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ADD or AD/HD And Cluttering Behavior

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (AD/HD) is often a component of cluttering or hoarding behavior. The following information about ADD and AD/HD is excerpted from Mike Nelson's book, Clutter-Proof Your Business, which is about many aspects of cluttering beyond just business organization. The topics of ADD and AD/HD are also addressed in Stop Clutter From Wrecking Your Family, also by Mike Nelson.

"ADD manifests as an exaggeration of tendencies we all have." – a medical professional with ADD.

It is statistically unlikely that you have ADHD. As I also said, only medical testing and diagnosis will tell you if you have it. But, since this question comes up at every workshop, every Clutterless meeting and about a quarter of my email, it deserves elaboration. Of all the clutterers I personally know, only five have been diagnosed with ADHD. They are all professionals, holding down good jobs. They are all perfect examples that ADHD or cluttering are not excuses for not being the authentic you – the best you. They have learned to use their unique traits in positive ways, in jobs that don’t force them to be someone they are not.

ADD And Cluttering

"Being on my own enables me to clutter to my fullest potential <g>. I had an "administrative assistant" for almost an entire year. She was the best friend I could have dreamed of. She helped encourage progress in our office. I lost her services about year ago. My skills have slipped back to only about 20% of what they were with her support. At home my behavior is beginning to "enable" my 8 year-old son's tendencies to clutter. He was diagnosed with ADHD in 1998. Meanwhile, I've been treated for depression and anxiety. I have been able to work with my therapist to understand that my depression and anxiety may be co-dependent on my ADD and associated clutter. It has reached a serious point in my 11 year marriage where I must get control of my problem and deal with it's roots, or face a lonely, unproductive future with the potential to harm my son's own healthy development. With his already obvious ADHD, he doesn't need another barrier to development of effective coping skills. If I had been able to address my ADD as early as he can, I do not think that I would have as much difficulty as I face now." – Toni, Office Manager with ADHD.

What Is ADHD?

Clutterers and ADHD’s have different ways of looking at things than most people, which contributes to their disorganization at work. While one goal of this book is to help us to improve our skills and use our unique talents, a larger one is to help us recognize when we need to move on. No matter how much better our organizational skills get, unless we are being true to our authentic selves, we will be frustrated.

Wilma Fellman, M.Ed., LPC, agrees that some of the symptoms of cluttering those of ADD adults have similarities. She thinks it is important to emphasize our strengths and work on our weaknesses. "We have the choice to live our lives "leading with our strengths," or offering our challenges as excuses for our failures. We can refer to ourselves as "disabled" or we can show the world our special "gifts." As a career counselor, I work to assist clients in identifying their special talents. If we, as humans, are made up of hundreds of "puzzle pieces," does it not make sense to first define ourselves by referring to those parts that shine brightly? When we look at Christopher Reeve, who was paralyzed when he was thrown off a horse, do we see disability, or do we see outstanding strength of will and character that catapults him into productive action?" She’s a Career & Life Planning Counselor specializing in working with ADD or AD/HD adults in Troy Michigan (www.findingacareer.com), and author of The Other Me: Poetic Thoughts on ADD for Adults, Kids and Parents, and Finding A Career That Works For You. She is on the Executive Board of the Michigan Career Development Association.

I’ve mentioned hat maybe we are just in the wrong jobs, either because they conflict with our life goals and our true selves, or because they require a degree of organization or highly structured style of working that is just too stressful for clutters.

ADHD symptoms will sound very familiar to chronic clutterers, and indeed, to everyone who experiences too much stress.