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So tired of the Stigma

The stigma of living with ADHD is pretty negative at times. The negative impact it has on our day to day lives, and the people we live with can get pretty stressful. So stressful in fact that without help from medications to regulate brain chemistry, and being on top of RIGID routines to make life easier, we can end up being sucked down the big black ADHD holes of depression and inability to cope.

I grew up not knowing I had ADHD. I was just told I was lazy, and stupid, and bad, a daydreamer, etc. I didn't learn to cope with my ADHD well, and now in my 30's I'm basically teaching myself stuff i should have learned when i was younger. Kids today have advantages in the life skills with ADHD arena.But it is still not easy.

Some people think living with ADHD is a walk in the park because we get prescription drugs that are basically cousins in chemical make up to drugs that people take to get high, like Meth. ( drugs that have been around since 1955 BTW)

People see celebrities like Richard Branson, or Robin Williams ( with suspected ADHD) and think it must be a blast to have ADHD.

People make comments about being on medications for it, like we've somehow cheated a system to be granted legal narcotics, so we can get high.

As representatives of ADHD, you see these celebs as jovial, and friendly, and chatty. They are daredevils in racecars, or actors or comediens, business people, teachers, even doctors.

But you don't see us ADDers among you scramble to keep a house clean, make dinner on time,get our kids out the door in a presentable fashion, With everything they need. You don't see us struggle to  make appointments on time, and the stress it causes us internally.You don't see us struggle to keep a job, struggle to pay for these medications that are far more expensive then any street drug.

You don't see us search for the 10th time this week for our missing car keys because we got side tracked or interrupted in the middle of putting them away, and we laid them down someplace, and we only realize it when we are already 5 minutes late to an appointment, or lunch with you. You don't see that we are late because we also didn't have any clean socks.

ADDers live a life of secret embarrassment for these kinds of things. We blame the traffic, or roll our eyes and say "kids! what are ya gonna do?" or we say " hey I thought you said  <insert what ever time is cloest to us not being late but just on time>, I'm sorry about that."

We have to do things like set our clocks a half hour earlier and get everywhere a half hour before, just to ensure a "saftey zone" in our schedules to allow for ADHD blunders and mixups.

People with ADHD make mistakes, A LOT. Daily. hourly. We struggle to keep up in a world with standards and time tables set by people who don't have ADHD.

So, as a person with ADHD it really pisses me off when people make jokes about my medication, or imply that I must be a "happy mommy" because I take amamphetamines to "get through the day". Or they joke and ask me how I pulled off an ADHD diagnoasis just to "score". They say things like " nice deal if you can get it"

So...

Just to clarify...

An Amphetamine is a psychostimulant drug that is known to produce increased wakefulness and focus in association with decreased fatigue and appetite. Amphetamine is related to drugs such as methamphetamine and dextroamphetamine, which are a group of potent drugs that act by increasing levels of norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine in the brain.  All chemicals, if you bothered to look into it further,that you'd know ADDers have  lower levels of.

We chose to put these chemicals in our systems, because it alters our brain chemistry to try and put us on a par level with people who don't struggle through life with a sleepy brain, and so we can live better among a society who sees us as "broken, annoying, and beneath the rest" that need to be fixed.

FYI the hyper activity of ADHD is CAUSED by LACK of the chemicals those drugs help our bodies produce at more "normal" levels in order to STOP the hyperactivity. To bring us UP to a level of  "normal" functioning like you have the ability to do just by breathing. We don't take them to make us high. Bt they'd likely make YOU high.

I personally struggle in the morning to wake up because those chemicals are so low in my system. I could just sleep all the time without my ADHD medication. Did you know there are scientifically proven links between ADHD and narcolepsy

In order to be able to just walk to the bathroom upright in the morning, due to the morning haze my ADHD brain has, I have to set two alarms, one to take my meds and snooze back asleep until they start to wake me up more due to the chemicals in my brain rising from the help of the meds, and then I wake up to the second alarm, and even then STILL, it takes my brain at least an hour to feel functional. When my meds wear off toward the end of their effectivenes in the day, as a mother and wife I still have a lot of  "work " to do to keep a family with special needs functioning, and prepared for tomorrow.

If I don't remember my meds one day, we fall out of routines and things get way out of sync, and we all must struggle to get back on track, because I go around in a scatterbrained haze unable to accomplish much of anything.

If I take my meds too late in the day, my brain is wide awake, and I can't get to sleep and I'll find myself awake at 4 am, planning a menu for the month, or tweeting, or watching  movie, because my brain then won't shut down until the chemicals dwindle down to a lower level to bring on sleep.

And, just so you understand the cycle... once my brain is FINALLY sleepy from the lack of chemicals again needed to stay awake... my brain will just want to stay sleepy, and we start the cycle the next morning all over again.

ADHD medication make us not want to eat as much and people struggle to get in the proper daily intake to remain healthy. This is especially a concern with children who are still growing.

I'm not sure what the Non ADHD world thinks, but having ADHD is not all fun and games. People with ADHD come from higher rates of divorced homes due to the chaos and stress ADHD traits cause in everyday living.  Adults with ADHD, struggle in relationships to find a balance that works, and also have a higher rate of divorce.

