I think I might have ADD, but I’m not sure. There’s a test, but I haven’t been able to sit still long enough to take it.
But seriously folks, I have often wondered if I have ADD. I have done a few online tests and they point in that direction. I have a hard time taking in new information and organizing it. I have always struggled academically. I have to use a variety of organizing tricks to keep my work from overwhelming me.
I have never attempted to get a formal diagnosis though, and there is a reason: I don’t think a diagnosis would prompt me to do anything differently.
Several years ago Joshua Wolf Shenk wrote Lincoln’s Melancholy about Abraham Lincoln’s mental health. The author theorized that Lincoln’s lifelong struggle with clinical depression actually made him a better thinker and a better president. That resonated with me because I have often thought the same thing about my attention problems (not that I’m comparing myself to Lincoln).
It can be frustrating to have to work so hard to focus, but my lack of focus, and my tendency to start a million things at once and then suddenly get bored with them all, also all at once, and my almost pathological fear of clutter and visual chaos … these factors all combine into a very interesting puzzle that I need to solve daily. Solving the puzzle is a creative process that fuels further creativity and resourcefulness.
I wonder about medication sometimes because I wonder what it would be like to be able to just focus, instead of having to solve a puzzle in order to accomplish anything. But then I wonder what that focus would look like. Would I have the same ideas? Would I still be creative? What if I lost the creative drive that my distractibility forces?
There is an emerging theory that the ADD mind is a hunter mind; that the ability to observe many things at once and to zero in obsessively on imminent threats has great survival value for a hunter. The science is still hazy on this but it’s an interesting idea. For myself I can say that my brain works in such a way that I notice and remember a lot of detail, and this attention to and interest in detail has made me very good at certain types of work and has also been very useful in my writing.
So, even if I do ever muster up the focus to sit through a diagnostic test, and the results indicated ADD, I don’t think I would go for treatment. I like my distractible brain and I’m going to keep it.