Law in Hyperspeed

The ADDventures of a practicing attorney in a southern state. I hope those in the law and those with ADD can find some comfort and help in these postings. The only real person in this blog is the author. The people described in this blog mostly represent sterotypes of some of the characters I see in my travels.

Location: Southern, United States

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Confessions of a Free Cell Addict

"Hi, my name is Addicus, and I'm a Free Cell Addict"

OK. We've got AA for alcoholics. We've got gambler's anonymous, sex addicts anonymous, overeaters anonymous. I need to find the weekly meeting for Free Cell anonymous. While it's a tough addiction (I had to hard delete it from my work computer - the recycle bin was too close), it now makes so much sense that I am a Free Cell Addict.

My ADD brain craves stimulation. Just about any kind will do. One theory is that the ADD brain has some problem with dopamine in the brain. You will often find ADDer's who are extreme risk takers. One of my ADD clients loves to race cars on the weekends.

So, my brain always wants some stimulations. What works? Well, food really stimulates my brain. I do love to eat. The bad part is that I can only eat so much. Some ADDer's must have severe problems with this brain/food connection. This article mentions the high percentage of ADD among the morbidly obese.

So, my brain needs something else to stimulate it. Something that is a challenge. Something that will hold my interests. Let's see, TV - too boring; books - work sometimes, but requires a lot of concentration. I'm too practical to gamble. I need something quick, available, and extremely stimulating.

So, I'm now addicted to Free Cell. Free Cell is truly the spawn of the devil. The crack cocaine of the computer world. One game usually is quick. It's challenging because you supposedly cannot find one arrangement of the cards that you cannot win. You get the extreme high of being on long winning streaks. The concluding dialog box coyly lures you on by saying "You Win. -Play Another Game?" Sometimes I'll find myself pushing "Yes" without even looking at the time.

This article, mentions that in any addict population you will find that approximately 10-20% have ADD. I often say thanks to God that I never became addicted to any kind of substance. All I can say is that if I'm going to have an addiction, at least Free Cell is somewhat benign. However, it is time to admit to myself that Free Cell has become a problem.

Where's my copy of "The Twelve Steps for Free Cell Addicts"?

My Diagnosis

How I came to discover that I was ADD is quite an interesting tale. First, it starts with a good friend of mine who had a child that was ADD. She was the manager for a client of mine and a good friend. So about two, maybe three, years ago she out of the blue tells me that she's been reading and she's almost positive that not only was she ADD (she is) but also that I'm ADD.

My understanding of ADD at that point was the obnoxious little kid who just can't sit still. Since I'm the quiet, withdrawn type of ADD, I wasn't ready to accept the diagnosis. She did, however, plant a seed and started me to wonder. I now understand that ADDers who are well versed on the qualities of ADDers have a sort of sixth sense at detecting that someone may be ADD. It's almost uncanny how we tend to find other ADD friends and, for some, mates.

Fast forward sometime later to a legal seminar. The seminar had a video out in the lobby as well as the program going on in the auditorium. I'd go into the auditorium and wouldn't last for more than 20 - 30 minutes. I might watch the program from the lobby, but sitting in that auditorium just was too much.

One of my clients was a very dear friend who had known me since high school (High School is another story). He's also an internal medicine doctor. One day we were talking about his ADD brother. I told him, "You know, sometime I think I might be ADD." His reply to me is, "Man, I've known you for over 20 years and you're ADD." He told me that part of the reason we we're friends is that he grew up with several family members who were ADD and he is quite comfortable with ADDers.

When a local doctor (my friend lives in another city) started me on Adderal, I couldn't believe how different my brain felt. I was able to concentrate clearly. I began to realize just how much anxiety I had about starting difficult tasks.

My diagnosis was one of those milestone events in your life where everything takes a new perspective. Many things that I just couldn't understand about myself now made sense. I understood more why I procrastinate. I can accept many things about myself so much easier.

I know why my doctor friend waited until I mentioned about ADD before he gave me his opinion. I just wish I had mentioned it to him earlier.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

ADDvantage to ADD Part 1

ADDvantage to ADD - Flexibility
This is a funny post to the ADDventures Yahoo Group.

