ADHD Opinions Matter - What's yours?

MOM AND THE CREATOR

Prior to launching danpape.org I wanted to see what others thought about my inaugural post [here]. The thing is this. Almost my entire life I've told myself that opinions don't matter . That, and that I'm going to do as I do often unapologetically.  It's kind of always been that way for me which is more often than not, a curse.  If people understand HM (hyperactive mind) then they are open minded to our non filtered style of conversation.  But if they aren't, they sometimes leave thinking, 'what an arrogant SOB".  Ok maybe they aren't that harsh in their thinking but it's no secret that people with ADHD can easily offend someone and then realize well after the fact they screwed up. 40 years into this I'm getting much better at bitting my tongue, but that journey didn't come easy.  It took decades of practice, understanding and patience to know when to say what. In a effort to get some sort of blessing from people I respect a great deal, I asked them their opinion on Deficit and Disorderly before telling people 'officially' about this blog. Here's what they had to say.....

Christine, a Teacher

Christine is a teacher in my hometown of Thunder Bay Ontario. Having the wonderful opportunity to stay with her and her family for about a month left me with profound gratitude to how she helped her own children. That wasn't the reason my son and I stayed with them but indeed it really opened my eyes to what a great parent is. I really try hard to be a good father to my son regardless of whether he is diagnosed by someone in the medical community as ADHD or not.  Staying in Christine's house for the month of November was a remarkable experience for us to better understand how we can step it up a notch to being better parents. Here's what she had to say about Deficit and Disorderly.

"Hi Dan, I was finally able to finish your article. Here are my thoughts. I think you are writing this blog to share a little about your life, as a outlet for yourself. I get the impression that you are trying to heal from past hurt, perhaps trying to accept yourself for who you are, not "normal", as a result of your HM. I think ADHD, like DS, MS, BD, Anxiety, OCD, A-Type, ASD, and all the other "disorders" people identify with are all part of the same thing - we all have something to overcome that makes feel like we are not a "normal" part of society. Like racism, passing judgment on others is more about the person who is passing the judgment than it is about the person with the "problem". Certainly our world calls for more acceptance - but not just for those with ADHD, but for all those who don't fit the mold. The thing is, the more we dig into the minds of others, the more we learn that the average person is trying to hid/work through some side of themselves that feels less normal. Here is the bottom line, in my opinion. Life calls for certain things that are unavoidable. 1)Work Hard because nothing is free. 2)Play the game so you can have enough to give yourself and your family the best life possible. 3) Gain experience so that you have something to offer the world. 4)We don't always get what we want. I say these things because I think as humans we are all working towards a happy and meaningful existence, but the reality is, we have to do things we may not love in order to work the system in our favour, there is no way around it. So, all of us with an acronym that partially defines us, have to find a way to work though it and with it to allow ourselves to play the societal game that is necessary to lead happy lives. Medication for a person struggling with anxiety allows them to have the confidence to leave the house or attend a large class/meeting. Medication allows someone with epilepsy to not seizure at random. Medication, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, eating well etc... are all solutions to many many obstacles and they look different for everyone. My point is, I like your blog as an outlet for yourself, but I don't think you're any different than anyone else. We all have our crosses to bare, our past pain to heal from, our feelings of loneliness to cope with. We all have our own acronym to accept. Try to remember that your HM may be your thing, but we all have a thing. Many, many of us have to over come something, usually our own selves, to feel like we are accepted by others"

Before reading on I wanted to add that it took Christine a few weeks to respond to my opinion poll on Deficit and Disorderly.  Being the mother of 3 children I took that as her being very busy.  I also took that as her truly caring.  Also, I loved this response so I asked permission publish it on the blog.  After she gave me her permission I asked Nero his opinion.

NERO, A CREATOR

Nero is a brilliant and gifted ADHD'r that I've grown very fond of over the years working with him. To give you and example of just how multi-talented Nero is, he composed music for a video I made, he sent me drafts of logos he designed on the spot, he's currently writing a movie script and he a started brand on a $40 budget that grew to be an innovative leader in the industry that he was a part of.  Here's what he had to say:

"I re-read your friend’s comment and I think I understand it better, which means I feel a bit silly for having such a strong reaction. I believe her concern was less for your cause and more about you personally, that she just wants to help you feel better about yourself, which is very nice.

Still, it does bring up some questions that should be addressed, both on the personal level and regarding how we see intellectual and other psychological differences as a whole. I rewrote my reply accordingly. I leave it up to you to judge whether it is better or not.

