Please Note: This is another sample from my new book, 52 Lessons for a Better Relationship. You can find a link for it at my website, www.ChadDavid.ca, to buy on Amazon or you can download it for FREE… I’m that amazing… or desperate for people to care about looking at my book.
I originally posted this lesson several years ago, and I’ve added a few more issues people with ADD/guys have. I know in our strange world some people hate that I use stereotypes, but these are the patterns I see. As a therapist, my work week is like a steady qualitative study of humanity, so I should have a very good idea of what kind of patterns happen in people’s behaviors. These observations aren’t meant to be insults. They are simply patterns, and knowing them is very helpful for having more patience and knowing how to help.
You Either have ADD or You’re a Guy
I look at ADD as taking certain traits of a guy like being easily distracted or hyper focused and amplifying them. Similarly, I see bipolar as taking certain traits of a woman like having more emotion with the ups and downs and amplifying them. This helps me humanize these different labels and give a better understanding of how they work. This isn’t to say that if you’re a woman with ADD you’re a guy. I hope that isn’t the case because my wife has it, and yes, in some ways she acts more like a guy than I do, and no, I don’t have bipolar; I’m just a little girly. As a teen I could’ve been tested for bipolar, but so could most teenagers as hormones, lack of brain development, and needing to prove yourself adds a heightened level of emotion and explosiveness with moments of screaming excitement and the next minute wondering what’s the point? Having either ADD or bipolar doesn’t mean you’re crazy… not doing anything to help your situation does, especially when having no self control and being mean is still our responsibility no matter what’s going on physiologically. Mean behavior is mean behavior no matter if it’s caused by being hungry, tired, mental health, hormones, or being beautiful (this last group just seems to get away with it more).
ADD can be put on a scale where 0 is not having any ADD symptoms and 10 means being as ADD symptomatic as possible. Most guys generally fall around a 4 while those with diagnosed ADD are higher up. For instance, I don’t have ADD, but I’m a guy, so I have moments. Meanwhile, my wife is like a 6, so she has more moments. What’s really interesting is you can be diagnosed with bad ADD but not actually have it because we can have ADD symptoms if we’re not having enough sleep, eating properly, and/or getting enough exercise. For instance, if you want to see a class of kids to look like they all have ADD, eliminate all physical activity and force them to sit still all day long. Those kids are going to be increasingly squirrelly as the day goes on. Throw in some sugar and you’ll have some serious nuttiness happening. The same can happen to adults because not having enough quality sleep, eating properly, and/or getting enough exercise will exacerbate existing symptoms. Thus, these three things are a good place to start for improving our behavior. For instance, a rested me is a lot better version of me.
At this point, you might be wondering what are these symptoms? If you’re not wondering this, you might be daydreaming about random uselessness because you have ADD. Regardless of whether you have ADD or not, it’s good to remember that there’s good in all things and having ADD can be a blessing if you learn how to use it properly. For instance, many great performers have either ADD or bipolar because symptoms like being very in the moment or being very emotional can help your artistic expression. In Carrey Fisher’s biography she mentions doctors thought she had ADD until she was 48, which is when her diagnosis switched to bipolar. Either way, her symptoms helped her in her arts career.
- Trouble Focusing: People with ADD tend to struggle at being good listeners unless the speaker is really interesting. If you want to know if you’re a good communicator, see how you do with people with ADD. These same sentences could read “Guys tend to struggle at being good listeners…” See how they’re similar?
- Impulsive: People with ADD tend to be a lot of fun, especially if you enjoy spontaneity, but the downside is there is a high risk of them making unhealthy, impulsive choices because it seemed like a good idea at the time, which is a slogan that can be used by most guys. I think you get the pattern here, which means I will stop blatantly pointing out the similarities and let you read the following symptoms as both.
- Lack of Understanding Repercussions: People with ADD struggle to remember there are repercussions because they get so in the moment.
- Fearlessness: When you’re impulsive, you can end up giving a fearless vibe because you don’t think about your actions or consequences or you might just be drawn to adventure and adrenaline. This can be both a blessing and a curse. Teenage guys are much more likely to be fearless (and stupid), but guys, in general, tend to be drawn to adrenaline causing experiences for a reason. This is also a major reason a lot of stage performers have ADD.
