Sorry, I'm Too Distracted to Think
I have been avoiding writing this post for days, I just can’t manage to get it together – the research, the coherent thoughts, I should really just leave it and go on to something more fun, oh look Lainey is writing about Katie Holmes -- she looks dreadful today…
And these are my thought processes as I write this post (and most others).
A few years ago I read an article in a women’s magazine about Adult ADD. The article said something along the lines of: if you avoid cleaning up your desk because that would mean you would have to re-organize your files, which would mean you would have to go to the store and get new file folders, which you know you will never do and all that just seems too daunting so you avoid it – then you probably have Adult ADD. Bingo! The whole line about going to the store hit the nail on the head for me.
Now, there is a reason that I am disorganized, that I procrastinate; that I can’t work in a cubicle without losing my mind; that I have trouble planning a task that has many steps. I can’t add or efficiently load a dishwasher. And I have to phone my own cell phone everyday to find it. I do not approach things systematically. Self-diagnosis: Adult ADD.
Phew, now I have an excuse to why I can’t get things in on deadline.
But every mother I know has wondered if they have some kind of attention deficit issue – multitasking to the extreme means that you often grow distracted in the face of boring activities (ie. You start wondering what is for dinner while playing “tea” and end up thinking about that delicious sandwich you used to get at the cafe around the corner from your old office).
I have always thought of myself as a “divergent thinker” (as opposed to linear) which means that when I think, talk (and some of you might say write) I do not do it in an A,B,C fashion. This can be considered a strength – I am creative, I can multi-task, or a weakness – just ask my husband, he has always said that I am distracted by bright, shiny things. So in the interest of science, I took a few tests on the Internet here and this one at Psychology Today. I thought the second test was the most informative and helpful (and, yes did point to mild attention issues…). There are no points given if you get distracted by all the other great psych tests at the site -- but let's just say I warned you.
So what to do? I have a friend who swears by taking Aderall, an ADHD, drug before big meetings, he says it helps him focus and “turns his mind on”. And he may not be the only one, some scientists are arguing that it is perfectly ethical for people, all people to take medical stimulants to improve their brain function. And in an Internet poll in the prestigious science journal website, Nature.com, 20 per cent of scientists admit to taking a medical stimulant (Ritalin, Adderall) to enhance their brain power, even when they do not have a problem.
There are scientists and ethicists arguing that “brain enhancers” can be used by anybody to sharpen their intellect. As one scientist said, "We should welcome new methods of improving our brain function," as if to imply that scientists on drugs could make the world a better place. University students are using “brain boosters” to help their studies, but at their own risk.
In the meantime, I am going to embrace my differences and own home-brewed stimulant – coffee. I know I read somewhere that caffeine can help attention issues, unfortunately I just can’t look that up right now – my Twitter notifications are going crazy…
So has motherhood has increased or decreased your attention span?