Saturday, May 30, 2015

Living with ADHD - by Denise Devine

I have ADHD—Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder—though I’ve never been formally diagnosed. I’m sixty-four years old. When I attended grade school, the general public didn’t know what it was and the school system certainly didn’t address it. I didn’t know about the condition until my kids were little. About that time the public started to become aware of ADHD and I acquired a lot of information.

How do I know I have ADHD? First of all, it runs in my family. My sister was diagnosed, as an adult, and put on medication. Her son also has it and many of my nieces and nephews have been diagnosed. Fortunately, neither of my kids nor my grandchildren have it. Thank God!

Secondly, I’ve read several books on ADHD and believe me, I have it. You know it when you see it. You’re probably wondering why I don’t go to the doctor and get diagnosed. What’s the point? I’ve lived with it all my life and have gotten along just fine.

How have I coped with it? Easy…I’ve learned to compensate for my weakness. I simply learned how to do things in ways that got the job done and I became a perfectionist in the process. When I worked full time, I always performed best at jobs where I was up to my neck in paperwork. As long as I was busy doing the same things over and over, I became so efficient at my duties I could do everything fast and I never got bored. I also learned to write everything down and refer to my notes. And that, my friends, was the key to a successful 25 years of government service.

Can you imagine me sitting on a jury? Twice? Yep, been there, done that and I spent the entire time taking detailed notes because it was better than sitting in my chair squirming and yawning, looking at what everyone was wearing. My jury mates thought my note-taking was pretty funny, but no one was laughing when we went into deliberation and my notes recapped every witness exam/cross-exam in the trial.

Like I said, I’m at my best when I’m very busy, but I can only focus on one thing at a time. Otherwise, I get distracted and just spin my wheels. When I sit down to write, it has to be quiet in the house. No husband, no cats, no music, no TV. Unfortunately, it is rarely quiet at my house! As soon as I sit down to write, the phone rings, the neighbor shows up at the door, Fed-Ex is delivering a package, a cat is throwing up in another room, my husband can’t find something or suddenly wants to talk. As a matter of fact, that’s the only time he wants to talk… But the worst distraction, by far, is that little ding! coming from the computer in the other room that alerts me to a new email. The only way I can keep myself from jumping up and going in there twenty times a day is to turn off the sound on the computer so I can’t hear it.

Before I write a scene I have to make an outline, otherwise I just sit there and daydream…and listen for that little ding! in the other room. I love GMC charts! And the Hero’s Journey worksheet. Those two processes make me think about my characters in order to answer the necessary questions. They also satisfy my need to be organized before I start. Because I work best in a situation of consistency and repetition, I find that the more I write, the more I want to write, but the trick is letting go of all the other things competing for my attention and getting my butt into the chair first thing in the morning.

That’s the part I’m still working on.

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Denise Devine is a USA TODAY bestselling author who has had a passion for books since she discovered Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder in second grade. She wrote her first book, a mystery, at age thirteen and has been writing ever since. Besides reading and writing, Denise also loves to study and travel. She’s currently working on two novels and needs to slow down long enough to get one of them done! This is the cover for her next inspirational story, coming this summer!

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  1. Good for you for finding ways to make this work for you. I taught many kids with ADHD and some of them had already begun to figure out ways to deal with it, while others probably never did.

  2. I'm a notorious list maker. I can't go into a store without one or I'll walk out with a lot of items I didn't plan to buy and nothing I went there for.