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Sunday, October 17, 2010

# 29 SERIOUSLY SPEAKING

Occasionally I get serious, and this is one of those times.  Please stay with me.  I will go back to my goofy self the next time.  I promise!

According to various sources, 4.7 percent of American adults are estimated to live with ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).  I have a feeling that the percentage is much higher than this, since ADHD is highly under diagnosed.  Most of ADHD individuals are males.  However, I happen to be one of the lucky females to experience this disorder first hand.
As an infant I was very hyper. Once I found out I could get up and move all hell broke loose (according to my parents).  At six months old I could get out of my crib, crawl to the front room, grab cigarette butts from the ashtray and scramble under my parents bed to EAT them.
There was no keeping me in. My parents tried closing the door but I would just push something up to the wall, reach over, and open it anyway.  No fence or barrier could keep me put.  Phrases like, “Where’s Karen?” or “Has anyone seen Karen?” were frequently heard through out the house, the yard, and the local supermarket.
Everything I did was at a dead run.  My parents even had to move from a two story  to a one story home because I would come flying out of my room and fall down a full flight of stairs EVERY DAY.  I received several concussions before the move.
I suffered through school with phrases like,  “You just aren’t trying hard enough.”  “If you would sit still and pay attention you would… …” “Stop your daydreaming”, or “You aren’t living up to your potential!“  I struggled with math and spelling. The only thing was I ALWAYS gave EVERYTHING my best effort and I was TRYING to pay attention.
Adults with ADHD tend to develop coping mechanisms to compensate for some or all of their impairments.   I took copious notes, wrote lists, talked out loud to myself, praised myself when I did good, as well as scolded myself when I didn’t.
At age 40 I had yet attributed some of my behaviors to ADHD.  To me it was normal to have several thoughts, ideas, songs, stories, plans, memories, etc. playing simultaneously in my head.  I heard someone describe it like constantly switching the channels on a TV. That is so true.  I had no control over so many of my thoughts and actions.  I was VERY impulsive (dor to dor salesman loved me).
If I was doing something and my attention was drawn elsewhere I would completely forget what I was doing in the first place.  For example, I would start with cooking dinner.  Then the phone would ring.  I would finish the phone call and sit down to watch television.  I would watch television until the smoke triggered the fire alarm.  This was almost a daily event in my life.
It was so bad that I had to put a list by the door to help me remember every day things (turn off the iron, the gas, the stove etc). I had to force myself to stop each time I left the house and touch each item on the list so I wouldn’t forget.  It had to become an obsession.  I had to rubber band important medicine to my deodorant so I wouldn’t forget it (for some reason I always remembered my deodorant).
When electronic planners came out I scrimped for two months so I could buy one.  I was able to set it to remind me.  It was a lifesaver until I lost it and had to buy another one (another 2 months of saving).
I won’t go into the long boring story of how I realized that I had ADHD. But, with one lousy little pill and it ALL went away.  I couldn’t believe it I could think.  I didn’t lay awake nights with my mind spinning.  I could safely cook diner without burning up a skillet every week.  My life changed.
A lot of people do not believe that there is such a disorder.  I have come up against many professionals and private individuals who truly believe: “They just aren’t trying hard enough.”  “If they would sit still and pay attention they would…” “They’re spoiled!” 
           Oh, the emotional damage these people do to those who have this disorder.  Don’t be one of those people, PLEASE.
          The sound you just heard was me jumping off my soap box and into one of my usual messy situations, one of which I will post next Monday.  Thanks for staying to the end.  Also, the medication didn't solve all the issues, hence the crazy situations I get myself into.
kt 2010