How does it feel to be you?

I knew this guy when I was younger that everyone seemed to like. He was considered, kind, caring, charismatic, and charming. Generally the most caring person you could ever ask to meet. He was witty, smart, fun and basically pretty amazing to be around. He made everyone laugh and feel welcome in his presence. If it was needed, which was more often than he’d care to admit, he counseled those feeling down or needing guidance. He seemed to have this uncanny wisdom about him that always applied to those he aided, even if he didn’t know them.

So, here is this great guy. Yet every day he would look in the mirror and despise the face looking back at him. He generally felt like he was the biggest failure he’d ever know. He couldn’t stand the damaged and disorderly that was staring back at him. (You guessed it. He has ADHD.)

Um. What?

When I hear of someone feeling this way, I’m not really shocked, just saddened. I would see some pretty amazing people that have no problem demeaning themselves. Uncomfortable in their own skin, disliking who they are or have become. When I went through this battle, it was feeling a sense of shame because I was subjecting those around me to my ADHD. You see, I was actually raised to personify the condition. I was ADHD, and I was a nuisance to all of those that had to encounter me. When such thoughts go on unfiltered and unchecked, they can become deeply embedded in your psyche. They hit like a boxer with no mercy and leave a mark that no one can see except the suffering soul. And they can’t get it out of their sight. It breaks the heart, shreds at the soul and makes them feel, well, worthless. In short, it tears down their self-esteem.

Now, I know that everyone has heard about self-esteem and how it’s a huge part of who you are. However, let’s just define the term really quick.

Self-esteem is defined as having confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect. Basically, you’re putting a value on you. What you’re worth to yourself and your world. And who doesn’t want to value themselves? Who doesn’t want to be seen as a great person with endless potential and hope beyond measure? Who doesn’t want to look in the mirror and smile at the reflection, loving the person looking back at you?

You’d be surprised.

I know I was. Now, I’ve been counseling people with low self-esteem for some time now, and I thought I had seen it all. However, I was also living in a world where I was blind to the damage that was going on right under my nose. And when it finally reared its ugly little head, it hit me like a semi into a guard rail. (Quite the visual!). But, let me set the stage for this little story.

I’m not going to lie, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of my children when they were little. It really gets me all soft and fuzzy inside. Their little laughs, quirks and personalities always makes me smile. The way they’d see the world and all its wonders and possibilities. How their little personalities developed as they grew into the world, wanting nothing more than to grab it by the horns and make it a better place for everyone. Those sweet memories when they were innocent and hopeful, ready to develop into the masters of their domains and conquer the universe.

A time where I had yet to screw them up.

Oooh, so harsh I am with myself. Well, most parents will be. If you love your kids like I do, (not a challenge. I’d win.) Any little mistake will seem like a huge one. And what’s worse, sometimes you find out you did something you didn’t even realize and it impacted them for most of their lives. That’s where the semi comes in. Something that was said or done, sometimes out of ignorance, sometimes out of anger, and their children’s self-esteem takes a hit. We don’t want to damage our loved ones, we’d rather build them up. And we spend hours on end telling them constantly how great they are and what a gift they’ve become. So, why is it that you spend a lifetime building them up, yet one careless or misinterpreted remark is the one that sticks? (I sense a ‘Murphy’s Law’ joke coming, so I’ll just move this along.)

I had a conversation with my oldest daughter recently, and I don’t think she was aware that she was going to metaphorically punch me in the gut. (She’d offer to do it for real If I so needed. The smile is so sweet….). Now, I’m obviously going to be bias in my opinion of my children, but I don’t lie so you’ll have to take my word for this. My daughter is absolutely beautiful. And I’m making a statement that has been made to me numerous times over the years. I always thought people would complement my child out of sheer honesty. They were never ‘Just being polite’. And I had no problem beaming with pride about my little girls. (With my son, the pride beams differently. It’s a guy thing.) I’ve always seen the sweetness, brilliance and beauty of my little ladybug. All I ever wanted was for her to see herself the way that I see her. A literal angel dropped from heaven like a drop of honey to sate even the bitterest soul with her beauty, charm and wonder. (Dear Lord, did that just come out of me?)

So, imagine my shock when I found out my child thought she was about as pretty as a puddle of muddy water. (And I was shocked that I was shocked. No, I will not explain this little Inception moment I just created).  You see, I discovered that she had some rather deep rooted self-esteem issues that I never even imagined existed. Hearing my little girl express the self-deprecation that had been building over time in her mind and heart just about broke mine. And I had to face a couple of harsh realities about her situation. And one of them was that I had been ignorant of who she surrounded herself with. She was such a leader and a beacon of light to so many of her peers I hadn’t realized that she had actually surrounded herself with some pretty self-righteous people that did nothing but bring her down. And, to make matters worse, some of the insecurities were created directly by me! She told me of a few things I’d said to her in the past that actually hurt her. I never knew!  I could have died right there. Talk about failing as a parent! All of the good I might have felt I’d done for my baby girl just washed away in a tsunami of shame and a hurricane of guilt. (How’s that visual strike you!) I was so ashamed of myself I could have turned in my parenting license right there if I’d had one. And I’m not alone. Many parents are walking around bragging about their children and have no idea how in the name of Jehosephat did they get such a disparaging image of themselves. I mean, seriously! Haven’t they been listening?

After hearing such depravity, I wanted to do whatever it took to remove those negative moments from her mind and replace them with the truth. However, I had to swallow that bitter pill of reality that it wasn’t going to happen. I cannot allow myself to be so naive I thought I could simply hug the pain out of my child. The damage was done and the scar was there. So, no matter what is said, it’ll be a slow climb out of that pit to get her back to a place of healthy self-worth. Of course, even though I could apologize and own my mistake completely, the damage has been set and the image they have is pretty ingrained in their psyche. So, what does a father do?

Now, I’ve spent some time here blathering on about my kids and self-esteem and such. But, what does this have to do with ADHD? Well, if you really are asking that question, you definitely do not have ADHD. If you do have ADHD, you know what I’m talking about. So for those who love a disorderly, listen up. This is probably going to surprise you.

When you have such a condition as ADHD, you cannot help but find yourself the center of attention much of the time. Of course, much of that time it’s not exactly the kind of attention you’re craving. Being compulsive, hyper and easily distracted, you will normally find yourself facing the business end of someone’s aggravation and disappointment. You get in trouble for things you either didn’t mean to do, or that you didn’t even realize you were doing. It happens at home, at school, at work and in social situations. (Try explaining yourself to your girl when you’re kissing her and suddenly get a thought and walk away wordlessly. I’ve done that. More than once. And she still married me.) You can’t escape the drama any more than you can escape the ADHD. So, while you grow up in this little world of racing thoughts, spontaneous decisions and hasty actions, you annoy and frustrate many that encounter you. Even those that love you. They get angry, displeased and disappointed because you cannot seem to act like everyone else. Why can’t you just calm down? Try harder? How can you not notice how loud you’re being? Why can’t you just sit still? Stop making excuses and just pay attention! (A collective teeth gnashing for those of us familiar with all of those statements.) If this is all you ever hear, you begin to see yourself as the failure they apparently believe you to be. That sticks with you. And it affects how you see yourself.

Let me define this from a psychological perspective. Everyone has a Self Concept. This is where any experience a person encounters can help them grow and better themselves. It becomes a part of their personal definition. Due to this fact, they need to have Self Regard. A place in their beliefs that they’re a good person and worthy to be loved. To develop that, they need to have Positive Regard from those that are important to them. 

Yeah, that is a lot of medical jargon they teach in school. 

What does it mean? It’s actually rather simple. We all want to be a better version of ourselves. We’re always trying to improve. And in doing so, we start to identify ourselves through the experiences we encounter, or Self Concept. In order to build that self-esteem, we need to see ourselves as worthy and decent people, or Self Regard. But we cannot simply do this for ourselves. We need to have the positive input from those we respect to help build that self-esteem and see ourselves as we truly can be, or Positive Regard. 

In essence, by showing others the good we see in them, we build them up and help them become the person they want to be. So, why are there so many kids out there with ADHD with such low self-esteem? 

To be quite honest, everyone is important to us. It doesn’t matter if you see your glowing little ball of energy as an incredible blessing that can take on the world. Well, that does matter, however the minute one person, be it a coach, teacher, family member or even just a friend, sticks a negative bias on us, it sticks. By the time we’re school age, we know we’re different. We know everyone else is normal and we just stick out. (And you know that’s not actually true, but that’s just how it works in our minds.) Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not like everyone is going out of their way to damage the ADHD psyche. The teacher might be frustrated or ignorant, or the friend playing, or the family member trying to deliver a backhanded compliment in an effort to, “try to mold them.” (Oh brother). But the ADHD mind, especially the young ones, are highly susceptible to criticism and praise. I mean, it’s a definitive character trait that when you compliment us our productivity increases immediately. (Imagine when my manager discovered that. Well, imagine if she ever did…). Remember, our emotions don’t have brakes!  

How do we help those of us with ADHD look at ourselves like we should? How do you tell your little disorderly just how special and different and amazing they are without pointing out they have a ‘disorder’? I mean, you can’t clean a counter with a dirty rag. (What’s with the visuals today?) 

Here’s a clue. What are you focusing on? Are you looking at the obvious issues? Are you concentrating on what seems broken? When was the last time you mentioned something they did well that had nothing to do with ADHD? I recently told my child that I remember all of the roles she acted in all of the plays and have always enjoyed her entertaining. She’s my favorite. No, she doesn’t have ADHD, but that doesn’t matter. This is a universal language. (And my little ladybug has a smile that makes me want to weep it’s so sweet! Squishy dad moment!) 

So, when the disorderly in your life is having a bad day, give them some positive regard. Let them know what is good about them. Help them see that ADHD isn’t the only thing they can identify with by complimenting something that they can grab a hold of and make a part of who they are. Watch those eyes brighten, that chest swell, and that amazing mind of theirs spin with ideas and thoughts of the wonders they can give to the world. Because there is nothing greater than a child with hope. 

