I remember back when I was 18 sitting in a pub with some friends and a discussion around mental health came up. It always stayed with me for some reason, perhaps as I’d heard this particular perception repeated by various people including by Ricky Gervais in one of his pod casts. Although I can’t remember all the ins and outs of what was discussed eventually it boiled down to a statement, ‘there seem to be a lot more conditions now than there were before, it seems like they just slap a label on everything’. Ironically I remember that I was not in disagreement with this statement, I think that I may have even been one of those people who thought that depression was just a case of feeling sad all the time and they just needed cheering up.
When I was in school I was constantly being criticised for daydreaming, sometimes I would encounter a moment of terror when I was asked a question and had no idea what had been discussed for the past 45 minutes as I had been thinking about something else entirely. It became a huge source of insecurity and I was picked on badly for it by staff and other pupils. Sometimes I’d forget which classroom I was in and turn up late, too ashamed to tell the truth so I’d lie and just say I got held up and get told off. I’d rarely remember my P.E. kit, books and was often in detention for this reason. I had absolutely no doubt in my mind that this was just a personality defect and I was just an incompetent person, nothing more. When you have grown up with something you tend not to question it, it just feels innate, the way of things.
It’s hard to really explain to someone the difficulties associated with ADHD-pi, every day is a battle. What important thing will I leave at home, will my boss yell at me, will I make a fool of myself by having toothpaste on my mouth, walking out of the room with my headset still on my head, even wearing mismatching shoes. It is no wonder that this condition can lead to anxiety, self esteem issues and depression if untreated. In the last year alone I lost three smartphones, incurred massive fines by mismanagement of my finance, lost additional property of great value, and been pushed out of my job.
Can’t you just pay more attention? People often ask. Because I am a man who loves to use analogies to illustrate my point I will attempt to use one now. Imagine you are as you are now, but you teleported to a parallel universe where people are able to work 50% more quickly and virtually 0% rate of error. Do you think you would be able to keep up in a way which is sustainable? You would probably find yourself working harder than you do now but still fall short of the standards by which people would judge you. And on a bad day where you become overwhelmed and you drop all the balls at once, you can imagine what the ramifications can be.
I consider myself to be fairly intelligent but by no means a genius. Although I have not had an official Mensa IQ test, every accredited online test always reveals an IQ of 116 with a standard deviation of about 2. One might think this would make things easier however it does not. People when meeting me start off thinking that I come across as knowledgeable and well spoken with good critical thinking, hallmarks of intelligence. This only serves to create higher expectations and contempt when I fail to meet them.
So you might be thinking ‘this does not mean it is a medical condition, it just sounds like you are a bit ditzy’. To this I would respond with the following; firstly, does it matter? regardless of what criteria you would prefer for something to be decided to be a medical condition, surely the fundamental issue whether you are deaf, blind, depressed or have adhd should be 1, How much control do you have over the issue? 2, does it have an adverse impact on your life? and from this perspective it is not unlike other conditions. Some people may get annoyed by this statement saying ‘how can you compare adhd to being blind? to which I would reply, I feel someone who is totally blind is far worse off than me, but someone with reduced ability to see is not. I am trying to demonstrate that things outside of your control which adversely impact your life all come under a category of adverse conditions and any adverse condition may yield different degrees of hardship and adversity.
This may not be sufficient for some people with a personal need to be able to see visual evidence like a missing leg or a healing aid in order to be satisfied, and that anything to do with cognition is behavioural is within the control of the sufferer. I’d like to refute this by using a bit of basic biology. Everyone knows what we use our eyes, hands and ears for and can see if it is dysfunctional. Most people are aware also that our brains contain hundreds of different categories of receptors and neuro transmitters. If I took a recently made millionaire and gave him a Serotonin blocker do you honestly think he would still be as chirpy? Or if I have an ambitious young senator a dopamine blocker would he retain his ambition? in fact there are hundreds of these neurochemicals we could mess about with. opioid receptors, cannabinoid receptors, each with their own subcategories. Often abuse these receptors with well known drugs; Heroin – opioid receptors, ecstasy – serotonin, cocaine – dopamine etc.
So if people are aware of this then one can surely infer that as we are all born unique, then we are all born with different base levels of these receptors and transmitters. These account for a significant percentage of our behaviours with a significant percentage coming from core beliefs. So if someone was born with a significant imbalance, it would stand to reason that this could have profound implications for the sufferer.
Now this does not mean that I don’t think we are overmedicated as a society, sometimes people may take medication for something which may have passed naturally overtime with no intervention. It is quite possible that some parents to use a condition to justify their child’s behaviour or simply adults trying to gain sympathy. However to dismiss it in its entirety without having all the information is a fairly ignorant mentality, I used to possess this ignorance myself until I was formally diagnosed after blurting it all out to my doctor who referred my for long and comprehensive testing.
I think that for people like myself, increased understanding and knowledge of all mental health conditions would be of great benefit to everybody, if people were able to open their minds and try to understand them it would mitigate their frustration in dealing with people with ADHD or things like depression, and it would also be a tremendous help to the sufferers.
What do you think about ADHD? Do you think it is all made up and sufferers need a good kick up the arse, or do you think that it is often overlooked/misunderstood? Please leave a comment below as I would love to hear your thoughts.
© Ed Briscombe. daedalusblog and the contents therein, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ed Briscombe and daedalusblog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.