ADHD is real. I'm an adult with ADHD and I'll tell you why I know for a fact that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder exists!
by Ben T.
Dear Mr. Know-It-All,
You don't believe that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) is a real mental condition? I will tell you why I know for a fact there is such a thing as ADD/ADHD. How so? Because I have lived my whole life knowing that I was very different from everyone else. I am not just talking about my personality or even my hyperactivity as a child (possibly as an adult, too). I am talking about how I process information compared to almost every human being I have encountered in my entire life.
This is why I know I am different.
I know ADD/ADHD is real because I always daydream -- I always wonder about everything around me, the doors and their hinges, the sound the rain makes when it hits a windowpane, and how light rays from a lamp are different from those of the sun. As I ponder weird things like this, I realize I am in class, in the middle of a math test, I’m a quarter of the way through the exam, and most of the students have already handed their tests in to the teacher ... Oh jeez, now I only have 30 minutes to figure out these problems and I didn’t study or pay attention for the whole semester! Homework? Are you kidding me? Of course I didn’t do it -- it was optional! Not to mention that crap hurts my brain! And didn't you know? It was such a nice day, my favorite TV show was on, and my friend posted on my Facebook profile -- which I probably won’t reply to, not because I don’t care but because I can always do it the next day, even though I know I will probably forget about it and of course feel horrible about it later. I just really wanted to write a nice post back and to take the time to think about what to say back! I couldn't right then because my favorite TV show was on and I was trying to do my math homework because I had a test in two days.
I swear I have the best intentions! Wait, where am I? Ben, stop daydreaming; now you have only 29 minutes to finish the exam!
I know ADD/ADHD is real because when I watch a football game and see the quarterback make a split-second decision in the midst of utter chaos, I wonder how he can do it. How he can organize all that information coming at him at such a rapid pace. I think about how I would do it and how I would have to create a step-by-step process: grab football, check, walk back five steps, check, look for open receivers, check, observe corner of eyes in case of incoming big dudes, check, so on, and so forth. After the center hiked the football, I would have to get in the habit of following those steps and it would take a ton of effort. Seriously, it would hurt my brain. I know that I could throw the ball as far as most people -- I am a pretty athletic guy. And I could dodge the incoming defensive linemen -- I am pretty quick on my feet. It's just that I don’t think I could figure out how to dodge the linemen, pick a person who is not covered by the opposing team, and still manage to throw the ball to a place where the receiver will be five seconds from now. And even if I could decide -- and accurately throw the ball -- to one guy, how could I be sure that that dude is my best option? Given his performance history, receiver Frank doesn't have as good of odds of catching the ball as Bill the receiver. Besides, even though two guys are covering him, Bill looks like he might be open. How can anyone expect me to do all that -- plan, decide, and execute -- anyway? I would have to memorize the whole playbook and that could take me hours. Oh jeez, I just got tackled and the football never left my hand. Nope, I'm not going to be a quarterback, and by the way, the Mannings are a family of geniuses.
I know ADD/ADHD is real because on my first day at a new job, while standing in a group of new employees listening to our supervisor explain how to operate the piece of equipment in the other room, when everyone around me nods their heads in understanding, all I can think is, Wait, what were the first fives steps? And how did they relate to the sixth step? The sixth step didn’t make sense in relation to the ninth step. Did this guy even know what he was talking about? I bet I could do a better job! And, oh by the way, can you repeat the last step? Wait, did they all just walk out of the room? Where did they go? Great, now I am lost and it’s my first day on the job. Hmm, maybe I should explain to my boss that I have ADD/ADHD, tell him that I’m really sorry but I'm a little confused, and ask him if he could please explain steps one through nine again. Nah, he would just think I am lying because I was standing there so quietly, and it’s not like I was hyperactively jumping off the walls or anything. He might not even believe ADD/ADHD is real!
I know ADD/ADHD is real because I have the condition. I know it hurts when people say, "There is no such thing as ADD/ADHD. Greedy pharmaceutical corporations blah blah blah, so on, and so forth…" I know because I took ADD/ADHD medication and it helped me learn how to read within two weeks of taking it. I needed the extra boost because at that point I was already three years behind all the other kids. Seriously, all those letters on the page are quite intimidating when you approach them for the first time. I know that I am the way I am not because I’m stupid or lazy. I know that I am actually pretty smart. I know that I have a lot of ideas to offer the world and a lot of potential, if only I could just get that one idea out before I start thinking up a new one, not that the new one isn’t just as important. Or if only I could just get that one idea out before I get bored and totally move on to something else completely, like playing tag football with my brothers (not as the quarterback, of course). Or if I could even get any ideas out in a fashion that anyone out there could understand. I even confuse myself sometimes, and I am an expert on myself.
Anyway, I got bored, so that's the end of my letter to Mr. Know-It-All.
To those of you who are still reading:
If you can relate to any of this, you might have ADD/ADHD. If it hurts your brain to read this and you have ADD/ADHD, I apologize for the ADDed pain. If you do not have ADD/ADHD and it hurt your brain to read this, guess what? Now you know how we feel all the time.