I have ADD. ADD is short for Attention Deficit Disorder and is pretty similar to ADHD. I’ve had it all my life but I’ve only been diagnosed since I was about 14 years old. It’s not something I talk about a lot, but that’s mainly because I have lived a long time without even knowing I had it and therefore I’m not used to seeing it as a ‘thing’. But today I forgot to take my medicine and that usually activates my thinking capacities. It made me think about what it’s like and how not many people actually realise what it’s like and that it’s actually more difficult for me to concentrate than for somebody without it. So, in today’s post I wanted to give you guys a brief inside of what it’s like to have ADD. And spoiler alert: I don’t think it’s all bad. Anyway, keep on reading if you want to find out how I experience it! By the way: keep in mind that this post is written when I was off my meds, so it’s a bit messy.
What is ADD?
ADD is a disorder in which you have difficulty with your concentration but there is a lot more to it than just that. Everyone with ADD is different, but I’m going to give you some examples of what it’s like for me. Whenever I’m in a very busy situation or in a room with very loud noises, by head explodes. There’s so much coming in and I get so distracted. I try to focus but I can’t. All I hear is the noise and all I see are the tons of people around me and all I want to do is get the heck out of there. It makes my heartbeat raise and it can make me tremble. It can set off a panic attack even. These days it isn’t as bad as it used to be, but I still can’t walk inside a store packed with people.
ADD is basically the same as ADHD, without the hyperactivity. However, this doesn’t mean that I’m never hyper. Whenever I get really excited about something I get excessively hyper. All I can think about is that specific thing and I keep talking about it. In my head the thing becomes so big that I think everyone is just as excited about it as I am and this obviously isn’t really the case most of the time.
Another thing that comes with the ADD is impulsivity. I can be a very thoughtful girl at times, but I can also be very impulsive. Most of the time without even knowing it. I actually make myself think that it is something I’m not doing impulsively and therefore it’s okay, but afterwards I do realise like why did I do this. This does result in lots of purchases, mostly things I don’t need but talked myself into needing and instantly bought them. When I’m excited about something this gets way worse. I then make myself think it’s all I’ll ever need and that my life is better with that item and well, it’s hard to stop those thoughts.
I’m also very forgetful. It’s not a weird thing, since my attention span is so short I can never listen to something long enough in order to remember it. And this doesn’t just go for listening. When I read a sentence halfway through the sentence I start thinking of the most random things in the world, like straightening irons and lipstick and my mind drifts away. Then I realise what’s happening and say to myself “okay Nicole, focus”, so I look back at the sentence and everything I just read is gone. Back when I didn’t take medication reading one page of a book took me hours, especially when the book was about something I wasn’t all that interested in. Because when I’m not interested in a certain topic, it get’s even harder to focus.
Its effect on my social life
I can deny it as much as I want, but obviously my ADD does affect on my social life. My short attention span is the first thing. When someone else is talking to me about something, more often than not I can’t focus throughout the entire thing. After a while my mind will drift off and I don’t have a clue what they are talking about. This might make me come across as very rude or uninterested but that’s not the case at all. I just can’t help it. I keep telling myself to focus on what the person is telling me, but when I’m telling myself that, I’m not focussing on the story. It can be so frustrating at times.
I also do struggle with the ‘need for speech’ thing sometimes. Sometimes something pops into my head. It can be activated by a word someone says or it can happen at random. But when that thing pops into my head I just HAVE to say it. There’s no way to stop it. Therefore it does happen quite regularly that I interrupt someone. I know how rude this is and therefore I try really hard not to do it, but when I’m trying not to do it, I’m not listening to the story either. It’s just one big downwards spiral of struggles and it’s really annoying.
On the other hand I can also ramble on and on about something I’m excited about. Obviously not everyone is interested in that topic. Let’s say when I’m telling my boyfriend everything about my new favourite lipstick. He doesn’t give a rats ass. He’ll try to listen for an appropriate amount of time, but after a while I understand he’s getting tired of it. And I can tell. However, I can’t stop. I do know I need to, but the urge to keep on going can be too strong at times.
