Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

At Attention

with 9 comments

Total Black: $85.38
Total Red: $245,607.66

Back in A Bad Review, I mentioned in passing that I had been diagnosed with ADHD.  I also noted that I was a bit on the fence about that diagnosis.  As time goes on though, I’m beginning to believe there may be something to it.  

Authors Kate Kelly & Peggy Ramundo note in their book You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?! that one symptom of ADHD is impulsivity, “a failure to stop and think,” as they define it.  They go on to explain that impulsivity “plays out in other, less obvious ways.  It can affect the quality of work on the job.  The ADDer often rushes through tasks with little pre-planning and many careless errors.  He might get into debt with impulse buying, discard an important document or ruin a new piece of equipment because it takes too long to read the instructions.”  Later in the book, Kelly & Ramundo again note that “[s]ince one of the hallmarks of ADD is impulsivity, you may buy first and think later. . . .  If impulse buying is a problem, you may have to stay out of stores, cut up your credit cards or plan your shopping trips with an empty wallet!”

The authors, I think, do a disservice in that they don’t focus heavily on ADDers, as they dub us, and their problems with money and debt.  A few comments in passing, but nothing significant about impulsivity and guilt and confusion and so on as it relates to finances—all areas that affect me.  My impulse buying appears to be reigned in for the most part.  But not entirely.  I forgot my wallet today at work.  And my ID. Something we all do, but something I seem to do fairly often.  The day prior I forgot to shave.  Often in the mornings—I noted back in One Week In my difficulties waking while living in New York—I’d wake to this cloudy, foggy feeling in my head that I couldn’t shake.  Probably also explains my serious addiction to coffee. Long hours, gulping coffee and chain-smoking at a coffee shop in Washington, D.C. comes to mind preparing for finals during the review period in law school.  I picked up smoking during my second-year of law school; dropped it last year.  But it signifies my search for stimulants—some way to shake the clouds from my mind.  I just ran a search through all my posts for the term “coffee.”  Forty-two hits.  I created tag for it and updated posts accordingly.  To date I’ve written 318 posts.  Forty-two of those equates to just over 13% That’s a significant percentage for such a humdrum topic.  But I digress.  The point I wanted to make was that in forgetting my wallet I couldn’t buy anything, of course.  I can’t count the number of impulses that shot through my system that day: stop for a coffee, grab this at the store, maybe pizza on the way home.  So yes, I’ve curtailed much of my impulse buying as it comes to books, software programs, anti-virus software—random things that come to mind I would have bought on the spot.  But food purchase impulse buying hasn’t yet stopped, something represented back in Debt Vultures.

I’ve read much of Kelly & Ramundo’s book.  But, apropos of someone with ADHD, I’ve not finished it.  Yet. But reading it did strike a chord.  Side-stepping the ADD vs. ADHD debate for a moment, one symptom of the disease is truly the hyperactivity.  The stereotypical image that comes to mind is the schoolboy who can’t sit still.  But that’s too simplistic.  Hyperactivity can present as an inability to sit still.  The partner referenced in A Bad Review apparently noted some instances when I behaved that way.  But more often, hyperactivity presents as being hyper-focused: you absolutely must finish alphabetizing your entire book collection, you have to get all your pdf-files OCRed, you have to finish retyping your journals, or perhaps you have to get your recipes copied into that new book. You can’t brake that concentration.  The house could be burning down, but yet you’ve got to sweep, mop, and polish your floor.  That’s a good “symptom” of the disease. Most times.  Obviously one harmful side-effect is the inability to break that focus or reroute it, particularly when the hyper-focusedness is aimed at something you absolutely must have right now and can’t break your concentration off getting it now.

I certainly don’t have this condition under control.  Even more so when I’ve been sporadically taking the Ritalin prescribed.   And since arriving here, I’ve not made it a point to seek out a new doctor so as to get the prescription refilled.  I’ve felt stigma and shame.  Silly, I know.  But it’s true.  Few therapists or psychologists write about successful people with ADHD.  They’re misnomers of a sort because we’re supposed to be class-clowns or goof-offs.  But always is almost never accurate.  This isn’t the venue to vet and verify my past experiences with this disease, though I’ve shared a few above.  So why do I mention it? Because it’s a significant piece of the puzzle of my finances that I’m surprised I’ve not yet shared.  Perhaps because it’s a bit too personal—a medical, instead of purely financial or behavioral, vivisection.  My lateness to the ADHD table can explain—but not excuse—my financial state of affairs.  But it’s another plate in the air to keep spinning.

