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Why I'm gonna need people who don't have ADHD to stop talking about ADHDIn recent years, ADHD has become something of a hot button topic. Everyone and their mother has an opinion on the diagnosis and treatment of kids with ADHD. You’ve probably heard them complaining loudly about how our kids are “overmedicated” and “over-diagnosed” and how when they were children, kids would just run around and play outside and they didn’t seem to have these problems and it’s just that these modern kids aren’t tough enough, we need to get tougher. The internet is a distraction, or television is, or video games, or smart phones, or a million other reasons that this generation’s batch of kids are personally at fault for their own failure.
You know what the craziest thing about all those opinionated people is? Not a single one of them seems to have ADHD. The prevailing rhetoric about the dangers of over-diagnosing and overmedicating ADHD is primarily coming from people with no immediate contact with the disease. And you know what they have no idea aboout? What the disease is actually like. Oh sure, they have their talking point memorized, and they’ve seen the local evening news and heard the pop culture non experts ramble about the dangers of adderall and ritalin, but they have no idea what they’re talking about.
So let me clarify some things for you about ADHD and the treatment thereof. First, a disclaimer. I was diagnosed at the age of 23, so I can’t talk about being medicated as a kid (but I can certainly talk about not being medicate as a kid with ADHD) and the drug I take is adderall. I have no immediate knowledge of ritalin and from I’ve heard it’s a very different drug from adderall. Finally, ADHD, like most mental illnesses, has different levels of severity, and likewise, medication affects everyone differently. I don’t know how ADHD affects other people and I don’t know how adderall does either, but I do know how different my own experiences are from those I see described by people who don’t have ADHD.
The first thing you need to know about ADHD is that it’s not just being scatterbrained or procrastinating a lot, or being disorganized. I would really really love to remember when I have to do things and start my work early and keep my room clean. ADHD doesn’t stop me from wanting any of those things. No, what ADHD does is way worse. It makes me want to do these things and also be physically incapable of doing them. ADHD comes with paralyzingly anxiety and lots if self loathing. It goes a little bit like this.
Have to do a thing —> Make lots of mental plans to do the thing —> Become terrified of being incapable of doing the thing —> Do literally everything you can to avoid the thing because every time you think about how you haven’t done it yet you hate yourself that much more for it not being done —> Hate yourself because everyone else can do the thing, why can’t you? —> Thing is due and you haven’t done it —> Consequences —> Make a million excuses and rush to do the thing and get it done poorly, hating yourself the whole time for not just doing it already —> Hate yourself because you know you could have done the thing well if only you did it early! You had so much time! why didn’t you? —> Rinse and repeat.
And you know what really doesn’t help that spiral? The prevailing and pervasive message that the disease you might have (the one you’re scared of having, that isn’t you, that only other people have, medicated people, those drones with no problems) is fake, and that the real problem is you. That you’re just a failure who can’t do her work on time, or keep her room clean, or remember to go to appointments and meetings.
You know what shockingly does work? Therapy and medication. Therapy has given me amazing mental coping mechanisms to help stave off my fear of failure, and to help me mitigate the scary space between success and failure, where you try but you don’t always do as well as you would like. And adderall? Well let’s just put it this way. Since I started adderall in December, I have a clean room, a calendar I actually remember to check, and I’ve started almost every single assignment at least a day or two before it was due. Is my life perfect? Not by any means. I still struggle with anxiety and self loathing, adderall doesn’t get rid of those, but it does give me the mental strength to get past that initial block that says I can’t and start to try. It hasn’t stifled my creativity at all, either. In fact, now that I don’t hate myself for not being able to start anything, I’ve found myself being more creative instead of less. And amazingly, I think it’s even helped me sleep better.
Because you know what? ADHD is exhausting. It’s incredibly tiring to spend all day knowing you have things to do and being mentally incapable of starting. It’s stressful and painful to constantly compare yourself to everyone around you, because they procrastinate too but somehow they don’t seem to hate themselves the way you do, and they seem to be able to get shit done when you can’t. Because everyone procrastinates, the less capable you are of getting past it, the more it feels like the problem is you are just a failure. And when you lay in bed at night listing all the things you didn’t do but should have it becomes really hard to sleep.
Are people misdiagnosed with ADHD? Sure. People are misdiagnosed with everything. Do kids today have more distractions? Absolutely. But they also have a million standardized tests demanding their undivided attention in a way out parents never did. Are there parents who demand adderall and ritalin for their kids who won’t sit still? Definitely. But maybe if my parents had been those parents, I wouldn’t have failed two classes my sophomore year of college, or spent most of my childhood feeling like the only thing wrong with me was I was a lazy, disrespectful, messy person with no work ethic.
So the next time someone without ADHD tells you what to think about it, think about this instead. And if you recognize any of the things I said here about yourself, please find someone to talk to. Because regardless of how you feel about medication, you deserve to not hate yourself. You really really do.
