chronic disorganization

Why is the percentage of kids diagnosed with ADHD so high in places like America, but almost 0 in places like France?

An important thing to understand about mental illness is that it’s defined in relation to the society in which the patient lives. Some cultures may regard ADHD as a personality trait, and some cultures may recognize the cluster of symptoms as being a distinct “thing”, but due to the way the society is set up it isn’t a “disorder.” For anything to qualify as a mental disorder it has to interfere significantly with your life.

I’m a good example. I sailed through high school and college without trying, earning decent grades just by paying attention to lectures and turning in reasonably good work on time. I was chronically disorganized, but thought of it as a personality trait; my thoughts are structured in a weird way and I make connections between things that others don’t see. I thought I was just weird.

Well, around 30 I entered grad school and went to a counselor because I was extremely stressed and overwhelmed, and wanted to figure out how to cope with that. Also I had some historical shit to work out. But, when I was describing my situation he suggested ADD as a possibility and referred me out for diagnosis. Sure enough, I’ve got ADD-PI, the non-hyperactive type of ADD. Although I can see it everywhere in my life up to now, it was never clearly the cause of my problems earlier on. I was able to brute force my way through school on raw intelligence and an ability to sponge up info from lectures.

That wasn’t enough for my current program, which has us taking 7 classes at once in topics ranging from “Pathology of musculoskeletal disorders” or “Clinical management of cardiopulmonary disorders” to statistical analysis & how to read an academic paper. There was one day when we started the morning learning massage techniques and ended the day with an overview of medications for diabetes. There’s no way in hell a person with undiagnosed ADD can do well without other aspects of their life going to shit.

Now, I mentioned that other societies are set up differently and the cognitive differences exhibited by an ADD-type person might have a place in that society. From what I’ve heard, France doesn’t have the expectation that everyone should get a University degree. Trade schools are an option available some time around or after High School, and are completely socially acceptable. A person with high dexterity, excellent spatial skills, but maybe little patience for things like reading and classroom lectures would be able to find a place early on where they could learn by doing, in a hands-on and active environment. In the US, though, Everyone Must Get A BA Or They’re Doomedtmso anything that stands in the way of that rises to the level of Disorder.

Also, and this is a bit of a random aside, the reason people think ADD is overdiagnosed is that the disorder has a name that sounds descriptive but is totally inaccurate. ADD isn’t a lack of attention, it’s a lack of control over attention; to complicate matters further, it’s also one of those diagnoses that has become a bucket of similar-looking issues with different root causes. Perception of time (specifically “The ability to place oneself on a timeline”), the ability to organize thoughts, the ability to remember that you decided you wanted to do something and then actually do it, any of these can be lacking for a person with ADD. There’s also a tendency towards frustration that can make a student with ADD fail a written exam, but demonstrate complete and utter mastery of the exact same material if you just have a conversation. There’s also difficulty recalling memories specifically, which combined with the poor perception of time makes self-reflection extremely difficult. There also are ADD patients for whom it’s impossible to anticipate the feeling of satisfaction you get from completing a project, which ends up looking like laziness or a lack of motivation; or it results in trying a bunch of things and putting them down when they get difficult or boring. This is only scratching the surface of the working memory deficits that, in any combination, count as ADD.

The cruelest impairment of all is that a lot of the time a person with ADD knows exactly what they’re doing wrong, and exactly what they should do differently, and nevertheless is totally incapable of implementing those changes. You know you need to stick with a schedule, for example, or keep a notebook to write everything down in, but maybe you neglect to enter something in your calendar, forget your notebook somewhere, or you ignore calendar alerts if you’re doing something else at the time (And you’re ALWAYS doing something else).

Anyway, ultimately there’s a good chance that so many people in the US are diagnosed with ADD compared to other countries because American society has begun to expect totally unrealistic levels of performance from everyone. It’s sort of a mis-application of the concept that “all men are created equal.” That simply isn’t true. It should be true under the law and with regard to rights (which I believe is an unspoken bit of context people forget about), but people are born with different strengths and weaknesses. American society, or at least the public & higher educational systems in the US, refuse to see that & truly guide students toward fields they are suited to.


anonymous asked:

I relate a lot to your posts about your brain problems, but you seem to have achieved a lot more than I have. Do you have any advice on how to do that?

Um, sadly part of the answer is that I have an unfair advantage in having an employment skill that lets me get jobs where I can be chronically late and disorganized without getting fired. If you do not have such an employment skill, executive dysfunction sucks significantly more.

