A person’s behavior is often determined by factors beyond their control. The software code is installed the moment we are conceived. There are no uninstall programs available. You have to embrace and live with the hand you are dealt.
For me and my kids, our challenge in life is to embrace living with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). I have written very little about this personal side of my life. It is time for that to change.
I came to terms with ADHD thanks to a great therapist I found in the spring of 2011. It took more time but at last I take proper medication. As I stubbornly refused assistance, I witnessed how both of my kids took off like a kite once they got some therapy and medication. Everything about their lives drastically improved — from school work to sports to personal relationships.
I feel that talking about my journey on this issue may help other adults, who have struggled with this disorder for years. For those who have children or a spouse with ADHD, perhaps I can open up a new window of understanding.
One of the hardest things for me to come to grips with is that for our generation there was little or no help. We were part of the restless group of kids in school. There were no accommodation’s made for us. In a way, we were path breakers.
I now recognize that I, and others with the same disorder, have advantages that others do not. Our intelligence is generally above average. When we combine our ability to think outside the box with a laser like focus there is little we cannot achieve.
Now for a few facts that I dug up.
ADHD was often misdiagnosed, and is still only partially understood today. The disorder, at one point in time was thought to be caused by minor injuries to the brain and was first called “minimal brain dysfunction.” This initial theory has proven to be incorrect. According to the Mayo Clinic, several factors may contribute to ADHD: (1) Altered brain function and structure; (2) Heredity; (3) Maternal smoking, drug use, and exposure to toxins; (4) Childhood exposure to environmental toxins; and (5) Food additives. Doctors, however, still have much to learn about ADHD. As brain scan technology and genetic research advances, I have no doubt that more of the mystery will be uncovered.
How ADHD is characterized has come a long way too. At one point, conventional wisdom broke the disorder down into two groups: ADD and ADHD. Now, every diagnosis falls under the ADHD umbrella but there are three subgroups: predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive, and a combination of both. I fall into the predominantly inattentive group as does my youngest son. My oldest is predominantly hyperactive.
The inability to focus, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior or speech are the tips of the iceberg in terms of symptoms. Adults and children may struggle with low self-esteem, relationships, and school work. Mild depression can also present itself. Dyslexia often comes hand in hand too. That is the case with my oldest son and I am fairly certain I have it as well but have never been officially diagnosed.
Speaking from experience, I know how ADHD can affect relationships. I have seen several marriages end over this issue and it played a contributing factor in my divorce. Throughout my entire schooling if a subject caught my interest I got an A, if not, it was a B or C. My grades were up and down no matter how hard I studied.
My research indicates that six to ten percent of the population are many being treated for ADHD. Many remain undiagnosed and suffer needlessly. I know how hard it is to take the first step because deep down you think you can handle it. Another excuse I know first hand is you have lived with it for all these years so you mind as well finish out the ride. God forbid that you take any drugs.
Regardless of your age, my message to you is that there is still time to soar like a kite. If you suspect that you have ADHD, or if your kids have been diagnosed, do not hesitate like I did!
If any of what I have written hits home, just know that you are never alone on your journey. You have already survived the road less traveled. Now it is time to come home.