Matt Walsh, I Have Nothing Nice to Say to You

A dear friend of mine just posted a link to Matt Walsh’s blog…approving what he had written…my response to him and to Matt Walsh’s blog post.

Remind me not to take my ADHD medication the next time we hang out. I have already seen this blog and I am EXTREMELY upset by it.

ADHD is something which effects my entire life. It’s not just a issue of distraction, it’s an impairment of the executive functioning of the brain which covers emotional reactions, self control, time management, working memory. It’s something which I will NEVER outgrow and which medicine can only help in a minuscule amount. I will always be hyper, I constantly have to fight and struggle to be the best I can be, which doesn’t usually amount to anything. I struggle to understand what social norm I failed to adhere to in a daily matter. I have lost things which are so important to me because of my ADHD, things which I tried my hardest at and just was not able too. I am constantly one step behind my peers because I can’t function like a “normal” person no matter how hard I try. It comes with sensory processing issues, emotional issues, social impairments (which are completely different from the social difficulties caused by ASD), sleeping impairments, self esteem deficiencies, memory problems, eating problems (I wish I still had that), low impulse control, emotional regulation control (I literally can’t control when I start crying. All I want to do is stop, but I can’t)…it even impacts my balance and coordination as I have a smaller cerebellum than most!

It’s the most frustrating thing. I try, you know how hard I try. Every single social interaction is a battle for me because of my ADHD. Learning is extremely difficult for me. It’s hard when i am in a class trying to focus and I get distracted by the littlest stimuli and my mouth moves before I am able to control it. Think of it like Tourettes in a manner. Both impact the basal ganglia. I have been battling my lack of self control MY ENTIRE life, and I have come a long way, but I still haven’t gotten far enough. And honestly, at 24 years of age, I don’t see how much more self control I can get. My brain just doesn’t allow it. I will keep working at it though, just like I work at everything. I don’t think I know anything else.

Growing up was extremely difficult for me. It wasn’t my parents fault. They were and are absolutely amazing. It wasn’t that I didn’t care, or I didn’t want, it was I couldn’t control anything. That’s the different between neurotypical people and neurodiverse people. A neurotypical child will eventually be able to calm down. A neurodiverse child literally can’t stop. It was a nonstop battle for my family and for me growing up. It’s a nonstop battle for me today, it’s going to be a nonstop battle for the rest of my life as I will NEVER be good enough. I will ALWAYS be ADHD.

In the article, he mentions the DSM-V talking about the inability to focus on tasks unless they are of interest. The DSM-V is not referring to what he is mentioning, it is referring to hyperfocusing. Think of Asperger’s with the narrow-minded interests. It’s the same thing in a way. I perseverate on certain topics and I am able to focus on them. NOTHING else gets done though. I will not eat when I am hyperfocusing, I will not pay attention to time…I am literally lost within this one topic. And do NOT try to change my focus when I am hyperfocused because I know if I get distracted, I won’t be able to complete the task at hand. It’s happened so, so, so many times.

It is VERY overdiagnosed, and I do agree medication is given out like candy. I would do ANYTHING to change how overdiagnosed it is as it impacts me negatively. I would do ANYTHING for people to understand just how complicated ADHD is. I would love for people to not use ADHD as an excuse (which I have been guilty of). I would have LOVED to receive ADHD treatment which was more on focus for my needs.

They don’t really have a method for treating impairments of social skills in ADHD. I need a treatment for that. They gave me the social skill treatment they use for ASD, and treated me as if I had ASD. I don’t. I do have one of the most severe cases of ADHD. If you want, I will track down my old MRI in which you can see some of the areas in my brain which are impacted. I can also track down the hundreds of files which have diagnosed me with a ton of other disorders…then upon further investigation, have been proven to not be correct. The ADHD is the ONLY diagnosis which makes sense for ALL of my quirks. Guess what? There’s a bunch of people who are just like me as well…and they all try their hardest to be normal.

