Musing

ADHD

white and blue crew neck t shirt

At least once or twice a year I come across some article written by some person with a host of letters behind their name claiming ADD/ADHD is made up, not real and just another way for drug manufacturers to bilk us of money.  To say these articles piss me off would be a gross understatement.  Imagine Hugh Jackman as Wolverine when he busts his claws out.  Yeah, now you’re getting how I feel about those articles. But, before I get myself all worked up, let me talk more about why it gets me worked up.

Almost everyone who knows me, knows I have ADHD. I have never made it a secret and I often poke fun at myself for my disorder.  I have had it since childhood although I wasn’t officially diagnosed until I was an adult. As a kid, I was the wild, impulsive, talkative, smart but bad kid. I was super disruptive and a little combative. I had cute on my side but that only took me so far.  Most of the time it ended with me being grounded (rarely) or with a spanking (typical).  As I got older,  I developed some coping mechanisms and I naturally possess some personality traits that enable me to help cope better than others but my symptoms were always the elephant in the room.  Even though the condition ADD and ADHD has been used since the early 1900s – yes you read that right the early 1900s. It didn’t get a lot of attention until the 1980s and then it was generally your completely over the top out of control cases and almost 100% of the cases were boys.  For the longest time experts thought only boys could have ADD or ADHD.

Fast forward to the 2000s and everyone you know is on some kind of medicine for their brains.  Everyone knows someone who takes medicine or has a diagnosis of anxiety, depression, bipolar, ocd, autism spectrum, etc.  For some reason, no one blinks when all those other issues are treated with medicine but the minute you mention medicine for ADHD half the people in the room will break out their armchair quarterback medical license. So yeah, I get a little Wolverine about it. Imagine if you will that your brain is constantly saying the following when someone is speaking to you.

Ah, yes cool topic. Okay, okay I’m following you. Oh that reminds me of something. Wait your turn, wait your turn, focus, listen, don’t interrupt, wait your turn, focus, don’t interup, wait what were they saying I stopped listening to think about something else, oh my gosh what are they talking about now, I must have zoned out.

Yeah, that’s my brain nearly every time someone speaks to me. It’s frustrating for both the speaker and me.

People are really hating being away from others right now.  I can’t say it’s bothering me that much. My brain doesn’t have to deal with as many people in my head.  Incidentally, I wonder if I start doing what that lady in the picture is doing if people would stop talking until I get my thoughts in order.

P.S.  I kinda took the lazy route this week. I’ve had the bones of this entry for a while. I have something else brewing but I’m finding a hard time organizing my thoughts.  Pretty hilarious sense this is all about my brain working differently.

Photo Credit: Atul Choudhary on Pexels.com.  

 

 

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5 thoughts on “ADHD

  1. I think most of what you are encountering is the skepticism surrounding school culture generally and Big Pharma. And skepticism about doping up children and their developing brains. A lot of people I know are pissed about young kids being given serious drugs for problems that can possibly be managed with a more reasonable environment (what you are experiencing with quarantine), as schools are becoming ever more toxic environments. Diagnosis with ADD/ADHD is so much more prevalent in schools now than it was when we were growing up, with some places having something like a fifth of kids being diagnosed with it in some places. There’s a certain level of prevalence where people start to ask questions about institutions rather than biology.

    I had a conversation with a friend who is a middle school teacher (public school) years back, and he told me the ADHD stuff in schools now is like a pharma factory. If your kids have any disciplinary issues whatsoever – which are common in middle school, where hormones are naturally raging – the school administrators are going to tell you go get your kid diagnosed and medicated so they aren’t distracting the other 40 kids in their class.

    Anecdotally, it’s kind of striking being around homeschoolers, where many parents are militant about managing their kids’ social and physical environment and are aggressively against medication of any sort, versus talking to the kids in my neighborhood who attend traditional schools and already have *major* behavioral issues. It’s like every single kid in the latter group has a therapist for something and that’s all they want to talk about. Some of them are so worked up emotionally that they can’t even do basic things like ride a bicycle. I’ve even met two lower-elementary aged kids who told me they have anxiety problems for which they get professional help. I wasn’t even really that self-aware at their age, probably still believed in Santa Claus, and here they are talking about their drug cabinet. I can’t tell if this is just what white privilege looks like now or if there’s something in the water. Then you have the kids who are depressed, bi-polar, transitioning genders, blah blah blah. I kid you not, the sheer spectrum of young kids with psychiatric histories, with many involving violence and self-harm, is now one of the main reasons people tell me they are pulling their kids out of school. It’s far more common than people who want to homeschool their kid so they can pray or whatever.

    So when you tell people (especially people with kids) that you have ADHD, that might be the context they are approaching that detail with.

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    • I agree there is very much a school culture of any child that is remotely enthusiastic/hyper/daydreamy/not a robot should be on meds. 100%. I have dealt with the big pharma aspect of it first hand when the first medicine I was put on made me enraged after the meds wore off. It also made me drop weight like I had a fatal disease. That portion of it wasn’t so bad. ha ha. And, while I have child with ADHD and it does run in our families, my malice is purely the whole idea that ADD/ADHD is nothing more than a made up, modern disorder. I was diagnosed by my kid’s pediatrician when I had a break down in her office one day. She referred me to a psychiatrist who actually laughed at me when I hauled up into his office with my copy of Driven to Distraction with the questionnaire already completed and 3 pages of notes. I said, “I believe I have ADHD.” He legit laughed and said, “ya think?” I have AMAZING and unhealthy I might coping skills that enables me to off meds most of the time but occasionally I do crack and I need meds. I think back to my own school experience and I’m a little jealous of my oldest who happens to be on meds. I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like to have had more than anxiety and sheer desire to get out of my house as a help in school. Speaking my kid, the first day he was on it he said, “Mom my brain doesn’t hurt anymore when I try to think.” As a mother, that is both heartbreaking and giant sigh of relief. I’m not saying some diagnosis are not fake and the meds aren’t misused. I know they are. I have a cousin who used to get some so he could pull all nighters in college. But, for those that truly need the meds and the diagnosis it’s life changing.

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      • Since you have researched so much about it, maybe you can answer a medical / mechanical curiosity I have always had about ADHD. Why is it that many of the medications used to treat ADHD are stimulants? It seems counter-intuitive to give someone who has a surfeit of energy a stimulant. Why does that work, in terms of balancing out their experience (i.e., making it so your brain doesn’t hurt when you think)?

        A relative who is a school teacher said she gives kids who have been diagnosed with ADHD coffee when they enter the classroom because it perversely calms them down. She keeps a Keurig in her classroom for that purpose and swears up and down that it works. I guess I see the stimulant aspect, but the medication for ADHD is more serious than coffee (doctors say it has the same effect on the brain as cocaine, minus the addictive properties, though you do develop a tolerance over time).

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      • Your teacher friend is dead on. I can drink a red bull and I’m fine. I can also take Benadryl and it won’t make me sleepy. The easiest most basic answer is our brains and bodies process dopamine and sometimes serotonin differently that most people. When you us a stimulant helps us harness and boost what we have. Its sort of two negatives make a positive. It’s completely counter intuitive but it works.

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