People ask me sometimes what it feels like to have ADD. It was very difficult for me to explain it clearly; it's not really something that can be described in simple terms.

However, I did wake up late on Thursday and I forgot to take my Strattera. It is one thing to go off the meds on a lazy Saturday; it is QUITE another to be placed in a stressful work situation and expect the same results I'd have WITH my Strattera.

On the plus side, I did finally think of an analogy to explain what ADD feels like. I thought of it when I was supposed to be grading papers.

I wear contacts, because my glasses are embarrassingly thick. Well, and also because of the nearsightedness. Without my contacts, things look like this:

Though I have a general idea of what I'm looking at, everything has a halo; the edges are blurred, and nothing is distinct or specific. If I squint, or if I stare long enough, or if I pull answers out of my butt, I could probably give a halfway decent description of the object. It might be technically correct, but it's either going to take me a very long time to get at it, or it's going to be imperfect at best.

BUT! When I am wearing my contacts, images look like this:

Everything is crisp, the edges are distinct, and I don't have to rely on any "parlor tricks" to describe the object. My eyes aren't tired, I don't have a headache, and I'm not frustrated by biological misfirings that I can't control anyway. (Plus, Lulu is cute, isn't she?)

That's close to how I felt Thursday. I knew what I was supposed to be doing, and I was--with herculean effort and a LOT of caffeine--able to do my job. But it wasn't the same caliber of work that I'm used to doing, and I felt like I was failing my students because of my own inability to function properly. That, in turn, frustrated me, and also I got a giant headache from the massive amount of ACTUAL PHYSICAL EFFORT it took to focus on a single task.

I felt as though my head had expanded, and that there were a million little ideas swarming around it like so many mosquitoes. It was too hard to choose one out of the horde, and so I didn't choose any. I just shut down, mentally, in protest.

I gave my kids an assignment they could work on without me, and then I sat at my desk and put my hands around my head, like it was broken into pieces and I was trying to hold them together in some semblance of its proper shape. It was such a weird way to feel.

But I got to thinking, as I tried not to let my skull fall apart, how in the WORLD did I teach for FIVE YEARS? I couldn't have accomplished much, and my poor kids couldn't have learned much. I was basically just keeping my head above water; I managed not to drown, but I sure wasn't able to swim to shore and get out of the ocean.

Fortunately, I was able to go home during my planning period and take my Strattera. Unfortunately, my planning period fell at the end of the day, AFTER all of my classes. Still, I had to get through parent-teacher conferences, and I'm sure glad I got the drugs, because I had one million twenty-five four ZERO parents show up.

BUT! I did grade those papers!

1 comment:

Jenn said...

Oh man, I am so sorry that you had to feel like that.

You had NO parents show up! I have my first parent/teacher meeting in a few weeks. I'm soooo nervous about it. I already know that my DD is at the top of her class but hey, it IS Kindergarten :-) What if Mrs. C tells me something that makes me say "Blessed Pudding" ;-)


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