Saturday, September 16, 2017

Temporal Myopia

Since being diagnosed with Adult Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) 10 years ago, in 2007, I have read a boat load of articles on the topic. The views from Neuroscience, neuropsychology, psychiatry, cognitive science, pharmacology and psychology all have valid points to make. There are even quasi scientific hypotheses that have good points to make too. A favorite is the hunter vs farmer theory. Especially nice about that one is that it down plays the 'disorder' part of the usual descriptors. There is no attention deficit to it really. It's too much attention if anything. Focus is the issue. 

The mainstream industry classifications recognizes 3 kinds of ADHD. 
Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation (ADHD-HI), Predominantly Inattentive Presentation (ADHD-PI), and Combined Presentation  (ADHD-C). I have ADHD-PI, many just use the old term ADD to label this type. Another one has 7 variations. Sometimes it's on a spectrum with genius at one end and asperger's at the other. OCD is also common in some of us. Perhaps somewhere deep in the literature is a description of  the actual processes and how they differ. Problem is; after 9 or 13 minutes I'm done with reading. My mind wanders and I get frustrated having to re read the same passages over and over. 

Internet groups have let me in on what some other people experience. Some are super smart folks that have managed to leverage their cognitive uniqueness into exceeding expectations. Many have long histories of trying fitting in as square pegs in a world of round holes. They and the other people in their lives experience much sadness and frustration. Addiction, craving neurotransmitters is also too common among adults with ADHD. For some reason I was spared that. Too much drink or drugs and I get bored or it makes for an unpleasant confusion. Not that I didn't spend a number of years in one kind of stupor or another. Unlike some who hit bottom, with all that entails, I simply got tired of it and rarely do it now. I don't know how it breaks down compared to the rest of the world but the percent of high IQs appears similar, perhaps a bit higher than the norm. 
I am in the high IQ part of the demographic is my guess. It is hard to say. By our nature we ADHDers are forced to figure our way around things other people take for granted. Workarounds and creative problem solving are a way of life for us. Often we end up with much more facility with creative problem solving than other people generally. It could be intelligence or just practice. Easy to think outside the box when the box is just another of the hundred concepts passing through. 

My understanding of what all of this means to me has been stalled. Why my life has turned out so differently than other people's have? Why was it I didn't finish school? Why did I never have children? I love children, I did great the time I worked for the YMCA. Now that I think about it; deep down I knew something was up. I just didn't know what. 

I have sometimes, over the years, loved women deeply and passionately. Just never someone I was dating at the time. Why have I never had a deep relationship or cohabitated? I eat and sleep and have emotions. Some people respect me for my intelligence. I made my living for 30 years by my wits. The work was often meaningful or stimulating in other ways. Not a lot of money or that kind of success, but that's never been very important to me. Why was that never a big goal?  Part of it is philosophical by way of reason and a nurturant nature. Some is my spiritual calling. Part of it is luck of the draw outcomes of actions I have taken or didn't. Previous posts indicate some of the role obesity has had. How does this whole ADD thing figure in? Before I was diagnosed I was always about some project or other. The sense of purpose that it lends to life and days. Not the even 10% of projects get completed before I lose focus and move on. A friend helped me start a bathroom renovation in 2001. In 2014 I got started on phase 2. One sections still doesn't have cabinet doors. I'm much better about projects I get paid for. Women aren't projects or problems to be solved. 

My approach has always been that your life partner should be your best friend so I have had women best friends that never become lovers or any of that. Or vice versa. Sometimes I or she didn't feel it, sometimes it is like there is a taboo about making that transition. But there have been what seems like a hundred variations on rejection and misunderstanding. Too many to list here. One thing is that as I get older things I sense become more intense. Music becomes an earworm much easier. Pretty much all stimuli echoes through me like an earworm. Women are such a full mind•body•spirit experience even before romantic touch happens it can be intimidating. To mitigate you turn off some senses, then the experience is not genuine and that has problems to it. 

In 1983 I went to massage school. It was a kind of calling to do the good that can be done with that form of communication. A have a drive to distribute my dna like every male of every species. The pleasure and relief of sex acts is also compelling but more often than not left me longing for a deeper connection. I had hoped to learn from massage the pieces of the puzzle that that were missing from my ability to connect and be intimate with women that I was attracted to. What I did learn was a world of joy and satisfaction from non-sexual intimacy. However in the end the work I loved burned me out because the moral and ethical boundaries that made the work possible only drove me further from the intimacy I craved.  

Add a kind of social blindness to what is described below. I have a few solid platonic besties men and women. That is all I had for many years. The attitude towards me of some people who have known me for decades remains a mystery. For some people “strict father framing” is written into their dna so a person who is different, nonconformist by choice or disposition, is reviled for wanting respect or even sympathy. So maybe it is them. I'm nice. 

I have friends that tell me about sex that they enjoy. Role playing I guess is the general term. Dressing up and pretending to be fictional or playing with fear and control like in the 50 shades book. Only in that book I am told that the women is really in control, they have safe word and all of that but the woman in control is just one variation. I don't know, I have never liked being controlled or controlling others. I know that on the regular 'not role playing' level women and men find excitement in giving each other the business to heighten anticipation. Cheating in marriage is a way get a buzz from control issues more than disloyalty or any of that, sometimes. This is all so foreign to me. I used to think it was because of my lack of the sex frequency that makes other people look for adventures in sex. The other day I stumbled onto another thing that relates back to ADD. In a mini rant on facebook that other day I posted this "It turns out that what I call my 'cognitive uniqueness' is a neurological predisposition that makes me more immune to binary thinking and opinion holding than is average. Momentary passions notwithstanding I find both of those things to be a crooked path to understanding.  . . Always being in observer mode has it's downsides. Like when strong action is required, women need to be cajoled or accentuation of conflict is required for making a story interesting, setting up a joke or going viral on social media. . ." 30 years ago I adopted the habit of foregoing opinions whenever possible because that are an intellectual dead end. More often than not. (this book). Turns out that it was more about giving in to my true nature. Failing to present myself in a compelling way to women was/is about me just assuming that they can see and feel what I feel. As I indicated earlier sensory input, natural drives and intuition can be overwhelming. Mystified when they do not see/feel it too. More than the corny old joke: "Women need a reason to have sex, Men just need a place . .". I still feel that a romance should somehow develop on it's own. It shouldn't need to be an expressed opinion that true affection is called for as much as sexual gratification. I am clearly wrong about that. The next paragraphs go into the in-the-moment processes I need to work around to make it happen. 

