ADHD, Me, and…What’s That?

Living with ADHD is equivalent to having a Television in your head that randomly changes channels every couple of minutes. Just as you’re beginning to settle in, and enjoy the show, POOF! off you go.

Sometimes, when the signal is really screwy, the Television is tuned into several different programs simultaneously.

Nothing quite like watching Sunday Night Baseball, reruns of the Golden Girls, and MTV all at the same time.

And it’s a long drive to deep…Oh, my arthritis is killing…Ice, Ice Baby…

Serenity Now…Serenity Now…Insanity Later…

Although ADHD is one of the most throughly studied Brain Disorders, it remains somewhat of a Mystery (As almost everything associated with the brain does). And as a result, there’s a great deal of Bullshit Information out there. ‘Specially on teh Interwebs.

A few examples…Maestro.

Myth #1-

People grow out of ADHD

Many falsely believe that ADHD is a “Kid’s Problem,” and that ADHD wanes as people age.

Wrong.

People do not “Grow Out of It.”

There are a couple of reasons behind this Myth:

A. People with ADHD learn to Adapt, Compensate, and Conceal.

B. Most non-ADHDer’s, because they don’t know much about ADHD, fail to recognize the symptoms.

Maybe your husband isn’t running from room to room anymore, as he did when he was 11, but that doesn’t mean his brain isn’t telling him-

Hey, I really think you should run from room to room. And while you’re at it, let’s build a Tree House, mow the grass, learn how to break dance, Oh, and…

He knows he may end up in the Loony Bin if he starts running around screaming at the top of his lungs.

After all, such behavior is frowned upon in Civilized Society.

People with ADHD learn, generally through Negative Reinforcement, that who they are is somehow, “Bad.” So they do their best to control their “Bad” behavior, but, unfortunately, ADHD cannot be controlled by simply using “Will Power.”

In fact, that doesn’t make any Fucking Sense. How you can use “Will Power,” when your “Will” lives in your head, and your head is a Television that is Forever in Channel Surf Mode?

The truth is, adults with ADHD are surrounded/engulfed by their symptoms, and if you pay attention, it becomes quite obvious.

A few Red Flags for your reading enjoyment-

1. Impulsive (Dives in, and then says, “Oh, shit, who drained the pool?!!)
2. Organizational Challenges (Chronically late, unfinished projects, missed appointments)
3. Erratic Work History
4. Anger Control Problems (Doesn’t just “Make a mountain out of a Mole Hill.” Builds Mole Hill, then turns it into a Mountain).
5. Money Management Issues
6. Overly Talkative sometimes to the point of being Oppressive. Doesn’t listen, interrupts.
7. Addiction to stimulants- Cocaine, Meth, Cigarettes, Coffee (Stimulants mimic Dopamine in the brain. ADHD is linked to low levels of Dopamine)
8. Frequent accidents due to Inattention, and/or Carelessness
9. Extremely low tolerance for anything “Boring” (This includes about 99% of life)
10. Expends more energy than others to complete the same amount of work
11. Never lived up to “Potential.”
12. Apparent lack of Remorse/Empathy
13. Familial history of ADHD

All one need do is, ironically, PAY ATTENTION.

If it’s there, it’s there.

Myth #2-

Everyone has difficulty “Paying Attention” therefore, ADHD is “Normal

First, last I checked, ain’t none of you Mugs “Normal.”

Second, yes, everyone has, at one time or another, difficulty “Paying Attention,” but ADHD isn’t really an issue of “Paying or Not Paying Attention.”

I can pay attention just fine. In fact, I see, and hear things most people completely miss (Often to their Chagrin). My problem is, I can’t figure out where to direct my attention. Everything is equally important, and equally unimportant.

My brain does a poor job of Prioritizing Stimulation (Dopamine), and instead of only hearing what the person in front of me is saying, I hear what everyone in the Entire Fucking Room is saying. And if people are moving around? Forget it.

Also, because the brain of an ADHDer is running low on Dopamine (They think), they are constantly seeking stimulation just to keep themselves functioning at the most basic levels. Stimulation releases chemicals in the brain that fuel attention, motivation, and self-control.

Merely maintaining a conversation can take a great deal of energy, which is why many ADDer’s suffer from what I call “Chronic Sludge Head.”