Things that help me achieve things:

I partner with people who are good at the task-management side of things. For example, the co-leadership of Stanford EA does things like reserve rooms and apply for funding and maintain our website and send emails. When I notice something is much harder for me than it is for other people, I ask them to do it instead. On the other hand there are things that are easier for me than for other people, and those I do. 

I pay people to do things for me. For example, I find grocery shopping really overwhelming - too many choices, can’t make a grocery list - so I pay a little extra to get them delivered. Then I can remember what I want from the comfort of my own couch and I don’t go hungry whenever I don’t have my brain in line enough to handle it. The extra fee is $3.99 - well worth it. 

When I do find a setup that lets me reliably do stuff, I lean on it really hard, and I tend to stop doing things if they’re requiring too much of mental resources I don’t have. Tumblr is sort of an example of this: for some reason, the format allows me to produce lots of content while experiencing minimal stress or sense of obligation. So I shifted a lot of what I was doing with my time to “writing on tumblr”. That’s arguably less valuable than what I was doing before, but the difference is that I can reliably do it.

In general I think I used to waste a lot of time and energy trying to approximate the person I’d be if I had my shit together instead of figuring out what the best possible life for the person I actually am is. Your best life is probably not desperately approximating what a you without brain problems would be like. Your best life is doing things that work with the needs and abilities of the actual you.

platinumpath  asked:

Is it possible to have ADHD with no signs of it as a child? (The signs become more apparent later in life?)

There have to be some signs of it before the age of 12, but it is common for some symptoms to get written off as something else in childhood, especially if the person is a girl and/or has Inattentive type (if you’re both, well). As we age, life gets more difficult and more demands are placed on our executive functions, so symptoms may become more difficult to manage.

For example, I was diagnosed at age 28, but as a child I was chronically disorganized, my room was always messy (like to the point where nobody else could navigate it because they didn’t know which piles were safe to step on), I lost important things like breathing, I hyperfocused on reading, and I said the wrong thing almost constantly because I would talk before I really thought through what I was saying (and I was “little-kid rude” way past when it was age-appropriate to be so). I did well in school, but that was largely because of the reading thing, and as homework requirements went up so did my difficulties. Those are just a few of the things that indicated it, but it was the 1980′s and Inattentive ADHD wasn’t really well-known yet, and I was a girl in an era where ADHD was considered to be only for boys.

It is also possible to acquire ADHD later in life through a brain injury, and PTSD can have some similar symptoms.


blommowitch  asked:

What do you think a Sri Lankan wizarding school would be like?

apart from chronically disorganized and 5 different meal and tea breaks built into our daily schedule lmao 

hmmm i envision lots of water-based magic, ponds full of magical lotuses and lots of wizards and witches who can transform into aquatic creatures, some witches and wizards have elephants as familiars that they can ride around on or ride, fully armored, into battle, storytelling and music are a vital part of learning, and improvisational, comical, graceful dancing is a must, and whatever you do dont go into the massive underground kitchen when they’re frying those chillis!

touyagirl  asked:

Omg these are great. Can housing a FrankenWolf one?

  • Who’s the messiest one: Ruby, obviously. Victor is also chronically disorganized because he’s a doctor, so their place is basically a disaster area. 
  • Who feels the most uncomfortable about PDA: These two are not exactly shy. They are thinking about making a sex tape on the beach.
  • Who’s the funniest drunk: Likewise, they are convinced that Storybrooke needs some actual entertainment aside from the White Rabbit, which is as closest as you can get to a dive bar. They both enjoy going out and having fun.
  • Who texts the most:  Ruby. She is constantly sending Victor stuff while he’s at work or on call and not all these photos are something that Victor really wants to get caught looking at when he’s supposed to be scrubbing for surgery or something. But because he is Victor Whale, he valiantly overcomes these scruples and does it anyway.
  • Who has the most embarrassing taste in music: Both of them actually like eighties music, so draw.
  • Who reads the most: Victor, just because he has to keep up with medical journals and suchlike. When he’s done, he reads Playboy for the articles.
  • Who’s better with kids: Ruby, although since Victor moonlights as a pediatrician from time to time, he can get by.
  • Who’s the one that fixes things around the house: Nobody. The instant anything breaks, they call Grumpy.
  • Who’s got the weirdest hobby: Between Ruby’s wolf-transforming and Victor’s dead-guy-resurrecting, draw.
  • Who cooks and who cleans up: Ruby cooks (or at least gets food from Granny’s). Cleaning up does not happen.