If Obama Were Santa Claus, I’d Have a Job

A wrong career move, a bad economy, a mismanagement of attention deficit symptoms. So many factors led to my job loss.
ADHD & the City | posted by Jane D.
Jane D.

Last night I had a sweet dream. I had written two awesome papers, and was being heavily praised by the schoolteacher. I felt happy, but panicked that she would find out I had lied in one of my essays.

Has my life been a lie? I held on to the dream long after the alarm went off, and when I finally awoke, it was near noon. I don't know how long I will mourn the loss of losing work, not to mention losing affordable co-pays for Adderall. Being sucked into the finance world might have been my demise. [See Are You in the Wrong Job?]

The thought still haunts me: Does ADHD lead to unemployment? The distractibility, inattentiveness, and the naked chaos that is ADD were traits that coworkers and the she-boss must have noticed. Had I better dealt with—or concealed—the condition on the job, might have I dodged the downsizing? I don't know. Even before I was diagnosed, I needed structure. Without it, I feel like my world is unraveling. The scary part is that I feel like my spirit took a hit. Outside the shell is there. I move, I put on the lipstick; I go to the pool, I hang out in cafes with free WiFi. But I have lost my identity.

The boredom now is leading to thoughts of running away. What am I going to do? Despite taking a 20mg dose of the medication this morning, my writing and the motivation to complete these now-overdue-since-pre-Christmas projects are shot.

The scientist friend, the one with triple-A type personality, scolded me, and said I needed to stop wallowing in self-pity. "Apply for unemployment insurance benefits, and then get a job that suits you," he said. "Move back with the parents if you have to."

I think about the time a good friend's husband died. She would pendulum between tears and being normal. I never knew what to say to her, except, "You're doing well under the circumstances…You're doing OK." When people tell me that I handle unemployment well, I can feel that they're lying.

People think job loss is about the money, but the problem is that work was an identity, and the office was like a marker. Having a job affords you a destination, a map to steer you from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (provided the ADD self doesn’t make you run late). Without a place to go, everything loses meaning. Time—which has always been more foe than friend to the ADHDer—becomes deadly.

Every night at 9 p.m., the father calls, and the conversations are a broken record. "Yes, I'm cleaning my room. Yes, I was planning to email a C.V. for that position. Yes, I am thinking about writing Obama." (The father keeps telling me to write to Barack Obama, as if Obama were Santa Claus.)

Today concludes the second week of unemployment. Despite the faux structures I put into place, nothing is working. I'm convinced that my options are to slog through the rough waters in Gotham City, or take a long and extended vacation, one that I did not ask for.

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