Queen of the Distracted

Imagine life in a house with 6 kids - now imagine if 5 of those kids and their father have ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) - that is our house! Welcome to an inside view of my life and our home dominated by ADHD... THERE IS NEVER A DULL MOMENT!

Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and Girls!

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls!"

Those were our oldest daughter Rachel's first words, from the time she was a toddler she would belt them out proudly standing on the arm of the couch. At the time we had no idea what ADHD was or that it would play such a central roll in our lives.

Since then we have learned a lot, not the least of which is how many individuals and families suffer in silence. We have experienced first hand how misunderstood and misrepresented a disorder can be.

As a family we decided to take action - to risk embarrassment and labeling to get this important message out to the world. Come join our family, share in our lives, and see ADD/ADHD as we see it...
A gift with a heavy price tag.

WELCOME to life in the ADD/ADHD House!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

20 Years Today

When my husband called and told me that the last day to work on "the film" (Finding Hope Now) before the latest version was sent off to be screened at the Houston WorldFest International Film Festival was the 23rd of March I laughed out loud.  How very fitting that our 20th wedding anniversary would be the day before probably one of the most significant deadlines of my husband's career.

Fitting, because he is an artist and has worked in various fields of the entertainment industry most of our marriage.  An industry always in a constant state of emergency and deadline.  We called it "crunch" mode when he worked in the platform/computer game industry.  The give it all you have -- work endless hours to meet the deadline --  time.  Fitting, because so much of our marriage has been spent in "crunch" mode.

So, tonight he will be at the studio doing the visual effect for the "retaliation" scene and I will be here with the kids.  We are meeting half way between our house and the studio for an anniversary kiss at 4:00pm.  And making plans to celebrate our 20th on another day.

I am sure there are people who could not or would not understand me being okay with the situation so let me explain. 

First of all, I think this might be a perfect example of how ADD/ADHD  is interwoven through our life and marriage.  People talk about "normal" but really normal is whatever patterns we create in our own life.  Normal is personal.  If we were to approach life trying to meet other peoples' standard of "normal" we would be constantly frustrated and unhappy.  It would be like trying to fit the round peg into the square hole. We have unique challenges in our marriage because of ADD/ADHD and have to have unique solutions to match them.

Mark, my husband, has learned how to wield the power of hyper-focus like a sword but when he is in mindset that allows him to stay on task he has to really stay in it. Meaning, he has to hold onto that state of mind with both hands.  He can't go in and out of it and maintain it.  As a result, he would rather work hours on end to accomplish a task than an hour a day for several days to accomplish the same task.

Half the battle with ADD/ADHD is learning how your individual brain works and use that to work smart.  I could say I have to have him work on my schedule, on a "normal" schedule, but in reality it would not work for him.  It works against his brain and the way it functions.  So, we compromise.  We use that hyper-focus to be successful and we bend our family around what works for us.

For years that has meant working his regular hours, then having family time, then back to work or time for personal projects when the house was quiet.  Mark is a doer, another ADD/ADHD trait.  He is not satisfied to sit and do nothing.  That probably has to do with the millions of ideas that are his constant companion.  Even when he has had time in the evenings, like he has since he started working at the news station, he cannot just sit. 

We were laughing just today that even his work station is set up to multitask (very ADD/ADHD concept)  he has dual monitors on his computer system.  He has a mouse hooked up to be used with his left hand and a Wacom drawing tablet hooked up to be used with his right.  He can use the mouse and draw carrying out tasks on both screens at nearly the same time.

We adjust to meet different circumstances, different commutes, different jobs.  The key being here that we adjust.  We also have an agreement that family takes priority, so even if Mark is working and in the groove of what he is doing he will stop and be there to help put the world back together for a worn out wife, traumatized teens, or anxiety ridden little ones.   Whether it is face to face, on the phone, text, or by email we stay in close contact. 

Through those now 20 years of marriage there has been a constant theme.  I keep Mark from floating off into the atmosphere and he gets my feet to leave the ground every once in awhile.  He has arguably been given the harder task.  In the middle, we find balance of sorts, hovering just above the ground. 

I have discovered I can wait, I am not that good at it, but I can do it.  This cause, this movie, which has been our lives for the last 2 1/2 years is worth pushing off the celebration of those twenty years.  It marks a milestone in Mark completing a life long goal to work in film.

The anniversary gift, the biggest one, is to see this long planned passion and goal come to life and be recognized.  The ultimate gift is that at the end of the week the studio, about an hour away form our home, gets dismantled and reassembled in our house.  No more commuting home only on the weekends.  There will be new adjustments, a new normal to create but I am rather looking forward to this one.  Maybe the best anniversary present yet.

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