ADHD Seeking Personal Assistant? I'm 35 years old, married with children, and an assistant professor on tenure track with relatively high research and teaching expectations. I was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (predominantly inattentive) in the summer of 2010.
posted by scunning to Health & Fitness (33 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
It felt like a real revelation, and I think has been overall a source of good change. Prior to that event, I felt like my life was a giant jigsaw puzzle made up of a million pieces, and while I might occasionally manage to get a few areas of the puzzle to fit together, I never could see how it all fit together. It never occurred to me that there might be something that could explain so many things in my life that have always seemed unusual (eg, my procrastinating tendencies, short-term memory challenges, simultaneous tendencies to either pay very close attention ("hyperfocus") or not at all, and on and on). I have been reading a lot of books and articles on ADD and ADHD, am seeing a counselor regularly (sort of a cross between therapist, life coach and spiritual director), and take 40 mg Adderral daily. I think I would like to hire a personal assistant next, but do not have the budget to do so. I also don't really know what it is I'd be asking this person to do or help me with even if I could come up with the money. I wanted to ask a few questions, that have probably a range of possible answers, but I also wanted to get advice and information from others because I thought that probably AskMeFi readers might have some overall suggestions I hadn't considered.
First, why do I think I need a personal assistant?
I need one for reasons related to my problems with money. I have a PhD in economics, yet I think my ADD symptoms make it so that I cannot get set up with really basic tools to stay financially organized. I am constantly losing major amounts of money as a result - embarrassing levels. I'm talking like forgetting to pay bills, and as a result having to pay really high fines. I've used Mint.com, Quicken, homemade spreadsheets of my own design. I've tried tricks where I keep every receipt and try to do through some system I concocted involving that. And it always follows the same pattern - as I tend to hyperfocus, I will hyperfocus in the beginning, and for a spell - maybe between 2-3 months - it will work fine. Then something will either happen or I will just realize I am no longer using the system. And then I return to my longrun equilibrium, which is no system, no plan, and everything blowing around me. That's where I kind of am now. Behind me on my desk are expenditures for a trip to a conference where all I had to do was take the $600-700 in receipts and give it to our secretary, and she would then reimburse me, so long as I did it pretty soon after returning from the trip (like within 2 weeks). That lapsed, and I've been too embarassed to go talk to people, as I feel like I am already viewed as a complete spaz. I have underneath that stack another set of receipts from a business trip in November worth probably $400 that I didn't submit. And the worst one of all? I arranged for a speaker to come and present research, told the person that we would pay for the flight, and then realized about 1 week before the person arrived that I hadn't ever booked the flight. Flights which were normally $300-400 were now $1200. Rather than ask my dept, I ended up eating the cost myself. "Eating the cost" here means putting it on a credit card, not drawing from savings, which if not for automatic savings accounts built into my job, I wouldn't have anything.
I've gone through a lot since the ADD diagnosis, and recently I realized that while it is true that I may very well be biologically prone to this, it is not true that I cannot create things that will make it so that I no longer "lose" $2000 in a 4 month span like this. I personally believe that if I just keep trying harder, though, like I've been doing my whole life, I will lose everything that is important to me, like my wife and my job. I just don't think that I can myself, on my own, do it with behavioral modification, because I feel like I have tried everything in the past, and I always return to the same chaotic equilibrium. THe only thing I know to try is to really think outside the box, and that's why a personal assistant seemed sensible.
The hard part in this is that I think the thing that is and has been destroying me is actually the only thing that could ever make a person like me successful. With the ADD comes an intense level of never-ending creativity and when I do hyperfocus on those things, and with the help of Adderral eliminate a lot of the procrastinating stuff, or at least mitigate it a lot, I am able to be the kind of teacher and researcher that I think I am suited for ultimately. But only if I can manage it, control it.
So the personal assistant would be necessary at the very least for money stuff - both at home and at work. They would manage my calendar too. They'd help me with scheduling - stuff at work with students, colleagues, help me remember not just what I've scheduled but what I need to schedule. They'd help me design the infrastructure that normal people can design but which for me seems like an impossible task.
But I also would want someone who maybe can themselves even go further. Half the things I need, I don't even know the name for. And probably most of the things I think I need help with, I may not. So here are some questions.
How do you find people like this? I don't even know what I'm looking for.
Any other advice is much appreciated. The good news is I think I have always been going in the right direction, and I'm grateful for all the help from friends and loved ones. I am excited about this phase of my life, as while it seems to suggest I'm not probably able to do some of the things I've been beating my head against the wall trying to do for as long as I can remember, it is possible for me work around them. And that's encouraging for me.