Total red is back up; the AmEx charge mentioned in Supplemental Day of Accounting posted.

9 Responses

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  1. I too was diagnosed with ADHD, and was diagnosed as an adult (age 45). I never knew I had any issues with focus or concentration, certainly not through high school, college or graduate school. Self-medicating with coffee (or energy drinks) is a typical trait of adult ADHDers. Try to get to a doctor who will put you on something that does not have the potential cardiac issues that present themselves with Ritalin. There are several other medications that are safer for adults to use.


    June 27, 2010 at 08:20

  2. Energy drinks. LOL Yes, I should have stock in Redbull. Coming to terms with this diagnosis has been difficult. In responding to a reader, Sam, who emailed me last night about this same topic, I remembered that the diagnosis came in conjunction with—or perhaps even as a result of—the layoff. As noted in A Bad Review. I mean, I know that I first started wondering about ADHD because of that bad review, but I don’t think I connected any “suspicions” or “hesitations” about accepting the diagnosis with that review. I didn’t believe much of whatever else the partners said, so why believe that I may have ADHD too. That sort of thinking. It may explain a bit of the bad taste left behind for the diagnosis.

    I’ll read through Kelly & Ramundo’s book today and hopefully make more progress finishing it. Knowledge is the first tool, right?

    Laid-off Lawyer

    June 27, 2010 at 12:54

  3. P.S. I tried Adderal. I didn’t like it at all! I also did a 30-day course of Strattera. I didn’t see any change with that drug—and it reminded me of the same “wired” feeling back when I was on the on the medical experiment drugs. Ritalin seems to be the only one left.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    June 27, 2010 at 12:56

  4. I hated Strattera, but my doctor insisted that I try it. I’m an Adderall person, but you should take whatever works for you. Adderall’s side effects are brutal, but it seems to be the only med that works for me.

    Please try to get back on your meds as soon as possible because your self-confidence and job performance may suffer if you continue to self-medicate. One word of advice from someone much older than you and diagnosed for a long time – sometimes ADHD and depression go hand-in-hand, especially in adults. Watch out for symptoms.


    June 27, 2010 at 21:49

  5. My go-to reference book is Driven to Distraction by Edward Hallowell and some other guy. It was an ADHD book when ADHD books weren’t cool.

    I’ve tried medication and I’ve functioned without it. I do better with it. But I’ve also found yoga and trending towards a natural diet to be beneficial.


    June 28, 2010 at 01:06

  6. BTW, as much as the label sucks now, can you imagine having been stuck with it all through school ? Oh, LL’s special, he won’t sit still for advanced reading. Sign him up for Drama. I wonder sometimes if people didn’t notice and choose to overlook it since it would help you in the end?


    June 28, 2010 at 09:24

  7. Sam: I had a friend years ago who was unaware of her ADHD while she was in law school. Oh, all the symptoms were there, but no diagnosis. Her physician told her that the symptoms were “anxiety” from law school and prescribed Xanaz. She practically flunked out and graduated at the rock bottom of her class. Your comment made me think of her and the competitive nature of law school. I always wondered if her professors knew about her ADHD and gave her lousy grades because somebody had to be at the bottom of the curve. I do know that she has been on meds for several years and is one of the sharpest legal minds I know. Just wondering….


    June 28, 2010 at 11:02

  8. Interesting point: I haven’t really reviewed my school years, other than law school. In elementary and high school I did well, but often had some “behavior” issues. I think I spent much of my sophomore year in detention. In college I recall that all my papers were written at the last minute. Same in law school. Some of that is certainly the case with many studnets, not just ADHDers. But in my case it was nearly always. And I do remember beating myself up for not reading more, for example. All these books I’ve bought, piles of newspapers, stacks of magazine subscriptions. And as a literature major too.

    But yet as a kid I “found” the time to retype the lyrics to Christmas songs for a book I prepared for a sing-along. I also “found” the time (and the focus) to organize nearly every photograph the family ever took into albums. That’s that hyper-focusedness again. 😉

    Laid-off Lawyer

    June 28, 2010 at 11:11

  9. Funny you mentioned that. Last night I was reviewing a few of my books and found one with a section on women and misdiagnosis. Even late in the 20th century, a post adolecent women could be mis-diagnosed with “hysteria”. Because witchcraft was passe, I guess…


    June 28, 2010 at 12:10

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