W

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And just for fun:

2017-02-06-02_18_03-fun-adhd-google-search     2017-02-06 02_18_59-fun adhd - Google Search.png

Just a quick update….

Hello Disorderlies,

Yes, that is the new title I am giving everyone that follows me. Because we have ADHD, so we’re automatically going against the natural order of things. And that makes us different. All things beautiful are different, so, guess what? We’re disorderly!

Anyway, I know it’s been quite some time since I posted here. And I have about 6 different topics I’m planning on issuing as soon as I can. It’s just that I’ve entered a graduate program to be a counselor and that’s eating up much of my time. (Yup! me. Getting a Master’s. I plan on specializing in something. I wonder what it should be….2016-12-05-02_42_01-sarcastic-face-emoji-google-search) So, for the time being, I’ll be trying to put out one post a month. That way I don’t get stale in my writing and still have time to pass these classes. (Grad school is NOT the joyride I was sold it would be!)

So, pass the word along and have your friends to read what’s been written. Tell me what you think about what I’ve already posted so I can see what works and what doesn’t. I only want to give you my best so I can be of as much help as possible. I hope to hear from you soon and guarantee you’ll be hearing from me. (No, that’s not a threat. Unless you’re dating one of my daughters!)

W

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The feelings mutual

Times have changed. I’m certain there are many out there that remember when they discovered they had ADHD. Some of us only remember that we’ve always known. We grew up with the label. And in the past when you discover you have it, you basically suck it up. Sure, we had some medications that would help, but that was about it. We were given the list of issues we would be facing like a to-do list. ‘You’ll be inattentive, distracted, impulsive and forgetful. So, figure it out and go about your way little person’. (Does that sound condescending? Yeah, it did back then too.) So, we learned to cope as well as we could. But nowadays, it’s a different story. We know so much more about the condition that some of us are shocked to find out many of our issues were ADHD related. When I discovered that many of my traits stemmed from my ADHD, I went through a gambit of emotions. And, in an effort to obtain some level of control over this malfunction of by Frontal lobes and Cerebellum, I tackled every trait I discovered. Inattentiveness – Learn coping mechanisms. Distractions – modify my world. Impulsiveness – train myself. Forgetfulness – change my habits. Memory issues –  um…screw it. Meds. But I accepted it. I have ADHD. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just the hand I was dealt.

So why didn’t I feel any better?

You see, I accepted it all, yet ignored the one major component that pretty much drove most of my symptoms like a Ferrari on the Autobahn. My emotions.  If there was anything within this condition that was more frustrating, more haranguing and virtually impossible to control, it was my damned emotions. Even in my researching of the components regarding them I still wasn’t finding an answer as how to get them under control. And, of all the traits needing to be controlled, it was emotions. Because no decision driven by emotion was ever considered a good one. (Go ahead, try and refute that. You think Hitler made his choices out of logic?)

I know, I know, I’ve covered the emotional aspect of ADHD previously. But this is different. This particular post is about finding a way to perhaps keep these wild horses we call ‘feelings’ from stampeding all over our loved ones, or friends, or co-workers. Or strangers in line that don’t know how to use the card machine at the checkout. (Hey! Some things are just too frustrating to watch!) So, what do we do? How do we stem the ever raging tsunami that is our emotions when they get triggered or fanned into a blaze? Is there some sort of secret that many of us haven’t heard about that might actually give us a chance so save our marriages, friendships and jobs?  And maybe keep us from getting thrown out of Target? (It was a frustrating day!) As a matter of fact, I believe I have found an answer. At least for me, and many I’ve given this insight. I have found a method that will actually help keep me from going into a hulk like rage when getting inconvenienced when I simply want to go along my merry way. (I really gotta get over that person. Just swipe the card!!!) I know what I would tell anyone with ADHD what their best course of action should be when they find their feelings are getting away from them and they’re desperate to stop them.

Don’t.

Now I don’t mean let yourself go and fly off the handle at your kids, or lose your temper at your boss, or act rude because you’re frustrated. (Ok, I think I might need therapy.) No one needs the aftermath that comes after such moments. However, I am talking about other times that you notice your emotions getting away from you. How many times have you had some random memory of a loved one, like your kids, and suddenly felt like crying. Or heard a song that seemed to touch just the right nerve and you felt deeply from it. Or you’re watching a commercial with a father/daughter moment and find yourself wanting to weep. (Yeah, I have a specific commercial that always gets me. My daughters tend to leave the room when it pops up.) I always fight back these emotions because, I mean seriously, what the hell? It’s a gum commercial for crying out loud. But recently I’ve been trying a new approach. I let it out. And oh, let me tell you how that’s changed things for me.

I actually stumbled across this process while researching for another post. It intrigued me so much,  I wanted to give it a try before saying anything about it. Yes, I realize that giving in to my desire to weep will put my man card on the bubble, but it’s for a worthy cause. I need to find a way to soothe these emotions so that I might find some peace when things get rocky. I need to be able to control myself. I want to be healthy. I don’t know anybody that doesn’t want that.

What I found is  that letting it out literally has a positive effect on the body. It actually takes the negative emotions stored in the mind and releases them. When you’re done,. a state of relaxation takes over the system. Now, for an average person, that sounds pretty good. To us with ADHD, it’s a miracle. Because it actually works. I know because I tried it. Let me tell you how it works.

It wasn’t long ago and I was trying to get some time with my kids. They’re adults now and have very busy lives. My oldest was the busiest and I rarely heard from her. Well, we had connected recently and decided to make some definitive plans to see each other weekly. Then, one day, out of the clear blue, a random text comes in. My oldest simply wanted to let me know, “I love you, Dadre.” (It’s her nickname for me. And no, you can’t have it.) I was at work and had to find a private place because I could feel it coming on so fast and strong. But this time I wasn’t holding it back. This was a perfect example of when to let the emotions flow. And I did. I cannot tell you what a simple ten minutes can do for a person when they simply allow themselves to feel. I’m not ashamed and I’m not weakened by it. My children are very important to me. That was precious. I’ve since done so with all of my children. And what I found is that I am much more relaxed when it comes to them. I used to fret and stress and get overly emotional whenever I couldn’t get a hold of them, or we had to cancel plans, or I just didn’t hear from them for two days. Now, it’s easier. So, when I have the opportunity, let the feeling happen. Feeling suddenly happy, then sing. Feeling the anger build, then vent. Even to yourself.if needs be. Feeling sad, cry.

Now, let me say that it’s still very important to choose your timing very carefully. I have had many times while watching my children interact with each other that I felt such a love for those amazing creatures I literally almost burst into tears right in my sons arms. Wouldn’t that be awkward? My kids laughing at a joke and all of a sudden dad just bursts into tears. Normally I’d agree. But my kids, especially my son, are very attuned to my emotional state. They can be extremely sensitive while I regain my composure. (No, I’ve not burst into tears in front of my kids. Much. Dear Lord, how often have I done this?)

This little discovery led me to realize that those close to me have found ways of managing me. I have select friends that I can call on in a moments notice and start to rant about whatever is affecting me. They get that I need to let that emotion flow in order to get back to rational thought and solve the problem in front of me, or, in some cases, not unload on the frustration in front of me. They know that the results could be catastrophic if I simply went with that emotion and let it fly. Anyway, they get a good laugh out of it simply because they get a text message when I’m stuck in a line. Okay. I’m not going there again.

I cannot stress the importance of this topic enough. This issue just seems to keep popping back up over and over. No matter where you go in your research and education of ADHD, emotional stability ( Also known as emotional Hyperactivity)keeps knocking on discoveries door. Ok, more like slamming it’s head into the door like a Pachycephalosaurus on an overdose of Ritalin. There’s a visual that’ll keep you occupied for hours. (Dino reference for my boy!) And whenever it finds it’s way to me, I am more than compelled to speak on it. Because I know the devastating effects of repressed emotions. And if we can find a way to stem that tide and save what we have, it’s worth it to speak on it as many times as necessary.

And that’s what I’ll do. Every time a new aspect of the emotional trait of ADHD arises and is noticed, I’m going to speak on it. I feel that it is very necessary to share in order to make somebody, anybody, more comfortable with who they are and how they feel. Nobody should ever be condemned simply because they feel more deeply and more reactively than others. to avoid, ignore or simply deny your emotions can leave you….empty. And if there’s one thing anyone with ADHD isn’t, is empty. THere’s just too much life inside them to deny it.

W

 

Research on this topic:

http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/11124.html

http://www.healthcentral.com/anxiety/c/1950/52834/benefits-crying/

And, for the fun of it:

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Because we’re just a bunch of addicts Dammit!

Oh merciful Lord this topic!

Of all the topics to touch on regarding ADHD, this is number two on my list of eyerolling, jaw dropping, flabbergasted, disbelieving, are-you-serious-right-now subjects I try simply to avoid for fear of getting into an argument that will inevitably leave me at home sitting in my favorite chair wolfing down a half gallon of Dreyers chocolate ice cream rocking like a speed freak while trying to do anything but contemplate the ignorance of the common man.

Imagine what number one is. You’ll eventually find out. 2016-07-17 23_37_27-scream of frustration - Google Search

Yes, meds. Drugs. Pharmaceuticals. the almighty pill. And the ensuing argument of whether or not we actually need them. So, I’d love to start from the beginning. But since I’m not really sure where that would be on this topic, I’ll start from mine.

Back in the day (And here come the age jokes. My kids tell me I make it all too easy for them) medication was still relatively new. I mean, it had only just become a schedule II drug in 1970. It’s true use for ADHD wasn’t until the 50’s. So, while it may not have been in the ‘experimental’ stage, it definitely wasn’t relied on as a stable source of treatment. However, my mother was willing to do anything to get her little cyclone of a son under control, so she allowed the doctor to prescribe me Addreall at age 9.

