I am no expert on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Although between you and me? When I read the following list of common symptoms, I was sure I had eight-and-a-half out of nine of them:
• trouble maintaining focus or often being distracted
• lots on the go but nothing ever finished
• perpetual financial problems
• piles of paperwork scattered around home and office
• poor listening skills and talking excessively
• impulsive behaviours
• frequent traffic accidents or routine speeding
• difficulty maintaining friendships or romantic relationships
When I confessed this to Marty, he straightened me out in one split second.
Isn't this what happens to you when you start reading about the symptoms of any health issue?
Suddenly, you have most or all of them. You really feel them. That's what's so dicey about having too much information at your fingertips. Sometimes, it's not healthy. What do all these symptoms mean? In truth, it may seem that you have enough symptoms for a million and one disorders or diseases from Lupus to Leprosy, when in fact, you're fine.
That's the power of suggestion. The trick is to be savvy and smart about the sources you use and to find the best information in the Internet. I'll get back to that in a minute.
ADULT ADHD IS REAL AND NOT JUST FOR KIDS
I do not, to the best of my knowledge, have ADHD. (I'll check with Dr. Bob next week.) But some adults do.
The first time I heard about adult ADHD was in May 2008. I'll never forget it.
I attended a weekend course for teachers in Collingwood sponsored by Seneca called The Great Teaching Seminar. During one session, we all sat around in a circle – about 40 of us. We were asked to disclose something personal.
One fellow I did not know – Seneca has eight campuses and thousands of faculty – started talking. He is a business professor, though he talked about how he used to work in a corporation.
He related how, several years before, while he was still working in business that he started having problems concentrating, having anxiety attacks, though he didn't know it was anxiety at the time. I can't remember all the details, but he said that gradually he began struggling so much at work – I'm sorry, but I don't remember exactly what it was he did – that his performance began faltering badly. He was forced to take some time off. He paid a visit to his doctor.
He was so stressed out, he could barely function, but it didn't take his doctor long to figure out that he was suffering with adult ADHD. This man admitted he was shocked.
WITH TREATMENT FOR ADHD HIS LIFE IMPROVED DRAMATICALLY
"I thought only kids get ADHD," he said to his doctor. Nope. His doctor prescribed some medication, helped to educate him on ADHD, gave him some strategies and tips to help him adapt to his new-found condition and carefully monitored how he responded to all his new treatment tools.
This man told us the difference in his life after he was treated for his ADHD was nothing short of miraculous. I'll never forget that he actually broke down and started to cry, the improvement in the quality of life had changed so dramatically. He decided, shortly after his symptoms began to subside and he was feeling better, to leave big business and take up teaching. He's never regretted his decision and it's paid off big time for his emotional health. He's so much happier, healthier and at peace with himself and his family.
ADHD IS MUCH MISUNDERSTOOD AND MALIGNED
Still, ADHD is among the most misunderstood and maligned mental health conditions. Left untreated, in adults, it can lead to addiction, divorce, bankruptcy, accidents, depression, anxiety, and even suicide.
Its symptoms are complicated because they can present in a multitude of different combinations with each individual. In addition to the devastating personal costs, ADHD in British Columbia alone directly and indirectly costs more than $500 million.
Like many people, Rick Green of The Rick Green Show, first suspected he had ADD, "when one of my kids was diagnosed," the Canadian actor/writer/director said, whose diagnosis was made after years of struggling with various symptoms.
So high-powered Canadian entertainer Green teamed up with a high-voltage ADD medical specialist Dr. Umesh Jain, a psychiatrist and professor at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the Canadian ADHD Resource Alliance, University of Toronto and the Centre for ADD Advocacy Canada and together they collaborated on a critically acclaimed documentary called ADD & Loving It.
Then, with Jain, Green produced and directed an interactive workshop called Now What?! which helps adults recognize the symptoms of ADD. No easy feat.
THE NEW ADD WEBSITE IS FUNNY. ENGAGING. TERRIFIC.
First, I have to tell you in all honesty the website is terrific. Even if you don't have ADHD, you probably know someone who does. Why not learn about it? It will help you empathize. Besides, this website is fascinating to watch. Instructive. Engaging. Entertaining. And funny! Like nothing else I've ever seen.
Green said, "Based on personal experience and what I learned while developing the documentary and Totally ADD.com, I wanted to help people who were struggling but didn't know why or what they could do about it."
He and Jain will be teaming up to offer their Now What?! workshop this Saturday, February 27 at The Ontario Science Centre in the Imperial Oil Auditorium from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for anyone over the age of 16. Tickets are $29 and available through www.TotallyADD.com.
Dr. Jain said the main message of this workshop is that life can be easier when you know what's causing your symptoms and you can get the help you need, help that's readily available.
"I am constantly inspired by what my patients are able to achieve," he said.
UNDERSTAND YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
"The key to success with ADD is to develop an understanding of your strengths and challenges, and then embrace those traits. When treated properly, ADD can be managed and even harnessed to the point that it becomes a driving factor in a highly successful life.
"People such as Dr. Richard Branson, quarterback Terry Bradshaw, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, political savant James Carville, comedian Howie Mandel and many other famous and successful people have acknowledged that they had ADD."
The more you know about yourself, the more insight you have and the more emotionally healthy you can be.
So it is with my emotional and psychiatric health issues. That's why I continue to see Dr. Bob as often as I feel I need to see him. We work together peeling the onion, layer by layer.
If you have any questions or concerns about ADHD, Saturday's interactive workshop at the Ontario Science Centre might help you face up to yourself and your fears. Once you know what's happening, your fears aren't so scary anymore.
Good luck and if you attend, please let me know what you learn. I'm always interested. Your sharing here will help lots of others.
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I have intriguing and rather surprising news about Angela's progress with her ongoing ECT treatments as well as an unexpected announcement about my little Dandie Dinmont Terrier "bitch" Lucy, but I'm saving both for Friday morning's post.
See you then, have a lovely meantime, and speak soon.