"There have been times when there is so much
unorganized paper and CRAP EVERYWHERE, ALL
over the floor, you have to be some kind of a
frickin' NINJA to walk around it"

That's why am as flexible as I am. I'm used to
going on an Indian Jones adventure when I walk
through my room.

Processing Problems and Odd Ducks

The school recently told me that they suspect that my oldest son is dysgraphic. The old saying is that the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. My oldest son is brain-wise the product of his father. It often surprises me how in spite of trying very hard to raise someone different from me, he is so much like me.

As I started researching dysgraphia, I began to realize that I was dysgraphic. Dysgraphia is a problem in the brain with processing the functions need to perform handwriting. For me, the movement of my face and mouth as I wrote as a child must have been quite puzzling to my mother. I would also have quite frequent writer's cramps. So, once again I guess the "sins" of the father are imparted on the son. (I'm still trying to figure out which one of my ancestors must have started this, that person must have been a real piece of work!)

The other coincidences that got me started on this whole subject begin with some of my friends. Friend #1 is a very talented person. I'd rate him about 90% on the "I'll bet he's ADD scale." His son is very gifted. In addition to being gifted, his son is dysgraphic and dyslexic. Is the son ADD? Don't know, but I'm sure curious to find out. Friend #2 is also a very bright and dynamic individual. I'd give him an 85% on the "I'll bet he's ADD scale." His beautiful daughter has been diagnosed as slightly autistic. Despite being autistic, she has an extremely high IQ. Friend #3 is probably not ADD. She is however witty, sensitive, highly intelligent, and a very gifted writer and poet. She feels her son may have Asperger's Syndrome. Her son also is a gifted and talented student. You can tell he is quite uncomfortable around people.

Friend #3's son is really what got me thinking. When I met him, I couldn't help thinking that this boy was somewhat of an "odd duck." I didn't know at the time about his mother's suspicions about his condition. He has long hair and uses it to partially obscure his face. He seems almost afraid that someone will speak with him. He knew about a rather embarrassing email my son send to everyone at their school, and even though I wanted to say something to him about it, I didn't because he didn't appear to really want to be spoken to by anyone.

I now realize that ADD, dygraphia, dyslexia, autism, and Aspergers are all problems of processing external stimuli. For ADDers their brains have a problem with attention and distraction by external stimuli. Many people with ADD, autism or Asperger's have problems with the processing things related to their sense of touch. They may be overly sensitive to things touching their skin. Check out this PDF from a great site by a neurologist. It shows how ADD is just the tip of an iceberg for many people. So many of these disorders occur together in people. I'm wondering if someday science will correlate just how closely related these processing disorders are from one another.

All this started me feeling a twinge of guilt and rethinking my assessment of my friend's child as an "odd duck." I now have a sense of profound awe and wonder and what it must be like to live day to day with Aspergers. It must be very difficult to have so much to share but to feel so uncomfortable expressing it. My brain and his are so alike in many ways, yet so different in others.

Many people see ADDers as "odd ducks." I guess if you look at it, we must be quite odd to a non-ADDer. I know I've often felt like a very odd duck. Fortunately, I now have a new understanding. People with ADD, learning disabilities, autism, and other unique brains are not odd ducks at all. To those not like us we may appear to be odd ducks, but in reality we are just swans of a different color.

Special Friends, Vulnerablity and the Contructive Personality

A former Episcopal priest I know is a brilliant, dynamic man. He talked with me about our "constructive personality." Our constructive personality is our part-real, part-fake public persona. Our constuctive personality hides a wounded, confused core. He helped me to understand more about my contructive personality because he knew much about his own constructive personality. It was the reason he was no longer a priest.

Feeling odd, out of sorts, or uncomfortable are common feelings among ADDers. The consequence of this for many ADDers (especially inattentive types) is that they learn to be withdrawn, reserved, and very selectively social. One hidden feeling in many ADDers is that if you really knew our true core, you would not accept us and would feel that we are truly, truly bizarre. We live feeling a disconnect between our outer, constructive personality and our true personality that hides deep inside of us.