Now, as luck would have it, I started my medications right about the time I started having ‘Childhood Hallucinations’. These hallucinations were so vivid and real to me they  literally freaked me out. My mother was certain they were caused by the medication as they seem to fit the effects of the drug (don’t ask me how she would know this. I’m chalking it up to parental wisdom and leaving it at that). So, from then on, I was a staunch advocate against medication. It gave me hallucinations, dammit! How can you deny these medications are dangerous when they have such a side effect!

Fast forward a plethora of years later, It’s 2014 and I’m in a new job. I desperately need some sort of control over my ADHD and give in to my internal pressure to be seen. I explain to my doctor why it is I haven’t been on medication. I figure there has to be better meds out there now that would benefit me. Ah, how I remember her smile as she told me the meds didn’t cause the hallucinations. She explained Childhood Hallucinations to me.

To this day I’m pretty sure the first thing out of my gaping maw was, “Derrr…”

And in just a moment, everything I believed about ADHD medication went out the window. I needed to know more. I had some serious studying to do. But in the meantime, I was really curious what new and designer medication my doctor was going to prescribe me. Hopefully something that was going to work quickly and seem like a miracle in the form of a capsule. My wait wasn’t long as she told me, “Addreall.”

Um…what?

Yes. The medication that started it all for me was back in my grip. And this time, it had a longer lasting cousin that was just itching to get inside me. (That didn’t sound right. And yet I left it….). So, now I’m medicated and try not to let the heavy weight of regret pollute me as I go through my days with a bit more concentration and focus. But, Now I had to know, what is everyone’s big issue?

 

The issue here is really simple. There are quite a number of people that do not believe we should be getting medication for ADHD.  They have fears of addiction, neurological effects, physiological effects. Those that are adamantly against any use of pharmaceuticals usually don’t do any actual research (and no, Facebook posts do not count as research) and will most likely jump on the panic wagon believing that all who use these stimulants are destined to become slobbering junkies. These are considered pessimistic naysayers that are trying to control the life of the ADHD. Of course, those that weigh the pros and cons and decide for themselves that it simply isn’t something they feel is right for them will be lumped into that group because those that are for the use of these meds are typically desperate for something to work, or are living proof they do,  and will believe the opposition are simply ignorant fools that are trying to take away our functionality. I know how this feels. Believe me, it’s easy to go there. However, we do need to consider what is brought to our attention and when the argument is reasonable and researched, we need to consider what is being said.

Did you catch that sentence? Reasonable and researched. Somehow that seems to get missed in most of the articles I’ve read about whether or not a Schedule II drug should be used to treat a disorder. I’ve seen arguments ranging from ‘We’re trying to control a tractor with a train” to doctors that literally make statements that there is no such thing as ADHD because there is no physical abnormalities. (So, basically Doc, you’re saying there’s no such thing as a psychiatric disorder of any kind? because ADHD does have a physical aspect to it….) It’s hard to take someone seriously when they’re standing on only one side of the fence and calling the other side bad without actually looking at what they are judging.

Now, before this goes any further, let me be clear. I am not advocating that medication is the only source of relief from ADHD. I’ve done quite a bit of research to find how to put medication in it’s appropriate place. I really enjoy Dr. Iris Lesser’s take on medication. She calls them “Tools not a panacea”. (That means solution or remedy. Yes, I looked it up. You didn’t know either!) That means we’re not supposed to use them as our sole source of relief from our symptoms. Although, in 1999 the research from The MTA Cooperative Group found that medication alone, with or without any behavioral treatment was better than any other treatment combined. But the study did not say medication was the ONLY treatment that worked. Just the highest success rate on its own. That caught my attention. I had to know more. Where else could I find professional opinions about whether or not medication should be considered as a necessary resource? How many other studies would find that medication was the preferred direction for ADHD management?

Oh, there’s a bunch!

Childmind.org. HelpforADD.com. The Psychiatric Times. Consumer Reports for crying out loud. There are numerous articles and research studies that expose the benefits of the medication. Of course, in order to make sure my stance on medication is fair and balanced, I need to see what those in opposition say. That research proved….disappointing.

You see, what I actually found were either sites that ADHD medication is literally an excuse to get kids ‘hooked on drugs’, or that the medication is completely unnecessary because ADHD doesn’t actually exist. We will hit on that topic another time. (Do NOT get me started on number one!). However, the largest argument I have found regarding ADHD medication has nothing to do with ADHD at all. It seems that there are young students out there that believe these medications can make them ‘smarter’ and help them pass their exams. I think I blinked at that for a few minutes before realizing I was shaking my head like I was having a seizure.  Sure, I knew some of these kids were using our meds to focus better in studying. And I almost feel bad that they shouldn’t. But, make them smarter? How in the name of Odin would any of these meds increase your level of intelligence? It didn’t take me long to realize that they were establishing their ability to hyper focus as gaining more intelligence. If only it were that easy.

But, I had to see if this theory had any substantiated proof. So I looked into it. Deeply. (Because if I’m taking a med that will increase my intelligence you bet I’m getting a stronger prescription!). What I found was a number of research studies that not only disprove this fantasy, but actually show that students who abuse these medications have no better test scores than those that don’t.

Huh. Go figure.  (Collective sigh everyone. There’s still hope for the future….ish).

So, Basically, those of us that need these medications are paying for the sins of those abusing it, and the ignorance of those that don’t want to believe such medications could actually help us. And even though it’s been researched to the point of absurdity, there are still those that want to believe every negative myth they’ve ever heard since the 60’s.

For you out there still on the fence, let me, a person that is successfully taking the medication for treatment of his ADHD traits, set the record straight.

No, this medication is not going to alter and twist our psyche. It’s a stimulant that helps the brain release the Dopamine we so desperately need.

No, we will not become addicted to this medication. It’s a salt. It has traits similar to crystal meth, but is vastly different and doesn’t react the same. And to prove my point, would an addict have to have a reminder to take his drug before he walks out the door? (How do I keep forgetting to take it!)

no, this medication is not going to turn children into psychotics. I’ve read so many scare tactic rhetoric it’s virtually insulting. I read one person describe their child as hearing voices and seeing things and they attributed it to Ritalin. Why does that sound so familiar….

My point? (Yes, believe it or not I have one and am actually getting to it.) See a Psychiatrist and not a doctor. Get a full examination. If you have ADHD, try the meds. There are far too many of us out here not suffering from our medication not to consider it. It could help. After all, that’s what medication is meant to do in the first place. And who of us couldn’t use a little help?

W

 

And just for the fun of it…

LINKS:

Deabte about medication –

http://blogs.einstein.yu.edu/treating-adhd-with-medication-the-ongoing-debate/

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/trials/practical/mta/the-multimodal-treatment-of-attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-study-mta-questions-and-answers.shtml

History of ADHD Medication –

http://blogs.longwood.edu/meredithkcengl400/2013/02/11/the-very-shocking-history-of-adhd-medications/

Childhood Hallucinations –

http://www.currentpsychiatry.com/home/article/hallucinations-in-children-diagnostic-and-treatment-strategies/f73eb1888adb367a84ba634abf0ce0a5.html

Difference between our med and drugs –

http://www.differencebetween.net/science/difference-between-adderall-and-methamphetamine/

When it hurts from the start…

There is no doubt about it, childhood can be rough. With all the changes and growing that needs to be done, sometimes things just don’t click. As parents we sincerely want to do what is best for our children, but somehow, in some way, we usually screw it up. I was once told, “Parenthood is like an exam you can never pass. Even if you get a 99%, you fail.” So, basically, we get to look forward to finding out we’ve failed our children in some way.

“Savage!” As my kids would say. But at least I got your attention.

It really isn’t all that bad. We might miss a step or two, but in the long run it honestly doesn’t have the negative impact many new parents fear it will. Now, this is based on typical child rearing from a typical parent that typically loves and nurtures their offspring. But, as you must know by now, this blog isn’t about anything typical.

Having to raise a child with ADHD makes things that much harder. Because now we have to learn a completely different aspect of our baby and try to find a way to protect them while possibly finding a solution to make their life more tolerable. Not only do we find ourselves worrying about their present day issues, but we eventually end up stressing about issues that aren’t even issues yet. We are ever so concerned about how they will function in life socially, psychologically as well as academically. We try to bury the fear that all these issues they have difficulty overcoming at the present moment will be just as bad or worse in a year, a decade, their lifetime. All we really want to have them see themselves as we see them. We want them to be able to stand up when life gets them down and find the strength to move forward (I am SO watching Rocky Balboa after this. Best monologue ever!). The important thing is to to make sure these little sparks of life do not see themselves as damaged or broken. That there is nothing about them to be considered ‘wrong’. We don’t want to break them before they’ve even had a chance to grow.

Now, how many of you are sighing because you don’t remember it that way? Yeah, me too.

In a previous post I made a short and light hearted comment about how it is being a child with ADHD. (I think it was something like finally-bought-that-huge-lollipop-from-Disneyland-and-are-minding-your-own-business-walking-down-the-street-when-some-jackass-comes-along-and-smacks-it-out-of-your-hand-shattering-it-on-the-ground-like-some-metaphor-of-your-childhood-dreams-leaving-you-nothing-but-a-short-stick. But I can’t be sure….), but in truth I really didn’t know how to describe it. At least, not until recently. However, before I explain the life altering truth that I’ve discovered (Now you’re paying attention! So stop playing on your phone and read!), allow me to take you back to the days when I was a child with ADHD. Back in a time where the disorder was hideously misunderstood and denied. (because it’s so well accepted today…)

A typical day for me would be needing to literally fall out of bed just to wake up. Then, as soon as the ‘ol cerebral motor got running, the engine guns full speed ahead and I’m out the door before I even know where I’m suppose to be going. Yes, I often started to leave and forgot where I was supposed to go. (School brainiac!)

