Misdiagnosis

ADHD or Depression?
CONdition or ADDition?

Under-diagnosed Often Misdiagnosed Mainly Misunderstood

Judie Gade ©2002 - 2010
1

B.A. (Psychology)

Judie Gade is 51, Australian, married, a Psychology graduate from Deakin University in Melbourne, a writer, journalist, ADHD activist, ADHD Life Skills Coach, a mother of two & fiercely proud of being ADHD. Rather than seeing ADHD as a disability, she prefers to call it a difference, one that can be used to advantage given you are in the right environment.

In this e-book many questions are posed such as:
     

Why is media attention so negative? Why is it that governments fail in their duty of care? Why do medical practitioners fail to refer patients for assessment? Why aren’t parents of ADHD children questioned about inheritance consistently? What is it like to be ADHD and a mother? How can someone with so much energy be so draining to others?

Often ADHD is perceived as a negative set of traits, but often it is the opposite can be said to be true. How can something be so ‘wrong’, when our world depends on ADHD people for the biggest successes this world has ever seen? Our way of life, without ADHD traits being present, would be dull, colourless and boring. Sure we have baggage, it is just that we just have a few extra pockets in ours! Difference is our benefit.


So : Reframe , Rethink, Respond

Sit back and enjoy the journey ….. It certainly won’t be boring!
2

In 2001, I fielded calls from women and men from all over the Australia, after a story was aired about women with Attention Deficit Hyper-activity Disorder (ADHD) on A Current Affair (a prime time, top-rating current affairs program in Australia). Since then, hundreds of people from Australia and overseas have contacted me about their struggles and for help. This article I hope will dispel any misconceptions about ADHD and shed a positive light on what should be seen as a gift in many cases. ADHD is primarily an inherited neurological difference that affects a part of the frontal lobe of the brain. Many specialists are starting to believe, as I do, that ADHD is natural and not a behavioural problem as many believe. The different behaviour is a result of the quirky brain we possess, with behavioural disorders often being co-morbid (added) to the eventual ADHD diagnosis. Most stories seem to be concerned with little boys who “bounce off walls”, destructive little people who are out of control. This is the media perception, and for some parents it is the way it is. It is not, however, how it really is on the whole. The kids I have been dealing with need understanding and compassion for the confusion that they feel, and so do the parents who may be unknowingly ADHD themselves. Education and learning about ADHD is part of the key to living as an ADDer (slang term for a person who is ADHD). There has been much in the media from so-called experts, especially about the over diagnosis of ADHD. This has mainly been concerned with children, nearly always boys and not adults, of which there has barely been any coverage in the media at all. Unfortunately the same opinions/figures have been manipulated to involve the adult figures as well, with the public perception being that these figures are wholly to do with children. Much has been said about the amount of people being diagnosed compared with 10 years ago, giving rise to the misconception that over-diagnosis is happening. What is not being said is that the figures of ten to fifteen years ago were
3

almost exclusively male and children. The rise in figures in previous times can be put down to a few factors: · Girls are now starting to be diagnosed · Adults are being diagnosed more often · Awareness of ADHD is higher than 5 to 10 years ago. When awareness is raised, as in other key health areas (such as breast cancer etc), more diagnoses are imminent. Public awareness 10 years ago was low, add to this the adult factor (ADHD kids grow up!), the inherited factor (if a child is diagnosed you have a 90% chance of a parent being ADHD too) and the gender factor (yes girls can be ADHD) and you will have a marked increase in percentages. However, the media passes off the stimulant prescription statistics as exclusively being children's figures without mention of the adult numbers being included. For the sake of sensationalism, ratings and circulation, the media prefers to omit these facts, giving rise to fear by the public that if medication is the best option, then they should feel guilty about either taking it or giving it to their child. Medication has its place; but many people, when put in the right environment, do quite well without taking stimulants. I was diagnosed at 40. Many ADDult issues are very different compared to the general population. Some learn coping mechanisms from years of struggle, but still “it” is there. This makes life a real problem at times; just to contend with the little things that most people make appear easy can be stressful. Things such as remembering a birthday, paying bills, cleaning the kitchen, meeting friends for lunch; even remembering to pick up the kids at school and getting dinner ready on time. Most of the big studies have been male orientated, to do with children and with no real thought about the females who are ADHD. So, if this is true, how can they say it is overdiagnosed when the opposite appears to be the case regarding adults?
4

