A few weeks ago a colleague and I were having a conversation and it turned to a discussion of ADHD. During the conversation, my colleague had no idea I was ADHD, but he noted how I referred to it. I stated "I am ADHD", not "I have ADHD". This is something I had not even occured to me or really thought about. It is a big distinction between the two statements, even though they only differ by one word.
The 'have' denotes a condition, something which does not define me, but is rather like a cold or a cut or bruise. It is something which says it is temporary or at least something which can go away. For me, the "I am ADHD" has always been more appropriated. It denotes something which defines me as a person, as part of who I am and not some outside force acting on me like an illness.This simple observation in the words I used, turned the conversation from being about ADHD and instead about how I handle this aspect of my life.
What intrigued my colleague was not so much the outward appearance of ADHD behavior, but how did it affect me internally and what in essence was going on in my head. This is something I had never really had to describe to anyone (no one ever asked). I instead would get "Man, your a pain in the ass!". For me ADHD is something I am always working with and against. The majority of the time I am fine, I am able to function and act normally. However, when my ADHD is acting up, I really have to fight to focus and to keep a single train of thought.
During the day, I can at least have something to help me get that single train of thought, even though I may have to repeatidly go over the same ground in my mind. Whether it is work, reading. Sometimes the more rote or monotonous the task, the easier it is for me to help reign in my brain. If I am at home, its video games.
At night it is a different story. If my ADHD is acting up, my mind simply cannot turn off. I am trying to go to sleep and my brain wants to continue going 100 MPH in all directions. For me, on these nights any type of stimulus (TV to a simple noise outside
) just keeps my brain going. I can toss and turn for hours on end.
The things I learned about being organized and focusing help me during the day, but I still struggle to find a solution at night. Recently using mediation has helped me a bit to turn off or calm down my brain at night. Though I still have a long way to do.
I have never been formally diagnosed as ADHD, nor have I ever been on medication for it. Growing up, I was just a kid who was rather hyperactive as a child and tended to get distracted. This was most evident in school. My parents chose to deal with this by getting me help in learning how to study, how to focus and how organize myself to help me be better equipped to learn. I don't think the thought of going to the doctor to get a drug ever entered their minds. This has lead to a profound affect on how my personality and outlook on things have been shaped growing up.
I look in comparison to another colleague who also has ADHD (not formally diagnosed either
) and how he deals with it, not having the same background as I did in study and organization classes I did in growing up. I also look at friends and family I know growing up now and seeing some of them who were diagnosed as ADHD and the medication that they are on affects their behavior and personality.
I also have seen friends in college who like me were not diagnosed with it as a child, but they do have it. Since they didn't get anything more then just being considered a 'trouble-maker' or 'hyperactive child', they developed their own tools to cope - such as drugs and alcohol.
I have never thought of going to a doctor to get medication, to me it seems to be an admission of defeat, that somehow I was not strong enough to deal with this on my own. I am not knocking anyone who is on medication, though I think ADHD medications are over prescribed. I don't think families are taking enough time to look at the slightly harder road, but one which I think would help kids learn to handle the condition more then just popping a pill.
I have definitely seen individuals who need the medication, they have such a severe case of ADHD which they really need more then lessons on how to focus. They have it much worse then I do and even with medication life can be a struggle. But those with moderate or mild forms of ADHD should look at trying to manage the problem without drugs first.