Caste System for ADHD

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Caste System for ADHD 2012-02-21T21:15:53+00:00

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  • #112599
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    wolfshades
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    Post count: 211

    JimC: that was a *great* post you put up there. Since I still work in the IT field (because no one in any of the arts industries has seen fit to call on me yet), I related very well to all of it. Here are some additional thoughts on some of the points you brought up.

    1. The Ability to Hyperfocus.

    You mentioned spending all night and most of the early morning hours on the internet. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gotten “lost” on the net at home because of this dynamic, for a similar amount of hours. The first time it happened, and I noticed the time, I laughed out loud – I had *no* awareness of how much time had gone by. (This was pre-diagnosis too)

    2. Rapid Fire Mind.

    Here, you mentioned about how fast our brains processes information, and the frustration when machines can’t keep up. I have to note this ability/quirk also causes problems when you’re conversing with someone, and you know *exactly* where they’re going, and you have to exercise patience and not interrupt him so that you can get to the next point. We don’t often see it as a problem, but an ability that helps us to move through problems quickly. Certainly *I* don’t see it as a problem – just something to be aware of. I like catching on quickly like this. Makes life more interesting.

    3. Multitasking at Will.

    You mentioned being able to do several projects at a time with ease. Unfortunately, the opposite of this coin is that our form of multitasking can mean nothing gets completed.  And I wouldn’t call it multi-tasking, so much as multi-threading – when focused on one thing, we’re not even thinking about the other one. This side of the coin fits me perfectly, as I’ve never done a project to my satisfaction. In fact, I learned *very* early that projects were my kryptonite (back in grade school) and avoided them where I could, and faked it when I couldn’t avoid them. School projects *always* brought my grades down.

    4. High Energy Level.

    You talked about how we can keep going for long hours on stuff that truly interests us. Certainly true for me: I’ve been on the receiving end of accolades at work during times of crisis because of this ability too. Funny though how if it’s repetitive and boring, we often “check out” long before we’re done.   The activity becomes a kind of hell.  Admin stuff – not our forté.

    5. Highly Creative.

    Really liked what you had to say about our natural ability to enjoy a kalaedoscope of ideas and thoughts that completely break the bounds of linear thinking. It’s almost impossible to conform to the latter, isn’t it? I notice that my daughter (who exhibits the same characteristics as me, but hasn’t yet been diagnosed as having ADD) and I can have such amazing conversations, yet we appear to be chaotic and maybe a little mad to others who try to join in. (“What? How did you get to that topic? We never started there”) :)

    6. Quick Learner.

    Yes! As you said: but only if it’s something that interests us. The downside: if something isn’t immediately applicable, it becomes almost impossible for us to learn, or stay with the class.  Such a major obstacle on so many levels.

    7. Stimulus Seeking Brain.

    Oh absolutely. I recall, during my testing for ADHD, being distracted by a bird on a windowsill, and the contents of a computer screen – and commenting on both, at different times.  The person doing the examination immediately realized what was going on, and so she shut the window blind, and turned the computer off. A wise decision.

    8. Constantly Scanning your Environment.

    I really liked what you had to say about this, Jim. The fact that our constant scanning allows us to see problems before they come up. There’s a corollary to this:  I think that often, because we’re able to see all sides of a conflict easily, we’re able to see the common ground and actual issues a little more clearly – it seems so obvious to us.  And so we can quickly come up with a resolution all can live with – even if it’s not the ideal for anyone.

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    #112600
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    JimC.
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    Post count: 165

    Time to confess: I’m no genius, and can’t take any thanks for compliments; I simply cut and pasted the ten IT things from my ADD coach’s blog page. I seem to have a good skill-set for remembering where to get reference material, one of my coping strategies I guess, if that explains it at all, probably due to the fact that I do relate so well to this specific example page (IT 10 things).

    You may all throw rotten tomatoes now.