In ADDventurous Women, an Australian and New Zealand online based support group, the main concern for members is educating the public about ADHD in a positive manner. The way the general public sees people with ADHD has been a negative one, which is extremely unfortunate, as many of these adults are highly intelligent and very talented in their areas of expertise. The positives about the disorder (although I prefer to say ‘difference’) are many. Personally, I would rather be ADHD than not. With the children I am in contact with, it is not often that these kids DON’T have a gift in some area; it is just a matter of finding it and giving the child a break. The same can also be said of adults. The public perception is a negative one, but why? The media prefers to go with the sensationalism, distortion of the facts, showing the negatives instead of the positives and the truth. Never mind the prejudiced response from the public, which they have invoked, and the fact that they are the main source of education for the general populace. No, they would rather see people fighting it out in the public arena. (In the USA, a group of Scientologists lead a class action against C.H.A.D.D – Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders, the largest USA organisation dedicated to helping people with ADHD succeed - and Novartis the producers of Ritalin, a leading medication used to treat ADHD. They lost in all states). These are mainly people who will benefit financially from the uproar through the sale of books, zealots whose religious sect benefits from the sale of tapes and videos, via web sites, denouncing the very existence of ADHD. Some experts, with university degrees, that flaunt an apparent understanding of ADHD (eg. Neurologists, psychiatrists and psychologists), prefer to put the blame squarely on parenting skills or an effort to take the easy way out. This is despite the fact that eighty-four internationally recognised scientists, researchers, specialists, including some from Australia, who signed off on a document to say the opposite. (see: http://www.mindspace.bravepages.com/consensus.htm)
5

The only person in the international media spotlight that has come close to the truth has been Oprah Winfrey. The interviews were tasteful, full of empathy, humorous and insightful. She also had experts and adults with the ADHD to interview, people who were highly successful such as actors, Olympic gold medallists and even a Harvard University Professor of Psychiatry. I have been told by various newspapers and media groups that they are not interested in doing a story, unless someone came forward, preferably a family or perhaps a noted public figure, before they would even consider doing a ‘story’. (The newspaper The Weekend Australian, however, did a wonderful article on adult ADHD that was spot on - Article: Pay Attention) Forget the truth and the many positive aspects of ADHD, most media just prefer to give any negative that can be twisted to appear like the truth, anything to get people watching their programme or reading their paper; better still if the people interviewed were professionals. Many people are too scared to come forward because of the threat of public ridicule and bad reporting by the media, and this is such a shame as there are thousands of children who could benefit from a more positive self image; well known Australians willing to come out of the ADD closet and stand up and be counted would certainly give these kids a glimmer of hope, and the self confidence they need to be successful individuals in life and work. Recently there have been stories on Depression in women being on the rise. If anything, this is an illness that is being misdiagnosed. Many of the women who called me were prescribed anti-depressants. Many were refused a referral by their Family Doctors for ADHD assessment (which is not covered for adults by Medicare if done by a psychologist), and when they were referred to a psychiatrist, they encountered someone who did not believe that ADHD even existed! Some of the women walked out of these

