Listening to my cohorts' stories at our weekly ADD-research session, I'm overcome with sadness because our struggles are invisible.
by Jane D.
I'm one of six human guinea pigs (ADD adult participants), there at the beck and call of psychiatrists who want to study adult ADD people and figure out why we are so absent minded and ditzy. I came in and saw candy on the table, ahhh a Halloween treat I thought.
The doctor who runs the research sessions is a funny looking character with his geeky glasses, and egg shaped head. He has a recorder that anchors the table, he checks his watch and scribbles down something when I come in. Yes, I know I'm late I want to say. I decided to be a guinea pig out of some underlying hope that maybe just maybe I can change, be cured, or at least bitch and complain amongst people who are just like me. For the first time in my life I feel very much like I belong, that I am an official member of the ADD frat.
There's a slim black woman around my age with a young son, who says that she's perpetually tardy. She jokes that she has lots of degrees, unfinished degrees in everything from weaving to organic cooking. She talked about being a victim of the Internet, and being sucked in by the temptations of eBay, Amazon and random thoughts like, "gee wouldn't it be great if I took guitar lessons or go to Tahiti."
I can totally relate because the thoughts will hit me like a meteor too, yesterday the sudden idea of getting a Ph.D in sexuality smacked me. The very thought made me laugh, and delight in the very thought of going to cocktail parties and having an awesome throwback line. "Oh what are you a doctor of?" "A doctor of human sexuality."
There's a Hispanic woman in her 50s who must also suffer from some psychotic disorder, she shakes like Jell-O, she's jittery, she seems edgy, she tells me she's been married twice, hospitalized several times. She said she wanted to kill her boyfriend at times, especially when he does a bad job of the laundry. Poor guy.
There's a nice man in his 40s very soft-spoken and somehow sad. He keeps talking about his tossed salad of a resume, how he's the ultimate job hopper, how he loses interest quickly, all of the things he should have done. The blonde woman next to me the nanny said that she finds it hard finishing things. She'll be so hyped up and into the idea and then somehow it fizzles, and it takes someone who will whip her, light the fire under the tail, to force her to finish.
I think of myself as they talk about their stories, and it gets me really sad because our struggles are invisible. I shook my head as I listened to the slim black woman talk about her first day on the job, the disastrous run for the bus, falling down on the street, being late, not having her ATM card work so she could buy the subway card, making a poor impression on her boss, and beating herself all over again. It's me, it's the ADD, I'm stupid, I'm incompetent, I'm going to get fired.
I realized that these are small struggles in the light of AIDS, cancer, plane crashes and yet to the ADD me and my ADD posse these are major hurdles. The day when I arrive at the guinea pig meeting on time will be an achievement, the day when I can complete a project as passionately as when I started will be glory. I know I'm making this sound like a scene from "Chariots of Fire," but there are days when I feel completely smashed and defeated when I've spent hours surfing the web, putzing around, buying up more organizers and alarms with the hope that I will wake up and be on track. The day I can assert myself and tell someone, hey I'm too busy to do that now, will be bliss. I will be free like the pigeons in New York City.
After the guinea pig session I returned to the expensive shoebox of an apartment today, walking past children in costumes, twentysomethings headed to parties, past the many stores and boutiques open late so they can give out candy to trick or treaters. A year ago I was at a Junior League bash in the boonies, where I felt out of place because everyone was engaged or married (well it was upstate after all). A year later I feel no less empty and out of place, only that for an hour and a half amongst the company of people like me, I felt right at home and felt like celebrating.