this journey. She comes from a family with many autistic members. She invites us to join her, as she shares her adventures. She wishes to emphasize that Autism is a difference not a defect. If you or a family member have autism yourself, Abby wants you to know that this isn't a bad thing. And you or your loved one are not sick or broken. Together we will teach the world this new language.