So, I really need to hash this out with someone, and not really comfortable doing it IRL. I'm afraid I'm jumping to conclusions, or trying to find a magic answer to what is really just poor character.
So, I inadvertently stumbled upon a quiz recently of adult ADD and surprised myself by having almost ALL of them. And the more I read about it, the more things pop up that sound so eerily like me, that I would never even imagine had anything to do with ADD.
Thing is, I am so far from the "stereotype" of ADD. Or at least I was all the way through high school. I was a model student, all A's, all the time, high-achiever with lots of extracurriculars in the arts, in which I also did very well. I am awesome as a big fish in a little pond.
When the pond got bigger (i.e. college), I totally sunk. I dropped out of college after my first scholarshipped year at a prestigious, competitive liberal arts school and then proceeded to flounder and flail through all of my 20's. I travelled and got really into activism and social justice, but couldn't figure out how to take that interest anywhere, whereas most of my friends from that period are now successful in amazing, ambitious careers in non-profits. I always felt like my groups of friends moved on together, but I didn't know how to keep up with them when I moved on. I couldn't decide what I wanted to be when I grew up, ended up in 5 undergraduate schools before finally graduating. I got into serious financial trouble over and over again because I couldn't keep track of my money or remember to pay my bills. It was just failure after failure the whole darned decade, always feeling like there was just too much for me to grasp and like if I just had more room in my head, could just write it all out, or start all over from the beginning, maybe I could make some sense of it all.
Finally graduated, and decided to take advantage of my upswing by moving right into grad school - which was even worse. I couldn't decide on a research project, couldn't decide on a research approach, couldn't get over the fact that there was no way I could possibly learn every single thing there was to know about my research topic and kept delving deeper and deeper into side tracks in my literature review. My resulting thesis is worthless, and, while well-written, reads more like a text book than the journal article it should be, because I couldn't help but explain every little side topic that came up along the way.
And all through this I've had more and more trouble socially. I can't keep up with the pace of the social group. Particularly in grad school, I felt increasingly "busy" with household affairs - cleaning, cooking, budgeting, etc. But it was just me and my boyfriend, mostly just hangin' around with next to no responsibilities beyond school. I felt progressively more like I absolutely needed to have my environment in order, and if it was not I felt derailed and unfocused. BUT - I was also more successful. My thesis wasn't perfect, but I stuck through it and finished it on time. I was able to pay my bills on time, though it took a lot of effort.
Then I had a baby, a sleepless, intense baby, and became a SAHM to said baby, and all hell broke loose. My need for order became dire. I was totally out of control at times, I would freak out about the mess. Not sleeping for days at a time, all I would want to do was clean and clean and clean.
And now that my baby is almost four, I just can't shake the feeling that I'm totally losing it. I feel like I spend all of my time planning and failing. I write list after list after list. I draw up detailed plans and make Excel sheets about everything. I try to set up systems. I try to break things into small tasks. I try to focus on changing one area of my life at a time. But I ALWAYS feel like it's all getting away from me, and like there are a million things I'm forgetting that I'm forgetting. I can't even speak properly. I thought that was just from the sleeplessness when my DD was an infant, but it still happens. I forget words, or substitute the wrong words into sentences with a vague awareness that something isn't right.
It's like a chronic fight. I feel constantly in the wrong and constantly like a personal failure, and I have tried and tried and tried to change, but I just can't seem to get it to work. The irony is that I LOVE academics, I LOVE learning, I am very smart, very capable, and I should BE someone. But I still can't decide what I want to be when I grow up because every time I think about it I think of something and then think of a different thing that might be better and then think of another thing and so on and so on until I feel paralyzed and do nothing.
That is a VERY long story to ask the simple question - could it really be ADD? Or am I just not trying as hard as I think I am? Is it just this hard? To change, and to be the person you feel like you should be able to be? It's like every aspect of my life is an addiction that I'm failing to control. Is this how it's supposed to feel?