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Your Truth, My Truth, Our Truth: Is ADHD Real, or Not?

Zoë's Pet Peeve: What is Truth?

Darn it.

After yesterday’s brave words, I found myself feeling quite low this morning. I wasn’t sure why, until I sat out on my balcony and tried to read a book. I just couldn’t concentrate on the words, even though I’ve been enjoying Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander very much Zoë's take on Diana Gabaldon's Outlander(I’m going to write my own, called, “Outlandish,” but that’s another story…) (my birth name, by the way, is Diana…)

I had to read each paragraph over five times. Finally, I gave up and let my feelings surface: sadness, defeat, confusion, and yes, a bit of despair. I even shed a tear or two. Here I was again, existentially confused. Why? Jessica’s words.

I thought they hadn’t reached their target. I see that they have.

I’m not proud that I’m such a softie; I’m not ashamed of it either (OK, maybe a little. I do, after all, live in a society where highly sensitive people are more shamed than lauded. For an excellent explanation of that, read Elaine N. Aron Ph.D.’s book, The Highly Sensitive Person).

Part of my depression is that I can still take a hit and be sent into a tailspin so quickly. I thought I’d grown a tougher skin than that. Ha!

Trouble is: I’m a deep thinker, sensitive feeler, and have had spontaneous mystic experiences since childhood. How do I reconcile any of that? So, whether blessing or curse, I find it easy to see all sides of an issue. And easy to get entangled in conflicting viewpoints, to my own emotional and psychological detriment. Wuss that I am.

I have no answers. What I have are temporary, evolving truths.

I’m OK with that, mostly. If one has the same beliefs as an adult as one held as a child, well, that’s the quintessential life unexamined.

But life is complicated. And simple at the same time.

Simply put, if you have a point to make, name-calling (“you’re just nuts”) and assumptions (“your under-appreciated”) does nothing to convey it. These only add to the confusion, and possibly create defensiveness and hurt feelings in the recipient, and what’s the point of that?

While I don’t feel defensive, I do feel disappointed that, yet again, I temporarily find myself in that uncomfortable place of self-doubt and blame.

I’m triggered back to childhood, where I was repeatedly told, “stop being so moody;” “you’re too sensitive;” and, “why can’t you just sit still?” Seriously, how is a six-year-old supposed to remedy these things of her own accord?

Jessica’s comment, plus the ones that followed, stirred up my philosopher’s mind.

Jason seems to believe that we are all-powerful beings, who can change our reality just by changing our thoughts. Jeff, on the other hand, suggests that our minds have limitations.

Maybe they’re both right.

The following quote, sometimes attributed to Johann Goethe, seems to lend credence to Jason’s argument:

“The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decisions, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.” [Italics mine]

How many of us have not experienced this in our lives? I know I have.

Many of us have experienced strange, unexplainable things. Some call them miracles. Some call it the paranormal.

A woman once heard that her uncle had a malignant brain tumor. The tumor was out of the surgeon’s reach to safely operate. The uncle lay on a hospital bed. The niece sat down to meditate on the tumor, focusing all of her energy like a laser beam on it. As she visualized it in her mind, she received a very clear picture of the tumor. Suddenly, the woman had the startling sensation that the tumor jumped.

Two days later, the woman called her father to ask for an update on her uncle. “It’s strange,” he said. “The doctors can’t explain why, but on a subsequent x-ray, they found that the tumor had moved and they can now operate.” They operated, and her uncle survived another three years.

You don’t need to like that story. You don’t need to believe that story. But I can tell you that it’s true. That woman is me.

Maybe I can change my belief, and suddenly not have the symptoms we call ADHD. But that’s not my path.

An ADHDer reaches the pinnacle!
Zoë reaches the pinnacle of Mount Fairview, Lake Louise, Alberta, 1980

There’s an expression I’ve always loved: “Many paths up the mountain.”

At times, like this morning, I feel stalled on my path. Sometimes it feels like I’m on the totally wrong path, but it is my path. And I do have a guiding principle that I trust to ultimately take me where I need to go.

My principle is this: kindness to myself and others.

None of us has cornered the market on truth. How can I not take the opinions of Jeff, Jason, and anyone else who seems to have a reasoned approach, to heart? While I can dismiss emotional attacks such as Jessica’s (after I’ve sufficiently licked my wounds and written a blog post to blow off steam), when people are speaking their truth, I can only respect that, and take it into account.

Truth is relative to your life’s experience, your historical and geographical place on the planet, your gender, and many other factors. Once, we burned witches (including plenty of my German ancestors) for having herbal knowledge. Today, we know that Swamp Willow is a natural source of ASA (acetylsalicylic acid).

Truth will continue to be as individual as our version of reality, whatever that is. I have experienced so many inexplicable things, since childhood, that the only thing I know for sure, is that I know very little for sure. There are so many things beyond our everyday reality, it’s both mind-boggling and beautiful.

What a boring world it would be if we all thought, felt, and acted in the same way? (And we all know how deadly boredom is to an ADHDer!)

Get over myself? I intend to. In my own time, and in my own way. And you’re welcome to do the same.

STAY TUNED for Zoë’s Pet Peeves every Friday!
Your Truth, My Truth, Our Truth: Is ADHD Real, or Not?

Zoë Kessler, BA, B.Ed.

Zoë Kessler is an award-winning author, journalist, and speaker specializing in women and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD / ADD).

A frequent contributor to ADDitude Magazine, Kessler has also created video, standup comedy, and guest blogs on ADHD and Marriage covering ADHD-related topics.

Zoë, an internationally recognized ADHD expert, has been interviewed on radio and featured in magazine articles, documentaries, and books on the topic of women and ADHD across North America.

Her newly-released memoir ADHD According to Zoë - The Real Deal on relationships, Finding Your Focus & Finding Your Keys (New Harbinger Publications, 2013) about life with ADHD is now available.

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APA Reference
Kessler, Z. (2010). Your Truth, My Truth, Our Truth: Is ADHD Real, or Not?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 19, 2019, from


Last updated: 25 Jun 2010
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