ADHD Awareness Month

I did not realize until a friend just posted about it that October is actually ADHD Awareness Month.

I’ve never officially been diagnosed with ADHD, but my psychiatrist prescribes me Adderall to help me focus in school. It’s been a game-changer in that I can actually pay attention to lectures and absorb what is being said. Adderall and caffeine, stimulants, are largely responsible for my increased ability to focus and concentrate both at school and at work. I can pretty confidently say I have all the symptoms and that stimulants have been enormously effective in helping me treat them. I try to regulate them according to need so I don’t become too reliant, but I experience both the lack of focus that comes with ADHD as well as the “hyperfocus” ability to become lost in things I’m interested in and completely lose track of time.

ADHD is a still widely misunderstood disorder. I see a lot of these funny Internet memes and think to myself, but isn’t that everyone? Everyone lets their laundry lay around for “5-7 business days” before putting it away, right? And doesn’t everyone get distracted when they’re cleaning and come across an old notebook or book and get absorbed in that instead? The truth is, a lot of people can probably relate to a lot of the symptoms, and I think a lot of social and environmental factors in modern life encourage either distraction or impulsivity. Some have alleged it’s easy to misdiagnose or overdiagnose, which has led to some controversy.

As Thomas Perathoner humorously and accurately relates in his short film The Cuckoo’s Nest, Dr. Leon Eisenberg, who conducted some of the first rigorous studies of ADHD and who some dubbed the “inventor” or “father” of ADHD, made a deathbed confession that it was a prime example of a “fictitious disease.”

While a lot of people are likely to experience symptoms of ADHD, I’d been aware that my executive function was lower than a lot of my peers due to a lot of these symptoms, which can be a signifier that medication or different coping mechanisms could really help manage problems. If the symptoms are interfering with your daily life, a medical evaluation may be helpful.

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