Friday, March 18, 2011

Let's talk about ADD

From the perspective of a girl with ADD/I. (Inattentive, not hyperactive. Prone to daydreaming, not taking over the show.)

*For the farmers out there: I am not a doctor, these are just my thoughts. (The hunters knew that instinctively and that was good enough for them.) (You’ll get that after you read this post, of course.)

I have ADD. Sometimes I feel the need to explain myself. You know, if somebody gives me that look and I get that feeling that maybe they think I’m a little off.

I’m happy to be content in my own world, doing things my own way. When something inspires me, it’s all I want to do. They say Attention Deficit, but really my attention is only deficient in areas that don’t spark my interest.  But the good news is that I have noticed that as I get older, I’m interested in a LOT more than I used to be. Maybe line upon line?

I have ADD and I have kids with ADD. One time my pediatrician gave me the parable of the farmer vs. the hunter. I will relay it to you here in my own words:

Long ago, there were two ways a man could provide food for his family.

One way was to become a farmer. A farmer takes pride in his crop. He knows what seeds he will plant and plans ahead for the next year. He prepares his soil. He readies his fields. On the right day, he starts sowing and his seeds are set in long, straight lines. He works with intent and follows his plan closely as he waters his crop every day. Watching the crop grow and stretch toward the sun is satisfying and rewarding and he finds beauty in the harvest of his symmetrical creation.

The other way a man can provide food for his family is to become a hunter. When a hunter is ready, he makes his way to the woods and acts on instinct. There is no exact routine to follow, so he takes his cues from the things he sees and feels around him. He uses his senses and his intuition. He understands the way the animals move and what drives them. He watches for their tracks and finds food and water sources. He knows when he is getting closer and the exhilaration of all things coming together feels right. The reward of meat to feed his family is satisfying and his love and appreciation for nature move him.

Both are right. Neither is wrong.

Perhaps a farmer would get frustrated not to have a plan. It might make him uncomfortable. Maybe he would worry that if he hasn’t planned ahead then he isn’t being responsible and if there isn’t a plan, then how can his family rely on him to provide? It would cause anxiety and be unsettling to live life on a whim.

Most likely a hunter would feel weighed down by a sense of monotony at having to abide by the strict guidelines of the farmer’s life. There would be an underlying restlessness because he is not relying on his instinct. There is nothing to inspire his spirit in straight lines and no surprises. Watering the same plot of land every day with nothing varying might feel oppressive and unnatural.

I tell my children that there is nothing wrong with them. Their brains are perfect. They are smart. They are just trying to fit into something that doesn’t come naturally to them. They are hunters living in a farmer’s society.

It can be harsh and depressing. It can make you wonder what is wrong with you—everyone else seems content and thriving. So why does it feel so incredibly difficult to adhere to a strict schedule of school and learning, a place where rules and regulations take precedence over inspiration and intuition? Because it is not natural for everyone to live like that.

Sometimes, while living in a farmer’s society, I behave like a hunter. When I get that look I want to say, “Hey, I’m a hunter, okay?” But instead I say apologetically, “I have ADD.”

Since starting my blog way back when, I have been open about my experience with ADD. In the past couple years I have had a surprising amount of people email/call/comment/etc to ask me questions about it and see if they can help themselves or understand someone they love a little better. I have a lot to say about it! So as requested, here is the first of a series of posts from my perspective. Every body is different, so my experience won’t be everyone’s experience, but I guess it’s my attempt to kick the stereotypes of ADD out the door and help the good peeps be a little more understanding of those of us that endure its daily battles. If you have any specific questions that you would like to hear my perspective on, feel free to leave them in the comments or email me—I’d be happy to oblige.



b_maria_why said...

aren't we all distracted? i mean, not to downplay ADD, not at all, but...i mean, LOOK at the world. we're all just bonkers, but yet we want to judge conditions like ADD or autism? it seems a little hypocritical to me.

brittany said...

you are so right. bonkers is the perfect word:)

katie.johnson said...

i love reading your blog! My fiance served his mission in your area a few years ago (you may know him as Elder Ashby (served in 2006-2008)), and he encouraged me to follow your blog once he realized i had my own, several months ago. I have been so inspired! You are an incredible person, just like he said! thank you for all of your real-life posts. it's refreshing.

Shelley said...

Thank you Britt for this beautiful post! I think you have a wise pediatrician. The farmer/hunter parable really rings true. I have daughters who are farmers and others who are hunters. It is hard for the hunters at school, but I try to do my best at home to let them live as they truly are. I look forward to read what other wisdom you have to share.

Emma Jo said...

I love the analogy. I, like Shelley, have a couple of hunters, and a couple of farmers. It makes it very difficult to have rules that apply to everyone in the house. I would love to know how you adapt rules and expectations on your kids with different needs. You are a wise lady and so very pretty. Please share more!

Reluctant Nomad said...

Thank you for this post. So much. I can't wait for more.

Kara said...

Here is my ONLY problem with this idea. That a farmer can't also feel "a sense of monotony" or "an underlying restlessness", or that a farmer doesn't "take his cues from the things he sees and feels" or like to live on a "whim" sometimes. Likewise that a hunter couldn't feel "accomplishment in planning ahead" or being "responsible". That a routine can't be "satisfying and rewarding".

I know you well enough to know that although you are a hunter, you can find satisfaction and reward and accomplishment while still participating in the "life" of the farmer. And I know myself well enough to know that although I am farmer I can still feel a restlessness and the need to break free from convention more often than I'd like to admit.

So I'm in no way criticizing this post, I in fact love and laughed a lot while reading it while picturing the people we both know and love :) I'm just always of the opinion that we are all more alike than we are different!

Calli said...

I love this, my husband is a hunter and it makes so much sense. He is a lot like you where when he is interested in doing something there is no holding him back and I love that about him. Even if it does get a little messy at times.

Paige said...

Love it. but I still feel little guilty about the fact I have to drug my child to learn in a regular school. Can't there be schools for ADD kids? She's smart and a free spirit and traditional schools don't seem fair. but I'm sure you will touch on all this and more.

I love that your perspective gives me insight into my adorable child's behavior. I hate that it gives me insight into my ex's behavior, because he uses the ADD as an excuse for bad behavior. It can be a gift or a curse- help me help my child make it into a gift!

Love you Brit.

Anonymous said...

You just made me feel a lot better about suffering through this "disorder" my whole life. Thank you.

Dallas and Krista said...

I am starting to wonder if I am neither. Is that even possible? I think at this point, I may be i nsome weird void of feeling place where I am so lazy and bored that I might just sit on the side of the road and either wait for someone to feed me or lie in hunger to starve. What is this? WHO is this? I am bothered by myself right now :(

the wrath of khandrea said...

isn't it crazy how society is designed to support one particular group of people? and they are the ones who succeed most readily, without the clawing, self-doubt, and stress?? paige is right- schools are not designed for these children to succeed.

OnCallMom said...

Hi Brittany-- I just had to come back to this post and say thanks for writing it. I had a young boy brought in by his mom this week, who was very tearful about the fact that this teachers thought he had ADD. To him, this meant something was wrong with him. Your post helped me to know how to explain to him that there is absolutely nothing wrong with him. So, just wanted to say, you're writing really made a difference in a young kids life this week. :)

Chiska said...

I just came across your blog and was reading this post. It struck me as I read this that ADD spell "add". As in add to life. I think that's pretty cool. Thanks.

staci said...

I love the story! My husband and I are opposites in that way, he's the hunter, I'm the anal planner. Yes, anal. Every once in a while we'll switch up due to unforeseen circumstances, but for the most part, he's all over the place 'doing', while I'm planning.