Disclaimer: For medical advice, consult your doctor. If you don’t have a primary care provider, get one. You can also read valid and useful information about ADHD and how it relates to kids on the Cleveland Clinic Children’s website.
Most of my peers in business (especially creatives) are ADHD, like me. The biggest difference is I’m properly medicated.
Let’s say you’ve got this kid and you don’t know what to do. Yesterday, you swore they were destined for the White House. Today, you’re convinced they must be hard-wired for taking the mob to new depths.
Look, I am not a doctor. I did spent six years of my career working with a handful of amazing physicians from in the world and they all agree with the following:
Annoying. Artistic. Curious. Daydreamer. Different. Difficult. Distracted. Energetic. Extreme. Gifted. Hilarious. Persistent. Spastic. Stubborn. Sweet. Obsessed.
Friends and family used these adjectives to describe me as a kid.
Being diagnosed ADHD was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I realized I had a gift; an untapped super power. I also learned a high percentage of incarcerated people have it too. I guess I was lucky someone forced me to get help.
As a kid (and young adult), my brain could not slow down. Ever. To focus, I did what millions of people like me do every day: self-medicate.
A cigarette in the morning will stimulate your brain very effectively. It also gives you horrible breath and often leads to cancer.
Really good, strong coffee can sustain you throughout day. It, too, leads to horrible breath and worse, it doesn’t always have brakes. So, the fastest and easiest way to slow a racing mind down is drinking alcohol.
This pathetic regimen led to exhaustion and sleep depravation. I got to the point I couldn’t read, watch TV, work on a computer, or even listen to music before I hit the sack. I had to be in complete darkness and silence to get my mind to idle.
Thankfully, a business partner (and diagnosed Adult ADHD patient) talked me into seeking treatment. I was 30 years old. I felt like 50.
After seeking professional help, my mental, emotional and professional life began to blossom almost immediately. My breath improved as well.
I was overcome with sadness and regret I hadn’t sought treatment at an earlier age. Why did I have to spent my entire academic career feeling like a dumbass? It was so unnecessary. It was completely preventable.
If you can believe this, halfway through my treatment, a few good-hearted friends tried to convince me to pray to God for healing … you, know, so I wouldn’t need to be a slave to a controlled substance for the rest of my life. Thank God, a priest cut them off at the pass. Here’s what he told me:
“Noah, God did heal you. It’s 18 milligrams and you take it once a day.”
If you or a loved one demonstrate the characteristics of someone living with ADHD, consider treatment. Explore options. Talk to people who live with ADHD as well as psychiatrists that successfully treat ADHD patients.
When it comes to kids who tend to fit the ADHD stereotype, please understand:
They see the world differently and that’s a good thing. They’re not trying to be difficult. No kid wakes up with the desire to be a pain in your ass all day. They need you to provide better outlets to think, dream, focus and express themselves.
My entire life, if everyone was running to the right to find a solution, I would go left. I wasn’t trying to be a jerk. I actually thought I was right. Half the time, we would all end up at the same solution and the net result was a good one because we now had a shared perspective.
Cut yourself (and especially your kid) some slack. Do some research and learn about how many great scientists, artists, entrepreneurs and world leaders are/were diagnosed ADHD.
And for God’s sake, start looking your kids in the eye to tell them how much you love them just they way they are. Help them discover their strengths (versus improving on their weaknesses) and keep pouring into those strengths like crazy.
I say “for God’s sake” because I believe God needs us as much as we need God. And I love the fact that it’s kids with ADHD that God sometimes does his best work.