First Long-Term Study Reveals Link Between Childhood ADHD and Obesity
A new study conducted by researchers at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center found men diagnosed as children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were twice as likely to be obese in a 33-year follow-up study compared to men who were not diagnosed with the condition. The study appears in the May 20 online edition of Pediatrics.
“Few studies have focused on long-term outcomes for patients diagnosed with ADHD in childhood. In this study, we wanted to assess the health outcomes of children diagnosed with ADHD, focusing on obesity rates and Body Mass Index,” said lead author Francisco Xavier Castellanos, MD, Brooke and Daniel Neidich Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Child Study Center at NYU Langone. “Our results found that even when you control for other factors often associated with increased obesity rates such as socioeconomic status, men diagnosed with ADHD were at a significantly higher risk to suffer from high BMI and obesity as adults.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ADHD is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders, often diagnosed in childhood and lasting into adulthood. People with ADHD typically have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors and tend to be overly active. ADHD has an estimated worldwide prevalence of five percent, with men more likely to be diagnosed than women.
The prospective study included 207 white men diagnosed with ADHD at an average age of 8 and a comparison group of 178 men not diagnosed with childhood ADHD, who were matched for race, age, residence and social class. The average age at follow up was 41 years old. The study was designed to compare Body Mass Index (BMI) and obesity rates in grown men with and without childhood ADHD.
Results showed that, on average, men with childhood ADHD had significantly higher BMI (30.1 vs. 27.6) and obesity rates (41.1 percent vs. 21.6 percent) than men without childhood ADHD.
“The results of the study are concerning but not surprising to those who treat patients with ADHD. Lack of impulse control and poor planning skills are symptoms often associated with the condition and can lead to poor food choices and irregular eating habits,” noted Dr. Castellanos. “This study emphasizes that children diagnosed with ADHD need to be monitored for long-term risk of obesity and taught healthy eating habits as they become teenagers and adults.”
when i have no medication
- coffee makes me take naps
- soda with caffeine makes me hyper for like an hour and a half, at which point i have to take a nap
- everything is naps, except when i’m prancing around like a tiny fucking deer and tiptoeing and limp-wristing my flappy way around everything
- i can read like two or three pages of an article at a time
- i can watch like 20-25 minutes of a tv-show or movie at a time
- i talk to myself constantly
- i eat constantly
- i can do nothing efficiently
- i’m a fabulous conversationalist except when i’m not, in which case i hate everything and sometimes cry
- the sound that trucks and motorcycle engines make when they rev is like the apocalypse (this is almost always true, but worse without meds)
- the sound of big tires or trucks driving by is like someone ripping a piece of duct tape off my fucking face
- i cry every twelve hours
- i cannot sit in chairs consistently
- EVERYTHING IS FRUSTRATING and i have no frustration tolerance
- which means that like…stuff cannot get on me and my sleeves cannot be weird and my shoes cannot be weird and i can’t get STUCK IN MY CLOTHES WHICH IS THE LITERAL WORST and if the internet stops working i flip a shit and if my ipod dies i suddenly can’t arrive at any event on time
- also i’m terrified of everything
- also i can’t sleep, except when i’m napping
- if i think about spiders existing SUDDENLY EVERYTHING IS A SPIDER AND wow i’m pretty sleepy i want to take a nap i thi- BUT WHAT ABOUT SPIDERS ugh that’s annoying wait i’m also hungry i wonder if there a- SPIDERS!? BE SCARED OF SPIDERS goddamn it i just want to read this article, and it’s about brains not abo- SPIDERS? SPIDERS ARE TERRIFYING I BET THERE’S ONE ON ME RIGHT NOW brain shut the fuck up i just want to be able to function without worrying abo- SPIDERS? WITHOUT WORRYING ABOUT SPIDERS WOW THAT WOULD BE GREAT EXCEPT ALSO NOT BECAUSE EVERYTHING THAT TOUCHES YOUR BODY IS A SPIDER SPIDER SPIDER ALL THE TIME.
- tw: spiders
- oops too late
- i have eaten four bagels and twelve cookies today
- my belongings are spread between four different buildings on campus.
- my adviser was like “you wanna help with lab cleanup?” and i was like “you want me to handle things that explode on contact with air?” and he was like “uhm…” and i was like “i’m really handy with a label-maker!” and he was like “go take a nap”
- T-MINUS 72 HOURS UNTIL MEDICATION IS IN MY BODY. i would like to be able to function
- i went to the art store and it took me 5 minutes to find all the things i wanted and 45 minutes to decide which 4 things i could actually get out of the 30 things i’d picked up
- the aforementioned is a metaphor for my life
- literally, they had me do a bunch of “figure-ground discrimination” and “information prioritization” tests for my neuropsych evaluation…and i was in like the 1st percentile
- and i was like “this is why i’m brilliant, because i pay attention to EVERYTHING EVER”
- and then the psychologist was like, “child, go take a nap”
- so i did