Unless I’m doing something “Exciting,” I’m, at all times, ready to take a nap.

Coming home from a stressful day at the office, and not wanting to talk to your spouse or your kids or feeling like your head is going to explode, is not ADHD.

That’s called “Stress,” and/or “Anxiety,” and such feelings are often Situational.

ADHD is Chronic.

It’s there every single day when you wake up, and it’s there every night when you try to go to sleep.

Myth #3- (This is actually Two Myths, but I’m combining them)-

ADHD is “Overdiagnosed,” and is a result of a “Conspiracy” between Doctors and Big Pharma

Good old Conspiracy Theorists.

The fact of the matter is, THERE’S NO CONSPIRACY!

I know that’s not what some want to hear, but it’s the Truth.

Approximately 4.4% of the U.S. adult population has ADHD, but only 10% of that 4.4% actually receives treatment.

So, out of around 13 million people, only 1.3 million are being treated.

Pretty lame “Conspiracy.”

If Big Pharma, and the Psychiatric Community have so much power, how is it that 90% of the people with ADHD have managed to avoid their Evil Clutches?

Well, it was until a few decades ago that Medications for ADHD were even accepted within the Mainstream Psychiatric community.

Many/Most psychiatrists, and other Talk Therapists believed Their Way was “The Only Way,” and that medications were essentially useless (They used to believe “Talk Therapy” could cure Schizophrenia).

In other words, there was a “Territorial” Issue.

And that problem continues to this day because the majority of Talk Therapists make money from “Talk Therapy,” not drug dispersal.

And.

Until the medications were studied, Doctors, and the public at large worried about potential “Deadly” side effects.

Today? Stimulants are among the most researched, and safest of all Medications.

And let’s be clear.

ALL medications are potentially dangerous. Shit, after I had my surgery for Peritonitis, they put me on an anti-biotic that had, as one of its side effects- “Complete Gastro-Intestinal Meltdown, followed by DEATH.”

But if I didn’t take it?

DEATH.

I remember a discussion I had with my Therapist a couple of years ago. It went something like this-

Is the Adderall working?

Yes, but what will this shit do to me after ten years?

Well, I’m not sure, but I do know what life will do to you in ten years, if you don’t take it.

It’s going to kill my liver.

Look at it this way. Would you rather live to be 95, and continue on the path you were on before you started taking the Adderall, or, would you rather live to be 90, and be able to function?

Hey, look at that Shiny Thing. Have you ever wanted to be a Super Hero? I really despise George Bush. Did you know Chuck Norris shaves his back? This one time…

God grant me the Serenity to accept…

I’ll repeat-

There is NO CONSPIRACY!

So, why does this idea prevail? Well, I think there are three main reasons.

1) Ignorance.

Too many people listen to bad information or their access to information is non-existent.

You can’t make an informed decision if the person doing the “Informing” doesn’t know what in the Hell they’re talking about.

2) Bad experience/s with the “System.”

There are legitimate cases of abuse perpetrated by Therapists, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, etc.

No doubt about it.

They have a great deal of power, and if they’re a little Whacked Out Themselves, they can abuse that power.

But coming to the conclusion that “The Entire System is a Fraud” based on one or two individuals is Illogical, and Unfair.

There are “Bad Seeds” involved in every Human Endeavor (They’re even in the Church doing “God’s Work”).

It’s unfortunate, but it’s a Fact of Life.

People are flawed, and by extension, the systems they create are Flawed.

Sometimes people die in hospitals because of negligance, but I sure as shit wasn’t about to let one of my friends take my Appendix out with a Pocket Knife.

3) Denial.

This is something I witnessed many times as a Counselor.

People don’t like hearing they have an illness (Especially when it involves the Brain) nor do they like hearing  that said illness is, Incurable.

It upsets them, scares them, and even Pisses Them Off.

One of my favorite examples happened right here in the Old Blogosphere.

When I first began blogging, I wasn’t sure about what to write so, I wrote about what I knew- Sociology/Psychology.

Well, one day I’m searching WordPress looking for similar blogs, and I stumbled upon this post about how “Psychiatry is Bullshit.”

