Letter #5 – Flying Blue, Flying with ADHD through Life

I am looking at your picture on my website. Awww…here is a happy version of you, conquering the world of social media and writing. This is the online persona you have created for yourself, and it’s the person you will never become. blog

And here is your (and millions of others’) real story.

The media always tries to convince us that having ADHD is a “blessing.” Dr. Dale Archer in his Forbes article (“ADHD: The Entrepreneur’s Superpower”) talks about the overwhelming success of superstar entrepreneurs like Sir Richard Branson and JetBlue founder David Neeleman, who attribute their success to this “magical” creative function of a human brain. In his article, Archer writes:

“If someone told me you could be normal or you could continue to have your ADD (the original name for what is now called ADHD), I would take ADD,” Neeleman told ADDitude Magazine, “I can distill complicated facts and come up with simple solutions. I can look out on an industry with all kinds of problems and say, ‘How can I do this better?’ My ADD brain naturally searches for better ways of doing things.”

Are you fucking kidding me? Leadership requires organization.

In her 2009 article “Thrill Seekers Lack Brakes In The Brain,” Sunita Reed writes about psychologist David Zald’s study linking thrill-seeking behavior (which is often exhibited by ADHDers) with a difference in a specific part of the dopamine system in the brain:

“Thrill-seeking is one of the things that leads people to explore new things, to discover new things,” says Zald. “The world would be a boring place if we didn’t have people who were willing to take the risks because they were so interested or drawn to the new and exciting.”

A BORING PLACE?? Where can I find it? Does JetBlue fly there? Whoever writes these stories obviously doesn’t know anything about the reality of life with ADHD. I don’t want to scare you, Tashie, but here is what it’s really like.

We start millions of projects at the same time: music lessons, French and drama classes—once I even joined a “nature lovers club,” even though I always hated the outdoors with passion. As soon as the tasks get harder and need our undivided attention or dedicated practice, we will find some “logical” excuse to quit all those activities at once. “Too boring.” “It prevents me from doing well in school.” (Not that we were doing anything in school either!) “Playing piano is a waste of time.” We (ADHDers) are known for making excuses.

  1. We can’t keep our relationships. Instead, we jump from one relationship to the next. (I’m still wondering how in the world your second marriage lasted eight years.) Once the initial excitement goes away, so do we.
  1. The more we procrastinate with our daily tasks, more we hate ourselves. We fall deeper and deeper into depression and drug abuse. An example of your own forgetfulness: you coworkers have to take your Tupperware containers (your lunch leftovers now more like “science projects”) out of the refrigerator on a regular basis, because you simply forget about them.
  1. You graduated from college only because you learned how to cheat the system. ADHDers are incredibly smart and creative in covering shit up.
  1. We blame ourselves for being bad parents. Not remembering to pick up our children from school or forgetting to pay for their activities. You were never a good mother. Your mood swings affected your son in a very dramatic way. Even now, at age 21, he doesn’t feel loved or good enough to succeed.
  1. The more we succeed, the more pressure we put on ourselves. Recently you ran a 5K race, and the very second after you finished it, you started preparing yourself for your next target: a 10K.5K
  1. You were diagnosed with a clear case of ADHD by your doctor, and I diagnosed you with an acute case of psychotic selfishness and assholeness. Your mood swings sometimes drive even YOU insane. You will take a daily dose of 50 mg of Zoloft (a mood-enhancing drug) and 30 mg of Vyvanse (a fairly new medication that targets ADHD symptoms) because of your lack of natural energy if you don’t feel excited.
  1. We suffer from suicidal thoughts, constantly feeling sorry for ourselves. And according to sciencedaily.com, people with ADHD are twice as likely to die prematurely, often due to accidents.

Please don’t let other people make ADHD a hero. Every little chore is a pain for us. Little things—like making lunch for the next day or even just brushing our teeth—can be torture.

Out of all the “abnormal” categories of people, ADHDers hate themselves the most—for the procrastination, the mental chatter, the anxiety and over-sensitivity, the defensive and passive-aggressive behaviors. People with alcohol addiction often rely on a Higher Power and the support of AA groups worldwide to relieve their compulsion to drink. ADHDers can’t rely on anything or anyone. God can’t remove our multitasking brain. We join closed Facebook groups to share our pain and try to find a little comfort in venting. Very few of us can step forward and admit that we are suffering. We take pills (and those are addictive drugs!!) which are supposed to help us to concentrate and cope with everyday life, but pills don’t solve the problem.

It is human nature to want to believe in happy endings. But in reality, until you start talking openly about the nightmare of living with ADHD, you will keep reading stories about how Clark Kent apparently takes Ritalin to fly.

I am not trying to say that people with ADHD are losers and whiners who cannot manage their own lives. All I want is to raise awareness of this mental condition without glorifying it. The only reason ADHDers are “hiding” in closed Facebook groups is because they think they are freakazoids. They don’t trust the outside world. They will only step out and seek help when they can read their own stories.

I want to wish everyone with ADHD—that so-called “blessing”—ONE day of a “normal” life. And if Mr. Neeleman wants a fair dose of ADD, I am happy to give him mine, at least for one day…

And you, my darling, you better be prepared to stand up and speak up. You have 24 years to figure it out.

