Monday, March 13, 2000
Key West, FL.
5:30 A.M.: I’m sitting on a deck chair watching the sunrise, as the cruise ship Mercury closes in on its first Port of call- Key West, FL. As usual, my body’s odd rhythms leave me full of energy at a time when no one else is awake. I’m working on my laptop as I await the start of a shipboard ADHD conference by Michael Gordon, Ph.D. I am reflecting on the odd duality of simultaneously trying to live with my own ADHD, and help others survive theirs.
Working with others and being ADHD isn’t a novel subject. Clinicians like Ed Hallowell & Tom Quinn have detailed their own experiences with this relatively common disorder. What do I have to add? As the sun pokes above the horizon, I think of how lucky I am to be awake to see it, and then feel a bit sad that except for you readers, I must take it in alone. Being a clinician with ADHD is a study in such contrasts. At this point in my life and career, most people see me as fairly successful, but to be honest, I have only recently begun to really believe it myself. For years, I just hid behind the principle of “fake it till you make it!” Like many successful ADHD adults, I spent my life preparing for just one more refrain of “Sorry Joe, I’m afraid that just won't do. You’re so smart, if you would just try a little harder….”
When you are ADHD, things you haven’t noticed have a way of announcing themselves by unexpectedly smacking you upside the head--just when you least expect it! After this happens enough times, you are left with a perpetual sense of a vague danger lurking just beyond the horizon. A diagnosis of ADHD pretty much means you are a lousy self-observer. You don’t notice as you “drift off course…” until after you hit the rocks. This makes it a real challenge to trust in yourself, no matter how hard you may have worked to get where you are. Having people you didn't realize you were irritating unexpectedly explode at you has a way of leaving you always a little edgy and insecure. Hardly the way you want to feel about yourself while holding yourself out to the public as a resource to be trusted! Feedback from clients and colleagues telling me that I do help others must blend with frequent criticism from those I inadvertently encroach upon or over-drive. Many a time I struggle with which input to believe, only to sadly conclude that both are accurate. It is just another of those seemingly endless painful paradoxes that mark ADHD life.
On Being a Life Coach...and ADHD
The Life Pilot
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