Thinky thoughts about ADD

As a side note to the previous testing post, there’s a weird dynamic I got into with conversations around ADD and whether I’m functioning to full capacity, where people look at everything I do and kind of say, “Lord, woman, don’t you think you do enough already?”

Sometimes I’m afraid there’s a tinge of resentment or envy there. Often they’re just kind of exhausted by the thought of what I do, or they’re genuinely worried about me setting too-high standards, and they want me to slow down, relax, not burn myself out, etc.

(My psychiatrist kept trying to reassure me that it was okay that my memory was terrible, for example — she was worried that I would beat myself up about it. I really won’t! It’s just what it is, you know? It’s not my fault.)

But two things:

a) It’s deeply frustrating feeling the desire to do things and not having the capability to do them, esp. if they’re things you feel like you should be able to do. That’s true with physical stuff (like the exhaustion after chemo that left me unable to walk half a block without needing to stop and turn back and lie down), but it’s also true with mental stuff. It may not be possible to make this frustration go away, but if it is, it will ease my life, I think.

b) There’s a part of me that feels like it’s selfish and self-centered to want to achieve more (leave some for the other guy, right?). But I think that’s just wrong, for a few reasons:

– Everyone should get to work to their full capacity, and get the help they need to get there; I’m not a disability expert, but I’m pretty sure that’s part of disability 101.

– I write fiction and nonfiction in large part to try to make the world a brighter place, and the better I write, the better I can accomplish that, so it’s good for not just me, but for society, if I’m writing my very best work.

– as an elected official, and one who will quite probably run for higher office, I want to be working my best and my hardest to make things better for other people — if my ADD is making it hard for me to stay focused in meetings, for example, when crucial budget numbers are being discussed, that’s a problem that’s worth addressing. (It hasn’t been an issue so far, but library board meetings aren’t that long or that frequent. At higher levels, the demands will be more intense.) I owe it to my constituents to be as healthy as I can be, in both body and mind.

– And finally, women and minorities are socially conditioned not to take up too much space, to let white men take the lead, and you know what? That kind of thinking deserves no space in my head and none of my attention or time. I have better things to focus on.

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