ENJT with ADHD

1% of women have an ENTJ personality. 2.5% of women have diagnosed ADHD. Nearly all of my strongest strengths and weakest weaknesses are attributable to one or both. While I find it interesting to find bits of myself in all I read, sometimes I have to remember to just "letter go."

Saturday, October 14, 2017

I Think You'll Really Like It

The engine hums and awaits my instructions as I shift the car into reverse.  My toes lift slightly to move from brake to gas when the monotony is broken by the sound of my phone ringing.  It is Adam, which seems strange, since I just barely walked away from him at the end of Dylan's football game.  I figure this means either I left something at the field, or he left something in my car, and I pick up.

"Mom, come over here where I am.  You've got to try this.  I think you'll really like it."  

I hesitate.  I am already in the car.  Already in reverse.  And it is cold out there.  But I am also aware that not all moms get these sorts of invitations, and so I accept.  Zipping my coat, I resolve to try whatever it is he has planned for me.

He goes first, gliding down the paved hill on the awesome wheeled Christmas present from Grandma Fife with ease.  



And being the size of a small teenager has its perks: I can share toys like these with the kids.  We sit down and adjust the wheels down to fit my shoes.  I wheel around a bit at the top where it is flat, relearning how to steer and balance with just two wheels per foot. 

I slip off my coat and set down my phone, considering whether to ask Adam to video.  If it goes well the first time, I think, I will go again and have him capture that run.  In retrospect, I think maybe I should have given more heed to my use of the word "if."

Image result for neon street rollersIt did not go well.  I could tell it from the second I started rolling.  It was faster than I could control.  I panicked.  Adam, overprotective of his mother, tried to run alongside me which only made it worse because I feared I would take us both out.  I made it halfway down the hill, terrified and wobbly and lacking the necessary control to keep both feet pointed straight ahead. 

I wanted desperately to slow down.  But these things don't have brakes.  I looked ahead to the tunnel and thought, if I can just make it there, I will be safe. 

Somewhere between that thought and safety, my intense desire to slow down resulted in a very poor reflexive decision to put down a toe.  You know, the way you do when you are riding a bike and taking a turn too fast, and your body just insists that you increase the amount of human-to-ground contact?  I couldn't seem to resist it any more than I can keep myself from sneezing while driving on the freeway.  I mean, I know how terrifying it is to suddenly close my eyes while driving at least 5 miles over the already speedy speed limit.  And yet - ya just sneeze when ya sneeze. 

I swear I predicted the outcome before I even lowered my toe.  In fact, I am sure I did.  Because past history supports my dad's theory that I have no self-preservation reflexes, and this time before my face hit the rising ground, I got my arms in front of me.  Like a star, I had five points of immediate contact with the ground.  Right knee.  Right hip.  Right elbow.  Left elbow.  Left palm.  My head slammed forcefully enough into my arms that the top of my right forearm is now tender to touch and with a great enough impact that the pain in my head was the first pain I registered.

Dazed, I responded to Adam's inquiries about my well-being with forced giggles and slow breath.  I could feel my body trembling in response to fear, adrenaline, and pain.  I lay there trying to find the courage to move and decided I might as well document the moment.  I asked Adam to take a picture of my failure.  Which he sort of did.  I think he was a little distracted by his mother lying immobile on the ground.

I'm not gonna lie.  The pain after the adrenaline started to recede was all sorts of intense.  But the total damage is only a collection of bruises, a small blood blister, three splotches of road rash, various points of swelling and tenderness, and a hole in the elbow of my favorite hoodie.  Now that I am cleaned up and slathered in triple-antibiotic-ointment-PLUS-pain-relief, I get to consider whether I have any regrets.

Nope.

None.

Also, I am a little bit concerned that hanging out with Adam has a pattern of leading to road rash.


Friday, October 13, 2017

Down the Rabbit Hole

Hyperfocus: to "focus so intently on something, no other information gets into your brain"
-- psychologist Brandon Ahinoff (read more here)

**And please click the links to see sources for all the sections of words from the experts I have used!**

More specifically: to ignore all the important things on one's desk because one posted a poll in a Facebook group and cannot stop crunching the resulting numbers and attempting to draw conclusions.

And so while I had planned to wait until I had more data and more appropriate time, I am instead going to attempt a brain dump (a complete transfer of accessible knowledge about a particular subject from your brain to some other storage medium) and see if that helps me move on. 

[And to think that in the past I would have just said I was procrastinating because writing held more appeal than doing my work.]

So I posted a poll in this awesome Mom's with ADHD group I belong to on Facebook.  I had been struck by a random curiosity to know the distribution of Myers-Briggs personality types in our group.  As I throw out some numbers, keep that idea of curiosity readily accessible.  This was a small sample size.  And there are way too many variables to suggest either causation or even correlation.  But the results show significant and noticeable trends. 