- Risk of Addictions: Between the impulsivity and the body’s natural desire to be less antsy, people with ADD can be drawn to substances like drinking, drugs, video games, and TV. This can also be caused by the individual trying to cope with emotions and hurt.
- No Sense of Time: Being in the moment means five hours can feel like five minutes to someone with ADD. My wife with her ADD needs constant reminders of the time because she has no internal clock, but fortunately, this can be helped (and it’s helped me work on my own patience). Having ADD can also mean five minutes can feel like five hours if it’s boring.
- Easily Distracted: Following the ideas of having trouble focusing and being impulsive, people with ADD tend to be easily distracted by something seemingly more interesting than what is in front of them if they’re not hyper focused on something.
- Hyper Focused: As easily distracted as someone with ADD can be, they can also be hyper focused when they’re interested, which is the trick. Having ADD is like having a speed bump in the way of getting started. The more ADD symptomatic you are, the bigger the speed bump because it’s like your body knows how hyper focused you’ll be once you start and how exhausting that can be, so it makes it harder to start something whereas most women can just start a task without thinking.
- Stuck on Thoughts: Being hyper focused means people with ADD can get an idea in their head and have a particularly hard time of getting it out or being able to distract themselves, which adds to their risk of anxiety and addiction.
- Have to Say or Do What’s on Their Mind: When you’re impulsive and don’t really think about repercussions, it’s hard not to just say whatever crosses your mind something even if it’s a little too blunt or unkind. This means a person with ADD can hurt people without having any intention of being hurtful; they just lack the filter that most women have.
- Selective Hearing: What makes saying what’s on their mind worse is people with ADD rarely hear the whole story and can easily miss important details because of limited focus.
- Struggle to Finish Thing: Being easily distracted means people with ADD can hop from one job to another without fully finishing anything. They are so in the moment they don’t even notice they’ve started six different jobs instead of finishing the original job they set out to do. Knowing this and what happens when someone is hyper focused driven, it makes sense people with ADD need reminders to get to things and/or finish tasks around the house, especially when chores aren’t as fun and engaging. That being said, some people with ADD will go hardcore until a job is done and completely exhaust themselves because they’re so engaged.
- Needing a Kick in the Pants: It’s normal to have a challenge starting something; as physics teaches “an object at rest wants to stay at rest.” People with ADD tend to have a harder time, which can be very wearing for partners who are constantly pushing them to do something. Sometimes this lack of motivation is laziness and sometimes it’s knowing once they start a task, they’re going full out until it’s done.
- Anxiety Risk: If you are always late and/or getting in trouble for not finishing tasks, it makes sense that you’re in a higher risk category for anxiety. A friend went to the doctor after I said they likely had ADD, and instead of addressing this problem because they were afraid to admit they might have it (I’m not sure why), they took an anxiety med. This had a very limited benefit because they didn’t address the real issues of time management and finishing tasks.
- Using their Hands: A great way to keep someone with ADD paying attention is to get their hands working. Sitting in a class can be a challenge, but get them moving and they can thrive, which is why they can be great at sports. Years ago, I had a woman in a Masters class with ADD who would knit instead of taking notes because it helped her focus.
- Play: Following the idea of using their hands, people with ADD are often drawn to play and fidgeting because it helps them focus.
- Drama: If people with ADD can’t use their hands, sometimes a dramatic conversation is sought as a way to keep attention. Add their impulsive responses and anxiety, and there’s a good chance a normal conversation becomes unnecessarily bigger (also like teenagers). The plus side is they’ll be engaged, but the downside is you’re having a useless fight.
- Smart: People with ADD tend to be very clever and creative, which can help compensate for the lack of attention or it can lead to useless daydreaming if they’re not careful.
- Frustration: People with ADD can get really frustrated that they can’t do something they know they should be doing like being on time. The unfortunate reality is they will have to work harder at having self control than the average person, but it can be done with practice.
- Suck at Details & Paperwork: Paperwork has to be one of the most boring things you can do (for a non-geek), so you can imagine how hard it can be to do this stuff for someone with ADD. This is why many contractors are great at hands-on work but struggle with paperwork. They’re drawn to the field because they’re clever and get to use their hands, but time management and paperwork can kill them.
- Importance of Routine: Routine is a person with ADD’s best friend and biggest challenge. They need to develop routines to keep them from getting overly impulsive and to help get things done, but these can be hard to establish.
This week may you consider how ADD and being a guy can be both a blessing and a curse.