I am adult who is ADD. Many people want to know what it is like for me on a daily basis. Basically a person who is ADD is much like a person who is diabetic. Careful monitoring of one’s lifestyle is a daily must. I have lived with being ADD all my life. The irony is that my diagnosis did not occur until I was nearly 31. People ask me: “What made you decide to seek professional help with your ADD? ” My answer is that, while filling out a form for a student that I was referring for testing it hit me that many of the questions I was answering sounded a lot like me. I did a lot of research before I made my decision to see a Psychiatrist. One of the first things I did was to read Driven to Distraction, a must for anyone who has an ADD or ADHD child. In reading the book, I learned that yes indeed, adults could be ADD and that it was genetic, as well. Seeking help was easy; my insurance covers mental health so I was able to see a counselor and then a psychiatrist who was able to prescribe medication to help me focus on my daily tasks.
Another question I get is why did it take so long to get a diagnosis. The answer to that question is complex. When I was growing up in the 70’s girls were not considered “hyper” or ADHD, the term they used then. Also, a quiet child is not a disruptive child so why mess with a non-disruptive child? Although, I was not quiet. I think many teachers gave up on me because they just did not know what to do. If a girl was quiet and possibly unfocused, they were just undisciplined and needed extra attention. The theory was also that you grew out of it. By the time I was in HS when someone may have been able to diagnose it by my behavior it was too late, because I was supposed to have grown out of it by then. In college, it was the same. I was of course struggling with schoolwork this whole time trying my hardest to stay focused and keep on track. I occasionally wonder what it might have been like for me if I had been diagnosed when I was younger. Also, during this time I did learn to cope with my abilities and either hide them or overcompensate for them in other ways. I still hate making mistakes, because in my mind people with out a disability like mine do not make mistakes. It is not a need to be perfect, just to look “normal”. Having the diagnosis now has not changed who I am; it just helps to explain why I have a harder time with things than someone. I don’t blame my teachers they didn’t know any different.
So, this is what it is like to be ADD and live in the real world. I have a friend who thinks I am enigmatic, because she can never read me. I am a calculated risk taker, I just can’t pick up and do something I have to consider the pros and cons, I think I can thank my sixth grade teacher for that lesson. Even though I am a risk taker, I also do not like being in public, too much stimulation. Malls, crowded parks, and large groups of people make me nervous. I am a talented person who often questions life. I also can be heard to ask what is normal? More on that later, I think.