And trends fascinate me.

So let's start here.

Image result for personality type distribution for females

A few conclusions are pretty easily drawn:

  • Whoa... one out of every five women I meet will be an ISFJ.  Maybe I should read more about that type and start there when I meet new people?  Hmm...
  • Look at that bottom one on the female chart.  ENTJ.  That's me.
  • The top four types for females are "SF" types.  Over 50% of the female population.  That seems significant!  
What I expected when I posted the poll: the distribution among my ADHD tribe would be a fairly similar representation of the female population as a whole.  

What I hoped for when I posted the poll: that I would find some link between my ADHD and ENTJ personality (even though none of my internet searches thus far have turned up anything).

What I found: 

#1: 50% of the women who answered my poll exhibit INFP personality traits. Another 25% have ENFP personality traits.  I know you can all do the math, but --drumroll please-- that's 75% of the female ADHD'ers that I polled who have an *NFP personality.

A few highlights about these gals:

  • INFPs have a talent for self-expression, revealing their beauty and their secrets through metaphors and fictional characters.
  • If they are not careful, INFPs can lose themselves in their quest for good and neglect the day-to-day upkeep that life demands. INFPs often drift into deep thought, enjoying contemplating the hypothetical and the philosophical more than any other personality type.
  • When something captures INFPs’ imagination and speaks to their beliefs, they go all in, dedicating their time, energy, thoughts and emotions to the project.
  • The ENFP personality is a true free spirit. They are often the life of the party, but unlike Explorers, they are less interested in the sheer excitement and pleasure of the moment than they are in enjoying the social and emotional connections they make with others.
  • When it comes to new ideas, ENFPs aren’t interested in brooding – they want to go out and experience things, and don’t hesitate to step out of their comfort zones to do so. ENFPs are imaginative and open-minded, seeing all things as part of a big, mysterious puzzle called life.
  • ENFPs are natural explorers of interpersonal connections and philosophy, but this backfires when what needs to be done is that TPS report sitting right in front of them. It’s hard for ENFPs to maintain interest as tasks drift towards routine, administrative matters, and away from broader concepts.
#2: While approximately 65% of women have an "observant" personality (the S in the type code), only 10% of the ADHDers who responded to my poll are in that camp.  The rest of us (finally, I am in the majority!) are iNtuitive

The second letter in the Myer-Briggs types represents energy, and it "determines how you see the world and what kind of information you focus on."

Whoa!  Wait... so for a population whose diagnosis often boils down to "lack of focus" has a major discrepancy from the general population regarding how we see the world?  Yeah, I get that it shouldn't be surprising.  And it really isn't.  

But what it is is validating.  

When I feel a little different from "everyone else" -- yeah, major over-exaggeration there -- it's because my ADHD has a significant impact on how I see the world.  Fortunately on this one, I am so far from alone.  35% of women have the iNtuitive personality type.  But according to my informal poll, 90% of female ADHDers do.  

What does this mean?  It means that when I interact with a female student diagnosed with ADHD, I can pretty confidently start from the iNtuitive platform and see how that goes:

"Individuals with the Intuitive trait prefer to rely on their imagination, ideas and possibilities. They dream, fantasize and question why things happen the way they do, always feeling slightly detached from the actual, concrete world. One could even say that these individuals never actually feel as if they truly belong to this world. They may observe other people and events, but their mind remains directed both inwards and somewhere beyond – always questioning, wondering and making connections. When all is said and done, Intuitive types believe in novelty, in the open mind, and in never-ending improvement."
It also means that when I am working with a team of neurotypical women, I can expect over half of them to add a beautiful balance to the equation:
"In contrast, individuals with the Observant trait focus on the actual world and things happening around them. They enjoy seeing, touching, feeling and experiencing – and leave theories and possibilities to others. They want to keep their feet on the ground and focus on the present, instead of wondering why or when something might happen. Consequently, people with this trait tend to be better at dealing with facts, tools and concrete objects as opposed to brainstorming about possibilities or future events, handling abstract theories, or exploring fantasy scenarios. Observant types are also significantly better at focusing on just one thing at a time instead of bursting with energy and juggling multiple activities."  <------- b="">[Just in case you missed the description of Andrea.]
Why does all this matter to me?

Before you read this next part, please keep in mind that my ADHD diagnosis has done nothing to temper my ENTJ ego.  Those who have heard me say, "I don't need others to like me because I like myself enough for everyone," needn't worry.  It is still true.  I am proud of who I am and how my brain works.  

But...