How it affects me
Aside from affecting my social life, ADD has also been a burden on myself. I’m very aware of my behaviour and how I do things differently at times. This is something that did used to make me very self conscious. I mean, it’s not nice seeing someone getting more and more uninterested and not being able to stop talking. And it’s not great realising you’re already an hour in and still haven’t read one single page of a textbook. However, nowadays I know that the people around me like me for the way I am and I know that it’s not my fault that I can’t always focus on everything as well as others can. Obviously it’s not a reason to stop trying, but thinking about it this way does help me find peace with it. Back in the day I used to beat myself up over not being able to study or having done too little work, and now I try to accept it. I write that day off and try again tomorrow. This helps me so much and makes me so much less stressed.
Another negative effect is kind of linked to the medication I take. Whenever I get into one of those ‘concentration modes’ I really don’t want to get interrupted. And worst of all: afterwards, after focussing for hours, I’m not in a very festive mood. It usually makes me feel a bit anti-social and in those moments I just want to be alone. This obviously isn’t always the case and that’s just not comfortable for me.
But luckily having ADD is not all bad for me. There are things about it that I see as positive. For example, I’m super creative and I come up with ideas like a robotic generator. I think a million things per second so whenever I need to come up with an idea it usually doesn’t take that long. I have a very wild fantasy and come up with the craziest things. This does really help me in life, even when it comes to school projects and such.
Another thing I like about ADD are my hyperfocus moments. Hyperfocus is a period of time you get every now and then in which you can focus like a pro. It’s like full on focus for a couple of hours or even the whole day. I don’t think of anything than the stuff I’m working on. I don’t need to pee all of the time, I don’t need any breaks. I can go on for hours. During these moments I usually get so much schoolwork done that the moments I couldn’t do anything are forgiven. Obviously it would be way nicer to be able to focus all of the time, but well, I can’t say I hate these hyperfocus moments. It’s pretty darn sweet and it gives me a nice feeling when I get so much work done at once. And best of all: I can get hyperfocus without my medication. It doesn’t happen as regularly, but it can happen.
A lot of people with ADD take medication for it, and so do I. The medication you get for ADD is similar to the one for ADHD. The most well known version is called Ritalin. I did try Ritalin for a while there, but currently I’m on Concertra. Concerta works about 12 hours while Ritalin only works for 4 hours. Taking Ritalin would mean I need to take a pill every 4 hours and being the forgetful women that I am, that didn’t work out so well. Another reason why I didn’t like Ritalin is because it doesn’t work 100% for 4 hours. The first 30 minutes it doesn’t really do much and the last 30 minutes to an hour it starts to wear off as well. With Concerta I can focus for 12 hours without having to worry about taking pills.
I know that there is a lot of discussion about this medication, but for me it works really well. Thanks to the medication I can finally find some peace in my head. It also helps me so much with doing all of my daily tasks and doing school work and such. Of course the medication also has its side effects. It causes lots of headaches, it takes away your appetite and it can have an effect on my mood when I’ve been focussing for a while. But since my mind is so overactive and so exhausting when I don’t take my medication, it’s all worth it for me. I wouldn’t want to take it forever, but for now I’m glad I have it.
In conclusion I do definitely think that ADD has a much bigger effect on my life and my relationships in life than people might think. It’s something that doesn’t show per se and I do feel like not a lot of people really understand what it’s like. Because I know what I’m talking about I get what it feels like and I get what I mean with the examples I gave in this post, but it might as well not make any sense to you guys. Anyway, I still hope this has given you some insight in what it’s like to have ADD and that you now know that it’s definitely different from not being able to focus every now and then. And keep in mind: whenever someone with ADD tells you they have a hard time focussing all of the time, don’t act like that’s the same as someone without ADD not being able to focus every now and then. This isn’t a matter of discipline, it’s a disorder!
On that note I’d like to end today’s post. Thank you so much for taking the time to read it, and be sure to let me know if you already knew about ADD or not!