Maybe It’s Not a Character Defect

We humans don’t like to expose our warts to others. We avoid talking about our body odor or halitosis. We want our friends and acquaintances to think we’re perfect—as if they didn’t already know better.

Kelly Roberts, a writer friend of mine, posted a blog this week about being diagnosed with ADHD. Click Here to read it. She’s talked lately about the likelihood she may have it, and now she’s been tested and confirms that she does.

Her post, which is much more educational than mine, got me to thinking. If she can stand in front of us and expose these warts maybe I should, too. It might encourage others who have this affliction to face it.

Kelly is a generation younger than I am, and she’s taking steps to deal with—and hopefully overcome—this condition. At my age I don’t think I’ll follow that path. Whatever worlds I’ve left unconquered will just have to remain that way, but for people under 60 or so, it might be worth trying to deal with this more proactively. I urge you to read Kelly’s article.

When I was in school back in the 40’s and 50’s, no one had ever heard of ADHD. Those of us who couldn’t pay proper attention in class and could not concentrate long enough to read two paragraphs without seeing our minds wander out the window were generally classified as having behavior problems. We needed to straighten up and pay attention and stick with whatever tasks were assigned to us.

Way back then, I knew I was different. I knew that others were better able to concentrate than I was—better able to stick with a task than I was—but I didn’t know why. I guess I just assumed it was a character defect.

In college I barely managed a 2.0 average on a 4.0 system, primarily because I couldn’t pay attention that long at a time and I didn’t stick with projects—like studying or writing term papers. I knew from SAT scores and other indications that I wasn’t dumber than others, but intelligence alone isn’t enough if you can’t ever carry anything through to completion.

The first 20 years after I got out of college, life was a constant struggle to pay the bills and keep groceries on the table. I saw high school classmates far exceed any accomplishments I might have—attaining varying degrees of fame and fortune—while I continued to struggle. One classmate became a world renowned singer after Peter, Paul and Mary popularized his “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” Another built a company he sold to Berkshire Hathaway for $2 billion. Meanwhile, I never quite got it together.

This didn’t change for me until I formed a partnership in my early 40’s with an old friend who had the wisdom and influence to keep me on task. With his willingness to apply his boot where I needed it, our business prospered. There had been no change in my ability. This man and others had told me years earlier that I made the best sales presentations they ever seen for our industry. The problem had always been my inability to stay on task and follow through.

I’ve never tried to blame this on bad luck or a condition like ADHD or anything else. I’ve always accepted my own culpability in all of this. I still don’t want to deflect blame from myself. But it’s heartening to realize that there actually is a medically recognized condition at the root of it rather than simple laziness and lack of character.

If you see yourself in any of this, you, too, could have ADHD. Don’t wait until you’re 72 years old and already retired before you recognize it. Do like Kelly did. Get it diagnosed and learn about treatment.

Don’t feel sorry for me, either, after reading of my failures. Despite all that I have not accomplished, I have a wonderful wife, sweet, loving daughter and grandchildren, great son-in-law and stepson and daughter-in-law. I have a loving extended family. I have scads of supportive writer friends. Loving Christian brothers and sisters. My wife and I are comfortable financially if not wealthy. And most important of all, I have Jesus.

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Writers may not have it all together, but together we have it all.

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For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.

For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.

Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.

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About David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years in the health insurance industry, during which time he traveled much of the United States. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers' groups. Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella series, Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as through Smashwords and Kobo. See information about both of these by clicking "Books" above.
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6 Responses to Maybe It’s Not a Character Defect

  1. David Conner says:

    The longer you know someone any character defects the person has melts away into who they are and that, my friend, makes them truly more interesting.

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  2. Sharon K. Walker says:

    You are quite intelligent, and you generally have achieved whenever you’ve given it your best. I agree with Barb about the need to drop the “hyperactivity” term. That doesn’t describe you. I guess it’s not too late to seek a remedy for ADD, but why possibly add to your medication cart? You’re retired, although not from writing, I’m glad to say. Keep plugging away with Ruth. I’m proud of you.

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  3. Barb Estinson says:

    Very interesting, David. I have never once thought of you as having ADHD. But as I read your blog, I can see what you mean. I would guess that yours would more likely be ADD, without the hyperactivity factor. I think that Donna also had ADD. Nevertheless, kudos for sharing this. And I am so glad that your life is so good at this point!!! Love you.

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