Sunday, July 3, 2011


Please note that this post is just the personal experience of someone who suffers from ADHD, and not information about the disease in itself. For those interested in actually reading up on it, there are some good links given at the bottom. And if you are a parent who finds his child hyperactive, easily distracted, fidgety and unable to concentrate, at least CONSIDER there might be something wrong with him or her medically and that harsher punishment is perhaps not the answer. 

The only thing more difficult than talking about ADHD is perhaps understanding it. I don't mean understanding it in an academic manner, or understanding that it exists, but truly understanding what it it entails. That's hardly surprising, because problems of the mind aren't really REAL, at least to the outsider. But to live with a problem like this, to live with it every day, to not know when my mind is working and when it is slipping up, letting go, losing information, details, memories, is something that chokes and gags. How hard is it to not be able to rely on ones own mind? How do you remember to remember? How do you order your mind to hold on to things when they insist on slipping away like fine grains of sand slip through the fingers? How can you explain to someone that the very existence of a memory, of some little bit of information has been wiped clean from your mind; that not even a trace remains to hold on to? 

Somehow people are willing to accept limitations of a physical disease, but not mental.A promise to call someone back upon reaching home gets washed away like sandcastles in a tsunami, and moments later, nothing but the empty beach remains, barren and devoid of even the hint of a memory. And yet, when trying to make someone understand this, the inevitable reply is "You forgot because you didn't care". Does a legless man not run because he doesn't care? Does a paralyzed person not raise his hand in greeting because he doesn't care? And yet, how do I blame my friends, friends I have lost because of what they perceive as a break in the emotional bond because I didn't remember? Is it truly possible for a person to promise something one moment and forget it so completely that not a shred of memory remains? That someone can actually make a promise, pull out a mobile phone to create a reminder and set an alarm, be interrupted by a single minute-long conversation and then....simply...forget? It's not conceivable, not by any normal human being. But it's possible. I live it.

I have Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Always had it, probably always will. It is defined as 

"ADHD is a problem with inattentiveness, over-activity, impulsivity, or a combination. For these problems to be diagnosed as ADHD, they must be out of the normal range for a child's age and development."

It gives me great peace to at least know that now, because to know something is wrong with you but to not know what it exactly is breeds a kind of helplessness that can only end in severe depression. So many years of my childhood was spent believing it was MY fault, that if I just TRIED A LITTLE HARDER, if I just put in a LITTLE MORE EFFORT, I wouldn't be so hopeless and pathetic. And I tried. Oh, how hard I tried. I tried and I failed, over and over and over again, until I believed, I truly believed I was an incomplete human being. Why else would I find so difficult what every single one of my classmates found so easy? Other boys dream of being famous, being stars, making money, having adventures, becoming sports heroes. I dreamt of being someone else. Anyone else, just not me. I would ponder on the question of self, and identity, and subjects equally heavy and confusing. I would hate myself and then wonder what "myself" meant. Shockingly, I was an incredible bore. Much, much later, I would find some solace in the words of Scatman John.

I wanna be someone, I don't wanna be me
I'm always feelin' less than everybody I see
You ask me how I'm doing and I'll tell you "Just fine"
But on the inside, swear to God, I'm losin' my mind.

War and Peace it ain't, but at least someone talked about how I felt.

The only thing that probably saved me from descending into depression was perhaps the fact that I had ADHD. I couldn't focus on my misery long enough for that to happen. I would move on to a patch of sunlight, or the way ants were moving through a crack in the wall, or perhaps a book. Books were my great solace, but even they could be difficult to read. Reading to the end of a sentence, I would forget how it started. Sometimes I would discover I had been staring at the same word for minutes, while my mind was out there exploring, perhaps the world of the story itself. Words would coil themselves and double into each other, making no sense. And yet, I had to read, because I had to KNOW what happened next. And that's what kept me from wallowing in misery. Other people, both on the page and of it were so perfect, so complete, that I couldn't help being fascinated by them. I couldn't be them, but I sure could know them. So that's what I did. 

As an adult, I still stray. Not all the time, just like a man with a cold does not sneeze all the time, but I have finally learned to order my mind into doing my bidding. It's a battle I even manage to win...sometimes. For those other times, especially during work where such things cannot be risked, there is the internet and a bevy of software to constantly remind me of things I need to do and help me focus. Yes, the internet, potentially the most distracting and time wasting phenomenon on planet earth, has turned out to be my savior. Not only have I learned  about this disease and ways to deal with it on the internet, but also found other people like me, with the same problems, the same frustrations, the same anger and self loathing for not being complete. For once, I can truly say I know how it feels, and mean it. I know how it feels when your best friend accuses you of not caring enough, or your boss screams at you for not remembering a simple instruction...again, or when you suddenly remember you needed to take the tablet four hours ago, and this is the seventh straight day you missed it. I know how it feels to be called a "drama queen" for taking a minor problem like "forgetfulness" so seriously. I know how it feels to be laughed at for "pretending" it's a disease. I know how it feels when parents and older relatives say "In our time, we didn't give these things fancy names. We called it what it was - disobedience, and the medicine was equally simple - the rod" Trust me, there are days when I would pray the rod would cure me, but it never did. It fucking never did.


The Conjuror said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Conjuror said...

there are so many things i want to say ... but i can't find the correct expressions. so i'll keep it simple: I know what it feels like, that was incredibly touching and i loved reading this.

lookwho'stalking said...

I know there are a lot of insensitive souls on this planet who do not understand anything and keep nagging abt "u dont care"... But you need to go ahead with all kinds of people while you tread on the path of life... And I know how successfully you do it :) I just hope that you come across lesser number of insensitive mortals in your way and be blessed with REAL friends -- sensitive, understanding and receptive.
And I wanna mention that as always "ADHD" was a soul stirring piece from your mighty pen after a long time... Thanks..

Sif said...

Hi! I just found your blog because I'm using one of the images you used in this post, in a post I'm writing. I wanted to say, "hear, hear"! As another adult with ADHD I've felt a lot of what you describe! I was actually diagnosed with ADHD 20 years ago, but have only recently started talking about it publicly because mostly people weren't very receptive. I've heard all the old response, 'ADHD isn't real, it's just an excuse for not bringing children up properly'. 'ADHD is over diagnosed' etc.

Just wanted to say, 'Well said!'

Girl with 'Warped' Thinking said...

I can't find the right words to articulate the emotions that am feeling. I understand how it feels to have a mental disorder/disease, and people asking you to "get over" it. I can feel the pain, the helplessness, the frustration that one experiences in making them understand it can't be done at a drop of a hat, and there are times when one might slip, despite the best efforts. This write-up has touched a chord with me, BIG TIME. The usage of words, the feelings, the pictures painted - this is one write-up I won't ever forget. Thank you for putting to paper the trauma that so many of us experience but can't even decipher. Thank you for inspiring me to stop blaming myself - I know I will, from now on. Thank you for making me get a vivid idea of what good writing is - I am no critic, but I consider this to be one of the best pieces I have ever read, for few have moved me like this one did. Thank you!