Greg’s Story

At a young age, I was diagnosed with ADHD. The strange thing is, I never understood this and it wasn’t until I was about 15-16 that I recalled having gone to a clinic at about age 6 and doing a series of tests with a doctor (which actually seemed pretty fun at the time). When I asked my mother about this, she said “Oh yeah, you have ADHD and some kind of perceptual disorder too”. Which left me feeling pretty angry because during my entire childhood, everyone (parents and teachers) constantly told me that I was lazy and that this was the reson for my bad grades and inability to complete assignments. I even took Ritalin for a couple years, which my mother insists made a difference, although at the time I didn’t see one at all and convinced her to let me stop taking it. I never understood why I had to take that until I finally asked her and got the whole story.

I always did extremely well in reading and writing, language comprehension, etc. My problem area was math. To this day, I am a horrible mathmetician and simply cannot perform anything beyond simple division (and I always need a calculator or a pencil and paper to work it out). To this day I love reading and writing (short stories), but I BARELY managed to get through my 6 credit hours of basic math requirements to graduate from college. I recieved nearly all “A”‘s in my major classes (I double majored in History and English), and did pretty well in other classes, like Physical Sciences, etc, but awful in math. I’m convinced that I passed simply because I went to class everyday and looked so forlorn and lost that they felt sorry for me.

I was a miserable student throughout most of my childhood, particularly in Junior High. To this day, I can’t understand how I ever got through it. As with most of my life, I had few friends, only one close one, and it seemed like everyone was just there to harrass me and try to make me mad which I, of course, became. In 7th grade, a science teacher called my parents to a meeting and told them that I should be taken out of school and put to work in a factory because I was not only lazy, but stupid and would never amount to anything, nor graduate high school. Dad didn’t care for that very much… the teacher subsequently passed me, and the next year I went on to a special ed science class which I actually did quite well in. br />
High School was actually quite a bit better. My grades were still not good overall, but I didn’t get any failing grades, and somehow managed to make the honor roll during the secod semester of my last year. I played football, which I actually credit with helping me develop my interpersonal communication skills and work ethic. It just felt nice to belong to something, after feeling alone, sad, and depressed most of my life.

College was a step in the right direction. My overall GPA in high school was only a 1.9, not good enough to get into most schools, so I went to community college and achieved a 3.0 during the year I was there. I went on to a 4 year university and got my bachelor of arts degree last May.

As a child, I remember just wishing that the world would leave me alone. Everyone, including my parents, seemed to derive great pleasure in tormenting me, not listening to what I was saying but insisting that they were right, I was just being lazy, and I would just have to work harder “or else”. Fellow classmates called me “space ace” and a host of other names. I have always been very sensitive, which I don’t really see as a problem, although many people in my life have. Mother once told me that as a child, she thought my being picked on by other children would be good for me because it would “toughen me up”. She always complained that I was too sensitive when I would cry about things (understand that this is when I was about 5-7 years old), and spoke to me in a deriding manner of which I won’t go into detail. Use your imagination.

Speaking of imagination, it was always my strong point. I would tune the world out for hours at a time, imagining all kinds of stories and things. I took great pleasure in reading fantasy stories, in particular when a friend introduced me to a series of books by Lloyd Alexander and finally, to Tolkien. I also adored role playing games, like Dungeons and Dragons, which I played everyday during the schoolyear with a group of other kids during lunch hour, and the following summer everyday for 6 hours nonstop. I suspect the fact that I preferred this to the ubiquitous game of football or basketball that the other males played did not endear me to them.

Much of childhood was an extremely painful and difficult experience which I would not want to re-live. I literally hated myself until High School, when I participated in a program called SNOWBALL that did wonders for my self-esteem.

I think that, overall, things would have been much easier if I had simply recieved the attention I obviously needed. To this day I am suspicious as to the benefits of Ritalin, and think that at the very least, some sort of help program would have contributed to my proper growth and much better grades. The excuse I get is that “people didn’t know very much about it in those days.” (I’m 25, so this would have been the early 1980’s). I would hope that in this day and age, health professionals and the general public knows enough about it to give it the proper attention it deserves, rather than labeling kids as “lazy” and “problematic” and dealing with the problem by quick-fix drugs, like Ritalin and ruining childrens self-esteem with phrases like, “you cry too much for a boy. You sound like a little girl”. and “you’re the laziest child I’ve ever seen. I don’t know what I’ll do with you. You better get off your ass and work or else!”

Get a clue for God’s sake.