I won’t pick her comment apart point by point but I will address a few of the major problems within it.

1.] “we all have our cross to bear” True. Nevertheless, not all crosses are equal. To suggest as such can have the effect of invalidating another person’s cross, or used to selfishly exaggerate one’s own.
Moreover, when the “cross to bear” metaphor is brought out, it is often used as a not-so-subtle way of saying: “no one wants to hear your bitching.” By that logic, should Crazy Horse, Gandhi, or Martin Luther King have kept their mouths shut simply because “hey, we all have problems”?

Bitching is not always devoid of value, nor is it always an act arising from mere self pity. It is often the first step – even a selfless step – towards changing problems that are not just individual but systemic.

2.] Psychiatric medications do not always work, and are not always harmless. In fact many of them have the potential to make matters much worse, create new problems, damage people’s mental and physical health (both short term and long term), and in some cases can completely destroy lives.

3.] “I like your blog as an outlet for yourself, but I don't think you're any different than anyone else.”
You do not know that. Science does not even know that. More importantly, what’s wrong with different? Aren’t creative geniuses by definition “different”? How healthy would a society be if everyone was basically the same?

Which brings me to perhaps the most important question of all: should we not ask ourselves at what cost to the individual or indeed to society do we so readily medicate ourselves or our children for the sake of fitting in? Because from a different point of view, we may merely be suppressing many of the gifts they have to share with the world. The world has many serious, complex issues facing it. Do we really need everyone to be well-adjusted and successful in a world that may desperately need people who have a hard time fitting in precisely because their ability to creatively solve problems has not been medicated or otherwise tamed?

We now know that many of society’s greatest thinkers did not – could not – fit in. They were different. Many of them suffered a great deal for it. What fate would have awaited them were they to be living in our time?

Psychologist Bruce Levine asks such questions when he treats people he recognizes as being “anti-authoritarians”, people who often get diagnosed with various disorders due to their inability to be compliant with various forms of authority. Would Albert Einstein have become a victim to our “modern” way of thinking about ADHD and other “deficits in rule-governed behavior”?

Would We Have Drugged Up Einstein? How Anti-Authoritarianism Is Deemed a Mental Health Problem: “Albert Einstein, as a youth, would have likely received an ADHD diagnosis, and maybe an ODD one as well. Albert didn't pay attention to his teachers, failed his college entrance examinations twice, and had difficulty holding jobs. 
I'll leave you with this article."

 

FINAL THOUGHT

There you have it.  Two viewpoints not necessarily opposing one another intentionally but definitely good areas to discuss and/or think about if you or your children have ADHD.  Both Christine and Nero have different opinions but to say one cares more than the other would be silly.  Both have had their own and very different experiences and both have had their own challenging situations throughout life. Nero, however, simply didn't have the support needed and he certainly didn't have parents as open minded as Christine is to her own children.  He also has ADHD and to my knowledge it's a severe case. I've seen Christine in action with her kids and can vouch that she is indeed and amazing teacher and mother.  I learned a lot just by watching her talk to my own son. How we handle situations through good communication is key to our children's success. If that communication breaks down or worse, it's not present at all, then failure for the ADHD kid is almost always inevitable. Even if failure isn't inevitable, situations like Nero's makes for a massive uphill battle.  I've known Nero for many years and I know his story. He's constantly sending my massive responses to our discussions furthering my insight into this huge and complex topic of discussion.  This article isn't meant to put the two minds in a metaphorical boxing ring to punch it out. My only intention here is to have both sides being considered for the well being of our youth. Who's point of view is more inline with your own opinion?

I'd like to close out this article to give you an important tip that changed my life.  I've yet to remember how I stumbled on this gem but it truly worked wonders on my self esteem and to better understand the hunter mind. ADHD Secrets of Success was my Bible for years. It was the light that helped me get through some very confusing times. Job losses, relationship battles and misunderstandings of why I thought the way I did. It was my study guide and go to.  Heck, it was even written for the ADHD mind as to ensure that we were able to get through it in it's entirety. For decades I tried to read books to better understand what I was all about.  I rarely if ever finished my books and the perplexity of my life continued on. Once I read Thom Hartmann's Book I never looked back.  

I'd like both Christine and Nero to read it as well.

ADHD Secrets of Sucess by Thom Hartmann on danpape.org.jpg

PS. Another great book I listened to on Audible was Children are from Heaven by Thom Hartmann - Also, since ADHD Secrets of Success is and older book, I found this online which has many snippets that will help indeed, check it out and scoup up this book.

Dan Pape