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College with ADD

| Monday, October 5, 2015

After years of refusing to test me for ADD, my parents drew the line when my fifth grade teacher called to report that I had used all of the math handouts to make miniature origami mailboxes for every student to pass notes.

As a 10 year old, being told that I was different and needed medication to help me translated to: you’re weird and need to be fixed. Classmates would tease me about my ‘lunch-date’ with the nurse because of my daily visit to take my afternoon medication. I wanted to be normal, (although clearly I was far from it — origami mailboxes??), and taking medication made me different. I feared I would be labeled as less of a person, unable to function on my own.

Now that I’m in college and have been living with ADD for years, people approach medication much differently. Often friends tell me that I’m “lucky” that I have ADD because I get to take medication. I want people to know that I have to take medication to function normally. Without medication I often forget what I’m talking about in the middle of a sentence. I can’t complete a thought with out being distracted by something else. I’ll intend to do one thing and do the complete opposite.

Adderall is helping me survive college; it’s not for fun. Even with medication, I’m incredibly high-energy and I can still be unorganized, forgetful and impulsive. In order to handle the stress of the fast-paced college environment, I’ve developed habits and tricks to keep me on track even when I want to stop and pet that puppy on south quad for 45 minutes. Even if you don’t have ADD, some of these tips might apply to you. If none of these apply to you, I’d like to meet you.

First, make lists. Don’t go crazy and make an absurd amount though, or the first thing on your to-do list might be to find your original one. Break down a to-do list into three sections: do immediately, do this week and long-term

Second, put everything back in the same place and simplify. The less you have, the easier it is to stay organized.

Third, leave time at the end of each day to tidy up your living space. I rarely spend time in my room. It’s typically littered with clothes I decided against wearing that day. Don’t let it pile up.

Fourth, always carry around a small notebook to capture those random, fleeting thoughts. Write everything down.

Fifth, when you are rushing through your day, slow down to take a moment to look around and realize how awesome campus is. Little mental breaks can help relieve stress and keep you focused for the rest of the day’s tasks.

And lastly, surround yourself with people who are patient and understand that you are actually listening. If you are around people that are constantly annoyed by your short attention span and high energy, talk to them about it. There are also a lot of awesome people at ND, find friends that get you and love you for it.

As someone with ADD, you may need to work a little harder, but never stop working to do your best. If you have any tips that work well for you, feel free to share.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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