Being the bold person that I am, I made a comment disagreeing with the author’s conclusions.

Holy Crap. Big Mistake.

For the next 20 plus hours, the blog’s host, and one of her readers engaged in a back and forth about me. They told me I was “Crazy,” and that I was defending a “Horrible Field” that had diagnosed them with “Bi-Polar Disorder,” when, in reality, they were both “Perfectly Fine,” etc, etc, etc.

Seriously, for over 20 hours this went on between the two (I made maybe 3 comments, and then skated after it became Crystal Clear that they were Loons).

One even came to Jonestown, copied part of one of my posts, pasted it in the comment thread, and then returned to her blog to write a post about me (Wow, her blog was something else. It read like a Psychological Evaluation).

I will admit one thing, they were correct about being “Misdiagnosed.”

Neither one of them is “Bi-Polar.”

Borderlines fo’ sho’.

(Sorry about the Tangent, but that was a Fun Day).

The point being, it’s easier for many people to concoct a “Conspiracy” than it is for them to accept the idea that they may not be Wired Properly, Normally, Perfectly.

It’s human nature to deny what Is.

Myth #4-

ADHD isn’t really that Serious

Because of all the Mis/Disinformation out there about ADHD, it’s easy to dismiss it as not being that big of a deal. I mean, sure, not being able to sit still or having difficulty maintaining your focus is troublesome, maybe annoying (To you, and those around you), but it’s not like you have Diabetes.

Funny you should mention Diabetes.

ADHD is, in many ways, very similar to Diabetes.

Like Diabetes, ADHD is a chronic, incurable disease/disorder/illness, whatever.

And like Diabetes, when left Untreated, ADHD has potentially devastating consequences.

– People with ADHD are more likely to drop out of high school, and when they do finish, less than 25% go on to pursue higher educational opportunities

– People with ADHD are more likely to file bankruptcy, and to be plagued by financial problems throughout their lives

– People with ADHD,  on average, make less money (Even those who finish college)

– People with ADHD are less likely to have stable employment (Often getting fired, or impulsively quitting)

– People with ADHD have higher rates of substance, and/or alcohol abuse

– Divorce rates are higher among those with ADHD

– ADHD rarely travels alone, and most people who have it also have a Co-Morbid diagnosis such as: Depression, Anxiety Disorder, Bi-Polar Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Anti-Social Personality Disorder

– People with ADHD have difficulty maintaining relationships, and as a result, they often end up Isolating themselves

– People with ADHD are more likely to be involved in some kind of serious accident

– Suicide rates are higher among the ADHD population

ADHD is a Big Deal, and it’s effects are felt throughout our Society.

It is estimated that the United States loses between 67-116 billion dollars every year in workforce productivity, as a result of ADHD.

In fact, according to Joseph Biederman, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard-

ADHD is one of the costliest medical conditions that we have.

To conclude-

The more I learn about ADHD, the more I’m able to look back, and see how it’s affected everything I’ve ever done, and I’d be lying if I said, I didn’t occasionally wish for a “Do Over.”

I once heard a psychologist compare a person with ADHD to a man holding hundreds of keys in his hands trying to figure out which one opened his front door. After a while, he either gets upset, and kicks down the door or he says, “Fuck It,” and leaves.

If you’re interested, check out CHADD’s website for more information.

Adieu


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~ by fairlane on September 23, 2008.

15 Responses to “ADHD, Me, and…What’s That?”

  1. Looks like an interesting article, but I couldn’t focus on it. I just skimmed it, and… I wonder what’s for dinner tonight…?

    Anyhow, I used to think I had ADHD, but after reading your article I think it’s unlikely, or if I do have it, it’s very borderline. I do have trouble focusing and such, but it’s certainly not a big deal in my life, and definately not as severe as what is mentioned in your article.

  2. ok. you’re still my friend. adieu, my ass. you’re still my friend. ok.

  3. Blah-blah-blah, bite me, blah-blah-blah….

    Do you think I write MPS because I DO NOT HAVE THE ATTENTION SPAN OF A GNAT?

    So much for my cry for help,

    Regards,

    Ten.. ooh, shiney!