This brings me to one of the special people in my life. When I met her, I could tell that she was quite shy and reserved. If you talk with her she will open up, but does not volunteer much. She is very intelligent. She has a great sense of humor and really likes to laugh. She is loyal to friends and loving to family. She is a determined, goal oriented individual. She is a very beautiful yet very enigmatic person.

The special bond that exisits for me is a bond created by vulnerability. She knows a part of my core personality that I do not share with others. She is the only friend I have that knows and understands this part of me. With her, I can let go of my constructive personality and be very open. I can talk with her about my ADDness. I can be more genuine than I can be with others.

As I've been able to be open with her, she now senses that she may also be ADD. For me, that is not a great surprise but is a very unique coincidence. In the time that I have known her she has helped me, both directly and indirectly, to understand much about myself. I just hope that I can help her as much as she as already helped me.

Friday, November 26, 2004

I've Been Linked

Being ADD, I get bored rather easily. So I tend to jump from thing to thing (or maybe from obsession to obsession?) quickly. I've always been a computer nerd (had a TRS-80 for those old enough to remember).

As I kept hearing about this Blogging thing, I wanted to find out more about it. Once I looked at some of the technical stuff, I started looking for blogs that fit my interests. One of the first I found was Ernie the Attorney. So when I started this blog, Ernie was one of the first persons I emailed about my new blog.

Ernie has given me my very first link. Thanks, Ernie. I just hope that people will find my posts as helpful as I have found Ernie's.

Great Blog for Solos and Small Firm Types

It comes as no great surprise to me that as an ADD attorney I'm a solo practictioner. (Anyone know any highly organized non-add secretaries?) Solo firm life has its downsides. (Health insurance is the biggest, but that's a whole other post.)

Fortunately someone out in blog space is trying to help all of the solo and small firm types. Carolyn Elefant has a blog called My Shingle. It is a wonderful resource.

Two great recent posts deal with payback to those big firms who want to drown you in paper and dealing with problem clients. (Of course, I have no problem clients. Really.)

Thanks Carolyn from one of your readers.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

A Law and Order Post

OK, first check out this PDF of a newspaper story. Look closely at the two faces.

I'm trying hard to decide what I would do if this was my daughter. Yes, I wouldn't want some 22 year old to help my 14 year old run away. I'm sure I would be traumatized and hurt if I were the parents in this matter. I'm sure I would be very upset (almost where's my shotgun upset) if this guy had had sexual relations with my daughter. But, I'm trying to decide as a parent what I would want the authorities to do.

Now look at the guys words. "This is terrifying...I love your daughter more than life itself....I understand your pain....It may have been a bit rash. She begged and pleaded with me to leave." He even signs the email "Love Paul." He sure doesn't sound like some evil kidnapper to me.

The real question is what will the authorities do. Seems like when I was younger some wise judge might look at this as two young people who did something foolish and go easy on the guy even though he is legally an adult. Something tells me that this guy won't get that kind of treatment. Certainly not from most judges in the South. Society takes things quite seriously now.

What should be his punishment? Probation? Some jail? Life in prison? I welcome any comments.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Are You ADD? Part 1

One of my purposes for this blog is to try to help people. If anyone out there is ADD, being diagnosed will greatly help you find a new acceptance of yourself. Even if you never take medication, the diagnosis will bring new meaning to your life.

This article explains the criteria proposed by Dr. Ned Hallowell, a leading person in the ADD field. These criteria are different from the DSM criteria. I find his criteria and the explaination much better than the more dry and sterile DSM criteria.

An old Cherokee Indian Philosophy.

My grandfather was a Winnebago. For some people this is what they think of when the hear Winnebago. If you're curious here's some information about the Winnebago.

That explains why my ADD brain stopped when it saw this post on the net. It also really speaks to some of my life.

An old Cherokee Indian was teaching his grandson
about life.

"A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.
"It is a
terrible fight and it is between two wolves:

One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed,
self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority,
lies, false pride,
superiority and ego.

