ADHD is contagious.
I know there is not a medical or psychological expert in the world who will agree with me on this, but if you live with a person with this way of being in the world for any amount of time (I come from a 20 years perspective, and I got at least two in the house at any one time) you will find yourself becoming scattered and easily distractible. This is not an entirely bad thing. The ability to get off the beaten path and follow winding trains of thought allows you to end up in marvelous destinations that there are no guidebooks for. However, you must develop an advanced, supercharged tolerance for chaos.
All you folks out there with kids on Ritalin, Concerta and Adderall, clip this and file it in a time capsule and give it to the person your child marries. I have just saved your child and their future spouse about 5 years of marriage therapy.
No amount of screaming, rewarding, investing in Container Store Solutions, Franklin Planner workshops or Personal Organizer services will grow an Executive Function in a brain. But do remember that, as the close proximity to someone who sees the world through scattershot lenses slowly begins to erode your own internal compass and sense of organization, people with ADHD make wonderful dinner guests, amusing companions if you don’t have a productivity agenda, and fabulous artists.
I have discovered all this the hard way. I no longer need to actually meet a person to know if they have the unmistakeable signs of this way of perceiving our world—just as Obsessive Compulsive Hoarding is evident by the piles it leaves, ADHD has a distinctive signature in Interior Decorating—which is how I know I have, after 20 years of exposure, caught it. When the piles and accumulations of fascinating flotsam lose their rhyme or reason, when I , the steel trap schedule maker, can no longer even recall with photographic memory, what was ON the schedule, then I know. I have caught this chaotic, unsorted way of chasing down ephemera. I am part of the club. Unfortunately, if you catch it this way, the pills will not help. The only thing that can help is to hire domestic staff. Outsource the organized brain. Of course, timely application of domestic assistance could have contained the contagion to begin with. I mean, there have been these type of people long before it was labeled—back when I was growing up, disorganized folks had stay at home moms and grew up to have secretaries.
I am trying to get myself help—I posted this ad over on campus:
Artist mom with brutal day gig needs organized domestic assistant. Duties can include supervising a baking or art project with the kids, reminding children ad nauseum to pick that up and put it back, walking a dog, organizing the linen closet, search and recovery mission for a lost library book. NOT a childcare gig—children are very clear they are TOO OLD for a babysitter. NOT a housekeeper gig—we have a cleaning lady. Must like kids, animals and be comfortable with a certain amount of chaos (two people in the family are ADHD) Ability to devise rudimentary file system a huge plus. Sense of humor ESSENTIAL. Driver’s license preferred. Dad works at home but is clueless on the domestic front. Really flexible schedule—5 to 10 hours a week.
Salary commensurate with the amount of my sanity preserved.