The Attention Deficit Trap
A dysfunctional wife, mother, and writer, who occasionally puts her keys in the refrigerator, is hijacked by her ADHD.
I’m a 57-year-old misfit who rightfully earned the nickname “ditz” at one point in my life, because I zone out in the middle of a sentence.
During the early Salkin years, I often took head trips in elementary school. My mind and I escaped the institutional brick walls for a day at the beach and body surfing in aquamarine waves, lost in the opiate haze of a daydream. I thought it was an adolescent problem until my seaside getaways continued through my teenage years and beyond.
In my mid-40s, a doctor was somewhat successful in reining in my ditz tendencies with a Ritalin prescription after I was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD). Later, thanks to big pharma R&D, Ritalin evolved into a more sophisticated 12-hour-release medication called Concerta 36.
Even with the help of ADHD meds, I still struggle with focus issues and managing my time when I have an open-ended schedule, a result of my underemployment status. I work four days a week, sometimes only three.
On days that my schedule is wide open, I get lost in my head and in my house. I drift online then offline, run downstairs then upstairs, to avoid taking a shower and a step toward normalcy. I don’t know why getting into the shower on unstructured days is as torturous as vacuuming or doing laundry. I don’t know why I lounge in the same warm-up suit for several days at times, shirking the lure of a warm, sudsy shower to stay in warm-up suit limbo and remain a prisoner in my house.
Today, another non-working day, I jump out of bed at 8:30 a.m. and start off strong. I feed the dogs then load the dishwasher with yesterday’s dirty dishes, piled high in the sink. My day looks promising. I have hours to complete tasks on my to-do list, now several pages long.
Instead, I abandon the practical for the fantastical. I book a flight on Google and float away online, reading emails, blog posts, and Facebook news. I forget to call the insurance company that has denied a payment on a claim or to call my cousins to offer my condolences after their father died several weeks ago. I never sent out Christmas cards to family and friends.
I don’t do a lot of things an adult should do, because I get lost in my head again—my thoughts caught in a mental roundabout while I sit paralyzed at the computer, my limbs as rigid as a statue, my brain as fuzzy as bits of sweater lint fused together in a ball. The possibility of taking one step closer to the shower is becoming less likely as I continue to bleed minutes and self-esteem.
Where is the CEO of my brain when I need her? Probably reading a trashy book on a beach in Cozumel.
Even her secretary is MIA, taking another long lunch with co-workers who are members of my cerebral SWAT team. Only they can save me, but they never intervene.
Stranded without insider help, I look outward for assistance. I check email again, hoping to find a catalyst to free me from my perpetual state of stuck. All I get is spam.
Now, as the sky darkens outside my window and shadows engulf the office in which I sit, I remain trapped in the same warm-up suit that held me captive for several days.
Maybe the SWAT team will rescue me tomorrow.
NOTE: This took place in December 2013 during Christmas break. Since the dark days of Christmas past, my situation has greatly improved. The CEO of my brain takes fewer vacations and has been a disciplined department head. Every day is still a struggle, but I push myself more. Most of the time, I’m able to stop unruly thoughts from hijacking my brain.