The Price of Distraction

Posted: April 1, 2012 in Uncategorized
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In the many blogs and articles I’ve written about how easily distracted I get, I kid a lot about how I sabotage myself with this chronic problem. Admittedly, time and time again, I consistently sabotage myself and get so disgusted at myself for being unable to prevent sabotage from happening again and again – and again.

This aggravating persistent problem has now crossed the line from being a minor annoyance to having become a costly mental disorder. I DESPISE the fact that a “normal” day for me is walking from from room to room with intentions of performing some task and getting interrupted ALL THE TIME – usually by myself.

Thoughts racing through my head are now having head-on collisions with each other. My brain sometimes explodes with ideas and I can’t ignore them. Don’t get me wrong – I love that I am never without ideas, but I can no longer ignore the way they are destroying my life. Last weekend, my distractibility cost me dearly.

Because I get so easily distracted, I try to organize my days, and I am learning that by doing so, I somehow set myself up for more sabotaging moments. I THINK I’m preventing sabotage when, in actuality, I am creating it, because I cannot factor in interruptions, and interruptions happen to me so frequently that a normal day is filled with them; the interruptions themselves are interrupted only by my plans.

Here are some samples of blogs or articles I’ve written about how I sabotage myself:

15 Ways to Sabotage Yourself on a Daily Basis

The Mysterious Case of the Missing Earring

Born Again – In About 20 Years

Am I a Poltergeist or a Halloween Freak Show?: God’s Favorite Little Soap Opera

As a result of how easily distracted I become, I wondered, “Is distraction a mental disorder?” I had forgotten about a book I had purchased months before entitled, “Driven to Distraction,” because while reading it, I got distracted and forgot I was reading it. When I posed that question to Google’s search engine, I found a link to the book I had previously purchased.

So I looked for – and found – my copy of, “Driven to Distraction,” and began reading it again. Sadly I have no memory of reading it the first time. I know I never finished reading it, but none of what I am reading in that book sounds remotely familiar. I attribute that loss of memory to another problem I have with distraction – I can read sometimes 20 pages without ever retaining a thing, because for the whole 20 pages, my mind and thoughts veer off on tangents. I had that problem all through grammar school and high school and would have to read, reread, reread, and reread again the words that sat before me. Frustrating. So frustrating.

I was hoping that maybe Dr. Hallowell could explain my chronic unrelenting problem with distraction, because here is the latest major distracting moment: My “plan” last week was to drive from Virginia, where I had taken my grandchildren the week before to visit their father, back to Illinois. I would drive until the gas tank was empty, get all the kids to go to the bathroom, and keep going until the tank was empty again. Perhaps the plan would have worked if three times two of the kids hadn’t had to use the bathroom before the tank was empty.  Perhaps not.

What happened was that my plans had been interrupted again. In trying to lessen the number of stops I made, I gassed up every time we stopped. While in West Virginia, still far from Illinois, I had stopped at a gas station, filled up, strapped my grandson into his seat and drove off with my wallet – filled with $400 trip money – on the roof of my car. In the short time between putting that wallet on top of my car and strapping my grandson into his seat, I had forgotten that the wallet was on top of the car and apparently didn’t even look for it.

You would think that at my age, these problems would decrease. Instead they seem to be multiplying – with rapidity. I have become my own worst enemy.

But hope is on the horizon. I found in my missing book, “Driven to Distraction” – that I do indeed have a mental disorder. At least I fit the description. The name for this affliction is, “Attention Deficit Disorder” or ADD. I sleep very little, I’m up often throughout the night. My energy could be described as frenetic. I may appear to be calm on the outside but inside my blood rushes through my veins and the synapses in my brain explode at alarming speeds.

Slowing down irritates me. I’ve tried meditation, but I can’t sit still long enough for it to be effective. Do I bounce off the walls? No. Was I a problem child? No again. If anything, I was a proficient daydreamer, and guess what? Daydreaming is consistent with those afflicted with ADD – especially in women.

I can’t tell you how happy I am to know that I’m not losing my mind or suffering from Alzheimer’s or even dementia. I’m grateful that I get barraged with ideas. I just wish I knew how to control them better.

From my friend, Stephen Goss, author of Heidi’s Hope: “A knife can hurt you, but it can also cut your steak. Similarly, distractions are both harmful and helpful. Distractions are the fast food of creativity. So thank God you get distracted. Ask him how to best use them.”

Thank you, Steve. I’ll keep that in mind as I finish reading the book. My friend, Elaine, suggested Yoga, but again, can I sit still long enough? Another friend of mine, Clare, suggested Tai Chi, because it involves movement along with meditation. I think I could handle that – if I don’t get distracted.

Want to read more from this author? Check out the upper left hand side of this blog under READ MORE BLOGS AND ARTICLES BY THIS AUTHOR.

  1. blabbergirl says:

    Theresa, I can SO identify with this! And the Driven to Distraction book was such a mixed relief/ blessing to me. (oh thank God there are others like this! Oh no i’m just like this) Tthe description of the ADD conference where everybody was bent double looking for dropped pencils lost keys and missing phones showed me I would have fit right in. But I think if you lose your money but not your grandson you’re all right. Though how to make up the $400 is a terrifying thought. Speaking of distractions, Allene is here this weekend. But it’s the hilarious kind of distraction! Love ya, miss ya, even tho I forget to say so! Linda

  2. Linda says:

    I wrote you a long and meaningful comment here, afterbwhich WordPress insisted I log in, during which process it lost my comment and I am much too distracted to rewrite it. So thanks a lot WP! Love ya, Lindy Lou

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