I caught a break last June when I stumbled onto this video. Russell Barkley, Ph.D., has written over a dozen books and more than 150 scientific articles related to the nature, assessment, and treatment of ADHD. 

I agree with some of what he is saying. It's a blind spot I never knew I had. I'm still working on understanding the outline of what it is in my instance. 
He is also thinking about it in a linear way when it is not only a spectrum but happens in a 3D space. He speaks in absolutes when everything I have seen or heard indicates that each case of ADHD is unique, especially as we age.

What a revelation this has been for me. Like the physiological blind spot, punctum caecum, where the optic nerve passes through the retina. If you don't know to look for it, it's still always there, you just never knew it was there till someone told you. I know I have read about this aspect someplace but the metaphor he uses makes all the difference. 

Side note: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - inattentive type (ADHD-IT) is the official name my type of cognitive uniqueness. The naming of this condition come from the mental heath bible called DSM-5. This product was originally developed in the 50s so that psychologists and psychiatrists could have a common standard for billing insurance. The main complaint is that it is used for more than just billing codes, it's based on symptoms, not causes. Everything in it is by default a disorder or malady.    Anyway those descriptors for what is going on with me fall short. They are imprecise and create unnecessary negative biases. Jessica McCabe that does these videos is kind of what you think of when you think of ADHD. She's hyper, but is getting some good info out there. So I choose to use ADD because it's easier to say and type. Also if you had ever met me, hyper is not a way you'd describe me. I actually prefer Cognitive Uniqueness as a way to describe it. This leaves open many possibilities and glosses over the 'disorder' aspect. Unfortunately it leads to having to explain. I ain't gots time for that mr mundane brain person. 
Intuition: What I learned a few months earlier about how intuition works flicked on the light bulb over my head. The movie this trailer is about was a revelation. It explains so much, in non-new age terms, about why my approach to doing massage was so successful for so many years. I trusted my intuition, which wasn't plugged into the big kahuna brain of the universe. Well, not on all levels anyway. I was using all that my brain had collected without passing through what we call in hypnotism 'the critical mind'. The time blindness concept explains why I had been drawn to massage and other occupations that could be done intuitively in-the-moment rather than through another process. Once I had used the various functions of graphics software enough times that I didn't have to think about what to do next I was off to the races with that 10 year career. This also probably explains why having a project to work on has always been so central to me. It is a way to add focus before I knew about the medication. Adderall doesn't add a sense of purpose so projects remain crucial. 

The process of discovery of just what this ADD thing is and how it relates to me has been a long slow process. Every new revelation extrapolates back through my personal history resetting my image of who I am. The latest batch of enlightenment has been great and also quite terrible. What Barkley was talking about has to do with living in the moment but also planning the next moment. Most people do this seamlessly. For some of us the short term memory that makes it possible to plan that next minute just doesn't get there on time. I love making plans and keeping them. 

There is another aspect of ADD called hyperfocus where you fixate on something digging more and more data out. In the Hunter vs Farmer model the reason for that it is helpful when stalking or running down prey. Or in the case of gatherers; scanning the horizon for edible plants and zeroing in. 

I struggled to memorize lines for a plays I was cast in in high school. Just like most kids. These days I am lucky to remember anything verbatim, even if I work at it. This explains why I did so much study and took all those classes then never did do much with hypnosis. If you have to you can read the suggestions off of paper once the subject is in trance but before that you have to be confident and can't stumble trying to remember what comes next. The short term future blindness Dr. Barkley talked about. I did do a hypnosis stage show and hope to again if physical therapy works out. The part where I do the induction on the volunteers just killed me. At least I now know why and can figure out a workaround.  I suppose when I started to have an interest in hypnosis when I was 12 or so it was me trying to figure out my own brain. 
I've been going to comedy open mics for a couple of years and getting mixed and unsatisfactory results. A couple of months ago I let go of the idea of memorized bits and just say what comes to mind. Results have been good overall. My mood is a limiting factor so as soon as I can figure out this 'how to proceed with my life business' in the next post, and my new doctors prescribe the ADD medication again, consistency can return.

The terrible part has to do with what got me to where I am today. It's lame to blame a cognitive brain condition for my troubles. It sounds too much like an excuse. I have always lived by my wits like I said. "If I only knew then what I know now" echos through my mind a lot lately. But I didn't know then. When I was a kid they had Ritalin I guess, but corporal punishment was more the standard approach at the time. Techniques to finesse your brain into a place where executive functions come at the right place hadn't been developed. They are not all that advanced now. But now that I know that workarounds are needed I can let my subconscious and intuition know so they can get to work on it.

There are other things about my existence that can be traced back or along sideways to this topic but that is enough for now. All this focusing has me worn out.  


Another ADHD blogger 
Why I don't stress too much about not being a reader of books
A visual representation (infographic) of what it's like.