Then, I get to school and immediately have to try to keep a low profile because the bullies are out in force today. Just like yesterday. And the week before. And…always. However, I fidget like a crack head and my imagination takes off if so much as a breeze catches my attention. This often gets me in trouble with my teachers. Oh the annoyance of the little Italian boy. to make matters worse, they would typically scold me in front of the class, probably in an attempt to ‘educate’ me through humiliation. Then comes the ridicule of my peers. I’m telling you, kids can be cruel. One time I was told by another kid they literally would just wait until I did something stupid so they could harp on me. They were literally looking forward to debasing and humiliating me. (I mean come on. Get a hobby. Or an addiction…)

And then I have to deal with the schoolwork. Yes, I got the concepts. I understood what was taught to me if I was able to pay attention long enough. But then give me til the end of the day, or an hour later, (or 30 seconds later) and something in those steps you taught me are gone. Just…gone. Panic usually ensues because I certainly don’t want to ask the same question I asked just two minutes ago to get it down. Teachers get irritated and students just hate on me all the more. So I shut my mouth and pray I can get that help from someone at home. (I lived in quite the fantasy world.)

School’s out and it’s time to get home. I survived another day of school and those meanies that just didn’t understand me. Of course, most of it I would love to tell my single mother. Maybe get some empathy for the hard day I had at school…again. A bit of parental nurturing letting me know that some might misunderstand me, but at least I have somewhere safe to land at the end of the day. And some help with these damned math problems I understand but don’t understand. You understand.

This is going to really suck to read. Mostly because so many will relate to it.

We all know that the nurturing I was seeking is no fairy tale. It’s an absolute necessity. However, what I usually got was an annoyed parent that simply wished I would just stop doing whatever stupid things I do to piss people off. She would attempt to educate me on why it is that the bullying happening to me was really my fault. She even told me once she wished she could be a fly on the wall so she could see what I was doing and actually help me see why they don’t like me. Now, don’t get me wrong. My mother was very convinced I had ADHD. And back in the 70’s (Go ahead, make your age jokes. You won’t come up with anything my kids haven’t already copyrighted.) so little was known about the disorder it seemed to me that the doctors were really just guessing on what the cause was and how to ‘cure’ it. And believe me, my mother wanted a cure. I cannot begin to tell you how many shrinks I visited hoping that one of them might actually have stumbled on the ancient secret to get my brain under control. Guess how many knew what they were doing? It was embarrassing to watch.

And then getting help was very difficult because it would take time that nobody really had. Maybe if I had paid attention in class I wouldn’t be so lost. (I can actually feel the sinking feeling in my stomach I used to get just reading this.) So I get left to read over the material and try to figure it out for myself. I will admit that it strengthened my logic and analytical skills greatly. And I did get myself through every grade without being held back.(Although I firmly believe some teachers graduated me just to get me the hell out of that classroom.) But that does not get to be used as a ‘silver lining’. Because this is not the way to teach someone self sufficiency, empathy nor self-esteem. There is no excuse for this. Period.

Now, I’m certain many are wondering why I’m publicly bashing my mother on my blog. Maybe I’m looking for some sort of catharsis in finally blasting my dirty laundry all over the interwebs in hopes that I finally can move on. Or maybe I’m being vindictive and ‘overly-emotional’ (I can literally see many out there gritting their teeth over that one) and just want to get some payback.

Nah. I’m not that shallow.

The reason is because most of us who have suffered this kind of life either;

  1. Can barely put into words the way it made them feel. I mean, seriously, the gambit of emotions that come from all those decades of pain are simply too much of anyone to identify. And you’re asking someone with ADHD to just pin down one. Anyone ever try to catch a plastic bag in a hurricane? (Not really sure why anyone would want to…)
  2. Are simply too ashamed to even acknowledge what happened to them.

You see, what was done to me, and most others, was that I was taught that I was an annoyance and burden to those that have to deal with me. I was shown that the only way to have any place in this world was to own the fact that I was broken. That nobody wants to deal with it nor wanted someone as damaged as me in their lives. I was taught to apologize for my very presence because I was ADHD. Read that again. I was ADHD. I was the disorder.

And I learned it well. I spent the majority of my life apologizing to everyone for my being…well, just being. (I still do it to my friends from time to time).  All the while despising myself because I was ADHD. And when I tried to express this personal disdain to my family, I was commended for acknowledging it.

Now, I’ve since outgrown that frame of mind. I have found an inner peace that let’s me realize I am NOT ADHD, I have ADHD. (Read my tagline for this very blog. It’s an acronym, not a definition.) But that doesn’t camouflage what was suffered in childhood. We struggle so hard to be heard and seen as valuable that we sometimes cannot actually realize what it is we’re asking for. We seek others to value us so we can see it within ourselves and possibly identify that empty feeling that shreds through our very soul every waking moment. But we desire this confirmation from other sources outside ourselves. We simply cannot self soothe in this situation. That is likely because we were devalued as children. We were denied the basic sense of self worth because our disorder was our label, and there was never a positive spin on it.

Today, when I excel, instead of being appreciated I’m treated as either a threat or an intrusion. In the workplace, that exposes itself as discrimination.  At home. It’s straight abuse. And that is a fact that most of us probably hadn’t even contemplated. Even on a non physical level, we cannot ignore the damage that was done. We must accept the fact that we were abused children.

The medical definition of abuse states that one definition of emotional abuse is:

“any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth.”

Research has shown that children with ADHD are significantly higher risk of neglect (60%!) and psychological abuse (35%!). Such a staggering number of children with this disorder being mistreated, whether consciously or not, cannot be overlooked or ignored. I know that I tried to brush it off or explain it away in order to avoid some of the trauma being done to me, but that’s simply not possible for a child. Try to imagine solving a Rubik’s Cube, but every time to make progress, someone snatches the cube from your hand and remixes it up. That’s a bit like trying to explain away being degraded for having ADHD. And with our emotions being two to ten times more unstable than the rest, you can imagine (actually, you may not be able to. Not sure I’d want you to) the impact it can have on the fragile little ego of a child.

Now, while I did, in fact, survive those years, I can personally tell you I see the damage that was done and it’s long term effects. Relationships are difficult for me. Trust is not something that comes naturally. Yet, I still will open myself up to anyone that is in need simply because I love to help people. It’s a lovely little merry-go-round that, due to my condition, spins at a rather dizzying pace. Getting compliments is very hard to accept because I expect something to follow that will just remind me that I shouldn’t get excited and that I’m still damaged. (Oh, those closest to me get SO aggravated at that.)

It may come to pass that one day someone comes along and sees you for what you really are, and loves you for it. Then the real fun begins. But that’s for another post altogether. (We’re so close to being done with this one. It’s almost 2am, but I can keep going if you want! Don’t tempt me….)

Then there’s the other area where someone like myself will encounter an abusive environment. My recent post shed some light on the subject of discrimination in the workplace. This is a real problem because, as I’ve explained before, it’s so hard to pinpoint and express where the abuse is coming from without sounding ‘dramatic’. (I even hate typing that word.) However, that is exactly what is done. Maybe your work is demeaned even for the tiniest flaw.Or your efforts go unnoticed, or even worse, are criticized for being unwarranted. Possibly your strengths and abilities are bypassed in an effort to keep focus off of you for the sake of another worker. (Am I relating something specific here? I’m not sayin’ nuthin’.) It could be a plethora of moments that seem like typical every day actions. But it wears on the ADHD soul. Because it reminds us of how we were treated as a child, and that just debilitates us further.

Okay, so I’ve given you examples of just a few traumatic experiences I’ve had to handle. And let me tell you, my childhood is not the worst story out there. There are those that have suffered vastly more than any of us. But I felt that expressing some of mine might make it easier for those reading this to face theirs and maybe even acknowledge it and seek help. I did. I was pointed to a therapist to help me gain some sense of self worth so I could accomplish something instead of just living in fear and regret. (Oh man was THAT session a party!)

I’ve been asked why? Why expose such a sensitive topic from your life for all to see? Well, did it help you understand your situation? Or maybe you’re a parent trying to desperately understand their child and are afraid you’re doing exactly what you don’t want to be doing. Or an educator that just doesn’t know how to handle the little tornado in the third row. Or a boss that suddenly realizes you’ve been slighting one of your best without even knowing it. Whatever the effect, if what I’ve suffered helps just one person see things more clearly and helps them overcome, then it’ll be worth it. And, as my nature demands, I want to help anyone I can.

The end game here is simply to show that, if you’re still in the suffering mode, there is a way to handle it. You’re not doomed to being a useless broken person simply because you forget, get fidgety or get distracted. In fact, you’re secretly 15% smarter than most of those around you. (Don’t tell them though. Egos get bruised very easily.) Step up, seek help, and realize. You’re one of us. You’re creative, smart and capable of achieving whatever you set your mind to. Just write it down because you’ll end up setting your mind to many things. But be proud of who you are. I know I am.

One more thing. There might be a few out there that might pity me for what they’ve read.  Let me tell those tender-hearted readers that I do appreciate such sympathy, but there’s not really a need. Just the fact that you are trying to understand is enough to satisfy someone like myself. All we really ask is that we are accepted just as we are. Allow us to grow and achieve at our own pace (which is gonna be way faster than you realize) and give us the space to make our mistakes, learn from them and not feel bad for it.

If you are brave enough to try for that little tiger you have in your life with ADHD, kudos. You’ll see the rewards rather quickly. you’ll know it because a child with ADHD will smile quickly and often. And when that happens, each smile is a gift. And it’s given to you at no cost.

W

Abuse links:

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-03-adhd-childhood-trauma-heightens-self-harm.html

http://www.teach-through-love.com/types-of-emotional-abuse.html

http://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/emotional-psychological-abuse/emotional-abuse-definitions-signs-symptoms-examples/

http://adc.bmj.com/content/90/suppl_1/i2.full

Just for fun…

ADHD KIDS

Yeah, from Rocky. What’d you expect?

2016-07-06 15_53_35-rocky balboa speech - Google Search

Not sure when my ‘Rights’ became their wrongs.

Ok. Yes, I bought my son a subscription to Marvel Unlimited. He can now read all the comics he wants. It was his 19th birthday present. And since it is Unlimited…(you know where this is going).