Letter #4 Trolls will Hate Your Beauty

new year tashie

How many times do you want to do, say or write something important, but hesitate because those inside voices always stop you:  Not now, this is not the time, you might hurt someone’s feelings, someone might sue you if they get offended…

You wanted to write about online bullying and digital sexual harassment since the day  you have discovered social media and brutal world of online publicity. God only knows how many times you have stopped yourself from writing about a HUGE elephant in the room—that being the online code of sexual conduct or rather the NONEXISTENCE of such a code—for the same exact reasons: What if you offend someone, what if it doesn’t matter, what if you were not strong enough to stand by your beliefs? This blog would probably never have been written if you didn’t come across an article (from a very reputable publication) called “Don’t Hate Me because I’m beautiful.”

The article is about research conducted by two Israelis analysts, on who gets advantages during a recruitment process and why. “Bradley Ruffle at Ben-Gurion University and Ze’ev Shtudiner at Ariel University Centre looked at what happens when job hunters include photos with their curricula vitae, as is the norm in much of Europe and Asia.” Their “shocking” results:

Attractive female candidates have lesser chances to be hired than their not-so attractive sisters.

They might be shocking to many readers, but not to you. You saw this article as a sign from above, a chance to finally write about your own story—of an intelligent, attractive professional trying to succeed in life using her brains (you know that you are smarter than a fifth grader) and her ability to learn quickly, manage difficult tasks, be strong when others need a shoulder to lean on, and be brave enough to step up when others are afraid to move.

This is your own story of the digital sexual and emotional harassment that you will be dealing with for many years, simply because of the fact that you are an attractive woman who dared to become a professional in a social arena. Who would have thought you would have to become a Gladiator…

LinkedIn was originally designed as a social platform for strictly professional use, job hunting, sales and marketing promotions and opportunities, co-worker and former colleague connections, and recently, for writing and blogging opportunities. But like many social media sites it has gradually transformed into a “free-for-all”  with “Gangs of New York”-type communication. Anyone can say or write whatever (they feel) is appropriate.

The most depressing thing is that you would get more offensive emails and indecent, often creepy proposals on LinkedIn than on any other social media platform!!! Tinder is a little tiny “sandbox” compared to this giant ocean of hookups and date proposals.

Here are some groups of people who harassed you.

“Online-only trolls”—offensive but not malicious.

Troll #1:  “Oh, are you single? Would love to have you.”

Your mind says back, “I’d love to smack you, you little $h-t!”

Please don’t respond to these.

Troll #2:  “Do you use Cyber Dust?”

You:  “No, What’s Cyber Dust?”

Troll #2:  “Oh.. it is a discreet chat application with no traces left.”

Well, you installed Cyber Dust, and your recent contact immediately started sending you his naked pictures. Your stomach could not bear this torture, and you quickly deleted Cyber Dust along with the guy (who, I suspect, never saw a mirror in his life).

Troll # 3:  “You are so beautiful.”

You:  “Yeah.. I get that a lot.” (Luckily, your dear friend taught you this sarcastic expression.)

Troll #3:  “When are we going for dinner?”

You:  “Never sounds good.”

Just don’t respond to those either.

“Cross-platforms trolls” —people you meet on Facebook, Twitter, etc. and then connect with on LinkedIn. Those can be slightly dangerous, judging by their comments.

Once you have posted that you were bringing your team to one of the trade shows. Here is a comment you have received from one Facebook/LinkedIn “buddy”:

“Oh you went from being single to having a boyfriend, now you are having a team, what’s next- an army?”

To this day I am trying to decrypt this sentence, looking for a small drop of common sense and failing every time. Do me a favor,  block this “Winston Churchill” from all of your sites to eliminate his ingenious comments.

Stalkers—very dangerous, they can show up at your door!

One time you made the mistake of including your cell phone number on your LinkedIn profile (what were you thinking, girl?) You started getting bombarded by random texts at wee hours, messages on Twitter, and emails to your personal email account from a guy who probably would have camped outside of your house if he didn’t live abroad. Thank God for Atlantic Ocean!

Remember, there is no such thing as privacy on social media. You will learn that the hard way.  For some unexplainable reason, people think that they can violate your privacy just because you are active on social media.

But this recent email put your entire troll email collection to shame. Here it is:

“Like that Steve Jobs post is one of my favorites! (he meant one of your posts) So..only a social media diva with a shamelessly courageous personality would appreciate how it came about that I’m messaging you.

Your pic caught my attention and profile did make me crack a smile. I’m sure you’ve left a trail of broken hearts and spirits around the globe, but no matter. We have much to discuss. If you care to. I’ve traveled the globe giving lectures about Internet search and touch on social media as part of that. And I’ve never thought of it, but yes, help demystify it all for many.Let me know when you’re planning to take me out . . . and where. Lol. Have a great day.

ps: several of your pics look like you’re wearing a wedding ring. If so, please disregard this message (well, except for the part about having a nice day)”
Yes, LinkedIn has blocking features, and thank God for those, as they stop some people from writing nonsense. Unfortunately, other people don’t take online rejections well—in their minds, attractiveness is a valid reason for harassment. They see an attractive person as an object who almost “deserves” to be abused.

You are certainly not one who can be easily run over. I know, you fight till the end.

Your beauty (inner and outer) is a priceless gift from God, be grateful for it.

Your heart is just as beautiful as your face, and it belongs to only one man—not the whole LinkedIn nation.

Your beauty is your blessing, and NO ONE can tell you it is your curse or your fault.

So don’t be afraid to tell them : “Go ahead, hate me…because I am, indeed, beautiful.”