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Understanding ADHD
And Living With It

March 22, 2013


Understanding The Symptoms Of ADHD

"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart for my holy purpose."
-Jeremiah 1:5

I have never told anybody about this before, but I have severe ADHD. I knew I had it, my school knew I had it, and they urged my parents to get me help. But I was never formally diagnosed until now.

My uncle Dale, who is a psychologist, came to our house this Thanksgiving and I had a chance to sit down with him and ask him for his professional opinion. He asked me several questions, gave me some tests, and went through the standard procedure. He confirmed what my teachers had suspected and I had known all along. We then had a discussion about the impact it would and has had on my life.

ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a genetic neurobehavioral disorder that affects about 5% of the population. People with ADHD are born with differences in their brain structure that cause them to think differently than most people. It affects behavior, learning, work performance, and social skills. Its three main characteristics are inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

Some common signs of ADHD include:

  • Inability to focus, short attention span

  • Lag in processing information, difficulty learning, does things slower, distorted perception of time

  • Impaired social skills

  • Poor listening skills, easily distracted, automatically tune out or drift off even when being directly spoken to, daydreaming (although at times can be hyperfocused - Get so wrapped up in some things I do that I can hardly stop to take a break or switch to doing something else)

  • Trouble sustaining friendships or intimate relationships, promiscuity

  • Difficulty falling asleep, may be due to too many thoughts at night

  • Difficulty coming awake (may need coffee or other stimulant)

  • Frequent search for high stimulation (bungee jumping, gambling, race track, high stress jobs, ER doctors, doing many things at once, etc. Needs a lot of stimulation from things like action movies and video games, new purchases, being among lively friends, driving fast or engaging in extreme sports.)

  • Skips around while reading, or goes to the end first, trouble staying on track

  • Restlessness, constant motion, legs moving, fidgeting, nervous energy

  • Prone to hysterical outbursts, outbursts of rage

  • Test anxiety, or during tests your mind tends to go blank

  • Performance becomes worse under pressure - The harder you try, the worse it gets (No matter how much I do or how hard I try, I just can't seem to reach my goals)

  • Periods of low energy, especially early in the morning and in the afternoon

  • Tendency to be immature, risk taker, thrill seeker, acts on impulse without thinking (like spending money, getting sexually involved with someone, diving into new activities, and changing plans)

  • Chronically late, always losing things

  • Not living up to potential in school or work, hard to finish anything

  • Trouble remembering things, following instructions, or completing work within time limits, absent-minded, starts lots of things but has trouble following through to the end

  • Easily overwhelmed by tasks of daily living

  • Poor handwriting, often prints

  • Switches around numbers, letters, or words, trouble reading or comprehending sentences in conversation or on paper, easily confused

  • Hyperactivity

  • Chronic procrastination, does things later rather than right away

  • Coordination difficulties

  • Tendency to blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without regard for consequences

  • Behavior problems, trouble with authority (Rather do things their own way than follow the rules and procedures of others)

  • Easily bored, impatience

  • Frequently feeling tired

  • Avoids group activities

  • Frequent traffic violations

  • Poor financial management

  • Poor organization skills, often have piles of stuff, messy

  • Mood swings, careless mistakes

  • Lack of talking in a relationship, talking nonstop

  • Trouble sitting still (such as trouble sitting in one place for too long, sitting at a desk job for long periods, sitting through a movie)

  • Saying just what comes to mind without considering its impact (tactless, I tend to say or do things without thinking, and sometimes that gets me into trouble. I see myself differently than others see me, and when someone gets angry with me for doing something that upset them I'm often very surprised)

  • Tendency to turn off or become stuck when asked questions in social situations

  • Getting stuck on thoughts

  • Has to be moving in order to think

  • Self-esteem issues, depression

  • Often occurs along with, and more likely to occur in individuals with blood relatives who suffer from bipolar disorder, ADHD, asperger's/autism, depression, substance abuse or other such disorders and syndromes.

Not all people with ADHD have all of these symptoms, but I have nearly all of them. More symptoms do exist, this is not an all-inclusive description of ADHD, but these are some of the most recognizable signs that are used to diagnose it. People with ADHD think and behave differently than the average person due to the way they produce thoughts and process information. Depending on the severity, it can affect all areas of their life, especially their schoolwork, job, and social life.

50% of children and teens with ADHD are rejected by their peers, compared to 10% of those who who do not have ADHD.

Those with ADHD are more likely to develop alcohol and drug problems, get involved in criminal activity, and have trouble finding a job.

50% of students with ADHD never finish high school. Only 5% get college degrees.

Until now I never thought much about how it had affected my life over the years, I just knew it had. And I never told anybody about it. It was a problem that I just tried to sweep under the rug and forget was there. Every now and then, some stranger might make mention of my odd behavior that would serve as a painful reminder that I was different.

The reason I got a professional diagnosis, was because recently I started having nightmares about it. It wasn't until I began having nightmares that I realized I needed to confront it.

To be continued...

--- Copyright © 2012 Jamie Lee Balyeat
I am 20 years old and own a jewelry business.

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