People with ADHD have increased risk of drug and alcohol abuse ( trying to self medicate a constant sleepy brain), have higher rates of severe low self esteem and depression than the general population, as well as debilitating anxiety problems, and higher suicide rates.

Ya! pretending to have ADHD when I was 6 months pregnant and depressed to get a diagnosis finally, just to not be able to get any help with my brain chemistry for over a year, due to breastfeeding  my son was a SURE sign I was looking for a quick cheap legal high.

HAHA YOU R FUNNY!

Oh? it is just a joke? oh. my bad...I'm such a stiff!

People with ADHD have higher rates of being in lower income levels due  to struggling through school with learning difficulties, keeping jobs due to ADHD interrupting their ability to do their job to expected standards ( late for work, poor performance on bad days, forgetting projects due etc)

People with ADHD try to be upbeat and positive because we have SO MUCH negative stuff in our lives to deal with. Prescription drugs for ADHD is not a COPING thing. We are not getting high. Shit, smoking pot in highschool didn't make me high, it made me normal! YA that was fun! Everyone else was giddy and high as a kite, and I was able to finally focus enough to go home and do my homework for the first time in my highschool career.

Our meds are helpers to the chemicals our brain cannot produce well enough on their own.PLAIN AND SIMPLE.

You're stigma, prejudice and "jokes"  are offensive. PLAIN AND SIMPLE.

So if you are gonna look in my face and say to me that my drugs make me hyper, or happy, or that ADHD can just be "cured or solved" with some basketball... well, sorry to be so blunt, but I'm gonna have to say...

FUCK YOU!

Plain and Simple.

YMCA Vancouver Paid Ad in a local paper

YMCA Vancouver Paid Ad in a local paper. Charlene Giovannetti-King, the YMCA Vice President of Funds Development directly linked to the Advertisement said “We don’t see this really as a mistake” on a CBC radio interview with Rick Cluff.

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5 Comments on So tired of the Stigma

  1. Thank you for writing this. Though I knew much of it already, it was helpful to be reminded. I’m struggling right now without ADD meds (for financial reasons) though I can get the antidepressants I need through a state program (I’m in Arizona, USA.) I’ve been feeling so broken lately, since I can barely get anything done, and i’ve been out of work for quite a while. It’s so good to be reminded that mine is not a moral failing, but a simple neurological one, and once I can get properly medicated again, perhaps I can get on with a somewhat normal life.

  2. awesome post. I found you on twitter today and had to come over and look at your blog.
    My son (just turned 5) was diagnosed with ADHD in the fall and is currently taking Ritalin (it’s helped him a lot), still struggling in school and with lack of support, lack of correct information and lack of understanding in the general world.
    Thank you for sharing your perspective as an Adult with ADHD–I sometimes wonder what my son is thinking or feeling (He doesn’t communicate deeply).

    :)

    • Thank you for reading :)

      If there is one thing I can share about being a child with ADHD that I remember clearly, is if he does something and you ask him why he did it and he answers “I dunno” he’s likely telling the truth. He probably doesn’t even clearly remember doing it. He likely did it in a “trance” while doing other things. I remember doing things like chewing on the top of the tv remote unaware I was doing it, and then getting in BIG trouble for it.

      What’s your twitter name I’ll follow you back

      it is frustrating as hell, but the best thing to do, is try to teach him to remain mindful of what he is doing all the time.

  3. Bernard von Schulmann // April 21, 2010 at 12:35 pm // Reply

    I found your blog via Peter Quily. I can relate to all of what you said there.

    Yesterday was one of those days, I had my ritalin in my, had coffee, but around 4 pm it all went to shit. I could not write anything. I could not empty the effing dishwasher, I could not pick my son’s boot at my feet. I could not stand silence so a walk was out. I could not stand to be in my thoughts.

    It was one of those moments when banging your head on the wall is a wonderful activity – my wife finally gets it when I do things like that.

    Yeah, there are times when ADHD is great, give me a wild and crazy crisis and I can relax as everything slows down for me. I can come up with more innovative solutions and ideas in 30 minutes than most people can in months, getting anything ever done is something else.

    I have two boys with ADHD and my ex wife has it as well. My third son and wife just have to learn how to cope with us.

    twitter – BC_Iconoclast

  4. Great post! Someone put a link to this just now on a forum for ADD I’m on, so I’m just seeing it today. Great description, and I love the advice you gave to the mom regarding her 5 year old.

    I’ve done that a few times talking to a friend who is a middle school teacher, and a good and caring one, but she isn’t ADD. Sometimes she’ll describe kids she can’t get through to, that aren’t working up to their potential (oh yeah!), about to fail the class & that doesn’t seem to sink in or motivate them or whatever, and it’s like, “You know, that sounds so much like me….”

    “I also did (or didn’t) do that, this is what I was (or wasn’t) thinking, and maybe if you ask this question or do this instead.” In my case I honestly never thought to ask for help or ask a question or go to the teacher after class. It honestly never occurred to me! I remember what it was like, and someone who hasn’t won’t always get it.

    I’m saving this article to show those times when someone asks me what exactly is ADD, why is it a problem, etc. You explain it so well, better than I could (well, I can explain it, but it will take me hours and hours to write and rewrite….).

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