How do you guys deal with people "comparing" themselves to your ADD? Does it mean they think they have ADD too, that everyone has ADD in some way, or that they don't think my ADD is a big problem because hey, they are dealing with "the same" problem without any medication? I hear all the time that "Everyone can't focus sometimes." YES, BUT!
So, what *is* the difference between my procrastination and any college student who pulls all-nighters before every major assignment? How do we explain that yes, we *do* have it worse than average, and yes, meds work for me and I am right to take them, and that I feel my brain function doesn't compare to a "normal" person's unless I have those meds in my system? That yes, I am different from someone who "just can't pay attention" at work?
Yesterday I "outed" myself to a coworker. I described lack of impulse control as one major symptom. I said ADD runs in my family and told her how my grandfather can't control his impulses to save everything that he finds interesting - how he says he might read that section of today's newspaper again some day. He's 84 and has a spare bedroom and a basement piled floor-to-ceiling with stacks.
My coworker started talking about how her family also had hoarders and how her aunt can't sit on her own couch any more because it's covered with stuff. Well, sure, there's even a TV show about hoarders, but that isn't the point I'm making. Does she think her aunt has ADD too? Or what?
Is it just an urge to compare yourself, to tell similar stories, to make conversation? Or is it somehow lessening the importance of my different brain chemistry? Every time I hear "Oh, I/my mom/my brother/my cousin does that too," my first reaction is "You're trying to say I'm not legitimate. You're saying, we all have that problem and how come I should get help for it when you have it too and have done fine? I'm not worse off than any average person and ADD seems like something everyone has."
I was diagnosed when I was nine years old and have been taking Ritalin since then - and it's worked. I've made good. I earned a master's degree from a respected university and am holding down a successful job, living as an expat in Ghana, with a loving (though often impatient!) boyfriend. I'm sure Ritalin would help anyone concentrate... and I'm just as sure I wouldn't have gotten this far without it. So how do I justify that I'm, well, more different? How do I explain the difference between garden-variety "can't focus on a paper" and my own worst days, when I can't even focus my eyes on the person I'm talking to two feet in front of me without immense effort? And no, friend, making lists doesn't always work, because I can't always hold myself to my own commitments. And no, I can't "just tell myself not to buy it." And yes, I get that you were "hyper" as a kid and exercise can help with that in everyone. But please believe me that you AREN'T "just the same," and that on a normal day you are able to TELL yourself to focus and then like magic you do it, while me, the muggle, posts in forums rather than doing work because the idea of making this post is magnetically drawing me back, no matter how often I close the window or start other work-related tasks.
So how do you guys go about telling people that it's more than "we all have that sometimes, just yours is a little worse"??? Do you have any particular argument(s) or examples or metaphors you've found very convincing to help people get it?