Entertainer, Comedian, Los Angeles, California
I was diagnosed with ADHD and OCD as an adult, but I don't remember a time when I didn't have them. Back in the 1960s, when I was growing up, my symptoms didn't have a name, and you didn't go to the doctor to find out. They were called "Howie."
As I grew older, those quirks found their way into my comedy. Deal or No Deal works nicely with my ADHD symptoms. I show up, meet the contestants, and move around the set. I'm not stuck behind a pedestal reading trivia questions. I've always had problems sitting still and listening for long periods of time.
My parents accepted my quirks and differences. I have the best family -- everyone shows me nothing but love, support, and strength. If you asked my wife about my ADHD, she would say it's difficult to deal with. She can't get through a conversation with me without having to reel me back in.
After I impulsively revealed on a talk show that I have OCD, I was devastated. I often do things without thinking. That's my ADHD talking. Out in public, after I did the show, people came up to me and said, "Me, too." These were the most comforting words I ever heard. Whatever you're dealing with in life, know that you're not alone. Adults should know that it's never too late to seek help for ADHD. I didn't let ADHD prevent me from achieving my goals, and neither should you.
Graduate student, New York, NY
I finished my master's degree at Columbia University in one year, with straight A's. Who thought I could do it? I did. Because I knew what is inside of me, and I want the world to see it, too.
I was diagnosed with ADHD in second grade. During my school career, I had trouble on timed tests and in getting organized. In college, even with accommodations, I had difficulty with taking tests. It took me a year to prepare for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Yet, I would not change my ADHD for the world. Without ADHD, I would not be me.
The way I approach any problem is by piecing things together. Sometimes my strategy is a little different from my peers', but I still find the solution. In fact, I am a rigorous puzzle-solver. Every night I complete several Sudokus faster than anyone I know.
As I learned about ADHD, I decided I wanted to learn more about the field of psychology. I love helping others who have the condition. I make it easier for them to gain insight about and accept themselves. I have served on panels to increase awareness about disabilities among educators. My goal is to work as a neuropsychologist to diagnose those with ADHD and learning disabilities and help them to live a successful life.
I am not defined by ADHD; I define it. My ADHD takes a backseat to my ambitions and goals, because I am the driver of my life, not my ADHD.
Sculptor, Artist, Salisbury, NC
I stayed back in the fourth grade three times. I was a straight-F student. The school called my mother and told her to send me to a private school, which she couldn't afford.
Then, at 14, I had an epiphany. Two teachers put together a demonstration in science class one day. As soon as I saw it, it was as if I awoke from a long sleep. It excited and inspired me. My teachers discovered that I was a visual learner, which was something my mother, a painter, knew intuitively.
As a result, I enrolled in art school at 21, and started my own design firm when I was 26. I sculpt busts of famous people, many of whom were thought to have learning disabilities — Einstein, Mozart, Edison, da Vinci. Some of my sculptures are in the Smithsonian.
When I sculpt and paint, I don't need medication. I don't feel like I have ADHD. There is hope for ADD children. My mom was the making of me. You can be the making of your child.
Restaurateur, Minneapolis, MN
As an entrepreneur, I find that ADHD is a boon. It's easy to do a million things at once. I own Hell's Kitchen -- an award-winning restaurant in Minneapolis -- but I started my career as a teacher and owned several successful toy stores before I entered the restaurant business. I was always able to work the long hours my jobs demanded, but when it came to smaller tasks, like food shopping, I was lost.
When I found I had ADHD, I finally understood why I had more energy than everyone else. I attribute some of my behavior to ADHD, especially my frequent changes in careers. I like to get a project off the ground, but I move on when things settle into a routine.
I make adjustments in my schedule to keep my ADHD in check. I won’t do two meetings in a row, because I know I can’t sit still that long. Taking breaks while reviewing bills or menus helps, too.
I still have problems with grocery shopping. My husband is supportive. He is amused when I spin in circles around the house. Thank God he is a chef!
This article appears in the Fall 2012 issue of ADDitude.
SUBSCRIBE TODAY to ensure you don't miss a single issue.
Share your ADHD story in the ADHD Adults support group on ADDConnect.