A Hollywood Writer on Life with ADHD

Frank South, who wrestled with attention deficit disorder since childhood, spills everything he’s learned about himself, the unaccepting world, and his ADHD brethren.

Former Hollywood writer Frank South describes his late diagnosis with attention deficit disorder Ed Krieger

One lesson I’ve learned: We ADHD folks are everywhere.

We’re the creative vice-president in the cubicle who, while you’re yelling at us for missing another deadline, comes up with the intuitive leap that saves a whole product line.

We’re the spouse whose highly sensitive antennae pick up a vibe from our 13-year-old daughter that she needs to talk. So we sit down with her for a half-hour as she pours out her problems, leaving you waiting at the car place, after promising you we wouldn’t be late.

We’re the 20-something working at the fast-food drive-through who forgot to remove the pickle that you’re allergic to from the double cheeseburger. We feel terrible -- I swear we’re not doing any of this on purpose -- but we also find it so freaky funny that we’ll put the whole mess in a stand-up routine that will knock you out laughing when you see it on HBO in two years.

We’re the fifth-grader who makes you wish you had gone into the forestry service and been stationed out in the wilderness rather than teaching us. But then one day we not only hand in our homework -- finally -- but we also hand in a startling pastel-and-pencil drawing of you that captures the light coming across your desk from the window exactly the way it does every afternoon. You realize that we weren’t staring out the window, we were staring at the light coming in.

We are not stupid or crazy. Well, I could be fairly labeled crazy-ish, due primarily to my off-the-charts attention deficit disorder, hypomania, alcoholism, and some depression. When you get over being furious at the things we did or didn’t do, don’t waste time feeling sorry for us. We’re working on being less forgetful and accidentally destructive.

Even though we talk with shrinks and ADHD coaches, work on our social and organizational skills, and take our ADHD medication, our core ADHD selves are not going to change into anything normal. Guess what? I don’t think you want us to. That’s because we remind you of that part of you that doesn’t fit in, that’s dying to open the dark door down the hall.

Next: Accept Your ADHD -- Sort Of


This article comes from the Winter 2009 issue of ADDitude.

To read this issue of ADDitude in full, buy the back issue.


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