Recently, I was getting into the story of the ‘Mutant Registration Act’. A story line where regular people required mutants and ‘Super Humans’ to register themselves. It turned out as you’d expect. almost complete mutant extinction. I could go on about details of what I consider a brilliant concept, but I don’t want to shift my reader base from ADHD to Geek. (A comic blog. I could so get into that…)

But it did get me thinking. Throughout the stories, the heroes kept calling themselves mutants and everyone else humans. It struck me because they’re human too. (Do not bring up Superman here. He’s DC and we’re not going there!)

That’s not an original concept. Gay Rights became a huge deal in 1970 when two men were denied a marriage license. It took a decade before they began to make things happen. But it gained ground. It became Gay vs. everyone else. Or Labor rights, common Worker vs. the rich. Civil rights are any race vs. everyone else. Someone feels trodden upon, they look for their inalienable rights as a human being. But then they go about separating themselves from the world in an effort to show their distinctions and what is being discriminated. However, as soon as they gain traction for their issue, they expand. They seek even more ‘rights’. It goes from “treat me like any other” to “Accept my differences as your definition of normal”. In some cases, they try to pass laws to force us to see them that way. And I can empathize with the basic need for respect. But, what’s normal? Someone who isn’t black? Is straight? Is rich? Isn’t disabled? If you grab a handful of people, won’t you get a mixture of all of that? It seems to me that the more the subject is pushed, the more you’ll be seen as separate from the rest of the world. And, sometimes I think that’s the goal. Some movements actually want to be identified as a separate entity, and then want to be considered above the rules and regulations the rest of us are required to follow. It literally becomes a crusade. People telling people not to see them as people. Like they’re mutants vs. humans. I see it happen with a plethora of issues.

I was reading a recent situation in North Carolina regarding some Anti-gay legislation and was shaking my head. basically, the law now states that any corporation that has a religious objection to sexual preference can deny service. Yep. The ignorant vs. the Angry. It would almost be comical if it wasn’t so exasperatingly stupid. And you know the Gay Community is going to march all over that piece of legislation, which will almost immediately change as quickly as Trump on his policy (pick one. The odds are in favor you’ll get my meaning). I sighed and tried to recall exactly when the the Gay Rights movement escalate to the point of insanity. Then I recognized how it seems to happen like that every time, for every crusade. A group is discriminated and seeks to be treated justly. As soon as they get what they want, someone wants more. And it just escalates out of control. Literally every time. That’s when it hit me.

We just got started. It’s ADHD’s turn.

I know, I know. I really rambled on for a while just to get to this point. ‘When the hell are you going to talk about ADHD dude?’ Well, here it is.

There is no doubt we have our work cut out for us. It’s true, we’re discriminated. We need to educate people that what we have going on is real. (The struggle is real, as my kids would say). Then we need to get them to understand we’re not using it ‘As an excuse’. We have to struggle to be heard, understood and accepted as a very small group with a very big issue. Our struggle starts at home and branches out to our schools and workplaces. It is an affect with every single encounter we have. How many times have you been pulled over for speeding because you just didn’t realize you were?

Us: “I’m sorry officer. you see, I have ADHD.”

Cop: “Of course. sir.  It must be rough. Please sign the ticket here….”

How often do you find yourself missing your turn going, well, anywhere, simply because you were distracted by a conversation you were having. Or your cell phone. Or a thought. Or a song. Or…SQUIRREL!! (You get my point…)

How many conversations were you in that you suddenly realized you drifted from the conversation and missed a portion of what they said.

“Oh, I’m so sorry. Could you repeat that last part?”

:”Which part?”

“The part where you started the story but then that kid riding the bike almost got hit by that truck and then there was this cute little dog that walked past the dry cleaners reminding me I need to drop mine off and still need to go shopping for my nieces birthday and why is that dog walking alone man I hope that kid got where he was going safely I’d love to take a bike ride on the beach….. Yeah. Just start over.”

this used to be a personal issue that we tended to keep to ourselves and the few we trusted not to make our lives miserable every time we do what we do. But it’s becoming more of a topic of professional, educational and, dare I say, political means. We’re getting attention. And in doing so, we’re beginning to expect those around us to take notice and accept the fact that we are here and our struggle is indeed real.

And this is a good thing! I mentioned in a previous post that I was having problems with a manager of a job I had being discriminatory. In the old days (Age jokes will be met with some serious sarcasm. As if that were a threat.) I’d just suck it up and move on. But now I don’t have to do so. According to the law, I’m protected from discrimination from my employer due to my condition. And I can make some serious waves that would definitely be noticed. I wouldn’t be very popular, but I’d be standing my ground.

So let’s say I make waves. I go to HR over and over until something is actually done. I show proof after proof of the treatment until it finally stops (or at least is more bearable). Then what? Maybe I spread the word. Get others to stand up for themselves. Maybe I go to my Facebook page The Gifted (Shameless plug!) and rally my members. Perhaps we are seeing that nothing is really being handled properly. So, we want to take some action. Write letters? Picket? Hold a sit-in? Sure! That’ll get their attention. But wait, we could go even farther and go to our local politicians and demand they do something. Labor board! Fair housing! You think you’ll get to ignore us? We’re a group of ADHD! We can do this all week!! Rally everyone around us! March the streets until we’re heard! STRIKE!!!

Thank God we’re not prone to overacting. 

And there’s the point. It escalates to the point where we’re literally ready to go to war. And we run down that path before we really think about it. Of course, being ADHD, that’s expected. But if we took a moment to look ahead a bit, we might see that when we go down that road, we don’t get the sympathetic understanding we seek. We get either angry mobsters ready to go into harpy mode at the flip of their hair, or simply annoyed people looking at us like we’re just being self centered jack asses over a cause they don’t want to even think about. Why should they? Look at what it creates.

My point? (Surprisingly, I have one!) Let’s not go there. Having ADHD means we also have a higher than normal thought process. We’re smarter and more creative than that. Instead of going all passive aggressive on my manager, perhaps I’ll just have a meeting and point out the things she doesn’t see. Give her the benefit of the doubt. And if she’s simply unwilling to ease up, I can hand the situation to someone with more authority to enforce the law. I don’t need to go into a flaming rant because she doesn’t respect me the way she should. To be honest, I really should feel bad for her. She’s missing out. I’m actually a pretty great guy and excellent employee.

Let’s get the word out there. Let’s get ADHD known and seen. But let’s not shove ti down anyone’s throat. I think there’s enough suffering of the disorder by us alone. We don’t need to add victims to our body count.
W

http://gaymarriage.procon.org/view.timeline.php?timelineID=000030

http://culturalpolitics.net/social_movements

Sometimes it’s better to receive…

While picking up one of my children from high school, I heard her call a friend a genius. Now, typically I wouldn’t pay attention to something like this since it’s such a common phrase it really holds no meaning other than a random compliment (or sometimes sarcasm, which is what I was actually hearing. I should not be proud of my daughter’s sarcastic nature. But man is it amazing!). And the comment would have just flown by me had I  not been approached recently by the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education. After the primary question of “Why is New Zealand looking at me?” haunted me for a little while, I began thinking about what I would say about this obviously generous and esteemed association. But something was bugging me. No, not the two teenagers sitting with me engaged in their typical antics. Well, okay, maybe they were a bit on the bothersome side this night. (Who am I kidding. They’ll drive me to drinking yet!) I thought about the term “Genius” and how often we use it as a slang word, not even coming close to relaying its actual meaning. And that is when I realized, we do the same thing for many words. Including “Gifted”.

Google Dictionary defines Gifted:

gift·ed
ˈɡiftəd/
adjective
  1. having exceptional talent or natural ability.
    “a gifted amateur musician”

(I copied this to make it more impressive. How’d I do?)

That seems pretty simple to understand. But I needed more. I wanted to know why the term Gifted is so widely used, and easily overlooked. So, first I felt it might be a good idea to find out how the word was meant to be used, which means finding it’s origins.

Yeah, I’m not at all prone to tackling impossible tasks. That’s not ADHD at all…(insert eye roll here)

Well, I found something, much to my surprise. It seems the Oxford English Dictionary states that the word derives from religion.

a. A faculty, power, or quality miraculously bestowed, e.g. upon the apostles and other early Christians; a Christian virtue looked upon as an emanation from the Holy Ghost; extended further to endowments bestowed by heathen deities or some supernatural agent; occas. in sense of inspiration.

When God gives you a talent for something, it’s considered a gift from Him. Hence, the word stuck with anyone that could accomplish something in a manner regular people simply cannot. But, over the years, I’ve witnessed so many children be considered Gifted, except those with disorders. Now, I’m not saying we wouldn’t recognize someone with a disorder is also a gifted individual. For example, Mozart was considered beyond genius when it came to music. However, he also showed traits of some sort of psychiatric disorder. Many studies are quick to label him with Bipolar, due to his inability to control himself, manage his own money, avoid inappropriate behavior in public, depressive mood swings and the fact the man would work on his music for 20 hours straight, and then only sleep 5 hours before starting again. I believe they label him Bipolar because it’s an easy diagnosis.

I was initially diagnosed with Bipolar. And they were wrong.

Here was a man that shows inherent traits of severe ADHD. And he was a gifted musician. (That word seems so paltry to his genius, but I won’t digress). But the first place anyone goes for his issues is Bipolar.

Why are they so afraid of ADHD?

There is research showing that children diagnosed with ADHD are given proper attention to diagnosis and treatment, however, their creativity is blatantly overlooked. I have to wonder why that is? Is it hard to imagine a child with a disorder could possibly have some level of genius in them? Because let me enlighten those that wish to naysay this fact, many gifted children have disorders. The disorder is part of why they are gifted. To overlook this fact is simply denying this child the very assistance they require to achieve their full potential.

In simpler terms, if you ignore the package, you ignore the gift.

I have been considered gifted with my ability to write and direct films. My college days were filled with people jumping on me to assist them with their projects. My professors, counselors and even the head of the department were very interested in my progress. Then, the university had me tested, for their own records, for ADHD in an effort to provide me the assistance they were legally bound to offer. These results were passed along to the chairman and head of my department. And, just like that, I was no longer interesting. All the coaching and above the call assistance I was receiving simply stopped. It dried up. Why was my “disorder” considered so faulty that it overshadowed my talents and gifts?