    One thing though that isn’t said, if you do find a job like this, and in a small company, you become THE expert and don’t get challenged often, as you are the one in charge of that specific job. Reminds me of the old Eagles line….”looking for a lover that won’t blow my cover”. 🙄

    Jim

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    #112601
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    Scattybird
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    Post count: 1096

    Hey JimC – sounds like you’ve found yourself a good coach. That’s great. This is what it’s all about, sharing info.

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    #112602
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    wolfshades
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    Post count: 211

    Hey Jim – no problem. :) I do have to ask though: what are you thoughts on the multitasking section (#2)?

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    #112603
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    JimC.
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    Post count: 165

    @wolfshades. I suck at multitasking, although I fall victim to thinking I can do it well. It’s now fairly well proven that no-one, including genius level MIT students and more, can do it well. It is now accepted that if you focus on 1 thing at a time, you will do a far better job than those that think they can do better by multitasking.

    I can’t find that TV special but here’s an article from today that verifies it: http://chronicle.com/article/Scholars-Turn-Their-Attention/63746/

    Bottom line is everyone’s different – with or without ADD, with different strengths and weaknesses. to ad to the flames, think of the kids now with heads down wandering into traffic while texting and listening to iTunes cranked. *THUD* <–sound of car striking a body. If that’s not attention misappropriated, I don’t know what is. Maybe now we even have an advantage?

    What was the question again?

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    #112604
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    kc5jck
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    Post count: 846

    I do what might be termed as “distracti-tasking.”

    I work on something, usually in crisis mode, until I get distracted by something else that needs to be done, sort of in a random round robin way with several other tasks until something finally gets finished, or at least close to being so. Then I’ll get some tea, chocolate, or mess around on the internet and try to justify to myself waiting until the next day to get back into the loop. There’s always tomorrow.

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    #112605
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    wolfshades
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    Post count: 211

    Thanks to you both, Jim and kc5jck. Kc5jck: that’s pretty much my experience too. Usually I’ll have about four or five (or more) all *necessary* things to do, and because of ongoing problems with distraction, they go from important to urgent, and I’m left flying around trying to tackle them all with appropriately equal intensity. It’s hilarious only in retrospect.

    Jim: I agree with you on the multi-tasking thing. I’ve only met one person in my life who could effectively multi-task and she didn’t have ADHD (nor did she ever exhibit signs of it). My ex-wife could read the paper, watch TV (I knew this because she’d complain loudly if I tried to change the channel), talk on the phone and pay attention to what the kids were doing. It amazed me. Of course I had to divorce her – wasn’t going to put up with that. ;)

    Distracted behaviour is certainly a hallmark of our generation, I think – which is why it’s so frustrating when someone interprets our information-age obsessed behaviour as proof that “everyone has ADHD”. Lack of focus has many root causes, of which ADHD is only one. The difference: it’s not ADHD when someone has the ability to actually focus when they deliberately decide to. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to make that same decision – all my life – only to fail so often that it became a little depressing. What a relief it was to discover there was a scientific reason for it, beyond my immediate ability to control.

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    #112606
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    agnoscet
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    Post count: 40

    Wolf, Jim, kc… I can relate to all y’all. I’m in IT as a senior analyst, and thankfully, not a supervisor. I feel fortunate to make it to work with shoes. I’m HD-ADHD, high def, and to top it off, I’m an Aspie. So generally, there’s a train wreck/three ring circus going on in my head, but being Aspie, I don’t care. I support the economy through late fees!

    I must have had 30 jobs over my life, but the last three lasted years, and I left because of boredom. Yah, I was married three times, but the last one was for 22 years, and she only left me because of leukemia.

    I fret over my four kids, because they all have a good share of the clutter and affection for the bright and shiny that I passed along to them, but if it weren’t for we dreamers, this planet would be a dreary old place.

    I’ll suffer through the lost car keys and late fees, just to have the opportunity to have explored the edge of what is possible. I have no regrets, and I can’t change it anyhow. Grab the laces and pull on the boots! Oh, and make sure you remember to put your pants on before you leave the house. Oh, and don’t forget the keys. Got your cell phone? Stove off? Car got fuel? Aaargh.

