It is not without reluctance that I share with the world that I have ADD, or ADHD as all varieties are called these days, although I don’t have the hyperactive aspect.
Let’s face it (whoa! I’ve been watching too much politics…)… there are still way too many people out there who think ADHD is over diagnosed, over medicated, and a symptom of the instant gratification generation or bad parenting. That is both my reluctance and my motivation; I fear judgement, but I want to help others. Trouble is, there are people like me who didn’t grow up texting, playing video games (does a brief stint with Pong count?), or the internet. Nor did my parents refrain from disciplining me. Word is, I didn’t need much disciplining, nonetheless, they disciplined us all. I sat on the periphery and watched the world around me until something ignited my fire, and then I cowered or I only followed, never initiated.
There are people like me who never know why they feel like (and are often seen as) they’ll always and forever be an underachiever, a perpetual failure, or have something to offer the world but just can’t seem to ever quite make it happen.
But Heaven bless those who know what they’re talking about! People who have spent their entire careers studying ADHDers and devote their lives to helping people like me to simply function, if not succeed in life. People who have left legacies of medication research since WWII. And bless my intelligent family members who have helped me understand this through their examples and perseverance.
It is precisely because I don’t have the “H” in ADHD that I am now 37 and could only recently put a name to its face.
Have you ever had the experience of developing a relationship in work or life where you only ever talk to them on the phone, online, through letters or through a trusted mutual friend? You may get to the point where they are an important part of everyday life. Only problem is, you’ve never seen their face. That person is real, but not complete. Not fully understood. Always a little mysterious. Chances are you may never meet them and so you say, “Oh well, at least I know about them. I know someone who knows them personally and that’s good enough.”
Meeting ADHD has been like that for me. I’ve seen glimpses in my own behavior, never knowing they were pieces of a puzzle that made up a face. Never knowing they had a name. And this past year I got to personally shake the hand of Mr. ADHD and say, “I’ve heard so much about you. I feel like I’ve known you all my life. I thought I might have seen you once, but you know… you don’t look like I had you pictured in my head.”
It’s liberating to finally put the puzzle together and give the face a name. The face of things I have tried and tried and tried to get control of but continually feel guilty that I can’t, over compensating wherever I can. And because I keep trying people call me “a perfectionist” and “OCD”. So I repeatedly learn to accept myself and work to embrace my challenges, except that just around the corner something else is going to spark a fuse and often bring with it depression and anxiety. That’s just part of life. That’s normal for me. But I knew I was capable of more.
Now, I accept the name ADHD into my life.
Not as an excuse (I never intended to forget what I said I would do the other day, all. the. time.?);
Not as a “label” (I detest being compared to others?); but…
I accept it because I finally understand the workings of my brain!
It is liberating because I finally know how to get help to function some days and succeed in others. And ADHD is no longer a mysterious acquaintance, he’s my friend.
My #2 Favorite Find is this book:
ADHD Living Without Brakes, by Martin L. Kutscher, MD.
This book (and my family) saved my life. Find it here.
It’s a short book that is geared toward parents helping their children, but the information is collected by a Pediatric Neurologist who explains things that helped me make sense of my brain.
I’d like to explain the sense ADHD has made of my life, but will save that for another day. I promise I’ll share. You may wonder how I can keep such a promise when I have trouble with such things. But I CAN because I’ve already written the essay. I just didn’t want to overwhelm the day.
After scouring the internet, these are my favorite ADHD resources so far:
Healthline.com’s 13 Best ADHD Blogs of 2012
And here’s a fantastic 3 minute video of a doctor who explains how the ADHD brain functions.