What It\'s Like to Have ADD

I originally posted this on my myspace blog, but I figured it might be interesting to more people than just my friends. I think a lot of people know someone who has ADD or may have it themselves without even realizing it.

I used to believe I was lazy, mostly because it was what my dad always told me. I never did my homework in school because there was always something more interesting to do like read, hang out with friends, or play with my Commodore 64. My mom's boyfriend when I was in middle school even tried taking my books away to try to get me to do my homework, but instead I would draw, write, and just sit and think.

I don't really consider ADD to be a condition or a disease. To me it's just a description of a set of personality traits. I find everything interesting and can focus on something down to the minute details, but the next thing I know I'm interested in something else. I am very spontaneous and have a tendency to act on my emotions quickly, though I'm learning to stop and think a while before acting.

In a nutshell, everyday life is incredibly boring to me. I find driving boring. Work is boring most of the time. Meetings are hellishly boring. Writing documentation is boring. I adapt incredibly quickly to change, and then in not too long become bored and want more change. Actually, I wouldn't even say I become bored. I become depressed. I begin to feel despair. I feel like I need to change *something* in my life or I'm going to die.

It doesn't help at all that my wife hates change and thrives on routine. She keeps herself busy all the time. If I don't schedule her time a week in advance I usually can't get her to do anything with me, and of course even when I know something is going to happen a week in advance, I frequently forget to mention it to her. Right now, this doesn't really add up to happiness.

There are about as many people with ADD as there are gay people. Of course, that's just on average. In Silicon Valley that percentage is almost certainly much higher. I think the whole reason that people with ADD become entrepreneurs is that corporate jobs suck for most people with ADD.

That's what I'm going through now. I have to sit at a desk every day and it's torture. I really like that we walk places for lunch, but I'm not sure it's enough. I am not sure I'm even going to last until my retention bonus is paid out. The main thing keeping me in my job is that I don't really know what I'd do instead.

What's really dangerous is that I sold my house and all of the money I made from it is just sitting in my savings account. I am afraid I'm going to spend it on something that's going to turn out to be a mistake. Finding something to do with it is a pain because it requires research. I wish I knew someone to just give the money to to invest it for me. I should probably just buy a CD so I can't get at the money for a while.

Masten Space Systems, an aerospace startup I do some work for on the side, has a very good chance of moving to Mojave in 2006. I think that if I keep feeling the way I do now I will go with them. My wife, however, has said she may not want to go. Well, if I still feel the way I do now that probably won't stop me. I'd like her to come along, but if she can't handle it there and I can't handle it here then what the HELL are we going to do?

I think having had my bluetooth headset stolen by the mechanic who replaced my clutch has triggered a depression cycle. This sucks.

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Getting out of IT has been

Getting out of IT has been the best career move I've made since getting into technology in the first place. I'm now doing software development, which is a tremendous improvement.

Does this mean you can get

Does this mean you can get scrips for Adderall?


Wow. Well my ex husband was

Wow. Well my ex husband was diagnosed with ADHD. Perhaps that and his habit of being compulsive drove me away. He is a geek too, working in IT and bored, who wants really to be a writer.

I went through a spell like

I went through a spell like that a few years ago, was sick of the TV biz,(who isn't), and am bored to death with producing music. my outlet has been to 'learn something', and really got into technical analysis of securities. i'm sure i'll become bored with that too. Many friends say the 'cure' is to have children but experience shows that most of the fucked up people i've ever met had children so count that out as the surefire cure. MAny others i know moved to airhead 'hippy' communes on SaltSpring island and get high all without showering for weeks. thats about the most boring thing i can think of. next in line for me is Tokyo and Baja, to break up the humdrum. you can trade stocks from anywhere these days. haha. big hint, if at all possible TURN OFF THE TV AND GET OUT OF THE SUBBURBS.:neutral:

T. Weeker: Yes, but most

T. Weeker:

Yes, but most doctors seem to be leaning toward trying non-narcotic drugs first, even if they aren't specifically labelled for ADD. Strattera, Wellbutrin, and Provigil are three non-narcotic drugs frequently used for ADD. Actually, in my nephew's case I think they tried Adderall first, but he's also a little kid so maybe the doctor wasn't so concerned about potential prosecution. For me she seemed to be leaning away from any of the narcotics (I went to the same psychiatrist as my nephew).

This could be an example of perverse incentives from the WoD: doctors will try drugs in an order other than starting with the drug that is most likely to be effective and/or has the fewest side effects.

Crow: Why do you tolerate a


Why do you tolerate a regimented life and work that depresses you? Not knowing what else to do sounds like a lack of information without the initiative to learn and find out.