But they won’t be able too. Because of my ADHD, I am less likely to hold down a job, keep friends, finish school (which, in terms of intelligence as this often comes up, I have a Master’s degree. I am lucky as I do not have many of the academic deficiencies as most with ADHD do. I also can provide my IQ test results if anyone would like to know…I digress, back to topic). Substance abuse, promiscuity, low self esteem, trouble with the law, gambling addiction, and suicide are EXTREMELY common with those with ADHD. I got lucky there as well, I know many people who didn’t. Worse part? It’s all because of a lack of impulse control, a deficit of executive functioning. It is something which I stay far away from and constantly monitor. I won’t learn from others mistakes, or I will seldom learn. I have to learn firsthand to understand something.

Oh, and I’m not entirely convinced you can outgrow ADHD either. It’s a lifelong disorder. I will always be super hyper first thing in the morning, running around until I take my medication and my brain actually slows down enough for me to be somewhat normal.

I will also find the many (more so than what dear Matt Walsh has provided you with) articles which PROVE ADHD is a real existence. I highly recommend looking looking at Dr. Russell Barkley. He has YouTube videos which explain exactly what ADHD is. On a side note, I was part of his studies back in the late 90’s…so perhaps a bias is noted here. I will be more than willing to find the article after article after article by psychologists, doctors, neuroscientists, parents, teachers, people with ADHD, etc, etc. and link them all up here for you.

I really hope you change your opinion on the matter. It’s not a disorder which everyone has. Would you say everyone has ASD, or depression, or OCD? I don’t believe you would sir. However, they are very similar to ADHD in which there isn’t a medical test which can definitely proven the existence. I am more than willing to talk, show articles, introduce you to doctors/scientists/whomever, I will even go off my medicine to show you ADHD is a disorder, and a life-changing disorder. It is not the norm, it isn’t something doctors made up in order to make money. Need proof that it isn’t? Feel free to switch some of my Adderalls up in a double-blind test. Not all of my ADHD behaviors may come out (as I have a build up of Adderall) but a lot will. ADHD is a real condition. And it’s a LOT more complicated than what Mr. Walsh has shown here.

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Ramblings About ADHD

ADHD has been romanticized in the past few years. It has become so prevalent  as a buzzword in school, people often forget ADHD is a disability which effects a child (or adult) not only in the classroom but also during recess, on the bus, and at home. ADHD doesn’t go away. It’s there, the little childish figure of a person clinging onto your shoulder.

Some people may have ADHD which isn’t severe, and some outgrow their ADHD. I wish there was a way to put those people into a different category of ADHD so they can still receive the support they need but it doesn’t put me in the situations of, “Well, Bob’s ADHD and he can do X and Y without problems.”

I’m sure I’m coming off as whiny and needy, or at the very least, I will. When I ask for accommodations, I’m not asking for the ability to make my own schedule, or the right to never be fired, even when I totally deserve it. I’m asking for support. I’m asking for understanding. I’m asking for people to change their views on what it is like to live with ADHD and to understand the why I do what I do. I want people to know I work my butt off to be the best person I  can be and it hurts so much when I am told I am not good enough.

It hurts when I am told to change myself without being given firm, achievable guidelines. It hurts more than anyone could understand. It’s a pain I have been carrying since I was four, never being able to please anyone even though I try my hardest.

“Just be normal.”

I can’t. The little figure of ADHD sits on my shoulder and prevents that from ever occurring. I can’t be socially normal, I never was taught in a manner which actually worked. When I was taught social skills, I was thrown into a class with a bunch of wonderful children…who had autism. The program worked well for them, it failed for me because I didn’t have the same areas of social issues.

My parents sent me to a month long summer camp, thinking it would have a social skills program for me. It was a camp for children like me, children with ADHD. It ended up being a summer school with not one single program for developing social skills. My poor mom apologized for me. I wasn’t like the other kids with ADHD. I did extremely well with school. I just didn’t understand social parameters.

