Saturday, August 27, 2005

ADD and me

Hm. I sat down to write something, not sure what, then remembered that I needed to put a new ink cartridge in the printer, so I can print a promotional piece as I write. I got up to get the cartridge, then decided that lunch would be a good idea. I turned the radio on as I got my lunch, English muffin with mustard, smoked turkey and sharp cheddar, yum! While the English muffin was toasting, I called time and temp so I could set the microwave clock. As I ate, I opened Delivered from Distraction, the book on Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) I've been reading. Oh, that's what I should write about! Even as I write that, I think, dang, I forgot to put the printer cartridge in...

Despite never having had a real diagnosis, I've known for a long time that I most likely have ADD (officially called ADHD, but I like ADD better--am I really hyperactive?). As I read this book I realize that lots of my friends and family probably do, too.

I don' t think of it as a disorder, though. Yeah, there are parts of it which make life more difficult, but generally, it's a gift. For quite a while, I've been calling it "diffuse attention." It means that I'm aware of what's going on at several levels when I'm performing. I'm watching everything: the story, my own energy, the audience. I'm paying attention to where I get a laugh, or where I don't, where a long pause makes a difference, where speeding up shifts the story. I wrote about this in the post on energy of space. Occasionally I find myself pulled out of the story, but usually all I have to do is remind myself to be present.

Because of this, I'm forgiving of children in the audience who need to move a little bit, as long as they're not bothering anybody. I build in repetitive hand gestures and phrases into stories for young children so the kinesthetic learners have something to do to anchor them physically in the story.

It also means that I can keep lots of stories in my head at once, lots of projects going at the same time. I think it's why I can improvise within a story or with a puppet.

True enough, I have phone messages written on the backs of envelopes and on scrap paper around my house, and I have a tendency to procrastinate or lose focus when I'm working on something less than scintillating. Conversation with me can be an adventure or just plain confusing, as I tend to flit from idea to idea. I'm always reading about eight books at once.

I've set up systems to help myself stay on track. Lists and deadlines help. My Palm is invaluable, not only for playing Scrabble. Periodically I sort and file all the piles of clutter in my house, all at once (I think of this as "infrastructure cleaning"). I try to arrive at gigs early enough that nobody, including me, is anxious.

I'm interested in the strategies in this book for working with ADD. I already do some of them: meditation, regular exercise, systems that help me keep track of my life, having creative outlets. There are others that look intriguing: brain exercises to help focus, taking omega-3 fatty acids.

Maybe I'll go look up some of the websites on ADD. Or I'll put the printer cartridge in.


Mary said...

Bwahahahaha! I'm working and checking email and reading your blog and thinking about going downstairs to do a laundry swap. And now I'm commenting on it when I should really be fixing my friend Paul's web page.

I'm just partway through the book. It's excellent and it is definitely me and Willie. One of the things I liked was the list of 7 habits of highly effective ADD adults. The 7th one is "Go with your positive side. Even though you have a negaitve side, make decisions and run your life with your positive side." OK!

Anonymous said...

[I have no idea what an HTML tag is.]

Priscilla, have you ever noticed my study? And - in particlar - the small bits of informative paper around my computer? I now suspect these are symptoms of ADD. If so, ADD seems to me to be part of the human condition, though I can't be sure as I haven't read the book. Am I likely to? I doubt it.

Procrastination? It leads to a flurry around deadlines. Urg.

But I am somehow still alive and have much more to do with my life.

Harness your failings and let them work for you.

PriscillaHowe said...

Okay, so which family member left that comment? It could have been any one of you!

Anonymous said...

Turns out to be your mother.

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