The controversy surrounding ADHD has been in the public psyche for many years now. You have probably heard many people deny its existence. For example, this topic is discussed frequently on talk radio phone-ins and there is a 50/50 split opinion on whether this condition actually exists. You may have heard people say, “Well, it’s crap parenting” or, “They are just naughty kids that need a slap”. These opinions may be true but only in a very small percentage of cases. You may have read an article in a newspaper which had very little research or knowledge on the subject. It’s the, “If it’s in a newspaper then it must be true” mentality that frustrates people who actually live with ADHD.
I was only diagnosed with ADHD in 2014 but the signs were there for as long as I could remember. In primary school I was cast aside, along with two other children, from the main group and had a table and chairs tucked away in the corner of the classroom so we didn’t “hold the other children back”. None of us had learning difficulties. I had trouble concentrating so I would daydream, boy two had a turbulent upbringing due to his mother suffering with schizophrenia so his mind was not focused on learning and boy three was a simply a chatterbox. Whilst I liked this arrangement, our primary school education suffered because our teachers would pay us little to no attention in any subject. I was not a slow learner, I was a bright kid with an eagerness to learn but in second year this enthusiasm transformed into apathy. This continued to the last year of primary school. I had the same lack of interest and concentration issues when taking my Eleven Plus exam. Despite this, I achieved a “borderline pass” which gave me the option of choosing to move onto either secondary school or grammar school. I chose secondary school because the majority of my friends didn’t pass the exam and my lack of interest in school was now at an all time high. In hindsight, I made the right choice. The kids that passed were swots and whilst being friends, they were not the sort of friends I would want to spend the next five years of my education with. I wanted fun, I wanted to mess about, I wanted to be in top set of every class without the need to mentally push myself. It was an easy choice and I was in top set for every subject.
The standard of expectancy in secondary school was at my comfort level. I was able to pass tests with a respectable grade. There was a problem though. We were expected to do coursework which I would quickly lose interest in. There was also homework. I categorically refused to do any homework because my opinion was that home is for winding down and relaxing after a stressful day of trying to concentrate. This resulted in poor grades when taking my GSCE’s and so I left school with poor grades which only meant one thing. Dead end job, here I come!
Life as an adult is not really any different. I take medication now and it helps to keep me focused on tasks but it’s not perfect nor it is meant to be a cure. ADHD still affects my life. I am probably the most disorganised person you could ever meet. My home office is a mess, when I use things I don’t put them back. However, I don’t have a kitchen “man drawer” full of junk. I actually have two kitchen cupboards full of crap. My thought processes are constantly interrupted with random thoughts. Even as I write this article I am interrupted with thoughts such as, “I wonder what I can cook for dinner tonight?” and, “when are Manchester United playing next?” and, “Do horses like Sugar Puffs?”.
I like to keep my mind busy otherwise my head would be a clutter of randomness. I do always need something to focus on. For example, things in our house are always breaking. Usually it’s our youngest boy breaking his toys or household items. I am constantly fixing items from electrical toys to white goods that break down or getting out the Gorilla Glue. I have recently taken up drawing as a bit of a hobby which really helps me relax and focus on just one thing. It’s very therapeutic for me. I was quite good at art in school and it was the only subject that I received a “grade A” for.
My other hobbies include radio (CB, Shortwave, PMR radio via VOIP), I also like to develop websites, write code in PHP and make mobile phone apps. ADHD can make a two-hour task into six-hour task. I need complete silence with no interruptions or screaming children in the background otherwise my concentration vanishes completely to the point that the last thing I did becomes a distant memory never to be recalled.
I challenge anyone who doesn’t think that ADHD is real to swap lives with me for just one day. They would soon realise and accept how difficult it can be do complete the most simple of tasks in a timely manner. For me, this is the norm. I have always been like this so I do not find it traumatic or depressing. It’s just simply how I am. It may be frustrating, it may be inconvenient but you have to just live with it. Medication does help and in my case probably reduces the symptoms by approximately 30 – 40% which doesn’t sound like much but any reduction is good.
I don’t think I will ever achieve a high productivity rate in anything I do but that’s fine. I am good at what I do, I consider myself a talented man at many things and as long as I feel that I am trying my best then the rest of the world can stuff it! If all this sounds familiar to you just remember, you are who you are. Hopefully you are surrounded by people who love you and understand your difficulties. If you have not been to a doctor to talk about your issues then make yourself an appointment. There is support and help out there and I hope by reading this you will realise that you are not alone.