I should have been a secret agent.
Living a double life is something I do naturally. For years I didn’t even realize I was doing it. Considering myself a professional, I have developed my own systems in order to maintain a neuro-typical façade while at work.
But I have a secret…
No one knows I have ADD.
Whenever I tell a coworker I have ADD, they seem surprised. Reading my website has been quite the revelation, even for people that have known me for years. When I revealed my diagnosis to a former coworker her response was, “No way – you are so anal- you could not have ADD!” Ummm….thanks?
Talk to people that know me well, and they will confirm that I definitely exhibit the symptoms of Inattentive Type ADD. You see, I am The ADD Secret Agent.
Before you decide I am completely bananas, let me explain my dual personalities.
The Working Girl
This version of me is neatly dressed and well groomed. I begin my day by checking my email and responding to anything emergent. I then patiently listen to phone messages from hysterical clients and writing down every detail.
If mail or faxes came in over night they are divided into two piles: one pile to be filed later and the other to be dealt with now. Any mail that is time sensitive is added to my task list (completed the night before) in order to produce a new list that prioritizes the days tasks based on due date.
I continue to successfully use my executive functions to start with whatever is on top of the list and go straight down. Working on only one file at a time, I don’t get frustrated or particularly stressed out. I feel almost emotionless, like a robot.
If there is a phone call (and there are multiple phone calls per day), I retrieve the file of the person who is calling, while I keep them on hold. (If I don’t have a file in front of me, I will have no idea who I am talking to. I learned this lesson the hard way when my alter ego appeared for a minute. Speaking to someone named Brittany, I realized mid-sentence that I was giving her incorrect information because I thought I was talking to my other Brittany. You know why this happened? Because I didn’t get the file.)
Before I leave in the afternoon, everything but the task list is cleaned off my desk. This is imperative! When I arrive at work, I remember virtually nothing from the prior day, so clutter would overwhelm me.
Clutter in the environment = clutter in the mind!
Yes, this is all very organized and rigid. To be honest, functioning at this level is exhausting for me. Using my brain in this way – the concentrated mental energy it takes to get through a workday – is hard. I am physically and mentally exhausted every single day. Sleep is not an issue for me – I sleep like a rock … Or an off-duty secret agent as the case may be.
The Harried Housewife
This version of me has never managed to create the structure at home that I have at work. By the time I pick up my son and get home, I am drained. My resolve to hold everything together, including myself, is gone.
Walking in the door, I am assaulted by the sound of my barking dog. Throwing my jacket onto the chair that sits in my entryway, I stumble up the wooden steps of my raised rancher. That jacket will sit there on that chair, with others piled on top of it, for at least a week.
My shoes come off my feet and land, along with my son’s shoes, in a corner of the living room. Walking down the hall like a zombie, I change into pajama pants and a t-shirt.
I pile the mail on the bar/cutout window into my kitchen, having zero interest in opening it. On this same bar are my computer, several hair clips, my phone, books and even some Legos. This ledge is where I dump everything.
While my son plays (or sometimes watches television), I mentally check out – checking email or reading articles online. Should I be playing with my son? Yes, most definitely. We do talk about the day, what he did at school etc., but my mind is fuzzy and I am detached.
When my son starts asking for food, I usually come out of my haze and pull together something for dinner. Arguing over what we are eating is just not possible, so there are times when he ends up eating yogurt or cereal.
Hosting a party or event is something I avoid doing since my house is always such a mess. I can clean it up and stuff things in the office, shutting the door behind me. But close friends and family know that if they come to my house during the week it will be cluttered and full of animal hair.
I am doing what I am capable of. I am not perfect. I am living this double life where one minute I am a functional (dare I say professional?) adult. Within an hour I am at home in my pajamas surrounded by piles of junk. In this state I am the opposite of The ADD Secret Agent.
During work hours I like to imagine myself as a stealthy CIA operative, waiting patiently for my next set of orders. Because no one knows I have ADD.
The reality of who I am is more akin to Austin Powers. Over the top, silly, good- natured and slightly annoying. I figure at least I have the good-natured part going for me.
If only the CIA had an opening for an operative specializing in distracting the enemy with nebulous chatter and piles of mail – I’d be a shoe-in!
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