Gerard’s Story

It has now been almost two years since my diagnosis and I can honestly say that I have changed more in that short time than I could have ever imagined, more than my 26 years of pre diagnosed life. That’s not to say that all of my changes have been positive (like putting on weight) but over all I would say that I like the direction I have grown in.

In the time since my diagnosis I have gone from not believing in the validity of the diagnosis, to feeling like a victim (with all the anger and hopelessness that goes with that way of thinking). I then began to feel that I was just different with no problems to solve (felt great but was one sided). I now realize that ADD is as much about difference as it is about deficit. With its differences rooted in both biology and environment. This essay is an attempt to share what I have come to understand ADD to be.

As an ADDult I feel that it is important to advocate for a more balanced and sane view of what ADD is and isn’t (at least what I consider to be sane and balanced). To me ADD means Attention Difference Disorder not Attention Deficit Disorder It is not something I have but the way I am. I am not inherently flawed or disordered but different then the majority of other people and that in my opinion is where the bulk of the problem lies. I write this being very aware that with out the medication I took one and a half hours ago I probably would not be able to patiently sit here typing out this ramble. So yes I am willing to say that I have problems related to being ADD, but that is only one side of the coin what about all of the things I do and can do as a result of being ADD. I know through my experiences that there have been many times in my life being ADD has helped situations and solved problems. I have impulsively taken charge in emergency situations while my non-ADD friend’s! panicked.

More times than once my hi-speed multi directional thought process has provided solution to other peoples problems. Once I used my off the wall sense humour to talk friend out of suicide. Now I know that some people after reading this will say that those are not quantifiable ADD traits. But what really are quantifiable ADD traits Impulsivity, Distractibility. Who hasn’t said something impulsive when they were in a rush or upset or lost there set of keys at least once? If these non-ADDer’s can exhibit the same behaviours how quantifiable can they be. I’m not denying that there are real risks, dangers and consequences to being ADD, I just want the positive sides recognized in order to get a more balanced view out there. Because It is the acknowledgements our strengths that will provide us with the positive self-esteem to carry us through the very difficult task of working through or weaknesses and recover from the negative effects of ADD on our lives.

I would like to conclude with a story from my youth. I remember that when I was a child a boy from my neighbourhood who was left handed was punished and yelled at for being left handed. In fact his teachers would tie his left hand to the back of his chair in order to force him to use his right hand (and I mean right in both senses of the word). Now when I think back to that story I feel like I can relate in fact feel that it is great metaphor for my experience of ADD. That boy was viewed as having a problem/deficient and was forced to change. Looking at that situation today most people probably think that what those teachers and parents did to that child was ridiculous and wrong because we all know that there is no such thing as RHDS (Right Hand Deficiency Syndrome) and some thing tells me that in the not so distant future we will begin to recognize and hopefully appreciate that ADD is more about Difference than Deficit. Maybe then we will be able and willing to develop and nurture those who are ADD different into becoming caring and responsible people in ways that are natural to them instead of trying to force them into ways of being and learning that are unnatural and potentially damaging.