When I was in the third grade, I started taking Ritalin for my ADHD. I was a hyper kid, and my grades were always suffering. I had a hard time focusing on my homework. It’s not that I had anything better to do at eight years old; I was just bored out of my mind.
Growing up with ADHD, you pick up a lot of baggage attached to your self-esteem. I didn’t know the details of what my ADHD meant, and so to me, I was just a slacker, a bad student, an overall failure. I don’t think parents realize how hard it can be for a young person coping with ADHD and feeling like no matter how hard they try, their impulse-control problems from the ADHD makes it that much harder to succeed.
In early 2010, I started medicating again as an adult after Image Freedom was hired by the local ABC station KSAT 12, and I knew that I needed help staying focused on the huge amount of work that project would require of me. It was, and has been, a challenge adjusting to medication again as an adult.
I remember warning my friends and co-workers that there could be side effects and there certainly were. I was told that I was a lot more intense than I had been before. I had started out taking the Adderall meds but not the time-release variety. It was a jolt to my system both socially and professionally.
I would lean closer to someone, focus on them intently, and as I was told, it was usually too intently. My assistant back then would have to catch me and stop me when I’d do it, as for the first time in my adult life I could stay focused on a single objective; I could give my entire brain to that project.
See, that’s the best part about being ADHD. When you reach that “hyper-focus” mode, you’re amazing. I can process information and span creative reaches two or three times faster than a person could without ADHD. The problem is waiting for the universe to align for that hyper-focus to actually occur.
Last year, a friend of mine and I were both asked to talk about our ADHD to the San Antonio Business Journal, and it was then that I was told for the first time that I was an inspiration to her because I’d been so out and free about my ADHD. As I own Image Freedom, there is no fear that my ADHD would cost me a promotion or risk my employment, but friends with ADHD and traditional jobs are more wary of sharing and potentially being viewed as handicapped.
I didn’t really know how to take that. I’m inspirational?
It was a heavy thing to hear, and I had never really been in that situation before. I’m a doer; I don’t usually sit back and talk about how everything makes me feel, I just push on to the next thing, or worse yet I drop whatever I was (and should have) been doing and pick up some neat new super awesome project that is totally more worthy of my time (see: our office Podcasting equipment that never gets used. Sorry Rand, I’ll publish that interview some day.).
Knowing that what I shared out there had helped other adults with ADHD, I was inspired myself, inspired to share more. It was a freeing feeling. The article ran and turned out to just be focused on me: it was called Distracted Talent. Through being in that article, I was contacted by other adults with ADHD, and we’ve built friendships because of that shared condition.
I even began a relationship with Dr. Ariel De Llanos, from Focus & Balance here in San Antonio, who taught me that cutting out harmful foods that include caffeine and red dye, cutting out alcohol, and taking supplements like Fish Oil, DMAE and Melatonin at night to help sleep, could all contribute to the success of my medication and better coping with the side effects of these stimulants.
If I hadn’t opened myself up to potential criticism, to perhaps the potential that a client might not want to work with us for fear that my unpredictable ADHD might get in the way of their project, I would have never opened myself to all of the benefits that sharing brings.
We always joke that BLOG stands for Better-Listings-On-Google, but on a much more personal level, I’d have missed out on quite a lot if I’d elected to stay silent and not share my experiences. So don’t hold back, share what makes you special.
If Michael Phelps can win gold medals, Jaime Oliver can publish a dozen cooking books, and Justin Timberlake can single-handedly bring sexy back, all with ADHD, think about what you can do?