A lot of people wonder why I do an anonymous blog. I have an anonymous Facebook as well where I am very active in a group which helps support those with ADHD. It’s wonderful. I get asked all the time about my anonymous figure. It’s because of my parents, the ones I don’t live with but I still will always carry the guilt of knowing my ADHD continued to impact me into adulthood, causing me to lose jobs over the same things they have been telling me not do my entire life. I failed them, and I failed myself.

“Act your age. Think before you speak.”

HOW? I have tried everything to learn how to think before speaking. I really do try. It just happens…all…the…time. The words just fly out of my mouth, sometimes I realize they aren’t appropriate, sometimes I am completely oblivious to how horrible and taboo what I just did or said was. Any sort of social situation is an anxiety throbbing experience. I sit there after every single conversation, every single moment, and I worry I did something wrong. This worry lasts for days and months. It’s sometimes relieving when I find out I messed up because I find out what I did wrong. Sometimes it’s horrible because I don’t know where I went wrong. I will think about it, eat myself alive over it.

The only conclusion I can come up with is, even though I think I’m an okay person, I am clearly not. I am just a burden on the system, a failure. My ideas, dreams, wishes, and my hard work are wrong, I didn’t help anyone. It gets to a point were I wonder if I’d be better off dead.

“You only think about yourself.”

Great, so on topic of this whole self esteem issue, I now am paranoid I am a narcissistic. Looking back, I don’t get how I was being self-centered…if I was facing this problem, others may have been as well. Other people may not want to speak up or deal with the conflict. I will.

“Did you even listen to me?”

I did, I really did. Sometimes my brain doesn’t process things as quickly as it should. It feels like a fuzz forms in my brain. I try to repeat back to myself what you just said and it is muffled. I can’t help it. And it is so embarrassing.

“For someone so smart, why are you so bad with interpersonal skills?”

I wish I knew…I just want to know where I am going wrong with my interpersonal skills.

“Chill.”

I didn’t even realize I was wired, or not chilled. Now I am wired because I’m afraid you are upset with me…thanks.

“What’s the point of trying to help you? You just get agitated and you don’t listen.”

Alright, maybe it’s me. I don’t think it is though. Maybe it’s you. Please understand I have been trying my entire life, and I need support. I need help with working on things, one step at a time. It’s embarrassing because I’m smart. I don’t feel disabled, I’m not disabled, I just need a bit of help with things. A little support and understanding goes a long way.

15 Things I Want You to Know About ADHD

1. Not every person born with ADHD is the same. It’s a condition of the brain which means there are going to to be similar symptoms, but also big differences. Think of it this way. Not everyone gets sick with a cold in the same exact way, even though it might be the same cold virus which makes them sick. So just because your husband has ADHD doesn’t mean you know how I learn, think, or act. And just because you read this list, doesn’t mean you know every person with ADHD and everything that ADHD does.

2. ADHD doesn’t stop in the classroom for most people. It’s a lifelong condition for a lot of people, and it changes throughout life. It’s something which impacts every part of my life. I may have trouble holding up conversations. I may have trouble getting to places on time. I may have trouble with tasks which are incredibly simple. I may not be able to watch a movie fully.

3. I outgrew my hyperactivity and I am lucky I did. Hyperactivity is a huge part of ADHD, but it isn’t mandatory for everyone to be that way. Just because I don’t have one of the symptoms of ADHD doesn’t mean I am not ADHD. Trust me, I’ve been tested and tested again. I am definitely ADHD. There are different kinds of ADHD though. Some people might be hyper, some people just simply can’t focus, and some people have a combination of both. See 1 if you have any more questions.

4. Sometimes my mouth moves before my brain fully knows what it’s going to say. I have been working on this my whole life, and I really struggle with it.  It is so important to look at the WHY I am saying something rather than the what I am saying. I usually have very good intentions, I just didn’t say it exactly how I wanted too.

5. I’m not stupid. I can’t say this enough. I am not stupid at all. Chances are, I am smarter than you. However, sometimes things don’t click immediately for me, or I miss key points in a conversation and I want clarification or to double check. Somethings I might have to review over again just to understand.