This certainly didn’t help with my self esteem. Once again, the cursed ADHD ruined me. Self loathing commenced. It took quite some time to rebound from that blow to the ego. And, realistically, I never actually did. That is the story for most gifted and talented children. We are expected to excel, which places tremendous pressure on us to push harder than we should. I’ve seen very talented high school football players get pushed beyond their bodies capabilities by a parent wanting nothing more than to see their child excel. There is a 14 year old published author that is now expected to produce his talent on a deadline. Of course, that supersedes his need to graduate high school, or even grow up. But this kid doesn’t want to let down the people depending on him to make them proud, give them bragging rights and make them money. Add in the fact that their “peers” will not be so supportive. Jealousy and envy would definitely be an issue for such a youngster. But that would typically be overlooked for the sake of progress.

I cannot be the only one to see the problem with that.

But then again, is that better than what happens to most? Like what happened to me. Ignore the gift for the sake of the disorder. And the child is left to dream of a future they no longer believe they can achieve. Why should they? They’re considered broken. And they will most definitely label themselves as such.

Ok, I can already hear you shouting at me ( I will not question if the shouting is in my head. I will not! I’m questioning it. Damn…). Enough of the pity party and depressive monologue. Give us something to smile about! You got it. This is easy.

Not everyone wants to ignore the Gifted. As a matter of fact, New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education (still wondering how you found a Californian Blogger!) aims to do exactly that. Shed light on the children that deserve to explore their gifts in a safe and normalized environment. Check out their site, listed below, and see for yourself. They start them small! They find the Gifted child at any age and put them through classes with peers that understand them, services geared toward helping them grow naturally and even consulting services for parents that want to help their child but not over burden them. They found a need and are trying to fill it in ways most seem to miss. (Where the hell were you when I was a kid? Oh, yeah. The 70’s….).

They even have a blog tour yearly as part of their New Zealand Gifted Awareness Week, giving everyone a chance to have their voice heard about their desire to assist a gifted child, or hear from the gifted child themselves. They even have members of their Parliament contribute and read the blog (Oh, now I see how they found me. That doesn’t sound at all suspicious…) so as to assist in any way they can.

This is what we need. This is what will work. We need to create a different environment for these creative little minds. It has been studied and proven that an ADHD child with positive support and the freedom to explore their own creativity become vastly more successful than those that do not. A child with no support system is forced to try to negotiate their own self doubts and lack of self esteem due to their condition and find their place in a world that has no place for them. They need to create their own little world in order to function. And when they do, they do it exceedingly well.

I highly suggest checking out the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education. Especially if you think you have a gifted child, ADHD or not. Why wouldn’t you? You already know your child is a diamond in the rough. You know they’re meant for greatness and want desperately to give them the chance to be who they were meant to be. They’ve shown you just how amazing they are. Why not show the rest of us what they can do?

W

      Blog-tour-logo  New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education:    

http://nzcge.co.nz/

Research for Gifted children with ADHD:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02783190009554028

http://gcq.sagepub.com/content/42/2/96.short

http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/812.html

http://www.drhallowell.com/add-adhd/add-students/tips-for-helping-kids-with-adhd-succeed-in-school/

“Normal” just doesn’t understand

It takes two to tango, but only one to stomp on the wrong toes.

Look at it from this perspective. Most people don’t really know they have ADHD until school. And even then, it probably takes a few years, (or in my case 8!) to realize the issue. So, you go through school forgetting things and being impulsive and loud and fidgety. You’re labeled as rude, annoying, unmotivated, out of control, problematic and basically just trouble. Then you discover, guess what! All of that is because your brain is broken! Yay! A reason! Now, you get to add to the list! Now, you’re a burden to your teacher, your family, the school, the system, the world….

But, you struggle through it. The bullies, the judgmental teachers, a school system made to berate you if you fail (which makes no sense. How do you learn unless you make a mistake?) And, of course your own personal self-esteem issues. Now, fast forward to graduation. Thank God, it’s finally over. No more bullies and judgmental teachers. No more fearing the next mistake you make might end your scholastic career. No more Stress!

Hey! A dreamer’s gotta dream!!

That’s right, it never ends. Because the next course in this buffet of torture is that you get a job. And you have to deal with bullies, and judgmental supervisors, a professional system that has no patience or room for your ‘personal issues’, and you get to worry that your next mistake will evidently end your career. And, God forbid you actually tell them you have ADHD. Well, now you get to add a secret label to your placard on your cubicle: Handicapped.

That’s one major problem I have with letting my employer know I have this condition. I don’t feel handicapped. I don’t think I looked handicapped and I’m pretty sure I don’t act handicapped (So help me if anyone makes a wisecrack they are getting publically shunned). Of course, it all depends on your personal definition of handicapped. For me, I typically think either physically challenged or unable to function outside of therapy and serious medications. But, then again, to some that have to deal with me daily, I might seem the spitting image of handicapped.

There lies the issue. How to manage your work/school life handicapped (sounds like a course I need to take). Of course, if you do have a physical or psychological malady, that title does not carry a sense of dread. It’s actually to your benefit. Our country has laws to protect your rights. And you have to love that about our country. Not only do we protect those with disabilities, we started the entire movement globally (A bit of bragging, I know. But my daughter will love it so…).  If you tell your instructor or employer you have a disability, they are typically supposed to do what they can to accommodate you. They find ways to make your workspace more comfortable and easier to access or work in. They alter your schedule, breaks, and assignments to what you can handle while still adhering to the needs of the company or institution. And they do all of this with the upmost respect and dignity.

No, I did not take too much Adderall today. Dreamers gotta dream!

Why is that a dream? Because, we have ADHD. And it seems to be the only disorder that is likely to get an eye roll rather than sympathy. We’ve all experienced this at one time or another. Think about it. Have you ever done something impulsive in class and the teacher scold you and then tell you not to blame it on your “issue”? How about you forgot an assignment, again, and are told you’re just irresponsible? Or have someone tell you that you can get over this “little problem” if you just put some effort into it. Or God forbid you simply are unable to manage your emotions that day and then have a moment where you simply broke. Then, you’re called “Drama”? Oh! Oh! How about the most common phrase, “Try Harder!” Yeah, me too. And it always hurts. It hurts because they have a skewed view of who you are. It’s like they’re looking at you through a dirty window and saying you’re a slob and should try harder to keep clean. But, despite it all, you inform them that you have ADHD. And that’s when you encounter discrimination at its worst. Unprovable discrimination.

If you’ve been around long enough, you’ll see your fair share of discrimination. I’ve seen quite a bit. Racial, sex, religious, medical, you name it. I’ve even been a victim of what is called ‘Reverse Discrimination’. An employee I worked with didn’t like me because I was white. The whole event still stuns me to speechlessness (Public shunning still in effect…). Of course that discrimination was obvious. Use a known racial slang, or other derogatory remark about someone’s color, or sex, or religion, and there’s no disputing that you’ve been discriminated. Just mention the evidence out loud and you’ll be able to find an attorney with ease. Just follow the salivation trail.

But for those of us with ADHD, it doesn’t work like that. As a matter of fact, everything that happens to us can also be seen in people without ADHD. And when you try to explain yourself, you get hit with our own set of slurs and offensive comments that literally can be interpreted as innocent remarks. Who hasn’t been told “stop using ADHD as an excuse”, or “you’re just not trying”. How about being called, “overly sensitive”, “hyper”, “bezerk”, “unruly”, or, my personal detestable word, “drama”. I’m talking nail-on-the-chalkboard hate being called that. (No, this is not a challenge!)

As an example, after working in my current position, it only took a few months before the same issues cropped up. The biggest was forgetting. (Seriously. You can teach me a ten step process and I will totally understand. Give me 30 seconds, three random steps simply disappear like smoke in the wind!) However, this time, I wasn’t going to hide it and I informed my manager and VP I had ADHD. Now, to their credit, they were very supportive and truly did follow through with their offer to accommodate me as needed. And because of their open door attitude and caring, I believed I had some culpability. Yes, I was “handicapped”, but that didn’t mean I could just sit here and forget things, expecting my manager to teach me seven times over until it finally stuck. That isn’t her responsibility. I decided to get on meds. And that worked. I was doing much better and began remembering things. Ask me to tell you about the day I first realized I remembered something I typically would forget. Talk about excited! Like a blind man seeing for the first time kind of excited. I was almost in tears. (I should just publicly shun myself at this point.)

However, it was almost 6 months later before I started seeing my manager acting differently with me. I could literally watch the favoritism occurring in my unit. After I informed them of my ADHD, suddenly, I was the last chosen for an assignment. She began leaning heavily on one particular specialist and he was less than thrilled. The funny thing was, he let me know constantly. It got to a point where he was the only one that was actually busy while I sat there, fully functional and capable of learning and accomplishing, but being completely and purposefully avoided. When I pointed it out, I was called “overly-sensitive” and “paranoid”. At one point I even told her she was being discriminatory. And, guess what? She called me overly – sensitive about that too.

Yes, I took it to my VP and it was addressed. However, I’m not even going to pretend it got better. Just….different. This is what I like to call “Oily Discrimination”. They treat you in a specific manner in order to either passively express their displeasure, or simply deny you the same respect and opportunities others have because they simply do not have the faith, nor the emapthy, in your capabilities. While you can definitely see the discrimination, they can easily debunk that with any of a plethora of reasons why they do what they do. And they slip right out of being forced to face that their discriminating. It becomes a He said/She said situation that you simply cannot win, because you’re the sensitive one.

And think about what happens in schools. It is very difficult for a child with ADHD to get any fair treatment no matter how many parent/teacher conferences are held. I know of one young lady that happens to be rather impulsive, and accidents happen. But, since the faculty have no patience for “her kind” (We’re a ‘kind’! It’s like a club nobody wants to join) she is accused of being a bully and punished for “other kids’ safety”.