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    #120674
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    champster
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    Post count: 2

    I agree with JimC.s’s list.

    I went from drafting to machine design; machinist; Machine builder; Die Maker; machine controls designer.

    Back to Special Machine design as a CAD operator.  (This is where I did most of my Computer fixing)

    I left all of them due to boredom.

     

    Then, as I felt our design group was going to dissolve, I switched over to IT.

    I have been doing it for 18 years now and am always stimulated.

    My biggest problem with it is that now I am the IT Manager. paperwork ;-(

    In the back of my mind, I said to myself, “Can’t you hire a clerical person to be manager, and I can be senior IT Guy?”

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    #120735
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    Galadriel724
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    Post count: 48

    I am working in a job that challenges and frustrates me but is still the best one I have ever had- so worth the aggravation. Most of the aggravation is with the stuff that everyone hates about the US public mental health system and lack of resources. I suffer from the same issues with having patients that need more help than I can give all 91 of them.
    As a psych nurse I think I have found a gig that uses my ADHD as a benefit and lets my quirks go under the radar some.
    I work in the community doing direct care on an ACT team. Since my patients are the homeless, constantly getting arrested, hospitalized, usually strung out on drugs population that no one has figured out how to deal with yet, everything I do right is a big deal.
    I can do home visits in the morning as long as I am in the clinic by 10am for the meeting. On days that I can’t stand being at my desk, I ask the program assistant to reschedule my appointments that have to be in clinic (just labs have to be there), and then he calls my patients and tells them to stay home. I go and do their injections and assessments at home, with my car stereo blasting the whole time. If I can work fast, I get home early. Of course, I am endlessly trying to catch upon documentation, but I have my laptop that they gave me and can wait until the times my brain kicks in and do the work at my brilliant moments. I am the only nurse on the team, so no one looks over my shoulder. I am known to get stuff done. Meaning if someone needs something, I have worked in enough places to know who to talk to and what to say. And I use cigarettes as a “creative motivator” aka bribe, among other things.
    One big thing is the assistant. The other teams don’t have one. It is something that every person with ADHD could use. Lets me think about the stuff that really matters, and not stress about who needs what and when.
    Problem is, to get a job like mine you have to have experience- I have been a nurse since 1998.A lot of people with ADHD have trouble finding and engaging in a career for that long, so many are stuck in positions where they have no autonomy.

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    #120738
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    ADDled
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    Post count: 121

    The thing to be aware of when deciding about a career choice is the possibility of deluding yourself  into thinking you can succeed at doing anything if you are on meds, have a coach or counselling or are willing to work hard. I also know there are ADHDers who can succeed.

    I thought I could do that, but the thing to also remember is that whatever comes easier to most people can be difficult for people with ADHD. Because our brains work harder than “neuro-norms” there is remains a real possibility to burn out. When you really need to apply yourself in a stressful situation at work, you may not have the cerebral reserve or horsepower (as I call it) to get through when everyone else makes it look relatively easy.

    Speaking from personal experience, I tried to adapt at working in a career that was intrinsically not compatible with my brain style, but I really believed I could makes those changes to succeed. Meds, counselling, coaching, strategies and work arounds. Then I hit a mental and emotional brick wall. I just didn’t care anymore about my job. And I didn’t care if I was fired. The company was fully aware of my ADHD and some accommodations we made. Even that couldn’t help. I dreaded going into work each day and then all that angst started spilling into my personal life. If my anxiety about work stops me from going to sleep, the depression wouldn’t let me get out of bed.

    So think real hard about whether you can make the emotional investment before choosing a career.

    Hope this helps….

     

     

     

     

     

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    #120748
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    seabassd
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    Post count: 119

    @ADDled, I think you bring up a good point. I don’t doubt that untreated ADHD may limit career possibilities or career advancement however not being reasonable about expectations could set us up for failure. Not that failure is a horrible thing if we learn from it. We don’t want to be so timid that we don’t take any career risks. I wonder if we attach too much of our identity to our occupations. It’s like saying to ourselves whenever I become a doctor, lawyer, designer then I’ll be happy and people will accept me but if I don’t get that then I’ll be miserable and undeserving of acceptance and my place on earth. What do you think?