6

unsympathetic offices worse than when they went in looking for answers. This is the first stumbling block that many people face, especially women, are their trusted practitioners and specialists who are supposedly “in the know”. Without their referral to a specialist, there can be no assessment by a psychiatrist. In Australia, an assessment may be made by a psychologist, but currently they are unable to prescribe medication. Only a psychiatrist, paediatrician or an especially government registered general practitioner (M.D.) is able to prescribe medication. However, the initial full diagnosis is made by a psychiatrist or paediatrician. A psychologist assessment is usually required as well. Although the story on A Current Affair was about Mothers with ADHD, many people identified and the penny dropped: “that’s ME! It finally all makes sense why I am the way I am!” was the comment I heard from the people contacting me. Some were so excited they could not get the words out quick enough to explain the way they felt. Many felt relief at being finally able to open up to someone who could understand what they had been trying to tell doctors for years. Some women, already diagnosed, finally felt that they were not alone, relieved that now they had proof that there were others just like them who could understand what they were on about, vindicated in the presence of their partners and family who thought they were making excuses. A few concerns came to light from these phone calls. The main one was the problem getting a referral to a psychiatrist from the family doctor. Women who called, who had children diagnosed with ADHD, had never been asked the question with regards to family history. Considering there is a very strong genetic link, I cannot understand why this had not come up. Family doctors should be querying the parents if there is a diagnosis by a specialist of a child, especially if there is a substance abuse or an addiction problem of some kind evident, or if a parent has been treated for depression. Better still, the paediatrician should be looking at the parents
7

and referring them back to their family doctor, if indications are there, to obtain a referral to a psychiatrist that is knowledgeable in the ADHD area (many, if not most, are not). When I was assessed, after demanding a referral after ‘bouncing off the walls’ a few times, I was asked all these things. My parents came in as well (they were in their 70's then). It became evident that ADHD was on both sides of my family after the specialist spoke to both my parents. It was very enlightening, and for the first time I really got to know my father. From that day on, despite our past rather emotional relationship, Dad became my special friend. Our relationship in his twilight years grew. I now understand his internal struggles, past self-medication and obsessive traits (he was a diehard lawn bowler) and what he gave up to be with my mother. We are so alike and I often wonder what it would have been like for him, if he had done what his instincts told him he should do, like I have had the opportunity to do. Another problem has been the lack of a support network, or the fact that one of the family members does not believe in the diagnosis. They prefer to believe that it is a “cop out”. It is not uncommon for a family member to lose contact with the ADDult due to personality traits, perceived differences and misunderstandings. Many women have found themselves on their own, when their partner has left, for example. There is a high incidence of divorce amongst families where there is undiagnosed ADHD. It is not unusual for undiagnosed parents to clash with their children to such an extent that the children prefer to lose contact with their parent. It is sad, and so preventable, if only these adults had astute doctors and specialists experienced in recognising ADHD. Let me explain what it is like to be a woman with ADHD symptoms. We are not lazy, crazy, space heads, nerds, not worth knowing and something to be afraid of. We have difficulty in organising our minds when things appear boring. Our brain effectively bombards our minds with so many
8

possibilities, that it almost becomes impossible to choose from the selection. So where it has been thought that we are not paying attention, really what can be happening is that we are trying to process the information just heard. That is, we are paying attention to everything. Instead of a deficit, it is more an excess of attention. Unfortunately that means we could well miss pieces of the ensuing conversation, whilst this is going on and it may appear we are not listening, or ignoring, what we are supposed to be hearing. In stress situations we can space out, or we can hear one word that can trigger a whole different mode of thought in our minds. Daily tasks become overwhelming, and if there is an impulse to do something, like a hobby or shopping for instance, we find it very difficult to not do the activity “calling to us” without treatment. There is an addictive side to our personality and this can come out as an obsession with a hobby that has a creative edge to it such as painting, writing, ceramics, cross stitch or website design to an addiction such as food, shopping, alcohol and drugs. Many adults become 'health nuts', unable to go a day without their exercise routine. This can be seen as an addiction but is also a method of self medicating as it helps to raise the Dopamine levels in the brain. When the exercise is stopped the person experiences a type of withdrawal. It is all addiction of one form or another, some good, some bad depending how you look at it. The first thing that usually ‘goes’ is housework. It is one of the first questions I ask when counselling someone who has contacted me….. “How’s your housework?” This normally ends up with a barrage of excuses or a comment like “I have better things to do with my time”. This really is not the reason; the reason is that usually you can’t get your head around the organising or you get distracted by other things when you start doing the cleaning. On the flip side, the person can also be an obsessive cleaner, not coping

