Attorney ADD

Are you one of those neat desk kind of people? I seriously envy you. The only time in my life I’ve been hyper-organized is when I was pregnant.

I’ve worked with many attorneys over the years who had worse desks than mine. Piles everywhere — the desk, the credenza, the floor. The only place you could leave paperwork for them (and me) was on the chair. At one legal publisher, there was an editor who was brilliant, but his office defined the word firetrap. There wasn’t one bit of carpet showing.

For all you brilliant disorganized types out there, I want you to consider a radical notion: You may just have ADD. I know, I know, ADD is supposed to show up in grade school through bad grades and such, and that just isn’t you. But that stereotype isn’t always true. My psychiatrist, who is pretty convinced I have ADD, told me that often in very intelligent people, you can make it through school and into the early stages of your career before you start having real trouble. In fact, she told me that one of her ADD patients is a guy so brilliant he can write an entire book in three days (as in, he procrastinates and forgets about the deadline, then works around the clock), but he couldn’t keep track of his car keys if his life depended on it.

Why do I mention this? Because the symptoms of ADD and depression can be startlingly similar:

  • An internal sense of anxiety or nervousness
  • Often have piles of stuff
  • Chronic procrastination or trouble getting started
  • Spends excessive time at work because of inefficiencies
  • Chronic problems with self-esteem
  • Sense of impending doom
  • Mood swings
  • Negativity
  • Frequent feeling of demoralization or that things won’t work out for you

Now, I’m not saying that that law practice is not a really valid root of many of these symptoms. Of course it is. But here’s a great quiz to help you decide if you need to pursue a possible ADD diagnosis with a psychiatrist.

My particular score was around 43, more than twice the threshold number for pursuing further evaluation, but my organized attorney friends scored around 10 or 12. The solution isn’t always Ritalin, Adderal, or Stratera — it hasn’t been for me — so if you think ADD might be some of your problem, get it checked out and don’t let those potentially scary treatments, well, scare you. Knowing what beast it is you are fighting makes it easier to choose your weapons and battles wisely.

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