  4. as a behavioral scientist – i still dont acknowledge adhad – definitions and diagnosis are all over the place

  5. I am too normal, fuck you.

    Ice Ice Baby? Really? You should get that checked out. And if there’s any medical conspiracy, it’s the love pills for old dudes.

  6. Chris- I was going to read your comment, but…What was I saying?

    Get it?

    Like all “disorders” there are varying degrees of severity. Some of the kids I used to work with couldn’t get themselves dressed.

    Okjimm- I appreciate the sentiment.

    Ten- I’m not a counselor anymore. It’s not my place.

    Besides, these days, I’m much more interested in the epidemic of pathological stupidity.

    Raw- If I could let you into my skull for about 15 minutes, I assure you, your opinion would change.

    Would you mind explaining what you mean by the definitions, and diagnoses being “all over the place?”

    Randal- Yeah Randal, you’re the fucking acme of normalcy.

    Old dudes shouldn’t be doing that kind of thing. It’s just plain wrong.

  7. awesome post…

    those fucking ADHD, ADD pills are fucking insane. I used to work with kids and they had so many of these 11 year olds zombied out on meds just cuz the parents don’t wanna, well, parent.

    For someone with ADHD you did manage to get a big blog out about it, though…. hehe…

    One Love,
    –Reverend Manny and the “oh-my-god, are those monkeys!!!”

  8. And all the world is football shaped,
    It’s just for me to kick in space,
    And I can see, hear, smell, touch, taste,
    And I’ve got one, two, three, four, five,
    Senses working overtime,
    Trying to take this all in,
    I’ve got one,two,three, four, five
    Senses working overtime,
    Trying to tell the difference,
    ‘Tween the goods and crimes,
    Dirt or treasure,
    And there’s one, two, three, four,five
    Senses working overtime,
    Trying to take this all in,
    I’ve got one, two, three, four, five,
    Senses working overtime,
    Trying to taste the difference,
    ‘Tween the lemons and limes,
    The pain and the pleasure,
    And the church bells softly chime.

  9. Okay, I MIGHT have ADHD, but then I read a list of signs of autism the other day, and I was sure I had autism, too. I’m confused.

  10. Excellent post, Fairlane. It’s always important to debunk myths about disorders like this. I identify a lot with some of these symptoms; I may not have full-fledged ADHD but tendencies, yes. I can sympathize especially with that “sludge head” feeling. I am a major procrastinator, have trouble focusing, get distracted very easily, etc. I also do my best work under pressure which means adrenalin is flowing…a stimulant. Interesting stuff.

  11. Dear Scarlet
    I had to read your comment a few times.

    // I read a list of signs of autism the other day, and I was sure I had autism, too. I’m confused.//

    I thought you said that you had seen signs of autumn and now had autumnism. I like colorful leaves, too.

    Damn dyslexia

  12. Rev- Did I mention it took me three hours to write this post?

    Ghost- Hyperactive Child

    Empress- There may be a link twixt the two.

    Maui- The sludge head is the worst. I am always tired regardless of how much I sleep.

  13. fairlane… Thanks for sharing this info. I’ve learned more about ADHD in one post than I have from any school psychologist I’ve spoken to. Honestly, I’m on the fence with this one because my own son was on the verge of being “diagnosed” in second grade, until his teacher realized that he just needed to be nurtured more than most kids and challenged educationally. In short, he was bored with school. She filled those gaps for him and now he does fine. But you struck a chord with the boredom part, and for the sake of my son, I’ll pay more attention to when he says that to me… Again…thanks for the informative post.

  14. Fairlane- I really appreciate the work you put into this. I know much of it was based on your personal experience and history and it is helpful to me.

    I feel like what Scarlet said. I have a daughter who’s been diagnosed with bipolar and have been myself with depression and I think we’ve both got some of this going on. I started to write much more there, but fuck it. Thanks.

    (BTW- Randal- You’re not normal, but I am not complaining (for a change)).

  15. Holy crap, lose the H and there’s my life on a page. This particular passage lept off the screen at me though:

    “I can pay attention just fine. In fact, I see, and hear things most people completely miss (Often to their Chagrin). My problem is, I can’t figure out where to direct my attention. Everything is equally important, and equally unimportant.”

    And I do NOT want to know all the side-effects of Strattera, since one of them is less melt-downs.

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