I can be a really crappy friend.  You see, it takes two skills I am not so great at:

1. Noticing a problem in the first place  (thanks, ADHD)
2. Putting human needs in front of efficient processes  (thanks, ENTJ)

"Children with ADHD often miss [the finer points of social interactions ... sharpened by observation and peer feedback.]. They may pick up bits and pieces of what is appropriate but lack an overall view of social expectations. Unfortunately, as adults, they often realize 'something' is missing but are never quite sure what that 'something' may be."
Combine that with my favorite representative ENTJ quote of all time:
"I don’t care if you call me an insensitive bastard, as long as I remain an efficient bastard."
...and maybe you can start to see how I can literally forget to be a good friend.

I did some math today.  Which I estimated to make the figures easier.
1 in 2 adults in the US is female.
1 in 100 of those female adults has ADHD.
1 in 100 females have an ENTJ personality type.

That is 1 in 20,000.  (And some really non-scientific assumptions which I officially acknowledge now). 

The number doesn't mean much without a little context:

So for comparison, a female with ADHD and an INFP
1/2 x 1/100 x 1/2 = 1 in 400
Still not common by any means.

Or consider this: fill Rio Tinto stadium (the local soccer arena for any non-Utahns who might be reading my blog) to capacity with 20,000 people.  It is fairly likely I will run into one of the 50 ADHD/INFP ladies out there.  Probably at the information desk where we will all be inquiring about lost keys.

But if you're looking for the superpowers (and the super-weaknesses) of a female ADHD/ENTJ...

I'll stand up and wave.

[And I have 11 minutes before they make me leave work.  Let's see what I can accomplish with all of this out of my brain!]

Thursday, October 12, 2017

There was Life

"Do you know what you're going to do now?" she asked.

"See the world," said Bod.  "Get into trouble.  Get out of trouble again.  Visit jungles and volcanoes and deserts and islands.  And people.  I want to meet an awful lot of people."

---

There was a passport in his bag, money in his pocket.  There was a smile dancing on his lips, although it was a wary smile, for the world is a bigger place than a little graveyard on a hill; and there would be dangers in it and mysteries, new friends to make, old friends to rediscover, mistakes to be made and many paths to be walked before he would, finally, return to the graveyard or ride with the Lady on the broad back of her great grey stallion.  

But between now and then, there was Life; and Bod walked into it with his eyes and his heart wide open.

-- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Next Time I Will Bring a Pen

“Can we get a picture with you?” one of the three teens asks.  I laugh and smile for the SnapChat selfie, grateful that I have learned to laugh at myself when I don’t know what else to do.

I straighten the stacks of recently rescued papers and start to reflect on what just happened as the young men gather their skateboards to wheel away.  “Have a nice night, ma’am!”  The sentiment gets swallowed in the wind, but I hear enough of the parting words to reignite the smile and shake my head a little.

When you’re me, every day is an adventure.

It started off harmless enough, with me contemplating the same two roads that diverge in front of me each afternoon at about 4:30.  Do I take the third dose of Ritalin ensuring a calm and focused evening, or do I let it wear off and leave room for a little more daydreaming and creativity?  Knowing I brought home four stacks of papers to grade but still looking forward to the noisy company of an evening with my own thoughts, I choose to brave the stacks au natural.  This means coping mechanisms, and while still under the helpful influence of my prescription, I mentally thumb through the options.  I settle on a personal favorite: isolation.  Instead of going home where I have plenty of projects and distractions, I opt to head to a local park with nothing except my schoolwork. 

Grabbing my bag, I head to an unoccupied table still awash in a pool of afternoon sunlight.  I remove the four folders of assignments and sit down, ready to begin.  I unzip the front section of my backpack where I keep pens.  But instead of a pen, I find three items I packed for lunch yesterday when I couldn’t find my lunchbox.  (Of course, since they weren’t in my lunchbox, I forgot to eat them).  I unzip the second section and find a book I bought in Garden Valley this summer… and forgot about.  Third section.  A granola bar, three pencils, and the filing system I use to track EYT receipts each summer.  Fourth section.  Why does my backpack have so many sections?!!  Pencil. Tampon. Paperclip. Power cord.  Seriously?  I am a teacher, and I have NO pens in my bag. 

So I head to the car.  I check all the normal places.  I am now up to a total of 8 located pencils.  Seriously, where are all of these when the kids swear their homework isn’t done because they couldn’t find a pencil.  I start checking non-standard places.  I find… another pencil.  Oh, and the fidget cube Kirk bought me a while ago that I never really used because I lost it.  Now I am reaching over the back into the scary recesses of things I am hoarding in the back of the car because I don’t quite know what else to do with them.  I find my Crazy for You rehearsal binder, complete with a fully stocked supplies pouch including three pens.  I select a promising blue and turn to leave the car.

