As the title states, I have ADHD. Now, this is not a debate. I’m not here to ask your opinion on whether or not ADHD is real or not. In fact, I’ll share a little from an expert on the matter. I’ll quote Dr. Edward M. Hallowell, author of Delivered from Distraction, which I am currently reading; “ADD is not a religious principle; it is a medical diagnosis derived from such solid evidence as genetic studies, brain scans, and worldwide epidemiological surveys.”
When I was a child life was great. I can honestly say I had a considerably happy childhood. In fact, I wasn’t even aware we were poor until I got older. Although, that might have more to do with the fact that I was the youngest child, and even the youngest grandchild until the second wave of cousins and siblings came along when I was around ten, and in a way that was a recipe for me being spoiled. Until this date, at the age of thirty-one, I still believe I’m spoiled, up to a certain extent. I was given, and am given, what I want from my mother anything I desire as long as I behaved in a manner she perceives as acceptable (and of course monetarily plausible when necessary). Being polite, doing my chores, having good manners and not throwing tantrums when I was told NO. I learned something at a very young age that most children don’t seem to understand. NO can mean NO, or it can mean, behave and maybe. The possibility of maybe made me a very agreeable child in most ways except in that I wouldn’t shut up or sit still.
Yes, I know what you’re going to say. Most kids can’t sit still. That’s true sometimes, but when its more than sometimes. When the inability to sit still and shut up actually affects the life of the child, or the adult, there’s something more than a rambunctious kid.
One of my earlier memories of being in school is of first grade in New York. I remember these stickers my teacher used to give out for doing good. Like doing a homework good, doing good on a test, or behaving exceptionally good. I think I never got one. The memory of those stickers, of the way I felt when all the other kids got them and I couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried, is still hard to this day. My heart breaks for the little girl who just wanted the damn sticker. The little girl who actually liked school but couldn’t sit still, shut up, or pay attention long enough to learn, to earn that sticker.
“Your daughter is rude, she offended the teacher.” That was what they told my mother when I got expelled from school at the age eight. Ask my mom now if I was ever a rude child? “Your daughter can’t sit still, she can’t be quiet. She has potential but is not living up to them because she rather be speaking.” They told her when I was twelve and barely making it through sixth grade. I can now look back, in fact I have looked back at old report cards from High School, and see the words that stood out the most through my teenage years. “Brenda is smart, but not living up to her potential.” If I were to die today, I think my grave would read. “Here lies Brenda, she who never lived up to her potential.”
When I was about twenty-five I was finally diagnosed with ADHD. There was the collective sound of “I knew it” from my family and friends when I finally told them. It all makes sense now, my mother said. The problem there was that I was given this diagnosis, told I had this “condition” but never told what to do with it. I accepted it for what it was, just something I’ve been dealing with my whole life to which now I could assign a name to. I have ADHD.
There’s more to it though, isn’t there? Its not as simple as just try harder, sit still, pay attention. Its like telling a bipolar person to simmer down. It just doesn’t work that way, and I didn’t know that. I thought that by simply knowing, I could take care of it. It didn’t work that way. I spent the next six years dealing with depression, anxiety, losing jobs, having emotional meltdowns, hatting myself because I couldn’t achieve what I wanted to achieve. I was doing nothing with my life even when there was so much I wanted to do, so much I had the obvious talent and capability of doing. I was, and am an underachiever. What you may ask is one of the biggest traits of a person with ADHD. No, its not that they’re hyper, or can never pay attention. Most people who live with ADHD into adulthood lose the hyperactivity (I have, for the most part), and believe it or not can focus when something is appealing to them. Anyhow, I digress. Biggest trait of person with ADHD is that for the most part people they are underachievers. I don’t mean like we’re all bums who work at McDonald’s. No offense to McDonald’s workers, but I doubt that’s your dream job. We simply do not live up to our fullest potential, sometimes to the extreme. We’re not always late to everything, sometimes we’re just rushing to make it. I mostly am in the group that ends up rushing to do everything because that book, or those YouTube videos were funny as hell. Or because my computer files needed organizing at nine in the morning. We forget to do things. We honestly have the best intentions, we tell ourselves, I will take the garbage out, I will clean the bathroom, I will pick up the mail, but I’m just going to finish this video first, just gonna grab a snack, two hours later I’ve watched ten videos, read chapters from four different books, watch half a movie, re-organized my movie collection, played with the cat… Like right now, when I was supposed to be working on my novel, but instead have spent the last two hours watching Ellen videos, and writing the blog.