ADHD Voices from Around the World
It’s World Mental Health Day! A perfect opportunity to highlight the fact that approximately 5% of adults globally have ADHD.
I’d like to offer a rare opportunity to hear from some of these adults, as they share their (abridged) stories below.
Thank you so much to everyone who contributed with such great enthusiasm, honesty and courage.
Without further adieu, here are just a few of the many ADHD Voices from Around the World!
Mandy Prosser, South Africa
I am South African. I was diagnosed with ADD at 30. I am now 42.
Amongst my friends and family I am fondly known as ‘the loon.’ I am very open about my condition and it makes people very uncomfortable, especially bosses.
Before my ADD diagnosis, my self-confidence and any sense of self-worth plummeted over the years. Like Peter Rabbit, I felt I was always in trouble. A friend or sister upset because of something I’d blurted out. Being ‘disruptive’ in the office environment.
The year I turned 30 a dark depression led me to a psychologist who, within our first session, made an appointment for me to see a paediatric psychiatrist specializing in ADD.
I started on Concerta when I was 40 and it changed my world. I am so grateful to be able to get a day’s work in. A very expensive medical insurance plan helps pay for my medication which is extremely expensive.
I see the world in a very different way because of how my brain is wired. It allows me to see things others don’t notice. A healer friend of mine calls me a ‘watcher.’ It is a gift. Now that I’ve worked that out, I need to learn how I can use this gift to the service of others.
Scott Latty, UK
[Note: Find out more about Scott Latty here]
I’m 34 and from the UK (England). I was diagnosed late with ADHD just over a year ago. My previous employer asked me to get tested as she was seeing symptoms of a type of autism (forgetful, attention to detail, tailing off at the end of sentences when I was talking, jumping from one subject to the next very quickly).
I’ve struggled with mood swings, self-esteem and concentration all through my life. I’ve always felt different to others. I noticed things that others didn’t.
There are very few docs/consultants in my area. It’s very hard to get an appointment to be seen. I’m taking Concerta but I’m still not sure if I’m on the right meds.
I go to a support group which is great. However, away from the group I’m on my own almost. Work colleagues don’t really understand what ADHD is, or how it affects me. It’s hard for people to understand I think.
I love the impulsive and cheeky side of me. Also my creative, insightful and visionary part. This is when I tend to come up with great ideas! I’m developing my own drama for tv, film and hopefully other formats. I’m extremely creative and want to help others, including myself.
Ramakant Vatturi, India
[Note: Visit Ramakant Vatturi’s blog, Forget the Moon…Reach for the Stars!! My Life with ADD]
My country of origin is India. I was 31 when I was diagnosed with ADHD, in 2007. I was working in India for a German automobile design services company.
I worked well as a designer for 7 years and it was puzzling to everyone that when I was made a team leader, I struggled very badly. When things were getting from bad to worse, my boss asked my parents to take me to a psychiatrist.
I was diagnosed with depression and prescribed medication. It helped a bit but I felt there was some other explanation for my struggles.
After 4 months of searching the internet I realized that ADD was the condition which explained not just my recent struggles, but the struggles of my entire life.
After another evaluation, my psychiatrist concurred. I was then prescribed a non-stimulant medication which did wonders for me. In India its generic equivalent was available and affordable.
With that medication I felt a sense of confidence and self-control which I had never before experienced.
I went back to my job as a designer which I always liked and which provided me the chance to use hyperfocus as an advantage.
I was transferred to Germany and continued my treatment. In 2009, I decided I could cope without my ADHD medication; my doctor agreed. I had the support of an ADHD self-help group which met once a month. I was also a student at a meditation centre called Brahma Kumaris.
In 2009 I started a group called “ADHD – No Fear, No Limits” on Linkedin. As of today it has 655 members.
Nan Bailey, Ireland
I’m American and have lived in Ireland for 11 years. I really struggle with staying focused, organizing paperwork, electronic files, budgeting… all that boring stuff. I never realized how much outside support I depended on, until it wasn’t there.
Getting a diagnosis in Ireland is practically impossible and one of my major life accomplishments! I had been misdiagnosed and on bipolar meds 12 years before my ADHD was finally acknowledged.
After ten years of begging for assessment, I finally got a formal ADHD diagnosis at age 40. It’s helped me understand my challenges, but there is very little support in Ireland. My improvements have come mostly through self-help (internet/book research, timers, yoga/meditation, kinesiology) and from support of patient friends and a loving partner.
The best improvement was getting off the bipolar meds and on Strattera! I’ve lost massive weight; I got my mind back (the good/creative stuff and the too fast/muddled frustrations); I’ve learned some ways to manage better; I can forgive many of my fumbles.
Only Strattera and Concerta have been available to me. They are ridiculously expensive, but in Ireland, everyone is entitled to the Drug Payment Scheme.
Unfortunately, too many healthcare professionals still tell me, “adult ADHD doesn’t exist in Ireland.”
Juan Sangüesa, Chile
[Note: Juan Sangüesa is a clinical psychologist in Chile who blogs (in Spanish) about adult ADHD. You can find his blog here]
In Chile, adult ADHD is something very unknown for most people. Even medical doctors and many mental health professionals think ADHD is something only kids have. This is why I decided to specialize in this enigmatic condition ever since I became a clinical psychologist.
It is very difficult to get a diagnosis here. Most of the time, my clients have been previously diagnosed with depression, anxiety and personality disorders and the ADHD went unrecognized. I have found that when they learn that ADHD was the real culprit behind their difficulties in life, it is a HUGE relief.
We have ADHD medication here, mostly stimulants such as Concerta, but also non-stimulants including Strattera. We don’t have Vyvanse or Adderall (I don’t know why). My experience is that there are lots of people who would rather not take medicine, because they don’t want to become dependent on them for the rest of their life. There are some who give it a try, but only a handful of them really benefit from the meds. Also, we see many clients who have a comorbid condition (mood problems and anxiety mostly) which complicate matters further in terms of the psychopharmacology management.
This scenario compelled me to look for some alternative to offer my clients and it eventually led me to study the effects of mindfulness for adult with ADHD. Thus I devoted my Master’s thesis to a study of the effects of a mindfulness practice compared with CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) in treating ADHD symptoms. The results, (which I recently presented in UC Berkeley) have been very promising so far.
Kessler, Z. (2012). ADHD Voices from Around the World. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 3, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/adhd-zoe/2012/10/adhd-voices-from-around-the-world/