The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope,
serenity, humility,
kindness, benevolence, empathy,
generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

This same fight is going on inside you and inside every
other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then
asked his
grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee replied...

"The one I feed."

High Functioning ADDers

This blog is quite funny in an Australian/English sort of way. I love the line: "I'm the librarian who gets shushed by the patrons." Personally, I'm not a hyperactive ADDer. I'm the inattentive type. As a recently diagnosed ADDer, I now see that I have quite an attraction to other ADD people. Some of my closest friends are ADDers.

I sent the hyperactive librarian an email asking him how the heck he ever became a librarian. However, when I think about it, it's not that unusual. I see a whole lot of brilliant, dynamic, and generally high functioning people who are ADD.

Besides my favorite judge, I have a doctor friend who is so very dynamic. She's the hyperactive ADD and uses this to her great advantage. She is the consummate joiner of organizations and is president of many of them. She still practices medicine while also holding political office. Like many ADDers she has a strong sense of compassion and truly cares.

I know many ADDers who are engineers. Almost all of these people are highly structured. Unfortunately, some are so structured that many people can't stand them because they view them as anal retentive.

Obviously I know a lot of lawyers. I suspect that there are quite a number of ADD lawyers. I'm still pondering why this is the case. Many ADD lawyers are very talkative. Try not to get trapped at a party by an ADD attorney. I'm not so much that way because of my inattentive nature, but I know that when I get cranked up I can really talk.

The educated speculation is that Benjamin Franklin was ADD. His autobiography would clearly give a strong indication. Thomas Edison is also speculated to have been ADD.

Doctors, lawyers, engineers, authors, poets are all faces of ADD. You know many of these people. They have prospered, but I suspect many live with a lot of self doubt and insecurity.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Two's Don't Marry Ten's

In the family law circle, we often hear from one spouse that their soon to be ex-spouse is totally depraved. The "injured" spouse will often go on ad nauseum about the evil acts committed upon them by the other party.

The phrase "Two's Don't Marry Ten's" means that the complaining spouse is probably not exactly a ten themselves. When I was a younger lawyer, I used to listen to the complaining spouse and wonder how the evil spouse could be so horrible. Now whenever I hear my client complaining about how evil their mate is I just think to myself "Well, Two's Don't Marry Ten's."

Am I becoming too cynical?

Monday, November 22, 2004

Dysfunctional Families

A large part of my practice is family law. If you've ever done any psychological counseling, you are quite familiar with discovering issues with your "family of origin." The whole purpose of this exercise is to discover how dysfunctional your family was and to try to understand how this affects you today. I'll be the first to admit that it can be an interesting exercise is trying to figure out how you got to be the way you are.

Practicing family law has taught me that "dysfunctional" and "family" are synonymous. The real question is where your family falls in the dysfunctional continuum. Since I grew up in the sixties, I vividly remember the Cleavers of "Leave It to Beaver" fame. For a long time, I felt my family was quite dysfunctional. After practicing family law for over 17 years, I now realize that we're a lot closer to the Cleavers than to the Ozbournes.

My Favorite Judge

One of the best judges down at the courthouse should be a poster child for ADD. The man just cannot sit still for very long. He talks incredibly fast. If you sit down to talk with him, he will often pick up the phone spontaneously without even telling you he needs to make a call. He is not only one of the best judges, he's also my favorite judge down at the courthouse.

He's is my favorite because he truly has a sense of compassion. I think a large part of this is due to his ADD nature. Perhaps its because we always feel a little odd in the world that we tend to feel for those who also feel marginalized. The great thing is that people can tell that he cares.

The judge also understands people. The ADDer's brain is so active that they tend more to work with intuition and reading between the lines. We live our thoughts. We mull them over. We ponder about people.

The judge is smart. He always amazes me with his near photographic memory. He will see someone in court from a year ago and start talking about their case. I'm sure this is one of the reasons that he is a judge in spite of being ADD.

