I’ve had ADHD symptoms for as long as I can remember, but it was only in the last decade that I learned they had a name. It is good to know that those four letters are what I’ve been coping with all these years. I wasn’t an easy child at home or in school. I didn’t earn my high school diploma, but I never felt any less loved by my parents.
I’ve been married for 30 years, so my wife knows how to handle me. If you asked her, she’d say it’s sometimes hard for her and our children to live with me. Every conversation is peppered with, “Howie! Howie! Are you paying attention?”
When I impulsively revealed on a talk show that I also have OCD, I was devastated — until I walked outside. People came up to me and said, “Me, too.” Those were the most comforting words I’ve ever heard. When you have mental challenges, you feel alone. You’re not.
I won’t tell you that having ADD/ADHD or OCD is a blessing, but both conditions are parts of who I am. They’re reflected in my comedy. While the conditions present challenges — I find it difficult to write or read a script — my career and life have been fruitful and fulfilling. I know some see ADD/ADHD as a gift, but, given a chance, I would gladly return it.
More About Howie Mandel
Read More Stories About People with ADD/ADHD
This article appears in the Spring 2010 issue of ADDitude.
To read this issue of ADDitude in full, buy the back issue.