Now that I have everyone all riled up and ready with their picket signs and marching shoes, I think it’s time to look at the solutions before I start some sort of revolution.

What does one do? A parent can only complain so many times to the heads of the school. A person can only go to the boss so many times over the same stuff. I can’t go to my VP, again, and tell her it’s not getting any better. It’s super hard to show that it’s even happening, let alone prove some sort of intent. Because every complaint always starts with, ” I feel…”. Feelings have no business in business. So, what do I do?

Well, for one thing, I have to recognize my position and my alternatives. Every action has a positive and negative reaction. I could take this to HR and escalate it further. Like a parent can go to the school board and start escalating. I could get results this way. They’ll really take me seriously now! (Which would be amazing since I hardly take myself seriously…).

But, now I’ve become a nuisance. I’m basically attacking my manager and creating strife and tension. “But Will, it’s not your fault!” No, it isn’t. But do you think they’ll see it that way? Neither do I. I’ll be to blame and even though they’ll be made to act more like a professional, a secret target would now be on my back.

I could find another job. This would be very good because now I’ll go somewhere they don’t know anything about any of these issues. A do-over if you will. All I need to do if find the right job that isn’t a step down from where I am.

If anyone thinks that’s a simple and reasonable answer, then maybe you’ve taken too much Adderall today.

Finding a job, interviewing and securing it is not what I would call a piece of cake. I have to get my resume out there.Then take interviews. And since I’m not wanting my current employer to know what I’m doing for fear of retaliation, usually in the form of FIRED!, I have to find ways to take the days I need off to get to the interview. If I were to actually find this magical employment opportunity, I’d have then transition. This typically means letting my current employer know why I’m leaving. Awkward….

Now, I’m not opposed to this. I’ll ride that magical unicorn across a rainbow walking into my new office with a better paying job and a fresh start. But, I have to consider, am I starting a trend? Is it a good idea to run away when things get hard? If you know your job has an expiration date, then I would definitely take this course of action. Otherwise, why am I running away? Things will eventually get hard at the new place too. Same issues, different faces.

I could lawyer up! This’ll get their attention! Equal Rights! Fair Treatment! Love me as I am dammit!! It might even work. Strike fear in the collective wallet. Back off and treat the ADHD the way he deserves. Or, settle and get a serious payday!

Um, let’s nip this one in the bud right now. Unless you’ve actually been fired and can PROVE discrimination, then this is as bad an idea as a billionaire becoming president. (I am so losing some friends over that). This forces their hand. You expect that they’ll fall in line for fear of litigation, but you’d be dead wrong. They have they’re own lawyers that will find a way to eliminate the threat of the overly ambitious ‘At Will Employee”. What is that you ask? It’s their fail safe. Most places hire you “At Will”, which means they can pretty much let you go because they don’t like your shoes and get away with it. And without solid evidence, you end up losing the case and your job. And you still have to pay the lawyer.

So, I’ve chosen a different path. I’ve chosen a level of tolerance. Yes, I know that I will be the last guy chosen in my department for a promotion. However, I also have other areas in my company that I can transfer. So, I wait for an opportunity. In the meantime, I manage my condition (I’m done calling it a handicap) and keep a low profile to those that do not see me for who I am and what I am worth. I cannot let them affect how I see myself. If I respect their opinion of me, I self loathe. If I get angry at it, I lash out. So,I simply consider the source. My manager isn’t happy with me because of my age, sex or condition, so be it. I have several people that love me. She isn’t the sole source of respect I will find in this life. She’s just a splinter. And I don’t believe I will let a splinter stop me from functioning.

That is the advice I give. Tolerance. And respect. They may not deserve it, but their position requires a level of it. Over time, they might actually see you for who you are. And if you take that high road, it will be to both of your benefit. Teachers can judge, but that doesn’t mean their judgment is supposed to define you. They don’t have that power. That power is within you and you alone.

We have ADHD. And we will not be ashamed of that. Why should we? We make life so much more interesting!

W

I mean, come on! They’re just kids.

I love to read stories about those with ADHD that have achieved some level of ‘success’ (a term I will address in a later article) in their lives. They usually speak on the trials that they had as children, but typically they had parents that understood them and drove them to be themselves and reach for the stars and gave them every opportunity yada yada…..

Did that sound bitter? I have issues.

If you’re anything like me, you know that stories like those are not the norm. Far from it. I know that in my life, growing up with ADHD was no picnic. Actually, that was an understatement. My life tended to angle towards the feeling you get when you finally-bought-that-huge-lollipop-from-Disneyland-and-are-minding-your-own-business-walking-down-the-street-when-some-jackass-comes-along-and-smacks-it-out-of-your-hand-shattering-it-on-the-ground-like-some-metaphor-of-your-childhood-dreams-leaving-you-nothing-but-a-short-stick.

I told you I had issues.

Now, don’t get me wrong, not everyone has had a terrible life. And I’m not saying we’ve had it worse than anyone else. But when you have ADHD, there are struggles that are simply more real. And as an adult, I tend to look back at the people and events that shaped who I am and sigh (I should be celebrating the fact I’m actually remembering something!). So much ignorance, misguided fears and negligence it can be a bit depressing. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t played the “If Only…” game. If only I’d done this. If only I’d waited. If only I knew what I know now, things would’ve been different. Let me tell you something you already know. That game sucks and does absolutely no good. Unless you can travel through time, in which case we should probably have a chat because I need a favor.

I look back on the little boy that used to be me and tend to apologize to that poor little guy. I wish I could go back and change things. Make life just a little easier. Give him some hope and let him know everything isn’t as bad as it seems. You have something to look forward to.

Funny thing. I actually can.

Now, before anyone starts moaning, “Here comes the self-help guru speech about letting go and finding your true self >Urp< and letting the universe show you your path to the light >blecch!<”. No. That’s not at all where I’m going. The little person we once were is gone. We’re what’s left. Wreckage or not, we have to claim our lives and keep moving forward, even if it means trudging on. But, we can find some semblance of peace when we take our own pains and show someone else how to avoid such a life.

I once gave my son a speech at the ripe age of 16 (No, he does not have ADHD). I knew that the typical “when I was your age” speech would go over like a Kardashian at a high school pep rally (Was that a cheap shot?), and I knew that my boy was very bright. As a parent, our main goal is to have our kids avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. Yet, somehow, when we’re making the attempt to convey these facts, we stumble over the words, miss the mark and end up with our children looking at us like we’ve just drank the Kool aid and have jumped on the fast track to loserville. Whether it’s our pride, confusion, ignorance or simple fear for our beloved offspring, something gets lost in translation. I couldn’t let any of that get in my way. I wanted to do right by my son. And if there’s one thing I wanted him to do, it was learn from my mistakes to avoid the same pains. We’ve been there. This isn’t foreign territory to us. And if we can get these kids to understand this path has already been traveled, they’ll see the shortcuts. It was a really risky move, but damned if it didn’t work. My boy paid attention and has dodged some serious pitfalls for himself. Pride is not a strong enough word, I’m telling you (Move on Will, you’re getting squishy about your son, Dammit!) Taking a clue from that moment, I realized that, even though  it wouldn’t really help my children who would never face the same trials I did, I can make use of the miseries I suffered.

I recently met a woman in my Facebook group whose young daughter was suffering some rather undignified treatment at her elementary school. This woman (I’ll name her Sarah) was really distraught. Her child has already been ‘labeled’ ADHD. She enters her class with dread knowing somewhere along the line she’s going to do something to make her teacher, principal or even her mother, upset. She feels the judgmental looks from the staff when the inevitable occurs. She goes to the playground and cannot even attempt to try to focus on not going overboard before doing something that will get her picked on. Then, back to class for more judgement. Then, when her mother gets pulled into a situation that really shouldn’t be a situation, she gets to look at the sadness (and, yes, even despair) that floods her mother’s eyes, and will instantly judge herself. All that judgement will invariably sink into her little psyche and she will live her life silently growing to despise herself. This is the typical result of the female with ADHD (us boys usually end up acting, well, like boys do…). It has gotten so overwhelming for this poor creature that she literally cries when she wakes up simply because she has to do it all over again. Every day. With no end in sight. Interestingly enough, this poor kid is actually getting bullied by the staff more than any students. Isn’t that shocking?

Not in the least.

Nobody should be surprised at the attitude displayed towards ADHD. It’s not your “typical” disorder. Many people have many different types of issues, physical, emotional and psychological. Most of the titles and acronyms used are looked at with a range of reactions from pity to shame. But they’re all accepted as issues to be taken seriously. They’ve all been researched and vetted. Results have been found, medications have been created and laws have been passed to protect them from discrimination. Yet, somehow, ADHD seems to be the odd man out. It’s been researched, vetted, resulted and medicated successfully, yet it’s still considered by the majority as an “excuse for bad behavior”. Such as the case of Sarah’s daughter (I shall call her mini Sarah).

What do we do about this blatant willingness to be ignorant of this disorder? Yes, you have to be willing and aiming towards not understanding this disorder to be as under-educated as many professionals are (I’ll try to keep the ADHD warrior at bay. But this is a child we’re talking about and that really chaps my ass). How do we get those that will impress their judgment and personal disdain on these children to wake up and smell the Adderall?

The short answer is, we don’t.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe if these people actually were educated and exposed to the reality of this disorder, they could do some good for their students. But, for some, well, you can lead a donkey to water, but you can’t make him drink (however, just watch how easy it is to get him to start braying relentlessly, which is also a really good metaphor for some of these people, but enough of my issues!). Educating the uneducated is not going to save this little girl from decades of self loathing and disparaging personal issues. She doesn’t have time to wait. she’s growing up now and she’s not slowing down (ADHD. Duh).

So, parents, you need to realize you cannot depend on any system to help your child accept their disorder. They wouldn’t listen anyway. You’re the one their turning to. You’re the shelter in the storm. And you’re the one that needs to arm them not only to accept themselves, but accept the ignorance that will surround them their entire lives.