This judge also works - and works very hard. For all the non-ADDer's there are two basic types of attention deficit disorder. Those who are primarily hyperactive and those who are primarily inattentive. The Judge is hyperactive. He moves from case to case and gets a lot done. He will stay late in the day to finish his cases. The taxpayers get their money from this man.

Lately, I've been telling the Judge about my ADD diagnosis and treatment. Both times I've talked with him about it, he says that maybe he ought to consider going to check himself out.

I hope that he does. He is a great man. He is a wonderful man. I also see the ways that his ADD negatively affects him. He can get overwhelmed and snap at his staff. He doesn't understand that not everyone can work non-stop like him. He can be disorganized and somewhat scattered.

I'm beginning to believe that there is a high percentage of ADDers in the legal profession. I'm curious if other people feel this way and what theories people may have that would explain this.

Look around you. Between 3 and 5 out of every 100 people you meet will be ADD. Some may go their whole lives never understanding that the reason they struggle is that they are ADD. They will fail at marriages and jobs and never really understand why.

I hope the Judge goes for treatment. I know it will make a great man even greater.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Finding Acceptance

Back in the late summer I was traveling with some friends of mine. They had a son who had just graduated from high school. I knew the child and the parents well from church. As I observed their son, I sensed that he was quite a bit like me. He is smart. (Yes I'm being not very humble and admitting that at least some of the time I might act smart.) He can be withdrawn. He appears to have some issues with moodiness.

Up to this point all I knew about the son was that he had previously had some problems with depression and had received medication. During this brief ride, I discovered that in fact the son was in many ways a younger version of me. First I discovered that at some point their son had been firmly diagnosed as having ADD. As they started talking about what a "mess" their son was, everything started to ring in my head. "Yep, been there." "Yep, done that."

What chilled me to the bone was how these loving parents failed to appreciate that many of the things that appeared to them as "messy" were just a natural part of this son's unique ADDness. They were quick to tell me how lazy, boneheaded, and disorganized their son was. I don't know for sure how much similar thoughts are communicated to their son, but I sensed that if they were quick to say these things to me, then surely some of this message must at least be being indirectly communicated to their son.

Their son is brilliant. (Full scholarship to a major university.) Their son is sensitive. (He went into a major tailspin because of his girlfriend relationship.) I know his struggles. I also wonder what he is telling himself right now.

Finding acceptance is hard as an ADDer. Parents, friends, associates, and our significant others are quick to shake their heads in a sense of negative disbelief to our natural behaviors. Many times they often will tell us how lazy, disorganized, and irresponsible we are. The sad and troubling part about this is that 99% of the time, the ADDer already knows that. They have probably told themselves that thousands of times.

In the 43 years before I realized the truth about my condition, I had one predominant mantra that I would repeat to myself. I would hate to try to count the number of times I have said to myself, "Damn, I've really got to get my shit together."

Understanding and coming to grips with my condition has helped to start the healing that 43 years of lack of acceptance of myself has created.

As I think about my friend's son right now, I just can't help but worry that right now he's lying in his dorm room thinking, "Damn, I've really got to get my shit together."


I decided to start this blog to detail some of the craziness in my life. Life in the law presents its own craziness. The day to day grind of eccentric judges, stressed clients, and other lawyers is enough to make anyone a tad bit crazy. Factor in the stuggles of living with this thing call attention deficit disorder and it makes for a life that has its own unique insanity.

One of my goals with this blog is to help people. In my practice, I see many clients, attorneys, and even judges who either are diagnosed ADDers or are most likely some of the multitute of undiagnosed adult ADDers out there. Since I'm only a lawyer and not a doctor, I may label someone in my own mind as ADD/ADHD when that may not be their actual condition. All I know is that they possess many of the DSM qualities of someone with ADD/ADHD. Since I don't view ADD/ADHD as negative or bad, I don't see this as offensive. Some may see this labeling as bad (my wife certainly does), but it helps me understand people. Since I'm ADD, my labeling of someone as ADD/ADHD gives me a profound sense of compassion for that person and a profound sense of wonder for what struggles that ADD person must live with day to day.

Welcome to my blog, welcome to my life. Welcome to law in hyperspeed.