adhd: it is not child’s play anymore

I’m an adult with a disorder most people think children grow out of. I have ADHD. For those that aren’t “in the know” ADHD is an acronym for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Usually it’s tossed around as a joke. “Oh, I got distracted while I was in the middle of doing something. I feel so ADD or ADHD right now.” Living with it doesn’t feel like the punchline others find it to be.

Being around me is like being around an adult toddler. Leave me alone in the house for any length of time and you’ll come home to a disaster. Half done projects strewn all over, me frenetically trying to accomplish something that doesn’t have anything to do with the projects laying around. If you’re a hyper-organized person do not get involved with an ADHD person, you’ll end up going insane! Like toddlers, it’s not that we TRY to be this way, it’s just part of their disorder.

As you can imagine, social gatherings are a nightmare for ADHD people. They want so badly to be a part of everything, but people tend to find them annoying. Sometimes our inner workings have a tendency to eclipse the niceties of social cues. People want to get away from us, but we don’t see it and we still continue to ramble on and on.

ADHD is a widely misunderstood disorder. Kids are said to have it when all they’re being is “normal”. Drugs are thrown at parents at a rate that would put a major league pitcher to shame. But if you’re an adult with the disorder you’re told to suck it up and get over it. After all, we’re grownups, we have control over our own bodies.

After my daughter was born I found out how very little the psychiatric community knows about adult ADHD. I wound up with post partum depression. I was bawling my eyes out holding a bawling newborn telling my OB doctor that I was tempted to throw her out of the window (for those of you playing the home game…I didn’t do that. I was just frustrated enough to voice my thoughts out loud). She booked me an appointment for the psych doctor the next day.

So I went to my psych appointment and explained how I felt. I had trouble sleeping (ADHD people often do, their brains don’t like slowing down even to sleep), I was frustrated all the time (something else that ADHD people feel-things never happen fast enough for them), and I was feeling sad all the time (that pertained specifically to my post partum depression). He nodded at the appropriate times. He seemed to genuinely understand. He jotted off a prescription at the end of our hour long session and dropped a bombshell. “Well Moni, from what you’ve been telling me it seems that you have bi-polar disorder. I’ve given you Trazadone to help with the sleeplessness, Paxil and Depakote for the mania and depression. It’ll take about three weeks for them to kick in.”

So, like a good patient I filled my prescription and took my pills religiously. I wanted whatever had taken up residence in me to stop. Three weeks later, just like he’d said, they kicked in. And they weren’t the wonder drugs I’d been led to believe. My brain still moved at the speed of light but my body was moving at the pace of snail. Inside my brain was screaming and on the outside everyone thought I was calm and collected. I felt like a prisoner in my own body. It was then that I lost faith in psychiatry.

You see, the science of psychiatry is hit or miss. What works for one won’t work for another. Throw into the mix something that everyone widely believes that adults usually don’t have it’s a perfect storm. A perfect storm of terror for the poor person on the receiving end. I can’t tell you how terrified I was while I was taking my bi-polar cocktail. I had the urge to move, but my body wouldn’t cooperate. You see, ADHD people don’t mean to do what they do. For them it’s not optional. It’s an imperative. They’re compelled by forces they can’t explain to do the things that they do.

Now, I’ve had time to research my disorder and I’ve been experimenting with different treatments and medications. I’ve discovered that Straterra works wonders, only it hinders my work. So instead I do what I can to go about my life without medication. Coffee is always on hand, it helps but not to the level of what Straterra could do.

The next time you encounter an adult that seems off the charts hyper, or has a bad habit of interrupting you while you’re in mid sentence, they might have ADHD. They aren’t trying to be annoying or hurtful in any way, they simply can’t help it. Please be understanding. Our knowledge of how to deal with everything related to ADHD isn’t as up to snuff as we’d like it to be. Well meaning doctors and people are simply guessing at the best way of handling it. And like many disorders, illnesses, and major diseases we don’t have all the answers. The misconceptions that are still pinging around about ADHD aren’t helping either. We don’t all grow out of it once we hit that magic number of eighteen. As much as we’d like that to happen.


Monica-Marie Vincent writes Young Adult novels about troubled teens and even more troubled parents. She currently lives in Sacramento, CA although she would rather be in her home town of San Francisco. Thanks to her very put upon husband Monica-Marie is always well stocked with coffee, Diet Coke, and Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos, so she wouldn’t have to move away from her writerly lair to do mundane things like shopping.

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