Raising Adult ADHD Awareness
So you have received a diagnosis of ADHD. You are not what people expect at all; they hear ADHD and their first thought is of a hyperactive child, but you are an adult.
I was recently diagnosed at the age of 43. My problems were not actually visible, my struggles were very much of the internal kind. So how do you help people to ‘see’ and understand something that is almost entirely ‘invisible’ to the naked eye?
ADHD is one of those conditions people think they have heard of. For the most part most people feel they know a great deal about the problems an ADHD sufferer may have; unfortunately, as is common with other conditions of mental health like depression, the gap between the reality of the condition and what the media choose to focus on are a million miles apart.
The Misconceptions About ADHD
I was sitting in a cafe with my husband about three months after I was diagnosed with ADHD. As I am an author, I always tend to be a bit of a people watcher. I also like to listen in to interesting snippets of other peoples conversations. Many a work of fiction I have written has started from something I have overheard in a cafe, on a train, or in a hushed conversation in a library.
On this occasion, there was no need for quiet listening. We were sat in a comfy corner of a coffee house with very squishy sofas, when two men came and sat at the table next to us. It was one of those weird moments where the thing that happens next is just too closely linked to your own life and you find yourself wondering how in the world you came to find yourself in this location, at this exact point in time to hear this particular conversation.
One of the men launched into what, on overhearing it, sounded like a college lecture. The other man made no attempt to make the conversation a two-way one. The first man was telling the other guy how he feels ADHD is just an excuse for badly behaved and hyperactive children to get away with not behaving how they should in school.
He then listed all of "what he reckoned" he knew of the condition:
- It is only children that have it. A buzzer in my head rang like on a gameshow – Wrong!
- They grow out of it – Wrong!
- They are given medication to basically turn them into zombies – Wrong!
Now there is an interesting point to be made here – before my diagnosis and prior to my treatment with Concerta XL, there is no way on this earth I would have been able to sit there and quietly listen to this man and his opinions. I would have been compelled to speak (probably inappropriately, as he is entitled to his own opinion, even if I know he has it all wrong!).
I think this was a turning point in my husband's view of ADHD. I mentioned to him quietly what I was overhearing. I think he fully expected to see my old reaction to this kind of situation begin to unfold. He was totally taken aback when I could take a mental ten seconds to not react and then just carry on listening.
This was a real epiphany for him. His wife of 20 years who usually bailed in first and asked questions later, who butted into other people's conversations, who always talked too much, was just sitting there quietly and taking it in and not exploding. It was a real demonstration to him that my ADHD diagnosis must have been right.