    Thanks,

    Damon

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    #120756
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    Galadriel724
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    Post count: 48

    I agree on the burnout thing. You can only try so much for so long before it is just too much, even if you love the job. I am trying to balance that now. I hope that I can. The position that I have has been vacated by everyone who has worked in it because of burnout, as has every position on the team. It is demanding on the best of days. It seems that the neurotypicals actually last less time. Guessing that it’s because the level of crazy that you need to deal with the level of crazy and frenzied nature of the whole thing is foreign to most people and freaks them out. I am used to never knowing what’s around the corner, so have done pretty well.
    I think that in every job there has to be a point where you figure out how to manage it and have some routines in place. So that every minute isn’t an uphill battle. Some of us may find that the fact that we have to be creative to find ways to get anything done can help us problem solve that extra bit in certain situations.
    Unfortunately we learn to use these methods to adapt by trial and error, mostly error. You can’t mess up over and over in a job and expect to keep it though.
    I think that if we all could change jobs and not have it be a problem (it is, when you have a resume that is 10 pages long) we could figure stuff out better.
    It is rare to find a career that allows lots of job changes without penalty though.
    I think that must be why we seem, as a group, to be stuck at the bottom rung and lowest pay more often than not.
    I am in a stage with my job where I need to figure out some new systems to cope with upkeep and tracking of recurring tasks before I burn out. It may just be a hump I need to get over, or it might be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
    I have an appt with a new MD (I moved and it’s time to switch) and am thinking about strattera, if it is appropriate for me. I can’t count on it helping though, without some extra time brainstorming. On my own time of course, to the detriment of the rest of my life.
    It is frustrating. This is the job that I feel has been the best fit out of all the ones I’ve had, and the level of effort I put in is still much greater than most people do….

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    #120764
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    ADDled
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    Post count: 121

    I agree that taking risks are a necessary part of career success, but there may be consequences if this backfires. Success has a thousand fathers, but failure is an orphan.

    Drive is not enough. There has to be a supportive environment to encourage taking risks. But it seems it’s risk avoidance rather than risk taking where I work. Budgets are too tight and deadlines too short to  impact any of these because something didn’t work out.

    When I see neuro-normals struggling with this, what it going to be like for someone with ADHD?

    I’ve learned a long time ago not identify with my occupation. And I think that is causing problems for me now because I refuse to drink the corporate Kool-Aid. My managers detect this. I’m sorry, but being a loyal, dedicated employee hasn’t paid-off  for me. Rather, I identify with who I am and my hobbies and all other aspects of my personal life: that gives me a better self-worth than work has ever done. This is where I can take risks. Knowing that I can safely fail becomes another learning experience without the fear being judged. Self-awareness is the approach to everything I do now.

    Hope this helps…

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    #120765
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    Wgreen
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    Post count: 445

    I’m not sure a caste system is an appropriate metaphor. As some people have already noted, everybody has certain talents and certain challenges, “neurotypicals” included. If you’re not good at science, there’s little chance you’ll make it as an astronaut or doctor. If you’re not athletic or tall, it’s probably a waste of your time to try to make it as a professional basketball player. We are all limited in one way or another in that each of us—ADD or not—inevitably will lack some talents and attributes others have.

    Forum members have sharp differences of opinion over the “gifts” of being ADD. But that’s not really the issue here. If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us have some notion of where our own strengths and weaknesses lie. It makes sense that we should try to leverage the former and avoid or mitigate the latter. That’s not relegating ourselves to a caste system, it’s simply employing a strategy to stack the deck in our favor. After all, it’s competitive out there. If others try to pigeonhole us, well, there’s nothing we can do about that—just know that ADDers aren’t alone in that regard. The tendency to pigeonhole is part of human nature. One day you’ll probably be discriminated against because of your age. Trust me, I know.

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