9

From this we learn how to react in different ways, recalling the experience thus enabling recall and tapping in to an actual memory, which otherwise could only be imagined. Experience is preferable. If a person would prefer an alternative way of experiencing the quietness, hypnotherapy and yoga are two options worth considering, as both have had success. Like an Olympic athlete, we have to train our brains; this often takes years of work. Sometimes we just have to forgive ourselves for our little failures (like housework. I still cannot get my head around it unless I have someone doing it with me. Doing my tax returns yearly is another one.) Many ADDers have severe allergies as well that need medication…. Asthma, eczema, psoriasis, sinusitis, food allergies such as lactose intolerance etc. and Fibromyalgia. Often they have bowel problems such as diverticulitis, lower back problems, ulcers and headaches. Treat the ADHD and often some symptoms, especially stress related ones, cease to exist. I had chronic back problems for all my adult life and it was only after taken Ritalin for a month that I noticed the pain in my lower back had virtually gone. When I have taken a break from medication the pain came back. Other women have also noticed the same thing with back pain and also Fibromyalgia, some experiencing no pain for the first time in decades! Australia, compared to the United States, is extremely limited regarding treatment options, and it will be a long time before we actually see an improvement in the situation. In the meantime, we will just muddle along, hoping that we have said the right thing, haven’t forgotten to pick up the kids at school, remember to take out the night’s dinner from the freezer and to stock up the toilet paper. Life goes on! With a little understanding from the general public, education of family doctors, teachers, diagnosed children, parents and correct media reports (especially by academics without a limited viewpoint), increased government involvement and acceptance for our “quirks” by the people who we come into
10

at all if there is a thing out of place. Often they will take cleaning to an extreme and perhaps have an old toothbrush out cleaning the grout on the tiles every week! ADHD with an OCD co-morbidity (added on disorder). Women have many different issues to contend with in their life, especially if married and with children. Keeping the house clean is a major obstacle in many cases, organising lunches, school excursions, bill paying and cooking. Remembering birthdays and Christmas cards, picking the kids up at school, after school activities, well, it can all get a bit much even when a person is treated. Left untreated, this can become an absolute nightmare. By our very nature we are perfectionists; we expect to do our best and when we cannot, stress sets in. We are our own worst critic and judge, expecting our best and rarely achieving it when strong organisation skills are concerned. Sometimes ADHD can go undetected because the person is very successful, has personal assistants to deal with boring tasks and has house cleaners, accountants and all manner of organisers to take control of the menial things that they find boring. Don't get me wrong, ADHD people can be fantastic, creative and driven organisers, so long as they don't have to do the more boring tasks themselves. They can 'see' what needs to be done and are brilliant brain-stormers, however if they have to do it themselves (and often they make the mistake of not delegating) there is the risk of them getting distracted, missing deadlines or not finishing the task at all. Medication can help enormously, with many adults going back to school after treatment and even pursuing university to study (such as myself). It would have been inconceivable to even contemplate sitting in a lecture for 2 hours and not being able to get out of the chair and move around, let alone concentrate and remember all that is said. Luckily, if an assessment has been done, accommodations can be made to help you succeed at a tertiary level and also for implementation into the workplace.

11

If the children are gifted, as many ADDlets are in some area, and the same can be said of ADDults, the concerns become even more complicated. Teachers do not see the ADHD traits for the intelligence. These “Little Einsteins” are forgetful, untidy (or excessively tidy), argumentative, do not study as it all comes so easy and find everything outside of their interests as boring. They may go on the computer and won’t come off, glued to the screen and being totally oblivious to all that is going on around them. A bomb could drop and they would not notice it, so intent are they on the particular activity they are involved in. (how can a child, or an adult for that matter, be ADHD when they can concentrate so intently, people ponder?) They make friends, but often cannot keep the friendship going (although some are very charismatic and just flit from friend to friend without anyone thinking anything of it). Some gifted children with ADD can also have a learning or neurological disability such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, coding problems or auditory processing problems. Sometimes they are very advanced in all areas of the curriculum but still cannot organise themselves to hand their work in on time, they constantly lose or forget things and often have trouble filtering out background noises. This is not about just having kids and adults do “okay”, but to be the very best that they can be. For a gifted person, to achieve mediocrity can put them in the high risk category for depression or anxiety issues - and even suicide. Children who are under-stimulated may “act up” or appear quiet and withdrawn. Adults in the right career can really make their mark, however if they are in a job that is not making use of their natural abilities then they may become ill through stress. One of the behaviours exhibited by ADHD people is risk taking behaviour. The risk element may not necessarily be at all dangerous. It can

