The way we attend to daily events is like surfing channels – some we just quickly flick by and others we stop and watch for a while. It’s strange, the things we do remember, and the things we don’t. My husband and kids can never find things. I’m called into duty to find tools, homework, and frequently, the remote.
Lack of attention wreaks havoc in daily life. As a person with really poor attention, I’m always surprised at the information my brain retains and the things that I can’t place. I can remember customer identification numbers, code numbers for inventory items and many other oddities.
I remembered a customer’s name, identification number and an item she’d purchased months before, and she said, “Wow! You have a great memory.” Yeah, that’s me – a plethora of seemingly useless information. Why can I remember those pieces of information, but miss every dental appointment, receive bills for unreturned books at the library and not remember to return a friend’s phone call? I lack the memory that would help me in daily life.
When my son was about 8 years old, my husband brought home a beautiful painted turtle from the golf course. Ken was so excited. When Ken came inside from playing that evening, my husband said, “Hey, where’s the turtle.” Ken took his dad’s hand and brought him out to the garage and pointed to a particular spot and said, “I put him right there.”
Of course, Mr. Turtle was long gone. Ken knew where he put the turtle, but didn’t think about the fact that however slow, turtles walk away.
According to the ADHD information library, the Reticular Activating System (in the brain) is a bunch of neurons where signals from the outside world get together and chat. This is the part of the brain where you and the world interact. If the Reticular Activating System doesn’t get the neurons fired up like it should, then your cortex behaves kinda sleepy displaying things like trouble learning, poor memory and little self-control.
After reading this, I thought, so what I have here is a Reticular Activation problem…. And? Yes, I take medication to help me “think and remember” important things, but as many of you’ve seen with your kids – this isn’t a complete fix. I am trying to use more strategies to help me do a better job of meeting my daily responsibilities, but it’s hard and often times very annoying. I don’t know why but it’s annoying to me to write everything down and finish tasks completely. A small notebook contains lists I’ve made that I never look at again.
I’ve mastered closing cupboards and jars (most of the time) because family members were going to rise up and revolt if I didn’t, but there’s so many daily things that I fail at miserably. I do feel depressed and angry at myself when this happens, and yet I still have annoyance with regularly using strategies to help me. I suppose strategies would require me to slow down.
I’ll keep working at it. In the meantime, if you see my keys, library books or Mr. Turtle, I’ve been wondering where they are.