ADHD Like You

A doctor who both has and treats patients with ADHD considers the effects of his personal diagnosis on his attention-deficit patients.

Key West Dr. and Lifeguard Shed
Key West Dr. and Lifeguard Shed

It’s 5:30 in the morning, and I’m sitting on a deck chair watching the sunrise, as the cruise ship Mercury nears its first port-of-call — Key West, Florida. As usual, my body’s odd rhythms pump me full of energy at a time when no one else is awake. I’m doing some work on my laptop as I await the start of a conference on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), to be held aboard the ship. I am reflecting on the paradox of living with my own ADHD while helping patients manage theirs.

A clinician with ADD/ADHD is a study in contrasts. Most people see me as fairly successful, but I have only recently begun to believe it myself. For years, my mantra was “Fake it till you make it!” Like many ADHD adults, I spent my life hearing, “Sorry, Steve, I’m afraid that just won’t do. If you would just try a little harder….”

When you have ADD/ADHD, things announce themselves by unexpectedly smacking you upside the head. People whom I don’t realize I have irritated explode in my face. Hardly a good example to set while posing as a resource to be trusted. Good feedback from clients and colleagues is offset by criticism from colleagues I inadvertently conflict with. I struggle with which view to take, and I sadly conclude that both are accurate. It is one of those paradoxes that mark the ADD/ADHD life.

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