Friday, December 01, 2006

the family may or may not be helpful at first


I'm not dumb and I'm not lazy, but I am 'quirky.' I'm not sure exactly how to put this, but it's particularly observable in me that my mind is often engaged in something outside of where everyone else's mind is.

This has always been a little 'cute,' I suppose. Quirkiness, I think, is a good attribute, and, as the cliché goes, normal is boring. I agree.

Here's when quirkiness isn't cute:

* When you seem unable to maintain your home.
* When you get angry and agitated with friends and family because they are interrupting your daydream.
* When you blow up at people because you have a desperately low frustration tolerance.
* When you blow up at your in-laws for minor infractions, forcing your loving and loyal wife to take sides with bad behavior.
* When you scream and yell and kick things because you are frustrated by assembling something, like a Christmas tree, and you remain unwilling to read the manual. (If I had a nickel for every hole I've punched in drywall…)
* When your wife asks you to do something, and although you look at her and nod, you didn't hear a word she said. You love her dearly, and you really do want to listen, but your mind has some strange difficulty following through with your desires.
* When your kids are begging for your attention but you can only seem to give it in short bursts. You want desperately to give your attention, you really do, but some kind of driving force seems to pit your attention against itself.
* When you don't work. You go to work and stare at the monitor for many minutes, entirely zoned out.
* When you surf the web all day at work, rushing to get tasks done, and doing them sloppily, so that you can return to your mindlessness. Never mind the fact that you actually do hold a job that can be enjoyable.
* When you change hobbies every month or so, spending a significant amount of time hyper-focused on your new love, and ignoring those who need you. Money, large amounts of it, may be wasted on such endeavors.
* When one day you decide you're going to move, so you give your two-weeks notice, sell your home, quit your job and move, only to realize that you made a life-changing decision on a whim. Talk about hurting your family! (Thank God for His grace on this one, which put our family back where it was and saved us from what would have been a very bad situation).

The question remains: Is all the stuff above quirkiness or is it ADHD? It's a good question, and one that I don't think even psychiatry can completely answer. ADHD, like anything, shows up in varying levels, and in the mild-to-moderate side, diagnosis may be difficult.


One day my wife scolded me (and rightfully so). She told me how conversationally I sometimes drift off and it ends up being rude. I'll be talking to a friend, a friend who I like and want to talk to, when I suddenly disengage from the conversation. I'm standing there, pretending to listen, but I'm not. I may be looking the person in the eye or I may be looking somewhere over his shoulder. Either way, I'm gone.

It's obvious when I do this, and it's not me. I want to be there, present in the conversation. I like people, and I like my friends. I value what they have to say. So why don't I listen?

And you're reading this saying, "We all do that."

Yes, I agree, but this is probably more powerful than what you are thinking. It's not that I do this from time to time. The problem is the fact that I'm characterized by it. I've done this for as long as I can remember, in any conversation that lasts very long.

When this type of disengagement happens it's not because I lost track or interest. Rather, it's like some force just pulled me away, and no matter how much I want to return to the conversation, I cannot. It's powerful, and I can't describe it, I can only say it goes beyond a "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" kind of thing. It can't be handled that way.


There's more to this story than I care to write down. It goes into a number of ways that I have failed as a father and husband. I woke up to the fact that this may be an issue worth discussing only recently, and not because of the impact it had on me. Rather, it was because of the impact it had on those around me who I love: My wife and children.

As the psychiatrist said, and I was startled by this: You definitely have ADHD. It's not the worst case I've ever seen, but it's there.

This was a Christian psychiatrist, and a guy who I trust. It's a guy who, based on much of our dialog, doesn't think of drugs as the only line of treatment in such cases. I found comfort in talking to a Christian psychiatrist and two Christian counselors because of how I perceived the mere consideration of medical treatment of this issue. I perceived it as a distrust of God and a lack of faith. I won't go into all the details, because I still wrestle, but the advice they gave was great.

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