I already hear the anxiety out there (please let that be what I’m hearing in my head). The resounding mass of parents wanting so badly to spare their little angels this agony. But in a deluge of frustration and fear (approaching borderline psychosis) try to spew forth every question they’ve catalogued in their mind but can only come up with one word. “How?!?”

Tell them the truth, silly.

What would I tell little mini Sarah? Quite simple.

Kiddo, you know what’s going on. You know you’re trying and you KNOW you’re not bad. I know you’re not trying to disobey, be distracted, lose focus and forget. I know you aren’t meaning to make simple mistakes because you’re moving too fast. Let me tell you what I see. You get the lesson, but feel stupid because you forget almost immediately. You do something and then don’t even realize you’ve done it until you’re getting scolded for it. Then, you feel bad because you think , “Maybe they’re right. I should have known better.” Not true. You DO know better. Had you realized what you were doing, you’d have stopped. Why? Because you’re a good girl.

Sarah, you think more thoughts before breakfast than anyone you know thinks all day. (It’s a meme! I’ll post it below). You have this little tornado in your brain that simply will not stop. That’s not your fault and it doesn’t make you a bad person. You’re bright, smart, interesting and amazing. Those that don’t understand you simply do not know you. They think they do, but they’re blind. They want you to be someone else. They want you to be a different version of you. But you can’t change who you are any more than a zebra can change his stripes (That’s an old cliche there. So you know I’ve been around a loooong time). All they see is ADHD Sarah. They want you to be “normal” Sarah. But, why would you be anyone but the Sarah you already are? Are you ADHD Sarah? No. You’re Sarah that has ADHD. They just don’t understand. So, don’t fear them. Don’t be afraid to do your best and make a mess. Don’t be afraid to forget, lose focus and fail. Because learning is all about making mistakes until you learn how not to make them. When they give you a hard time for forgetting, or being too loud, or being distracted, look at them and smile. Because they just saw the real you. The same person that you see in the mirror. A girl with all the talent and brains she needs. Do not apologize for being you. I know you hope that might make things better, but it never does. (Go to my first blog post and watch the video about apologizing. It’s really good!)

You just need to learn how to manage that little tornado in your mind. And you will, I guarantee it. And that very fact makes you smarter and stronger than most of the people in the world. And they’ll never forget you, that’s a promise. You’re just that special.

So go out there and let the world do it’s worst. You have ADHD and you an out think them all! Go and do your thing. You’ll blow us all away!

W

ADHD4

And here’s a meme….just because!

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Yeah, I’m feelin’ it.

Let me tell you, I spend quite a bit of time rephrasing things that I say to avoid using the word ‘feel’ to describe my state of mind. Because emotions usually do not ever solve a problem. Hell, they are typically the cause of them! And emotions are the most under researched element of ADHD.

You mention the acronym ADHD and everyone comes to the same conclusion.

– Inattentive
– Impulsive
– Hyperactive

These are the traits most associated with the disorder, and they’re not wrong. Who of us hasn’t been distracted (constantly) or lose focus (every moment) or fidgets constantly (I’ll be speaking on this in another post as I sit here rocking like I’m inflating a car tire). We also forget things (like, moments after we hear them!), act impulsively and even have a habit of interrupting or get impatient. But how many of us actually realize our emotional state is affected by ADHD?

Not too long ago I was in line to see a movie with a friend. I don’t remember the movie (I’m surprised I remember the friend!) but I remember how excitable I was and the encounter we had while waiting in line. An older woman seemed to notice my level of excitement and took it upon herself to speak to me about it.

Her: “Are you okay?”
Me: “Uh, yep.”
Her: “You’re rather jumpy. You sure there’s nothing wrong?”
Me: (Seeing where this was going and getting annoyed) “Not yet.”

Apparently she felt responsible for letting me know what she was thinking. After a brief pause,

Her: “You know, you might want to get seen or something. You may have, like, ADD or something.”
Me: “Duh.”

Yes, I actually said Duh. Because, well, Duh.

Of course, after my initial response, it was my immediate impulse to harangue this intrusive busy body with a barrage of overly wordy insults that target how rude and inappropriate she was being, and maybe take a swing at her hair style just to make her feel a bit sorry she opened her mouth. Luckily, this time I didn’t do that.

This time.

I have to pay special attention to how I react to things that affect me. The reason being, I have ADHD. And ADHD has more attached to it than the list above. It has an emotional component that, as I stated earlier, is largely overlooked. I was actually surprised when I found out that most of my emotional issues were due to ADHD. And, in looking at the physiology, I now know why.

Research found from the ADHD Institute (we have our own institute. Now that’s progress!) shows that there are significant activation reductions in the frontal cortex, thalamus and basal ganglia of the brain as well as thinner white matter.

Tell me that confused you too.

In English, for those not caught up on their advanced physiology and anatomy (I’d raise my hand. And I used to be a medic), it all boils down to a simple fact. Here’s a simpler breakdown.

The area of our brain that affects the ability to hold our attention in one place, manage our impulses and give us restraint is not pumping out the chemical balances that we need in order to function as expected. But that section of the brain, the limbic system (Part of the basal ganglia, as shown in the picture below) also controls our emotions. Since this area is devoid of what is needed, I’ve been refererring to it as a ‘Dry Spot’. These Dry Spots are basically why we have ADHD. If you really want to be surprised, take a look at Dr. Hollowell’s ‘characteristics for appropriate diagnosis’ located in the link below. That’s a lot for one section of the brain to manage. And our brains aren’t managing them.

In that list of 20 characteristics, half of them are emotionally based. From self-esteem issues to straight up depression, the gambit is all right there.

I remember a few years ago, while going through a particularly rough patch, I was diagnosed as bipolar. Man, that was not a good day. I was just labeled with a pretty serious mental illness and if you include the ADHD, then add in my rather embarrassing ignorance on the topic, I immediately jumped to conclusions. I spent the next 3 years labeling myself as crazy! The depressions were really bad and all I could do was hate myself because I wasn’t the father my children deserved or the man I should be. Then, less than a year ago, I got a new job and immediately knew I had to get my ADHD under control. So, I went to a doctor and got me some meds! (What, doesn’t everyone get excited for the meds? I mean come on!) While speaking with the shrink, I told her of my ‘other diagnosis’. I cannot assume she didn’t sense the overwhelming shame I portrayed. She told me I should do some research, because I’m not Bipolar. I was stunned. Years of self torture and shame washed away with a single comment. I could have kissed that woman full on the mouth. (I didn’t! Impulse control!) She told me many of us with ADHD are misdiagnosed. So, I did the research. And not only did I discover everything I always knew was wrong but could never figure out was actually my ADHD, I also learned that I had no right to be judgmental to those with Bipolar. It’s an emotional based illness. And don’t I know how that feels! I’ve been around many with Bipolar and they have the same impulse control and inability to handle their emotions as I do. And what’s worse, theirs fluctuates so drastically they can go from super depressed to super happy to super agitated in a span of hours . I don’t envy that, but I definitely empathize.

Of course, the first thing I wanted to do was downplay the situation. I wasn’t Bipolar, so I should be much better. I just needed to research the ever loving crap out of ADHD and get all the tools I could gather in order to defeat it. I was like a caveman that just found fire! Gotta learn all I can about this obviously uncontrollable element so I can control it and finally take back my life!

Are you laughing at me yet? You should be.

Now, studying and researching everything I can about my disorder is all well and good. But nothing is a better teacher than direct experience. And sometimes it takes a real juicy moment to wake you up and rattle your cage. I had such a moment not too long ago, and unfortunately, it was directly at my manager.

Yeah. I yelled at my boss.

And the whole thing was, I wasn’t even angry at her. Just the situation we had found ourselves. I am usually pretty good about controlling outbursts, but this day I lost the reins of that raging beast and it came galloping out of my mouth with a fury that only a mother in labor for her 30th hour would feel towards that son-of-a-bitch that knocked her up!

Humility is such a wonderful thing. And, to my managers credit, she handled me much better than I deserved. I won’t say she was super pleasant most of the day, but nothing came flying at my head, so I count my blessings. And the worst thing was, I didn’t even realize I did it. It wasn’t until they had a ‘meeting’ with me did I realize I had an outburst. And this incident exposed me to the true nature of the emotional aspect of ADHD. When we feel, we feel more than any other person. I know for me, when I become happy, you can expect to see me talking to myself like I’m having a party with a voice in my head. When I’m sad, it becomes a depression very quickly, so I had better find a way out of it rapidly before it takes over for several days. And, when I get angry, it takes me 3 times longer to get over it than those around me. I also have a habit of letting them know in very indirect (and rather direct at times) ways. I think that’s called passive-aggressive, but I’m not one to label….

So, now I have to pay special attention to my emotional state. Sure it’s  difficult. It’s frustrating, exhausting and sometimes consuming. But it’s the way things are with those like me. And, to be honest, I am kind of proud of us all.

“Um, proud, Will? You’re proud of us having ADHD and having to suffer as we do?” Hell yes. Because we’re strong. I guarantee you most of these ‘normal’ people couldn’t last a day in our shoes. When someone asks me how did I get through childhood being so out of control, I look at them and think, “You wouldn’t even be able to comprehend the amount of scathing self esteem issues, constant sense of impending doom and debilitating insecurity I’ve lived with back then and still today.”  What I usually reply is, “I’m not sure I ever left childhood. Wanna play with my silly putty?”
That’s the most disengaging I can be. And that’s really for their benefit. They don’t actually want to know what it’s like. It would depress them to know just how much of a struggle it is to manage my life while my brain is playing Romper Room up there. With the way everyone wants to downplay the disorder to begin with, it’s obvious we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard. And we cannot expect to have any understanding to what we deal with. But that’s another argument altogether.

So, I have to accept this is who I am. And, despite the ADHD, I am responsible for my actions and reactions. That lady in that movie line certainly deserved to meet the business end of my sass. But once you get that train rolling, well, you know the story. You have one too.

W

Here is the link to Dr. Hollowell’s research:

http://www.drhallowell.com/20-common-adhd-characteristics/Brain

And, just for fun….

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