Some of you know how I found out about having ADHD: my friend Chris, who is TOTALLY ADD, suggested I take an online test for it myself.
The one test you DON’T want to Ace…
Now, normally, I’m happy to ace a test. This one, not so much…
The test said if you had 70 and up,
“You appear to be suffering from severe attention and concentration difficulties…”
No sh*t, Sherlock.
Making matters worse, it went on to say:
“You would likely benefit from the immediate attention [sic] of your physician or a trained mental health professional…”
Well now, let’s see: I’d already lost my job, I couldn’t focus on anything for more than one minute in a row, my life was falling apart. I trundled myself off to my family doc the next morning to show off my score of 102. (Ya, ya, I know…eat your heart out).
ADHD…not just for little boys any more…
Turns out, I DID benefit from the immediate attention of my physician. He was young, open-minded, and had known me for a long time. He knew how hyperactive and “out there” I was. He seemed to realize that ADHD was NOT just for little boys any more.
I think the incident where I took off my shoe and sock and stuck my bare foot on the cash counter of a local store when I bumped into him, pointing at a growth on my toe and insisting he get me to a surgeon, probably didn’t hurt my case, either (and it got me into a surgeon within two weeks).
When my doc said, “Zoë, I think you should consider taking this medication,” I considered. I took. I began to turn my life around.
It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. For the first two weeks after my diagnosis – at age 47 – I went into hiding. Besides being relieved that I had a reason why I couldn’t get my life together, I also felt shocked and ashamed.
Don’t worry, it’s not contagious
Two weeks passed. I read books, regrouped, licked my wounds. Finally, I decided to come out. I’d been an open book my whole life (literally: my first book, Adoption Reunions, was about meeting my birth mom). I wasn’t about to hide this.
My first public disclosure was at a pet food store. When I mentioned I had ADHD, I might as well have said, “I have leprosy.”
The store owner backed away, mumbling some story about her two nephews having ADHD and ending with:
“They tried to tell me my son had it too, but I knew he didn’t. He’s highly intelligent.”
I was furious! I thought, “Lady, I have more degrees and college diplomas than you’ll ever have, and you’re so dumb you just called me an idiot to my face and didn’t even realize it!”
I bit my tongue. (Meds’ll do that for you). Normally, I’m so prone to impulsive blurting it’s like I have Tourette’s, except I speak in full sentences.
On my way home, a male stand-up comedian came on the radio. This made me even angrier. It wasn’t that he was talking about having ADD, it was that he beat me to it!
“That does it,” I thought. “Obviously there’s a lot of work to do, and I’m just the Chick-A-D-D to do it!”
So far, so good…
In the less than 5 years since that day, I’ve written and produced a radio documentary on taking a stimulant medication for my ADHD; written my blog ADHD from A to Zoë for going on two years; written, performed and recorded a standup comedy routine on being a woman with ADHD (called, Martha Stewart, I Ain’t), and written magazine articles and poetry on the topic. I’m currently writing and hosting a film about women & ADHD, and have appeared in other people’s films and on radio programs talking about what it’s like to be an adult with ADHD (Blue Roots Radio, etc.).
On a personal note, I’ve also announced at work that I have ADHD. I survived. No – make that – I flourished. I have a warmer, more open rapport with my bosses, and I don’t even think about it anymore.
Did you hear the one about the pet store owner…
And as for proving someone DOESN’T have ADHD because they’re “highly intelligent”? Some of the smartest, funniest, and most creative people you’ll ever meet have ADHD. And trust me, you’d be much better off laughing with us, than at us! Otherwise, you might just wind up as the punchline in their next comedy routine. Just sayin’…
NOTE: This post is in participation of the American Psychological Association‘s Mental Health Month Blog Party. What a cool idea! I hope you find lots of good information today. Please pass this along to anyone who might benefit. Let’s all work together to overcome stigma around mental and emotional health and move forward with optimism and joy!