My Story: David Willard

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What were the steps leading up to your diagnosis?

From first grade, my parents and teachers knew there was something different about me. I preferred to sit in class and look out the window at nature and daydream, rather than pay attention to the lesson. Second, third and fourth grades were much of the same, plus my grades were very poor. I was tested in all areas and nothing showed up as a learning disability. My parents took me to a Neurologist who immediately mentioned ADD. I was tested a few weeks later and the results confirmed ADD. I was put on Ritalin (the only medication around in 1979). The side effects made me fall asleep in class and so it wasn't long until I was taken off the medication.

My parents located a learning group which had more teachers than students. For one year, in fifth grade, I attended this program. As a result of having tremendous support from these teachers, my grades increased to almost A and B averages. But the next year I went back to my regular school. I managed to finish grade 6-12 but my grades were never as good as that one year in fifth grade. I also never had a social life.

My Story: David WillardAfter graduating high school, I went to a community college for one year. Then I found computers. I enjoyed computers and began to work full time days earning more than most people with a four-year degree. I continued my education at night. Along with the growth of the technology industry I found my niche in life. But in 1994 I was involved in an automobile accident. Physically I was okay, but I began having severe panic and anxiety attacks. I was put on medication to combat both these symptoms as well as depression. I dealt with this from 1994 to 2013. At this point, I was now diagnosed with depression and was put on other medications which had no effect. I started to lose jobs, school became harder, and I burned many bridges. My first marriage failed and I was again alone. I dated but I was never ready for another relationship. I did not know how.

In 2013 I was let go from my last employer. I was on disability and again trying to deal with my panic and anxiety. At all of my previous jobs I had issues with lateness or not showing up at all, but this was different; I was never late or written up for poor work. This is what led me to disability. I stepped back and realized that the one thing in my life that was never addressed properly was "ADD". So I took $3,000 from my personal savings and went to the Hallowell Center. I was given a complete test and the results were ADHD with mood disorder. I was put on medication and I am in therapy. Life, for once, has hope.

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

I had to stop trying to find love. I exercise more frequently now. I have to step back when I feel overwhelmed and break down one problem into many, smaller problems for me to be able to solve it. My diet also changed to more fruits and protein and omega fish. I find that I am looking within to be happy and taking the time to appreciate everything.

Who has been there for you? How?

Firstly, my mom and dad. My dad became a bad drinker and when I was 16, he left us. After that time, only my doctors were there for me regarding my ADHD and anxiety. My mom and the rest of my family wrote me off, saying that I would not be capable of becoming anything. I do have a daughter who is very much like me. She came to live with me a few years back when she was 13. She is now 17 and also has ADHD. My family still refuses to discuss it. She and I live in an apartment and for once, things were looking up. But isn't it funny that the past always finds a way of sneaking up on you and pushing you down? I am still unemployed. I am in a program through my state to finish my dream: to earn my bachelor's degree in information technology. But now that my ADHD is under control and I am set to graduate in January 2015, I received a phone call from the state that my funding will be ending at the end of June. This is forcing me to put off my dream and find work or else I will lose my income. My apartment has begun eviction, and even though my ADHD has finally been addressed, my past issues with poor budgeting and not being able to hold down a job are coming back to haunt me. I am sure that if I had better support, my life would be very different. I only have tomorrow and hope that this darkest cloud over me and my daughter will pass so I can finally live, love, learn, and share my experiences with others.

I am sure that if I had better support, my life would be very different.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

The birth of my daughter. The fact that even though my dad had a drinking problem I vowed to never follow in his footsteps. I hope I can add a college degree and a great job to this list.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

The birth of my daughter. The fact that even though my dad had a drinking problem I vowed to never follow in his footsteps. I hope I can add a college degree and a great job to this list.

Never give up.

Never give up.

What's your advice to someone else living with ADHD?

Support is so important. Advocate for yourself because you are eligible for services but you need to search, listen and ask questions. Never give up. I had many good days before I was diagnosed this last time and I am very hopeful for more good days ahead. You're not lazy, procrastination is not a word, find your way to learn what you do well and make it happen. Never be afraid to ask for help or ask questions about anything. Our best weapon is knowledge and we can help others by sharing it.

Our best weapon is knowledge and we can help others by sharing it.

Is there anything else we should know?

I am a kid a heart. When I am stressed, I prefer to be a goof ball to ease the tension. I never was a trouble maker. I am respectful and sympathetic to others. My goal after completing my education was to enter into a part of technology where I can prevent, combat and teach others how to enjoy technology securely and work with companies to secure their systems. If I can make a difference doing this and help with ADHD then I will have accomplished my goal.
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