12

be related to a business, an idea that they have and believe in that they pursue relentlessly (there is a fine line to be drawn between obsession and commitment) or travelling away to live in unfamiliar surroundings without family support (immigrating to another country). However, the risk taking can also lead to injury or death (extreme sports, drug taking, alcohol abuse, shop lifting, unprotected sex resulting in HIV, doing stupid dares to fit in with their peers or getting into a car hitch hiking when knowing the dangers are examples). Experts, the world over, agree that somewhere between 2 and 10% of any western country’s population would be ADD/ ADHD. A conservative estimate is 5%. Taking into account Australia’s beginnings as a penal colony, our gold rush history and immigration policies of the years gone by, and our rate of youth suicide per capita ~ the second highest in the world~ our percentage could be significantly higher than this. In fact, an Australian federal government document on the mental health of our youth in the school system (ages 6 to 17) indicates that the figure is a national average of 11.2%. High income areas are at approximately 6%, with low income areas being as high as 18%. This is the same document that says about 15% of our youth suffers depression at any one time and from which several government programmes were based. Considering that many of our ADHD kids show signs of depression (the figures for ADHD are about 3/4 of the 15% of depressed kids), wouldn’t it stand to reason to provide programmes to deal with ADHD? Unfortunately, if the government tried to educate the public, there would be a rush on the Medicare and Education systems. Bottom line, it is cheaper to support depression issues. Let’s get down to facts. Australia has nearly over 20 million people living in it. Take 5% of that and you have about 1 million people that could be

13

ADHD. Let’s halve that because some of these people are only mildly affected. That leaves 500,000 people in our country, conservatively, with ADHD, diagnosed or undiagnosed and needing treatment. It is very expensive to be assessed. Treatment and assessment would make a huge dent in the wages of most people and almost impossible to attain if on unemployment/disability benefits. To me, this amounts to discrimination by the government. As I have indicated above, the people that are disadvantaged most are the low income earners, and those on government benefits. About 50,000 Australian children are now believed to be taking stimulant medication to help with their traits. How can ADHD be over-diagnosed when this only attributes to 10% of the total expected, conservative figures? One would presume that there would be fewer adults than children diagnosed. Besides, children are normally easier to pick up on regarding their symptoms (especially if hyperactive) compared to adults. In many cases, these adults have learnt coping mechanisms so that their traits are less obvious. Yet life is still difficult, and they strain to cope with the multitude of stresses that being an ADDult can bring. It is even more so if there are children involved, and ADHD ones at that! What came to light, after the A Current Affair story in 2000, was that many women had sought treatment from their Family Doctors (and I had over 180 phone calls and e-mails until I stopped counting). Many had been put on anti-depressants and told that adults do not get this disorder. You mean that the ADHD fairy comes along at the age of 18 and says “you are now an adult, you do not have ADHD anymore". POOF, be gone ADHD! Cope! GROW UP!” Sorry, but this does not make an ounce of sense. I conducted an informal survey of those people who rang up and included the first 100 who rang as the figures. One aspect of this that TOTALLY amazed me, was that only TWO of the 70 women with diagnosed