6. Remember Dory from Finding Nemo? I feel like her a lot. My Short Term Memory isn’t always the best. If you’re giving me a task, it’s best to break it down and to give me a list so I can see what I have to do. This will keep me from becoming overwhelmed. Oh, and it’s just my Short Term Memory really. I can remember other things perfectly, including conversations from years ago.

7. Sometimes I am going to be random when having a conversation. To me, it’s not random though, it makes perfect sense. While you are talking, I either am engaged in the conversation (rarely), trying to catch up with what I missed (usually), or making connections to what you are saying (all the time). For example, if we are talking about ADHD, and I bring up how I was bitten by a squirrel when I was 8, it actually makes sense to me. I am thinking about ADHD which then makes me think about the meme about ADHD and squirrels, and then about squirrels and previous experiences I had with them and how it’s funny. This is done in seconds. I’m not trying to change the conversation, I’m just trying to contribute.

8. I can be moody. It’s actually a part of ADHD. My brain doesn’t see it as moody though, it sees it as completely normal. I also don’t always realize I am being moody. Don’t be afraid to say something to me if you see this. I don’t mean to be that way.

9. I can be lazy, just like you. But most of the time I’m trying my hardest. If something is difficult for me, please try to help me. Sometimes it’s just something as silly as making a cue card for me to follow along. If I’m hesitant to start something, it’s usually not because I am being lazy, but rather I don’t know where to start, or I’m afraid I won’t do it correctly. Though not everyone may agree, I will take the help if it is simply offered.

10. I’m not good with time management. I really try, but it is hard to be at one place at a certain time. My brain doesn’t process time well at all. I can’t tell if a minute has passed or an hour. Personally, I thrive with schedules and timers. Some people can’t function if they are in a routine.

11. Please don’t tell me what causes my ADHD, or that it doesn’t exist. Some people may use their ADHD as an excuse, but I don’t. Also, ADHD does exist, and it does impact my life. I have tried the diets, I have changed my entire life around, I have tried every remedy in the book. Some helped, but only minutely. What does help are stimulants (at least for me). They calm me down, put the world to a speed which just makes sense. I don’t question it, but I know there is a difference when I take my medicine. This isn’t always the case from person to person though.

12. I can focus on video games and sit at the computer all day, but a book can take three weeks for me to read. Why? Some things just grab my brain. Other things don’t and I have to really try to focus. And it can be painful.

13. I’ve tried to be organized. I try my hardest at what I do. Sometimes my brain just forgets to organize or to completely finish something because I get distracted and completely forget what I am doing. And when I try to tell my brain to focus, it gets even more difficult for me to sit and finish what I am doing.

14. Sometimes simple tasks can be very overwhelming to me. There are times where I get anxious because I am overloaded by all the information which I am perceiving. Being at the supermarket when it is crowded is hard for me. Trying to focus in on one thing when people are having conversations around me is impossible. I just hear white noise.

15. I’m very impulsive. I have been working on my impulsivity my entire life. I have tried my hardest to change this, and it has gotten much better with time, but I still struggle with it. Unless you are going to offer me advice that I can actually apply, please don’t. I try to think before I do. Sometimes it doesn’t work that way. The whole think before you act advice does not work.

ADHD isn’t going to be the same in each person. Just because you met one person with ADHD doesn’t mean you know what it does or how it feels. Some people might have ADHD and think this list is not true at all. Others may be upset I didn’t put things which affect them. ADHD is more severe in some people than it is in others. I personally struggle socially. Some people don’t. I don’t have as much trouble with time management. Most people with ADHD do. Some people don’t have have any sensory issues. I do. When working with someone with ADHD, whether it be an employee, a co-worker, a student, or a friend, be understanding of their needs. Be firm and direct when giving direction. Be supportive and forgiving. And most importantly of all, get to know the people for who they are, don’t just label them as ADHD.