Let me tell you about ADHD/ADD.

First of all, it is separate from intelligence. There is no relationship between the two. Second, it is a real syndrome with various viewpoints as to cause, significance and treatment.

One school of thought argues that ADHD is a natural and evolutionarily-advantageous trait that helps to see possibilities in the environment like quickly spotting dangers and seeing new opportunity. In a hunter/gatherer culture, this trait would be very beneficial. In today's structured school and work environment, this trait is often considered unnecessary and unneeded. I tend to follow this line of thinking. There are doubters. Some say that it is a construct of parents, school officials and psychiatrists to medicate and control "problem kids." These are kids that for whatever reason, do not fit into the expected structure. There probably is an over-diagnosis of ADHD in some cases, but that doesn't mean it isn't real.

I have ADHD. My elementary school teachers all said as much and I was eventually diagnosed by a psychologist. I wasn't hyperactive in the "can't sit still" sense, but my mind wandered all over the place. I have the "inattentive" variation of ADHD. As I have described it to others, it is like my mind conceives of a giant matrix that shows me multiple outcomes of different actions. I tend to want to try them all. As a kid, I was easily distracted by all the shiny things along my path. Paradoxically, I could hyper focus on a few select things that caught my attention-to the detriment of the things parents/teachers wanted me to do. I could be impulsive and chuck it all if I wanted to start something new. Unfinished projects abounded. I tested sky-high in aptitude and intelligence, but everyone was puzzled by all the careless mistakes and lack of focus they saw in me. I was the eager Labrador Retriever following everything that moved.

I don't really think CSA caused ADHD in my case, but I do think it can unmask it by removing adaptive behaviors. In my case, I was angry and moody after what happened to me. I just couldn't make myself focus. My teachers didn't really notice much, because I was at a new school. My parents noticed. They all thought it was because of the big cross country move. They as much as said that's what it was and I didn't do anything to correct them. I felt relieved that the move was a convenient cover for what really happened. I had anxiety and ADHD from the move. FIne, let's go with that.

I took Ritalin several times a day during school. I made the trip along with other Ritalin kids to the school nurse for our meds. It made me more focused for sure. I was amazed at the clarity of thought. I also was briefly prescribed Elavil for anxiety (from the move, you know).The Ritalin made, um...things shrink...like a swim in cold water if you know what I mean. The Elavil was far worse. It made my teenage libido disappear. Completely. But, I was calm and focused in the new school. So calm, the other kids called me McCool---seriously. Off Ritalin I was so angry, I was willing to scrap with anyone who crossed me. So, was this right to be a drug zombie...maybe for the short time I was on the Elavil. I stopped the Elavil, but continued with the Ritalin. I took it only on weekdays and stopped during school breaks. There was a difference. I didn't take it when I was camping, or doing stuff outdoors--because ADHD is helpful in the wilderness.

So....up to today...I stopped the Ritalin entirely after college. I did fine through my first job and grad school...and even until recently when I took a new job with a lot more responsibility...and the need to juggle multiple projects at once while keeping political appearances up. The reawakening of the CSA also helped to spotlight the ADHD once again. Seeing my T for CSA let her to question my ADHD history. She saw signs during our first couple of visits. I scored way, way up there in the DSM-IV evaluations for ADHD. She started me on Adderall. I have to say, I feel much, much more capable of focus at work. I can get things done faster---and don't have to build in time to account for ADHD. It has also helped get a handle on CSA better than I would have otherwise.

My final thoughts....ADHD is real. I have it. It can be valuable and it can be a liability. Learning to manage it with or without meds is key to getting more done.
I have a philosophical question of medicating away a natural trait, but in reality it helped keep things from getting any worse. It was a tradeoff-and one I can take.

I've got this life
And the will to show
I will always be
Better than before