14

children (30 had no children) were asked what they were like as children, and who among the parents could also be ADHD, ending in a referral to a specialist for themselves. Many had to bring up the possibility of being ADHD with the doctors. The possibility that it came from an inherited element is extremely likely; 90 to 95% probability is a conservative estimate. Take this into account: How can a parent help the child with their problems, when the parent cannot handle their own? Compare this to flying in an airplane; the word from the captain is ‘It is going to crash land’! You have your toddler with you; what do you do? Put the oxygen mask on your child first or on yourself? Well, you put it on yourself first, otherwise who will help the child when you are dead? The same applies to ADHD mothers and fathers. You need to be able to help yourself before you can help your child adequately, otherwise your stress levels go out of control, the marriage/relationship is affected and you are yelling incessantly at the child who only rebels even more. You are in a no win situation. Anti-depressants do not address the root cause of the ADHD person being depressed, although they can help immensely in some cases. Unfortunately family doctors are, on the whole, not very astute at treating or even detecting ADHD. I have spoken to grandmothers who finally realise that they may be ADHD like a couple of their grandkids, especially after their own child will exclaim to the grandchild “you are just like Grandma!” Why wasn’t the question of a possible ADHD diagnosis asked and explored, especially when the mother or father was obviously stressed to the point that they needed anti-depressants? Why wasn’t the question asked when, in extreme cases, the problem between mother and child has come to a stage where the parents give up their children to community services, as they cannot control their own moods, let alone help their child? Mind you, these “mother’s little helpers” (anti-depressants), may only

15

help stop the mother from stressing so much. It does not help with all the other things she has to cope with, such as being disorganised at home, having her finances in a mess and no motivation or too much motivation. It just stops them from worrying about it as much. Take care of the problem (ADHD) and a lot of the time they do not need the anti-depressants. I have seen women emerge as cleaning machines within 20 minutes of their first time on stimulants. It is like a fog has lifted, being able to “see” things that need doing for the first time, and being able to sort through the steps that you need to take to do the job. Getting a load of dishes done and the sink clean can be a huge accomplishment, even if the woman has a university degree! There is nothing average about being ADHD and it is a thing of extremes. There is an all or nothing attitude that can have people perceive you as sometimes lazy or as a human dynamo. ADHD never exists on its own and often people, especially adults, will be diagnosed as having depression or anxiety, OCD or maybe a learning disability when it may just be a co-morbid condition to being ADHD. Often they can be extremely intelligent, if not gifted, as well. Due to government constraints and policies, many of these people cannot get the treatment they deserve, and need, to have a productive life. With the comments from ill-informed politicians such as Amanda Vanstone in Australia, who said in parliament in 2003, that children nearly always grow out of ADHD, and that she knows of no-one who exists with ADHD after 25 years of age, it is obvious that it is not only the public that need re-educating but our government representatives as well. Such comments are not only irresponsible but damaging and ignorant. Now this is what is so confusing to me, how can a government recognise ADHD as a disability, yet offer little information about strategies or treatment options? How can it be blatantly ignored in adulthood by our government?

16

Is it because of comments by senior pollies that set us backward in achieving equity in treatment? Often it is entirely by accident, or by talking to other ADHD adults, that you find out about schemes that can help that are government backed; such as CRS, the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service. If only the government realised the overall benefits to society, as a whole as well as the individual, that the impact of promoting the help available could have. It is investment in human potential and therefore in our country’s resources. A visiting American ADHD expert visited our government offices asking questions about this very area. She was appalled to find out that the very people that are relied upon to help, know little about what is available. She had to enlighten them about what they should have known. Could it be that our public servants are not receiving adequate enough training to pass on the correct information, or perhaps they do not have the lateral thinking abilities to problem solve that many ADDers have? Perhaps that is a solution, employ more people who can demonstrate problem solving abilities or employ those with a degree in health promotion. Some people are so severely affected by being ADHD that they are on a disability pension (although Amanda Vanstone would probably have this revoked as she does not believe in ADHD over 25). More often than not, these are people cannot afford the best treatment possible, specialist psychologists, counsellors and coaches, people who can help reframe the way they think, teach new living and social skills, helping them to gain confidence in themselves and their often innate abilities. It is only in recent years, in Australia, that medications used to treat ADHD are being covered by government subsidies. Treatment without medication, such as a psychologist/therapist, is almost impossible for the average person, let alone someone on unemployment or on a pension. The government offers, for a limited time only, under-informed officials, red-tape obstacles

