Most people when I tell them I was diagnosed with ADHD back in 2010, their first response is to not believe me and to try and tell me that ADHD is not real. I can’t blame them. I felt the same way for pretty much most of my life.
In fact, in my mind, I told myself that it was just a made up disorder by the medical community to sell more drugs. Not being one to follow the sheep, I resisted seeking any type of diagnosis or treatment for it because I thought I would be just buying into the hysteria. Besides taking pills is just a cop out, so I thought.
True, ADHD gets misdiagnosed all the time. Someone could be experiencing a certain situation in their life like divorce that causes them to mimic ADHD symptoms like depression and being distracted. It’s even being shown now that today’s technology is rewiring our brains and causing impairment of the frontal lobe which is the part of the brain that is impaired in ADHD. It is responsible for executive functions such as decision making, time management, organization, judgement, impulse control and memory. And I’m sure there are lots of doctors out there who are more interested in making money then helping people and are quick to recommend unnecessary medication, often times and unfortunately to children. So it’s easy to see how someone can easily get misdiagnosed.
Then of course, there is the natural health community who would tell you that ADHD isn’t real and it’s simply a matter of changing your diet, getting adequate nutrition, sleep and exercise. Making changes in any of these areas can definitely help someone manage the symptoms of ADHD more effectively but it won’t cure it and it isn’t the reason why true ADHD exists.
Early on I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression(common side effects for ADHD) so I took a whole slew of anti-depressants. They helped some but for the most part, I felt worse. At one point, my life counselor told me I was bipolar. When I went to get diagnosed for that, they told me I wasn’t. That actually caused me to get more depressed because I still didn’t have an answer as to why I was struggling the way I was. I tried tons and tons of natural health remedies and they definitely helped but at the end of the day, no matter what I did, I still struggled. Finally, after years of insomnia and stress levels so high that I thought I would be dead at 40 of a heart attack if I didn’t get this under control, I gave in and sought help from licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Christina Zampitella who specializes in working with people who have ADHD.
I was resistant to taking any tests because I assumed it would be just like the many fill in the blank self-diagnosis assessments I’ve done on the internet. I always thought those tests were so subjective and could apply to anyone so I never completely believed the results. However, I was shocked at the complexity and extensive amount of tests Dr. Zampitella gave me which took about 5 hours over two days to complete.
I really tried, I mean I REALLY tried to ace these tests, yet when the results came back they were eye opening, some even putting me in the lowest percentile and finally helped me to see I was truly struggling with a learning disability. When she started to provide an explanation for some of the results, I cried. For the first time in my life, I felt someone finally understood me. Finally, someone put a voice and an explanation to my struggles beyond my own explanations of being stupid, incapable, incompetent, unable to control myself and an overall complete failure. Beyond that, someone finally believed me and wasn’t telling me what I experienced every day, all day wasn’t real and just in my head and that all I have to do is xyz to get over it.
It’s no coincidence that I have chosen professional organizing as my career. Or rather it chose me. Most of the clients I work with have either been diagnosed with ADHD or are very obviously struggling with the condition. Because I intimately understand the chaos and overwhelm they are living with, can very easily fall into the same patterns and behaviors they do if I don’t stay on top of myself and have worked diligently on myself to find ways to manage the symptoms of it, I feel it is my responsibility to share what I have learned. My mission now is to help people who have ADHD feel understood and accepted and for people to understand and accept people who have ADHD.
I know no matter how much education and proof I provide to people that this is a very real condition and without proper management the effects can be devastating in our lives,they will give me all sorts of arguments to prove it isn’t real. I’m willing to admit that 50 years down the road we may discover it wasn’t what we thought it was at all. From a spiritual perspective, I’m even willing to be open to the idea that it’s a third eye thing where incidentally the frontal lobe is located. But all I know for now is it’s very real for me, it’s very real for my family members who also live with it and it’s very real for some of my clients. So I will continue learning and sharing what I know as of now in hopes that it will help even one person understand and accept themselves better and show them how they can live a thriving life instead of just surviving life.