“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….

Unconcious.png

What are we doing here?

I’ve spent the majority of my life identifying myself as the ADHD guy. Always apologizing for being the way that I am, praying for some semblance of acceptance and understanding. Trying to stave off that lonely feeling in the pit of my stomach when I do…well, whatever it is that i do that makes me a disappointment….and somehow end up isolating myself without intention because I forgot….again….or interrupted….again…. or in some fashion made an error due to my lack of attention and focus. I never intend on making life difficult, it’s just inherent in me.  I rush, jump before I should, get overly excited and emotional about the littlest things and generally emit more energy than the sun. And I just don’t seem to recognize what I am doing could be problematic. I’m just being me.

If you’re anything like me, you know this story all too well. You live it day in and day out. You want to find a way to deal with this issue so that it doesn’t wreak havoc on your life continuously. You research and study everything you can Google in hopes that somewhere in the sea of information about this ‘Disorder’ you’ll find some sort of magical hint or trick that will give us a  chance to play nicely with everyone else.

And then there’s the medication. Dear God the meds. The soul staining search for some sort of chemical composition that will give us the chance to stop forgetting. Stop reacting. Stop being dramatic and for the love of God stop fidgeting!

But, no matter how hard we try, how deep we research or how much of a guinea pig we make ourselves, we’re still empty. The websites and documents all tell a tale, but it’s still vague. We can relate to them, but most of them still don’t really touch the raw nerve that is the basis of our ADHD.

We read stories about people that have made successes of themselves even with this issue. They have family that backs them eternally and gave them all the acceptance they could ask for. My, my what a dream. That’s such a nice sounding life, but definitely not the way it is for the majority of us. We would expect some level of compassion and understanding from those close to us. Our parents, siblings, spouses and family. I mean, come on! They’re family!

Alas, that is not usually the case. Most of those around us treat us from a range that, at best, is tolerant. At worst, abusive. We’re misunderstood, and most human beings fear the unknown. So, we shuffle along on our own. Hoping for brief moments of relief while we struggle with our own brains.

Not anymore.

As an older man, I am not above knowing when I’ve been taught something new. (Old dog, new tricks. It’s doable!). I have even learned something new from my children (never tell them I said that!) So, when I recently found an interesting video on YouTube about ‘How To ADHD’, I have to admit, I was shocked. Here is some young lady from God Knows Where touching on a subject that speaks directly to me! She was new to all of this, but had such a passion for advocating for her ‘Brains’, she showed me a new outlook on my disorder. For the first time, I didn’t feel alone. And, best of all, I could find others in similar circumstances and relate to them. It was more than liberating, it was like finding peace after a long war.

We’ve spent a lifetime trying to change who and how we are to accommodate all of those we desperately seek acceptance from. But, it’s never going to happen because we don’t accept ourselves. We’ve learned to hate how we act, how we react, even who we are. We have defined ourselves according to a disorder and wear that acronym like a scarlet letter.

Yeah. I’m done with that.

We are not out of control, shiftless, unmotivated drama kings and queens (yes, even guys get emotional. I know. Shocking!) that thrive on chaos and adrenaline. We’re human beings just like the rest of the world, and we deserve to respect ourselves.

So, let’s throw away the trash. I want to like me. I think I’m pretty cool (again, never tell my kids) and deserve some respect. But I have to start with self respect. So, I’ve decided to change the way I think.

– I am not the disorder. I simply react differently. And many times my reactions are exactly as anyone else’s , they just have a filter I lack. I’m not saying ADHD isn’t a disorder. I know the truth all too well. I’m saying I don’t want to identify with the disorder and will not let it define me.

– I will stop calling them symptoms. I have certain attributes that are different. I call them traits. (If you have something else you’d like to call them, do tell!)

– I have nothing to be sorry for. I make mistakes and sometimes drop the ball. Doesn’t everyone at one time? (I’m so thinking about that bible story where ‘He without sin cast the first stone’…)
This one needed some care in coming to terms with. My initial instinct was to get defensive about apologizing for who I am. The video below helped me find a direction that was much less aggressive. Believe me. Totally worth it.

Most of all, I’m not alone. Not only have I made friends with others with ADHD, I even started a Facebook group. Somewhere I can share all of my education, and learn from others.

So, there it is. My hello. (Man am I long winded!)

If you have anything to relate, feel free to comment. Or, click the FB link and join my group ‘The Gifted’. (Is a private group so you’ll have to chat with me first. Trust me. I’m not boring!)

Until next time. Just be you. I guarantee you’ll be good at it.

Recommend viewing.

She really has a way of relating. I recommend subscribing. I did.