Monthly Archives: April 2011

Me and ADHD

 

I recently heard an adult complaining that their child was diagnosed with ADD and how they thought it was just an excuse for the kid’s laziness and lack of scholastic effort. I’m a walking example that can totally disprove this narrow-minded viewpoint.

Yes, it’s true. I suffer from ADHD (as well as some other things my friends might tell you!). I was diagnosed in the late 90s and from what I’ve learned; it is MUCH more difficult to spot in adults as opposed to children. As an adult, you’ve developed a myriad of compensatory methods to deal with the affliction, so it becomes hidden behind your quirks.

For me, it was trouble focusing, reading, staying on task…the usual stuff. As a kid, I knew nothing about it nor did anyone else, because it wasn’t identified as a real condition until long after I was out of school. No, I was just a hyper kid with poor manners and little or no will-power; or so I was labeled.

I was relieved and upset when I was diagnosed. Relieved because now I had a reason for the struggles as a youngster (and as an adult for that matter). Upset because it took 30-some years to figure it out. ADHD and ADD stem from a chemical “malfunction” in the brain. It has to do with the “gates” that control the amount of chemicals such as noradrenaline and serotonin that are released, and when.

Normal people have cycles of these chemicals that help them “wake up” in the morning and fall asleep in the evening. We do not. What happens is they are released randomly or continuously, so we are never fully awake or asleep. Hence the moodiness, lack of focus and so on. Ever wonder why very young kids with ADD/ADHD have so many temper tantrums? Because temper tantrums release the noradrenaline in their brains, and they will have those tantrums in the mornings to wake them up – self-medicating before they can even spell ADD.

“What’s it like”, I’ve been asked. Well, like this –  

You wake up and look around the room and see the pack of Eclipse on the show about our planet last night on the science channel narrated by Mike Rowe on the new Ford commercials and I’d like to drive a new Mustang GT on the Bonneville Salt Flats I’m sure my friend’s mom drove a ’67 Bonneville that was light blue.

Have trouble making sense of that? Welcome to the world of the ever-changing channel in the ADD brain. It’s not fun.  Think about reading sentences/books like that from first grade to your senior year of college. If someone you know thinks they may have it; check it out. The diagnosis and treatment totally changed my life, afterwards I was able to return to school and earn my degrees. It’s real, it’s not an excuse, it doesn’t make you or them a bad person…it’s simply an affliction.

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If it Weren’t for Bad Luck…

 

Have I ever told you the story about my uncle Erving? You know – the one who won the NY lottery back in 1986 only to get hit by a taxi on the way to cash in his winning ticket. Uncle Erving survived but the ticket was dislodged from him during the impact and never located; he died penniless and angry just a few years later.

Or the one about my cousin Derek, when under severe marital stress committed adultery (the only time in his life, mind you) only to contract a severe case of syphilis, lose his mind and spend the rest of his days locked in a state asylum?

Seems my family has a history of falling victim to incredible circumstances. Like my great aunt Heather, who fell for a circus entertainer when she was just 17 years old and ran off from home during the Great Depression. A year after her leaving, Philo her high-school sweetheart, invents the television and becomes rich beyond his wildest dreams. Great Aunt Heather? She was stuck with a hairy strongman until their untimely deaths during a freak train derailment in northern Idaho.

No, my family has not been on the fast-track to fortune or success and has certainly seen its share of heartache and disappointment. I’m not sure about my future, but I can tell you I will be staying in today, avoiding women, the circus and any temptation to hit it rich on a Mega Millions ticket. Oh yeah, did I also mention it is April 1st!  Happy April Fools  🙂