17

and access to often under-trained therapists with limited or no adult ADHD knowledge, to people who just wish to be comfortable in their own skin. There are two main stimulants that are prescribed in Australia. One is dexamphetamine (Dexedrine), and methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta and Attenta brand names) which with a health care card is cheaper. Recently Concerta, the 12 hour equivalent of Ritalin, was placed on subsidy for adults, but ONLY if an adult has been diagnosed ADHD at 18 years or younger. Why should an adult, who has slipped between medical cracks, be discriminated against by the government because they could not be diagnosed by the right age? Accounting for the fact that females are the least diagnosed, this could be seen as a silent case of patriarchal bias. At least, now, low-income earners and those on health care cards can afford the better medications. With psychologists now being able to claim a Medicare rebate, hopefully some people will get the care they deserve, allbe-it momentarily. That is, IF the psychologist is ADHD savvy. Many are not, so it is still a hit and miss situation when getting the correct help. If you want to try Neuro-feedback, which studies are showing offers the best chance of living a life free of medication, well, who can afford 40 hours of training at over $6000 for the course? The state and federal governments should seriously consider putting this equipment, and trained staff, in each school district, or better still each government school. There is portable equipment available that is cost effective, education based and proven. I would like to add here that if a person decides to try medication, then it should be used as a learning tool and not as a crutch. How can a person learn an appropriate action if they have never experienced the normalcy of a lineal brain? In other words, if you constantly are thinking outside the square in all manner of things, how can you think ‘straight’? Medication allows people to know how it FEELS to think in an organised fashion and to concentrate without deviation.

18

contact with, then maybe we can just ‘be’, enjoy our ‘selves’ and have happy, stimulating and productive lives – something everyone has a right to. I underwent assessment in June and July of 2000. I knew that there was a problem and I had actually booked in for assessment 4 years prior to be assessed, but the cost was so great that I could not afford the testing. This is required for a correct diagnosis; you have to know where your problems are, your weak areas, so that you can have a plan for yourself. Being the true ADDer that I am, I procrastinated until I could not cope with the way my life was heading any further. Perhaps if I had taken up my parent’s offer to pay for the assessment, I would have been better off. All I know is that my kids would have been happier, my husband would have had less to deal with because of my lack of household organisational skills, and yes, I would have been much happier. You can't think like an ADDer anymore than an ADDer could think like you. Their brains work in a totally different way to the norm. In fact it is strong ADD traits that have been found in world leaders (Sir Winston Churchill, the Kennedys) and some of the world’s biggest, scientific brains (Edison, Einstein, Marie Curie). Musical geniuses (Mozart), war hero’s, leading entrepreneurs (Richard Branson) and of course some of the funniest people to grace our planet (Robin Williams, Billy Connelly, Whoopi Goldberg, Cher) have either been diagnosed, or have presented, with ADHD traits. It is amazing how many of our favourite TV programmes are based on ADHD type characters such as The Simpsons, Malcolm in the Middle, Friends (Joey and Phoebe), Just Shoot Me and the cartoon Pepper Ann, to name only a few. The entertainment arena is a natural one for ADDers to be drawn too, one where they can think on their feet and use their lateral thinking abilities and impulsive tendencies to the maximum. On the big and little screens they appear in total control, however away from it they may not be as controlled as you might think. Many suffer periods of “crash and burn”

