Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Illness that Can't be Seen

The Semantics and criticism involved in AD(H)D amaze me.  So many choose to nitpick over so much.  It's an illness/disease.  It's a disorder.  It's a Spectrum.  It exists.  It doesn't exist.  For those of us who are diagnosed with either ADD and/or ADHD, this one thing is constant: It's real.

I will save the Illness/disorder/spectrum discussion for another post, and probably another blogger LOL.  But here's a story about what's real.

I was diagnosed with ADD at the age of 5.  My grandmother, being the old school rockstar she was, denied the existence of ADD and believed I just needed rigid discipline.  Lots of people with ADD see positive results with devout religious structure, joining a convent or other religious order (monks etc).  Others see great results in the military.  Discipline and a rigid schedule can go a long way.  I, however, was 5 years old.  Grandma had her work cut out for her. 

not my grandma, but still...

Long story short, she had me for the weekend once (probably just once LOL) and decided to take me to Sea World.  Now, she was against me taking Ritalin, and didn't believe in the existence of ADD.  That was about to change. 

She couldn't keep up with me.  After just a couple hours, she decided it was time to leave.  I was all over the place, out of control, and she was exhausted.  I decided it was time to run amuck.  Now by this time I wasn't 5 any more, probably 7 or 8, so still young, and I had just run away from my mean old granny at Sea World.  I'm not sure how she caught me, or if she called my bluff and started walking to the car without me (I vaguely remember following her at a distance through the parking lot...) but regardless, she had a newfound respect for the "hidden illness".

Some poeple will argue that any 7 or 8 yr old boy who didn't want to leave would do the same thing.  Not me.  I simply wasn't paying a lick of attention to her, except a vague awareness that she wanted to leave.  I was wound up and couldn't slow down.  I had very little trouble doing what I was told when I took my meds.  But without them, I had a hard time grasping the importance of direction.

A common response to the "ADD isn't real" conundrum is "take my kids for 5 minutes and you'll change your mind."  that was me.  I was that kid.  I am that kid.  Spend a day with me and you'll know, I'm not normal.  Thank God.  If you don't think ADD is real, than think of it as a personality.  Some people are friendly. Some people have tempers.  Some have aggressive tendencies.  Some people have sexual inhibition.  Some poeple, like me, have ADD.  Maybe it will be easier to accept that way. 

However you look at it, ADD is as real as bacon, and just as enjoyable.

I don't know that I would ever eat bacon prepared by a squirrel. 


  1. I get the same response. I am a single mom of 2 with ADD and so overwhelmed! I have bought books, highlighted phrases and left the books open hoping family would read them and try to understand but the books never get looked at. I hear it's an excuse or doesn't exist. =(

  2. There are still a lot of people out there that feel like you can discipline ADD into extinction. Or that it doesn't exist at all. It can't be denied, however, that those of us who have been diagnosed have something about us that makes life different, and often more difficult. Whether or not it's real or in our heads (which, I guess technically, that's exactly where it is) doesn't really matter. It's not a cry for attention, it's a categorization that we need to start down the path toward a better, more structured and successful life.