But the fidget cube!  I have always wanted to try working it in my left hand while I correct papers.  And unmedicated as I am, tonight seems like the perfect chance.  Where exactly was it?  I find where I had knocked it back into the scary abyss that is the floor of my car, roll the silver ball under my thumb, and smile triumphantly. 

Now I have a pen, a fidget cube, and a foolproof plan to focus on correcting my papers.

I take a confident step toward the table and spot instead three teens quickly gathering white sheets from the concrete. 

“Are these your papers?” one asks.

“Yes,” I state and nod.  I greet the feeling of embarrassed failure like an old friend. 

“They’re all copies of the same thing,” another states.

I explain that I am teacher and these papers are my students’ work. 

“Oh, man!  That will really suck if we can’t find them all.”  I am impressed by their compassion as they recognize the difficulty of the situation. 

“Give them all A’s,” one says. 

“Or I guess if you can’t find one, they could just re-do it,” another offers.

“But that doesn’t seem fair!” the third pipes in, putting himself in the shoes of my students.

I explain that I would never ask my students to pay for a mistake I made, and note gratefully that with their help it looks like I can account for every paper anyhow.

We chat about where I teach, and I remind them to be kind to their teachers because they are getting a rare look at what goes on behind the curtain.  As they place the last of the papers in a pile, I promise to put something heaving on top of the stack.  One of the boys jokingly offers his friend as a paperweight.  I am grateful for the levity as I place the pen and fidget cube atop the stack. 

Just as my chin dips toward the task still remaining before me, one boy decides the encounter needs to be part of his SnapChat story.  And I end up smiling, frantic curls blowing in the gentle breeze.  I am not sure exactly how their side of the story goes.  But this is mine.

And I realize I am kind of glad I am unmedicated tonight. 

Otherwise I couldn’t write it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

All Hail

I stopped dead in the doorway, suppressing surprise and giggles but letting the smile right out.  My coworker's eyebrows arched, asking a question that needed no verbalization.

Why did all your students just fall out of their seats as though they are worshiping a king?

I called on a student who confidently explained that as part of our discussion regarding the Aztec king Moctezuma II, we had learned that no one was allowed to look him in the eyes and that even his highest nobles fell on their faces when he entered a room.

A very valid POINT A, to be sure, but I could tell my colleague needed a little more guidance to get her to the point where all my students were on the floor.

I took over, letting the words tumble like they do when I am excited - an overwhelming occurrence I have recently learned is a gift from the ADHD gods.  Although I am certain my syntax was littered with prepositional phrases and transitions and whatnot, I image she caught only a fraction of it.  The students wanted to hail the principal like she was the king.  I thought it unlikely the principal would happen upon our lesson.  I extended their idea to include any adult who walked in.  I didn't think anyone would walk in.

And then ADHD gift number two: I had forgotten entirely that we'd had this conversation, left the classroom to grab said coworker for a consult on a classroom issue, then walked back in - accidentally satisfying all the conditions of the deal to which I had just agreed.

And so I had twenty-six proud, quiet students, all-hailing-the-king in the general direction of the doorway and an incredible, albeit accidental, object lesson they won't likely forget.

I bet that somehow makes it into the answers on the essay test!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Diagnosed

I got the official diagnosis 10 days ago: combined type ADHD.  Today is my ninth day using medication to make my brain function a little more neuro-typical.  Grateful to have a lot of control over how much I am taking and when, I have felt an awful lot like Dr. Jekyll as I take copious notes about the changes I observe in my own mind.

Some things are leveling out.  Being on the medication doesn't feel as alien anymore.  I am getting used to the calmer focus, the quieter mind, the more linear processes.  I now know what it is like to teach medicated.  To go to church medicated.  To attend a social event medicated.  If you're interested to know more, set aside a whole afternoon and ask me.  I'll happily word vomit all over you about it.  

But even as I acclimate, there are still lots of firsts.

Tonight I browsed Facebook for the first time medicated.  Oh, sure, I've checked it in the last nine days.  But this time I had a few minutes to actually read some posts.  Some comment threads.  Click some articles.

And I am baffled.  

read comment threads.  All the comments.  In order.

I read an article I was interested in, clicked back, and continued scrolling.  

It's like that awesome day when you come out of the eye doctor wearing your once-again-accurate prescription contacts and the trees seem to have so many more leaves than you ever knew.

- - - - - - 

This is also the first time I have written medicated.  And it is just like I feared.  

I tilt my head as if somehow willing the thoughts to flow from brain to fingers to screen as they generally so effortlessly do.

But I hear nothing but quiet.