19

where their brains can cope with the hyperactivity no more. Suicide attempts, addictions, depression, multiple marriages and a tendency to over-react can take over their lives and making front page news in the process. Their lives can be as dramatic, even more so, than what appears on screen. Often people will find them draining to be around, erratic, over the top, over confident and egotistical. Often, no matter how successful and confident they can appear to be, the opposite can be true. Many of these celebrities suffer poor self esteem that takes the form of bragging, a way of building themselves up and reinforcing their self worth. Often their tactlessness is seen by them as ‘the truth’. What makes this all seem strange, is that they have strong intuition with regards people they are dealing with regarding work, however in a and they cannot understand why. It took me about 4 months after diagnosis to realise that I could sap the energy out of people and be physically draining in another person's presence; I was an energy vampire of sorts. An old boss of mine would tell me to stand 2 metres away as I was “in his personal space”. It didn’t happen to others in my office. He wasn’t singling me out, he was just protecting himself. We have laughed about it since, so now I use the ‘hoola hoop’ strategy —when I am talking to people I take a step back and make sure I have a hoop space around me as my ‘sense of space’ is sometimes lacking. I had the opportunity to meet with Professor Richard Silberstein from the Brain Sciences Institute at Swinburne Institute of Technology; I viewed scans of an ADHD brain and listened to this passionate man explains his theories. In essence he said that ADHD is a difference, a type of brain that has a purpose. This is supported by his good friend Thom Hartmann, (author of ADD A Different Perception and my mentor), who has a theory that ADHD people had the traits necessary in a Hunter’s society: easily distracted, live in social situation they misread body language, are often 'out of the loop' socially, rarely getting invitations,

20

the moment, lateral thinking, short attention span, quick decision maker and a risk taker. In fact without these traits Hunters could easily have been killed! It is a difference, just like there are different coloured eyes; hair and skin, there are different ‘coloured’ brains.

No, I don’t find being ADHD negative, not at all. The only negative things I can see are misinformed people, government officials and political candidates bleating subjective views and those with no compassion. I have said many times, the most disabling thing about ADHD is the attitude, ignorance and misconceptions of others. The sooner people can see that ADHD is an ADDition and not a CONdition, the happier, healthier and a more accepting our children will grow to be. I am in good company and with all the little quirks; I like me just the way I am, especially the new, improved me.

21

AFTERWORD
Judie Gade has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. Majoring in Psychology, she also has the equivalent of a major Health Promotion and minors in Journalism and Children’s Literature. For ten years, Judie has written articles on ADHD. She is involved in cowriting the workbook for an ADHD/Asperger’s Syndrome Psycho-social Skills manual with Dr. Angel Adams in the England. She has finished the text to a picture-book on depression and sadness, for 4 to 7 year olds, and is continuing writing a book on Life Skills for ADHD teens. Concerned with the lack of educational material for early primary/elementary school-aged child about mental health and learning differences, from their own perspective, Judie is researching the development of a series of age-appropriate books for 4 - 7 year old children, with the first aiming to be published in 2011. Her inspiring and informative articles have been widely distributed globally, in English and translated into other languages, by ADHD professionals, government departments, teachers and mental health, education and school websites. They have been picked up by professional organisations for their common sense approach and non-medical way of speaking. Judie started ADDventurous Women in 2001, an on-line support group for Australian ADHD women which eventually branched out to include New Zealand. She is a campaigner of ADHD information, determined that the correct information is promoted to the public, dispelling negative myths, whilst educating on the positive aspects of ADHD individuals. She has appeared on A Current Affair, The Denise Drysdale Show, 3AW and community radio stations Southern FM and City FM. In 2010, with an apparent need for life skills education, Judie is concentrating her ADHD consulting on educating individuals/families about their ADHD traits, and how to apply strategies to have productive, successful lives and careers.
22

Judie Gade

MOBILE: 0410-402-404 INTERNATIONAL: +61 410 402 404 EMAIL: addcoach@bigpond.com She is available for speaking engagements & private consultation.

23

WEBSITES ABOUT ADHD
Ed-u-cate http://www.mindspace.bravepages.com ADDvance ADHD website for women and girls http://www.addvance.com About.com http://www.add.about.com ADDitude magazine http://www.additudemag.com ADDA - The largest of all adult ADHD groups in the USA. http://www.add.org Novartis backed website http://www.adhdinfo.com Adult Attention Deficit Disorder U.K. http://www.aadd.org.uk/ C.H.A.D.D. http://www.chadd.org/

24

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful