OK, here’s some food for thought. So I have ADD. My brain waves are different, my frontal lobe is a little on the lazy side. Now I know that there are levels of this condition. I’m certainly squirrelly enough to cause myself and other people problems, but in the squirming puppy catagory, I can’t hold a candle to some of the kids I’ve known over the years. I once coached a girl who was really out there, I’d be explaining some facet of the game and she’d just wander right out of the gym while I was talking. In games she was very athletic but if she got the ball in her hands it was an instant turnover. Definitely a problem, this kids going to have a tough time in life without some help.

So given that I’m somewhere on this personality spectrum, having a certain degree of this particular kind of brain activity, who says that it’s not just my personality? Who says that the harmony of our brain waves isn’t the defining factor of what makes us us. What makes it a “disorder?” What I’m driving at here is that maybe my personality doesn’t make me a great candidate for the standard mainstream version of success, I’m a lousy corporate stooge, but does that mean I should medicate myself into their mold?

This argument takes us down the path to the question whether schizophrenics should be forced to medicate because they’re different from the mainstream, even if they are a danger to themselves and others. I would say yes. So I guess the conclusion is that there is no hard and fast, but a decision that requires the application of some situational calculus. In my case, I have severe problems with parts of my job and the golden handcuffs are completely clamped down right now. So some meds to make my life more comfortable would be nice.

Although I’m feeling a little conflicted about it, I’m leaning toward the medication. I’d like to hear your thoughts on the issue though, whatever they are. I’ve noticed in this little circle of Xanga, we kid around with each other, but there isn’t much in the way of mental fisticuffs. I guess we’re pretty like minded, but I won’t be offended, or love you any less if you point out the extent of bovine excrement spattered on my thought process.

17 thoughts on “

  1. I have worked with people with mental illness that refused to take meds…and I firmly believe that as long as the only person they hurt is themselves….that it is their right not to take meds…..while it might be inconvient for me that they don’t this is a free country and they have free choice to do as they wish s long as they don’t adversly effect anyone else…as for you taking meds….I have a nephew who is 7…his last school insisted that he was ADHD and stupid….and they also let him know what they thought….my brother moved because of a job oppertunity….they live in the brainerd school district now……Brainerd decided to use him as a test case for a new cirreculim they were trying out….well, the amount of effort they have out into figuring out that they had an extremly gifted child……that did not have ADHD and did not need any medication….just learned diffrently then  “normal kids” and that isanti school district not only totally screwed up with him but created pychological damage…..with trying to force him into their box…if more people took Brainerd’s attitude on how to teach kids….I don’t think that we would have the problems we do in school…that is an example of a shcool that is actually useing their merger funding in the way that it is supposed to be used….anyway …the thing is that whether or not use choose to take medication should totally be up to you……

  2. I’ve always had a problem with “ADD” in the sense that, as you say, I think it’s more a condition that basically says “you don’t conform to societal/school/life rules of how people should behave.” 

    I tend to think that’s especially true in cases of children being diagnosed with it.  I think that these days, it’s expected that children should “conform,” behave, sit quietly and listen.  Meanwhile, schools are cutting out programs like recess, where children can go out and be children and work off their excess energy — and then we wonder why there are so many more kids being diagnosed as ADD or ADHD — HELLO?

    Anyway, I think that a lot of these “disorders” are invented to
    a) give drug companies something to sell 
    b) to make us either “conform” to “societal norms” and stifle our creativity and person-hood
    c) to release us from taking responsibility for our actions. (ie. “it wasn’t my fault, the doctor says I suffer from _______”)

    I have strong feelings about this because I was the “problem child” in school.  I was always disrupting class by talking, moving, jittering, etc.  I just had more creative energy than most, and finished my lessons before everyone, so that I could do, read, or draw what *I* wanted to. 

    Thankfully, I spent part of my elementary years in an “experimental school” where creativity was encouraged, and we worked at our own pace.  It was when I got to high school and it’s strict rules about conformism, etc. that I had problems. 

    I think I found a profession that works for me, as far as challenge and creativity, until I was moved to my current position, which is about as challenging as walking downhill, but I’m trying to fix that by using my creativity to invent challenges for myself.

    But hey, that’s just me and my very opinionated opinion, which turned out to be a freakin’ mini-blog (sorry)

    You do what feels right for YOU.  If you think the meds are the route you need to go to be able to do what you need to do, then hey, I’m here to support you 100%.  I won’t think any less of you, because I think you’re a pretty cool guy no matter what.

  3. it’s a strange question, becuase like you say, where does one draw the line between quirk and disease?  i myself spend inordinate amounts of time scribbling on things, reading when i should be listening to a conversation, watching tv while i’m trying to write, and i have had many a one-sided conversation that ended with the other party looking at me slack-jawed and asking why no two sentences in my tirade had anythign to do with each other. 

    ADD?  or Just Me?  i have no idea.  i have no plans to find out, becuase i know i wouldn’t take meds for it.  and when i see the same behaviours in my son, the same schoolwork that comes home done correctly but so obscured by doodles and extra lines and experimental alphabets as to be nearly illegible, i know i won’t seek to have him diagnosed either. 

    my workspaces are experiments in chaos.  piles and stacks and all manner of odds and ends and bits and pieces that drive more organized people insane.  i always say i can’t work in a clean space.  the same is true of my head – if there weren’t so much noise in there, nothing would ever get thought up. 

     but that’s me, that’s my comfort zone.  just becuase ADD might be a “fad” disorder that’s feeding the pharmaceutical industry – and i’m not judging whether that’s the case, only restating an idea i hear often – doesn’t mean that some folks don’t actually suffer from it, and wouldn’t enjoy a greater quality of life by treating it.  llike DNW said, you gotta do what’s right for you. 

  4. Tough call. Makes me think of the Olivers Sacks’ story about Witty Ticcy Ray again. (I’m sure I stuck that in a comment in one of your previous blogs, didn’t I?)

  5. Just a couple of things. ADHD is not a fad disorder, it’s a fact of brain difference. Why is it dominantly found in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand? Because “normal” people rarely get up one morning and switch continents the way the ancestors of the people of those four countries did. We’re significantly ADHD nations, which worked pretty well up until the “universal education” and “open offices” of the 20th Century.

    ADHD is also not a disorder at all, just a difference. Lots of advantages, but workplace and school issues. Yes, better schools and better workplaces, “ADHD-friendly” as we say, can help a lot, but we don’t all have those choices.

    So, I always say, “just enough meds to boost your own comfort level.” I don’t care about teachers or bosses, I only care (in this case) about you. Do what makes you feel more comfortable. Strattera (non-stimulant) might be a good first thing to try. I do like time-release ritalin (Concerta) but with any ritalin (synthetic cocaine) you do “crash” off it at some point. Start low in dosage, track carefully how you feel (email me if interested in self-tracking stuff), and adjust dosage and timing of doses based on experience. It does take quite a while to get this right, which most doctors won’t bother to do, which is why meds often work badly.

    There, my mini-blog.

  6. I agree with thenarrator when he says that it should be up to you and what you feel is your comfort level.  I do tend to think that medicating to fit into the mold of what your situation is, is reflective of the kind of society we live in.  Although America is a country of TRUE opportunity (take that from an immigrant who can vouch first hand), there is, at the same time, a pressure to stay on the path you are on (and the “right”, responsible path) – even if that path is emotionally/psychologically difficult or does not fit who you are.  I can’t tell you how many marriages and relationships I have seen go through rough times because one or more of the partners felt that they had to work a lot b/c of where they were in their careers, which created stress and left little time for true interaction . . . Now, I know that this is not exactly your issue, but it does sound that you feel like if you had more flexibility in what you did for a salary, you feel like you might not need to medicate.  If that is true, I would perhaps encourgae you to identify other paths to deal with the ADD.  Or, perhaps in the medium to long-term, begin identifyng ways to transiton out of where you are.  I know how hard this can be with kids (or even without kids), but the pharmaceuticals that are out there now are pretty serious.  There are significant side effects (don’t let them kid you – not everyone gets out unscathed).  In addition, we are getting to a point in our society where medicating to achieve, move through emotions, get shit done, is becoming totally acceptable.  But perhaps the real issue is that our culture is moving too fast for people to mentally/emotionally adjust.  So we are creating drugs to help us adjust.  I don’t know, that just does not seem right. 

    Then again, I really do believe that certain chemical imbalances in people justify medication.  But this should not be any easy decision and perhaps should be made with the advice of a professional who has spent extensive time with you.  Email me if you want more thoughts.

  7. Nah, I think you’re articulating exactly what both the public and doctors are struggling with.  To what degree is it personality, and to what degree is it a true disorder?  Is it possible to have more of one facet of it than the other? 

    While on the one hand, there would seem to be something conformist about “medicating to fit a mold,” I would say that the same logic applied to other situations might seem absurd:  Am I, with my prosthetic leg, simply trying to conform with the legged, or am I addressing a genuine shortcoming?

    I like to think of it in similar terms to those I learned in my Abnormal Psychology class . . . because there, we were warned that many “normal” people could experience some or even many of the symptoms of psychotic ailments.  The measure of whether a person is possibly dealing with a real problem is found at least partially in the answer to the question of whether that person’s behavior is maladaptive.  Does it cause one to adapt poorly–or destructively, even–to the people and society around him or her?  I guess it’s not a question that’s always easy to answer, but it could provide some guidance.

    I’ve done meds, as I’ve said, and to be truthful, I found the experience to be a toss-up.  There are certainly days when I wish I still had them.  And there are many days when I just figure aw hell, this is me . . . I can do without the drymouth and the frequent pissing and that feeling of “otherness” in my head.

    If I were ever to go back to the meds, I’d arrange it with the doc so I could take them as needed, based on my own judgment, and not every day, twice a day or whatever.  And there you have my two cents!

  8. there is no “normal” just a range of human experience. If you don’t need two legs don’t get a prosthetic. If it makes it easier for you to move around, then do. If you only need it some days, wear it then. But my warning on ADHD meds is this. Strattera is not your choice if you’re going to “take as needed” in the same way that you can’t do that with anti-depressants. Maybe a mix of concerta or ritalin CR with small doses of xanax available to cut stress when necessary.

  9. Perhaps you have to balance where you want to be on the functioning scale…  If it is very important that you fuction [at work, school] to the max, for whatever reason, then perhaps go for the meds.  If you are able to live your life with great creativity and personal success without meds ~ why bother?  What about all those artists from the past out there?  I’ll bet most were chemically imbalanced.  What if they had all been medicated??  Scary.

  10. Part of the problem is that although I generate lots of ideas, I don’t follow through on very many of them. My life is a graveyard of unfinished projects. Sometimes I feel like I’ve procrastinated life!

  11. I’d say if your not comfortable with where you’re at and think the meds will improve your situation, then try them.  It’s not like you can’t quit taking them if the “cure” is worse than the “condition”.

  12. Sandking is right, you’re defining things that are problems for you. So try it… try five different things. See what happens.

  13. Here are my 2 1/2 cents.   I don’t agree with the medication bit, because you have know how you work.  After being alive for a few years and dealing with the real world you know what works and what doesn’t.

    If your office is a small area of chaos that you like and can deal with then that is very liv’able.

    If you are leaning towards medication then what HP said made sense.  You know yourself.  You also probably know when you are going to have one of those “off” days.

    With out knowing the exact complication with work it is difficult to make a better decision, but that is my thoughts on the matter.

    With whatever you decide, good luck, and I am guessing people will support you either way, especially your family!!

  14. There is also the question of whether “functioning” is the so important. Yes, it can cause a lot of suffering if one is unable to, but that suffering teaches you something, in a zen sort of way. Wendell Berry says “productivity is a form of slavery,” as do Thomas Sazs, I think, and John Breeding. They have a point. There is a certain freedom in being unable to function, in being unable to do things the way the world says you’re “supposed” to do them. We don’t always need to be like everyone else. We don’t always need to succeed. In fact, failure teaches us we’re not in control. It teaches us to let go of our egos.

  15. Don’t be in a quandry about taking medication. You’ll never know if it’s right for you unless you try it. You need take it regularly and on time to give it a fair evaluation. Don’t skip doses.  The most important thing is YOU and YOUR SELF ESTEEM. When you take your medication, do it discreetly. Kids can be cruel. I’ve heard them say, “so and so is off to take his psycho pills.”  You will know if the tablets are working or not. If it’s any consolation, I know many ADD/ADHD people who have become successful, productive and respected members of society. Don’t let people label you and don’t label yourself. Be the best you can be. As for conforming into somebody else’s mold, don’t. Make your own. Your mold will be better anyway. I wish you all the best.

  16. Whoops. Sorry. I didn’t realise your age. I followed a link to get here and didn’t read your profile first. Regardless, what I said still stands. You are important and if the tablets help to make your life easier so be it. If they don’t work, or have side effects you don’t like, there is no need to stay on them. You’ll never know until you try.  All the best.

  17. I’ve skipped reading most of the comments for now, sorry, nothing personal – just can’t focus on them – but for someone to say ADD doesn’t truly exist – I say to you  – you obviously aren’t ADD! I’ve never been diagnosed; however, my daughter was when she was in 5th grade and I wish I had had her diagnosed earlier – but as most ADD students I have dealt with as a teacher, she is very smart and was able to compensate for her ADD on her own until upper elementary.  I strongly feel I have ADD, which, after realizing that – I was glad because I thought I was just lazy or poor memory – but after learning everything I could about it after she was diagnosed it makes sense. I learned to compensate on my own all the way through school – dropped out of college, then went back later and earned a BSEd degree, graduated Magna Cum Laude – proud of it – i worked for it – could’ve graduated Summa if I had retaken courses from first college experience – but it wasn’t worth the $$, LOL!  Having ADD – truly having it – means that sometimes, no matter how much I want to, I can’t stay focused – you buy a tape recorder with a counter on it and record the # when you realize you timed out for a while and go back and listen to what you missed. I remember someone saying or reading about it, that it’s like there are all these windows open and you can’t tell which one to go to – that so well explains it for me. Yes, it’s part of my personality, but if I could change it I would, it’s not a part that I enjoy!! Daughter took meds for 2 1/2 years, long enough for her to mature and to learning so coping study skills that otherwise she couldn’t attend to – her grades went way up when she was on meds, but she didn’t like how they made her feel – school was easy when she was on them, otherwise her grades are every where.  I always joke – she’s an equal opportunity grade student – she gives every letter an opportunity on her grade card.  Typical things I see in students who I would say are true ADD – lack of maturity, difficulty with handwriting, trouble with spelling, trouble with reading (comprehension  – not word call), trouble w/turning in assignments – many times they are done – but forgot they finished them, when the brass tacks are down, they honestly can’t stay out of trouble – blurting – etc.  Forgive the inappropriate wording of “can’t stay out of trouble”. Anyway – strong feelings about this – yes – it is too easily and quickly used as an excuse – and the situation that makes me the most angry are the ones – parents/students – who use it as an excuse to accept their situation – there are so many things you can do to benefit yourself and succeed! But you have to be willing! as far as ADD being dumb – i find the opposite.

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