Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Little Homespun ADD

I have worked from home for more than 13 years. In that time, I have been as productive a freelance writer as you could hope to meet. But in that time, you would never know what goes on behind the scenes.

Despite the absence of a time clock, a supervisor and dress code, I get the job done. I work at odd hours, on a whim, with or without being fully dressed. (Kidding -- I'm always dressed. Not well, but dressed.)

These are the perks and the pitfalls of working from home. But it's all smoke and mirrors, these little traits of the work-from-home segment of the labor force.

While working Sunday night on an article about adult ADD, I came across a website devoted entirely to the subject. And it was an ADD sufferer's NIGHTMARE. The lists and categories and subcategories of archived and bulleted articles and links and sidebars . . . I thought I'd never get back to work. Article titles like:

* Making ADD-Friendly Career Choices

* Feeling Overwhelmed, Disorganized, Scattered?

* ADHD: Not Just for Kids Anymore

And my personal favorite . . .

* Gee Whiz, I Missed It Again: How Can I Improve My Time Management Skills? Well, for starters, don't visit sites with dozens of bulleted archived articles with catchy titles. And second, who put the most comfortable couch in the house in this office? When I take breaks and stare at the ceiling, I see spots that I missed when I painted. Maybe this was the wrong color choice, after all. I need a color wheel. And money to pay someone else to re-do this because, honestly, this room just about put me in traction. But hiring it out would cost a few hundred dollars. Can I spend a few hundred dollars on painting one room? Maybe not today. Maybe I should get back to work.

An excerpt from "ADHD: Not Just for Kids Anymore":

It is estimated that between five to seven percent -- or more -- of all children suffer from attention deficit disorder. But what happens when these children grow up? Some are lucky enough to have learned to compensate for their poor attention span, impulsivity and distractibility by finding a good career match. Others married spouses who have been able to help structure their home lives. And yet others are still struggling, trying to figure out why they cannot seem to work up to their potential. Worse, many adults with undiagnosed ADHD find themselves living a life of shame, poor self esteem, and worse. (This sounds rather dismal, don't you think?)

Some of the symptoms that may indicate an attention problem include distractibility, impulsivity, inattention, difficulty staying on task, having many projects going on at one time and rarely completing any of them because kids are in and out of the house all the time and everyone seems to want to eat when you really don't feel like cooking, and hey, who ate all the leftovers in the middle of the night and didn't they know that was the dinner plan for Thursday? That just really ticks me off. Oh, and irritability, and difficulty falling asleep and difficulty waking up, which seem mutually exclusive if you really think about it.

But the good news is, Distracted Adult, you may not have ADD at all. The article goes on to say that symptoms of ADD may mimic other disorders, like depression, anxiety, and some medical problems like hypothyroidism. But I already have hypothyroidism and basically no functioning thyroid to speak of, so maybe I'm depressed and anxious. Maybe I'm depressed and anxious about not having a thyroid. The thyroid, as you may know, controls the balance of the universe. Every bodily function, emotional reaction and predisposition to having a good day gets its direction from the thyroid. Without it, you live a life of shame, low self-esteem, or worse. Or, you take medicine every day for the rest of your life to keep from blowing up like a balloon or suffering such severe leg cramps that you walk like you're suffering from rickets, or like you're the Log Lady from Twin Peaks.

Twin Peaks, you should know, was not David Lynch's most bizarre work. In the earliest years of our relationship, my husband would subject me to Eraserhead, which we rented repeatedly on VHS for about a dollar. (A dollar too much, really.) It remains one of the most quoted movies in our house, although I didn't understand any of it. Maybe David Lynch had a temporary case of ADD while making Eraserhead.

But my point is, shouldn't a website devoted to helping adults dealing with ADD be, you know, simple? Link-free? Filled with very brief articles? A monochromatic design, perhaps? It seems sort of cruel to lead ill-focused visitors on this blind trail of archives and helpful hints that have way too many paths branching off the main road. Which reminds me of a bike ride this summer through a state park, where some people thought that I (who had left the trail map in the car or camper or wherever) might be the best candidate to pedal back to a bulletin board they recalled seeing, with its maps of trail heads and points of reference, to check our location and even convinced me it was just a few hundred feet back, but 20 minutes later, I was still pedaling and was convinced that I had crossed the state line.

People can be so cruel, and it's wrong. It's a disorder, not a party game. Sniff.

Now, why did I walk into this room?