I was going to make this blog about both ADD and ADHD, as they are similar mental disorders, but they differ in their own ways so I will be focusing solely on ADHD. At the bottom of this blog post are some resources on ADHD.
ADHD is a mental disorder that can go unchecked for years before being discovered, if at all. It's a disorder that not many understand and write off as a personality issue that the individual can just "fix" or "grow out of". Those without these disorders look at one with the disorder and say, "Why don't you just try harder?". Well, the truth is, they can't.
While the average person can push through their exhaustion or depression or other feelings to do their work and get it done, a person with ADHD cannot. It's not by choice. It's the way their brain is wired and they can't rewire to work like the average person. They think differently and they know it; they just don't understand why. Life experienced by one with ADHD is like watching multiple movies in 4D at once or multiple tabs open in your browser, all playing some sort of audio; their sensory input and thoughts constantly operate at a high intensity. Have you ever had several people tell you something different all at the same time? Overwhelming right? Aren't you glad that doesn't happen everyday? Well that's ADHD 24/7.
I have ADHD myself and wasn't diagnosed with it until 2017 and I was about 23 years old. I suffer from depression as well and was prescribed anti-depressant's in 2016, a few months after having my son back in December, 2015. I was talking with my therapist and she recommended that I get tested. So, when I saw my psychiatrist to refill my anti-depressants, I asked him about ADHD. He tested me with a questionnaire and needless to say, I had "passed it" with an 80%. He said I definitely had ADHD all through childhood and had no idea how I got through school (Loving parents that helped me with all the projects that I had left until the 0-hour! Thank you! Also friends that would let me copy their homework from time-to-time.) Truth is, I wasn't a dumb student. I was actually quite smart and if I had applied myself and actually studied, I probably could have been a straight-A student and a pro at fencing, but I never did. The thing is, school never interested me. From an early age I loved to escape into the world of fantasy and pretend I was battling heartless with my very own keyblade or soaring through the sky with wings or that I was on another planet; the list goes on.
I knew that I was different and that I thought differently from everyone else. In fact, I was naive enough to think that my thought process was normal and that others had problems. I didn't understand why they couldn't understand me. It wasn't until later that I realized it wasn't them, it was me. I was the one with a different thought process. I was the one that saw things in an odd way. I was the one with a problem. Even though many children with ADHD often have a hard time sitting still and get out of their seats during class, I never really had that issue... physically anyway. I could sit there and listen to the teacher and take notes for a little bit, but then I would space out and suddenly realize that I missed the rest of the lesson and class was over or the teacher would call on me to answer a question or read a passage in the book, but I didn't have the answer or wouldn't know where we left off and would look like an idiot. I can't tell you how embarrassing that was time and time again.
When I was younger, my room was definitely messy (like any other kid!). I'd have piles of things here and there, but I'd call them "organized piles". For example, I'd have a pile of clean clothes in my laundry basket, a pile of dirty clothes on the floor, and a pile of clothes that I had worn once, but could wear again piled on top of a wooden giraffe, specifically for hanging clothes on. I'd also have a pile of toys and games in one corner and a pile of papers in another. My family never understood how I could find things, but I could. I knew what was in the piles (of course if you asked me to make a list I'd have no clue where to start!) and whenever I would clean my room and organize things, I suddenly could not find a single thing.
I've always had lots of ideas. I still do. I've also always jumped into them without thinking and would freak out when something wasn't working or didn't make sense. I'd ask for help and of course, wouldn't you know it, the person helping me would be done 1,2,3... dammit. They'll approach the problem from a way that I would have never thought of and a lot times it's the average way of fixing it! It was as if I had no common sense.
ADHD affects a lot of things, from how we think, to what we do. We act on impulse without thinking of the consequences. We explain our views on a topic, only to find out that the other person has no clue what we are saying and we bend over backwards trying to find the right words to make them understand. A lot of times I eventually give up and just say never mind because my brain suddenly shuts down and it's empty and I can't get a single thought to appear (This especially happens when I get interrupted!).
ADHD can also have a huge impact on those around us. My parents would always get angry and frustrated when they'd see me up until after midnight trying to finish a project or an essay that I had started that night and was due in the morning. They couldn't understand why and neither could. I just knew that I didn't want to do the assignment, so if it was out of sight, it was out of mind. I've even made my parents leave the hose to cool off from time-to-time because of this. Now that I'm an adult, some things have gotten better, some things have stayed about the same, and some things have gotten worse. In fact, I recently learned that a lot of my actions and inaction this year has been physically and mentally hurting my mother. I don't want to do that to her or anyone else that I care about, especially my son.
Even though I was diagnosed with ADHD in 2017, I never really read up on it to find out exactly what it was or how to manage it. I thought it was just a focus problem and figured that once I was given medicine it would be fixed. I was completely wrong. So wrong that myself and others have suffered for it. The ironic part of it all is, I'd occasionally think to myself, "I should read up on ADHD and see what I can do to get myself in order.", and then I'd almost instantly forget about it. Now, I am reading up on it and my eyes are opening up to what it that I have and what a lot of others have. I'm not fully learned on this topic yet and am just now researching and testing different ways to manage it, so I may be off on some things, but this one of many important subjects that is so misunderstood, that people suffer because of it.
I encourage others to read about these disorders, especially if you have a child that shares the same symptoms as them. You may find out that it's not the child's fault, but their disorder, and you can help them to manage it and give them a better life. Take it from someone who's been struggling for 24, almost 25, years now and could have benefited from being diagnosed with ADHD earlier in life, rather than now when I'm trying to get my life and career started.
I am currently reading these two books, once I have finished I will post another blog about things that I have learned. Keep in mind that these 2 books go together.
Driven to Distraction by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M.D.: