Although my father was a Psychiatrist, I never believed that I had any kind of disability or physical disorder that was interfering with my life. I just always assumed that I was a weird person and a total screw up when it came to learning a new skill or completing a project. I tried to learn a lot of skills as a child such as playing an instrument, competing in sports, or taking on a new hobby, but I always failed. Once I got past the initial excitement, I found the process of practicing or studying too painful to bear. For this reason, I know a little about a lot of subjects, but I was never particularly good at any one of them.
The worst part about my life, was that social interactions made me anxious and wore me out. Often the thought of calling someone and arranging an activity would leave me with feelings of fatigue. School was both boring and exhausting. The effort of focusing my thoughts on school and classmates would leave me emotionally exhausted by the end of the day. Once home from school, I would distract myself from my mental fatigue by watching television or creating daydream fantasy worlds where new skills were learned effortlessly and everyone loved me an wanted to be my friend without much effort on my part.
I was a poor student who received mostly Cs in elementary and high school except in the rare case where the subject could constantly hold my interest, or when I had a especially interesting teacher. My favorites were the sciences. I did well in biology, and chemistry as long as I didn’t need to study or do problem sets outside of class. I don’t believe I cracked a text book or did a homework set in school until calculus in my senior year. I really wanted to do well in calculus so I could get first year college credit from the Advanced Placement program. Studying calculus was exhausting and painful for me. The ADD made in very hard to keep focused on text books, tests, or problem sets and I often made mistakes that cost me valuable grade points. I did manage to pass the course with a low B and I was managed to place out of first term calculus.
College was even worse than high school. I learned the first semester that graduating from college was not possible without extensive studying. But keeping up the energy to study every night and make it to class each day was nearly impossible. When I did study or work problem sets, I could never keep a strong enough focus on the material to avoid mistakes. I always got the wrong answer.
After college, the problems with mental fatigue and inability to focus continued to haunt me throughout my work life and career. I always realized that I was very smart in that I have an excellent ability to quickly grasp abstract concepts and generate creative and useful solutions to complex problems. But I never had the ability to follow through on projects. I often lacked the energy to put my ideas down on paper so they could be presented to management as proposals.
The interesting thing about all of my woes, is that it never occurred to me that I might have a disorder. Even when I read about ADD, I didn’t think I fit the description of a typical case. I didn’t think that I unfocused; I just thought that I was lazy and lacked the resolve to follow things through. In essence, I was convinced that I had a major character flaw and just didn’t have the strength of character to finish things.
Because my teachers and parents help me convinced myself that I lacked strength of characters, a lot of my energy went into hiding my character flaws from colleagues, close friends, and superiors. I became good at withholding important information from by bosses, which also made it impossible to ask for help when I need it. Life was hard and painful. I was constantly anxious and living my life became a major chore. I thought a lot about suicide, but figured I wouldn’t have the strength of character to follow thought on killing myself. So I kept on living my miserable life, looking for a way to survive.