The point of me writing post isn’t to create a sob story the aim is to raise awareness. When I write about my childhood experiences in particular my hope is to illustrate what other children with ADHD may be experiencing due to there ADHD. I certainly didn’t have the words to explain my difficulties back then nor did I have the courage to express them. Perhaps what I write today will help some, whether it be a child a parent or a teacher. Through my work supporting those affected by ADHD it’s became evident that many children with ADHD experience the same vulnerabilities, exclusion and issues. I think it’s imperative we try to bring understanding to the phenomenon of ADHD.
I’ve been thinking about vulnerability and how it relates to those with ADHD. Having ADHD myself I have no clear memories of feeling vulnerable as a child. I probably felt invincible rather than vulnerable. I was always quick with my tongue and I used it as a strong defence to protect myself. If someone said something smart I was always able to fire a smart assed comment back just as quick. I would have definitely felt isolated and secluded but not really vulnerable. Due to my birthday being July I went to school a year too soon and because of this I was very small compared to my classmates and possibly a year less mature. I cannot say for sure but I would imagine my ADHD traits may have irritated my peers adding to the reasons why I may have been Billy no mates. I was never invited to a birthday party in primary school and although I felt that rejection throughout I somehow learned to deal with it. I never really enjoyed playing with big groups anyway and I was happy enough to run around on my own pretending I was superman.
During my Primary school years Barry McGuigan became the world champion feather weight boxer. Barry is from Clones Co. Monaghan only 7 miles from the village I’m from. I remember my Uncle Paddy used to get me posters of Barry, sponsored by Champion milk lol, and I had them all over my room. (nostalgia) In my mind I was his no.1 fan. I became obsessed with boxing; I had boxing gloves, a punch bag and an older brother who was only glad to get punching the head of me when we sparred. I’m not saying I was like Barry McGuigan, far from it actually, but I did get to the stage that if I needed to I could physically defend myself despite my scrawny build. So again, I didn’t feel vulnerable yet in many ways I was. As I got older and entered secondary school I learned that bad behaviour, by this stage I was a specialist, meant instant access into the cool club. All of a sudden I was accepted and had “friends”. Unfortunately this was when I became much more vulnerable.
One of the vulnerabilities for people with ADHD lies in the underdevelopment of effective self-discipline or self-control. My insecurities where easily tapped into and I found myself doing things that were suggested by others. ‘Niall, I dare you to tell Mrs to fuck off’. In my mind I had to maintain my new “friends” even if it meant detention for a week. I was one of the first of my class to start smoking because I now was hanging out with the older Kids, one must keep up appearances. I even got in fights with people for no other reason than somebody saying, hit him. I was a child who was easily influenced. Many young people with ADHD end up in the Criminal Justice System due to this vulnerability. In the company of the wrong people ADHD children, teenagers and Adults can be very susceptible to having their thoughts emotions and actions manipulated and controlled without even realising its happening.
The School experience as a whole wasn’t a very positive environment me. I was always in trouble but at least I was now getting rewarded for my poor behaviour by having people that said I was their “friend”. Don’t get me wrong I was no angel an I loved an audience. I had a natural ability to act like an edjit and make people laugh both of which I have tuned to a fine art to this day. Education became of no interest to me what so ever as long as I had people that I could call my “friends”.
As I got older I had other vulnerabilities to contend with, addiction for one. For me my escape was alcohol and towards the end I was battling with drugs as well. It’s a very frightening thing when a substance has so much power over you that our willing to do almost anything to get more. Approximately 60% of those with ADHD will also have drug and Alcohol issues. That is more than one in two. I will expand further on Addiction and ADHD another time. I could probably write a book on that subject alone.
Children with ADHD are much more vulnerable to accidents such as falling of bicycles or skate boards, falling out of trees and running out on roads without looking due to impulsivity and failing to recognise risks. As adults the risk taking vulnerability manifests as drug, alcohol and gambling addictions or riding motorbikes or cars at 150mph and having a feeling of invincibility. A Danish study that came out last month showed that people with ADHD are at higher risk of dying due to some of what I’ve just described.
Today as an adult with ADHD I have learned to manage life much more successfully. I keep my circles small and choose friends carefully. I can still be like the wee boy with the big dreams and my Barry McGuigan obsession has transferred to the Conor McGregor obsession and again in my mind I am his no.1 fan. I’m getting distracted here. My point is, adequate support and understanding of this condition is needed because the majority of people with ADHD remain highly vulnerable to substance abuse, depression, anxiety, accidents and manipulation by some.
Niall now offers One to One support for people affected by ADHD support through Skype. If you wish to avail of this support service please contact Adult ADHD NI by Email – Niaadhd@gmail.com