Attention Deficit

October 29th, 1997 at 9:05 pm by Mark
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     Ritalin still calms me down.

     Most people will tell you that it only works for kids, but I’m one of those people who is, somewhat deniably, the hyperactive sort. Many people will argue this point, however, as I keep up the “mellow” facade quite well. I’ve learned a few tricks over the years that are a tremendous help in achieving this goal. Those people who would argue with me rarely notice that I never actually stop moving.
     The women I’ve been with have been well aware of it, as it unnerves most of them to no end. Quite often, I lie in bed tapping my foot until I fall asleep. They’ll generally remark about it, that I’m keeping them awake. And because they’re awake, they’ll notice how my body “jerks” right at the moment I lose consciousness and fall to sleep…
     …and in the morning, I’ll “jerk” awake. This usually startles them somewhat, and starts their day off rather badly. And I don’t do it out of being startled. It’s just that my body suddenly realises it hasn’t moved for several hours.
     You may very well be laughing about all of this, but unless you’ve been there, you’ve no concept of what a problem this can be.

     I can’t even write anymore…

     I’ll pick up a pencil or pen and begin to write down an idea, and well before I’ve completed a single sentence, it’s lost in a fray of tangents and muddled thoughts. Ruled paper is so distracting that way. So, of course, I type (one hundred and some odd words per minute, I type), often nowhere near as fast as I need to. You see, sometimes, no matter how hard I try, I’m going to have a problem keeping up with the speed of brain.
     And I’ve been this way my entire life.

     I’ve heard that Hyperactivity diminishes with age, but in my case, it’s done nothing but get worse. I have, for the most part, learned to cope with it reasonably well. I’ve created “stops” for myself to help me think coherently, including that wonderful little “foot tapping” ritual (often simply bouncing my toes inside my shoe so as not to annoy everyone around me). As well, I’ve done some changes in my thought processes and created some stops so that I can attempt to catch myself when I get into those patterns of circular thought… where I’m paying far too much attention to details and not enough to the big picture.
     These things are usually enough to fool the average person into thinking I’m this quiet, mellow sort who doesn’t have a lot on his mind. They never realise the amount of “over thinking” I do just to make a the average judgement call or respond to “Can you go out and check the post-box?” Questions like that often elicit an “Ummm…” (insert no less than four second pause, followed by an emphatic:) Yes!” from me.
     Of course, having a drink, or a few, tends to pull out those stops rather quickly…

     …which brings us to the fact that, even sober, it’s often extremely difficult to think in such a way that other people can understand me. It’s not that I have a problem paying attention, but rather that I tend to pay too much attention to certain other, non-specific, things. Sometimes it’s hard for me to follow changes in subject. Other times, I’ll be the one changing them every three seconds. It’s not uncommon for me to carry on five or six completely separate conversations with the same person, provided they have the same problem I do. Oh, but if they don’t, they become terribly confused.
     This is probably the biggest reason why some people think I’m “on something.” Despite my looks, and my admittance to enjoying a drink now and again, I don’t partake of anything that’s considered to be a “controlled substance” (and quite often, I wonder how these things they’ve labelled “controlled” can cause such a tiff at the US-Mexican border, but that’s entirely beside the point).
     Most of my close friends know this. Quite often, it’s tough to convince someone out of the loop that I’m not “on anything.” They see the problems I have paying attention, maybe that I’m too attentive; perhaps that I’m not attentive enough to what they think I should be focused on. But, most of the time, if they start that, I just don’t give a shit what they say or think, anyway.
     For that reason, school was always a real bother.

     Quite often, I’d be going about my day and a teacher would ask me a question. Before answering, I would sit and stare, perhaps vacantly, at them for a few moments, maybe listening, maybe not.
     They’d usually stare back at me, wondering whether or not I was going to answer. If I didn’t do it at the exact moment they thought I should, they’d wait until after class and ask one of the other students if I’d dropped a hit of acid recently. Of course, the other students would later remark about how “Mr. or Mrs. So and So thinks you’re on drugs, Mark.”
     But what Mr. or Mrs. So and So never realised is that while I was staring at them, I had noticed exactly what was on the chalkboard, what they were wearing, that they had just come from the restroom (they had toilet paper dangling from the heel of a shoe), they were coffee addicts (their front teeth had those familiar grain-stains on them), their shirts weren’t buttoned/tied up quite where they should’ve been (so they’d dressed themselves in a hurry that morning), and on the way to work they had eaten a very flaky croissant while driving (those tell-tale flat crumbs). I would also have ascertained, by the look on their face, that they already knew the answer to the question they had just asked me, and, lastly, that they were wondering whether or not I dropped a hit of acid recently.
     I would replay the question they had asked in my head, and, after grinning slightly at myself, I would rattle off the correct answer.

     This would often prompt them to complain about “all the talking” going on in the room. They just knew that someone had whispered the answer and I had heard it, and that’s what my little “grin” had been about.
     It never occurred to most of them that my little “grin” had been nothing of the sort. It was simply that my amazing powers of observation had alerted me to the toilet paper dangling from the heel of their shoe. And being me, I was wondering what type of adhesive had attached it there so permanently.

     Some people say Attention Deficit and Hyperactive Disorder causes individuals to become easily distracted. That I can agree with. My entire thought process works on circular tangents. You’d never know that this web page actually started out to be a dissertation about the economic effects of the Bill Clinton campaign scandal on the now-industrialised nation of China as opposed to the rest of the Asian market (while listening the The Wall).
     But what I cannot agree with is that many Teachers will profess that it’s difficult to teach people with ADHD. I find that this is not the case at all. My learning ability was never impaired in the least! I just felt that since I had already learned what they were teaching me, having to prove it to them was surely a waste of everyone’s time. Maybe if their methods of Teaching had changed slightly, it would have been easier on all of us.

     Besides…

     When everyone else was talking about going to college, I already knew that making $23000 a year as a certain middle-aged Economics Professor, minus the great expenses of a heavily medicated wife who refused to work, their sheltered youngster whose first words were “Vote Mondale-Ferraro!”, the house they’d bought at a deal but the property was now worth less than the unpaid portion of their mortgage, the two new cars, that damned Beagle puppy who pisses on the carpet at any given moment despite its costly obedience training (which it was kicked out of during the last week for howling — after the trainer stuck the dog’s nose in its own urine for doing what Mommy & Daddy sent it to obedience school for to begin with), the weekly change of curtains and interior latex paint for the whole house so Mommy wouldn’t go apeshit during her many, many do-nothing days, and let’s not forget the maid who comes to vacuum and clean clothes and cook breakfast and dinner since Mommy’s crazy, just wasn’t worth working sixty hours a week at a University for.
     I came to this because after spending $40,000 for his Doctorate to net a total of $23000 a year in pre-loan payment savings, adding yearly interest to the unpaid balance of his loan, which he’d have to keep paying the minimum balance on and only covering a small portion of the principal because of his high expenses, it was going to take him at least ninety more years to even pay for his education. And after his pre-mature death at age sixty-four and nine months, that everyone else saw coming because his wife was an alcoholic bitch who’d pressed every button he didn’t even know he had and strained his ticker a bit too hard so that he could try and relax at retirement, someone besides him was going to be more than a little miffed…

To Ally: Always remember, just because they’re “educated” doesn’t mean they’re smart.


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