Right now, because my employer is paying me a ridiculous amount of money. However, I did sell my house so I wouldn't be tied down, and I'm renting until I figure out where I really want to be. It's not that I don't have the initiative to find out what I can do, it's that it requires a certain amount of experimentation, which is very hard to do while I'm otherwise occupied with a job. If Masten Space Systems moves to Mojave next year then that should significantly reduce my cost of living and let me see what it's like to live on very little while doing all sorts of interesting stuff.


One wonders why you even use the term “ADD” at all then, if you don’t think it’s a real condition/disorder. I suppose its shorter than simply saying you have a short attention span, but I think we need to take a stand against the medicalization of things that are simply personality traits, not diseases.

Neither my doctor nor the psychiatrist who originally diagnosed me consider ADD a disease. I do use ADD as simply a shorthand, but it's more than just "short attention span," because it includes the restlessness and ability to hyperfocus, along with a predisposition to depression.

I haven't read this yet, but

I haven't read this yet, but Claire Wolfe usually has some practical tips in her books. You might check out her latest (hot off the presses!): How to Kill the Job Culture Before It Kills You: Living a Life of Autonomy in a Wage-Slave Society. There may be some alternatives for you guys in there.

"I don’t really consider

"I don’t really consider ADD to be a condition or a disease."

Me neither. I was taken to a phychiatrist when I was 14 and "diagnosed" with a moderate case of "ADD", but I never put any stock in that nonsense. (Though I did find it a convenient excuse to use once or twice for not having done boring homework.) One wonders why you even use the term "ADD" at all then, if you don't think it's a real condition/disorder. I suppose its shorter than simply saying you have a short attention span, but I think we need to take a stand against the medicalization of things that are simply personality traits, not diseases. It's like calling someone a "kleptomaniac" when "thief" is much more to the point.

Regarding "ADD", I'd rather

Regarding "ADD", I'd rather be a hunter than a farmer, anyway.

Personally speaking, it'd depress me if I discovered I were happy being a non-productive bureaucratic or corporate drone managing paperwork or code; sometimes discontent is a good sign?


My hyperlink for the hunter vs. farmer ADD theory doesn't seem to work in the preview, so here is the URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunter_vs._farmer_theory

'The best thing for being

'The best thing for being sad,' replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, 'is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world around you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then – to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you.'

-T.H. White's The Once and Future King

Why do you tolerate a regimented life and work that depresses you? Not knowing what else to do sounds like a lack of information without the initiative to learn and find out.

What i like about the inner

What i like about the inner city as opposed to suburbs, is the mental stimulation of being in a dynamic environment. suburbs are made to be exactly the opposite. even so, i live in a major urban center and got bored here too. i guess its all in ours heads, and we need constant mental stimulation or some kind of hill to climb. mine was technical analysis, and travel to different places WAY OUTSIDE my 'normal zone'
. BTW i'm really glad i came across this blog. i find it some of my most interesting and inspirational reading. its really made me dig deeper, intellectually.:beatnik:

Mr. Aardvark: What you

Mr. Aardvark:

What you describe certainly sounds a lot like ADD to me, but it could be depression or bipolar disorder as well. What's more important than the diagnosis itself, as I'm sure you already know, is to figure out what works for you.

The solution to the situation with my wife requiring advance notice is for me to send her an email or IM as soon as I find out that something is happening, but it's very easy to forget because I don't always find out via email or IM and frequently things start out as fairly vague plans and don't solidify until it's too late.

I set up Schooltool once so I could have an electronic calendar she could read. At the time, it was a little too buggy, but it's almost certainly completely usable by now. The problem is I have no idea if she would actually read my calendar, so email or IM may remain the best solution.

qwest: Turn off the TV -


Turn off the TV - check

Get out of the suburbs - hmmm, something I hadn't really thought of. The one problem I see with it is that cities are not exactly bastions of freedom. Sure it would almost certainly help to alleviate boredom, but it wouldn't necessarily put me toward my life goal of helping to create (and get onto) a new frontier either.

After my nephew was

After my nephew was diagnosed with ADD, my sister handed me "driven to distraction" and said "read this." It really spoke to me; I have that kind of personality. But two shrinks have told me ADD is not what I have, so I still don't know. Later I lost my life savings when I had a depressive episode during a stock deal, and my law practice is a mess because I forget which days I'm supposed to be in court, and I get all panicy about having to do written stuff by deadlines. I've been focused on living cheap while I liquidate some real estate, and am moving to start fresh somewhere else. I will probably go back to doing menial labor for a while and maybe eventually rebuild the law practice.
My info-rich online world compensates for not having it all in the meatspace world, but it's very frustrating, in a Ted Nelson/Xanadu sort of way, to not be able to get things to come together.
You mention feeling frustrated with your very-structured spouse, but let me suggest that structure is possibly something that is making your ability to function possible; ADD people function better when they find ways to build structure into their lives, and that's part of a relationship dynamic. There's some skills I don't have, ranging from fixing plumbing to paying the monthly utility bills, that I counted on my other half for in ways I didn't notice till she was gone.