Daddy with ADHD

Since I last wrote a blog I have become a Daddy to my lovely little daughter Amelia Greene. I am probably still traumatised from the birth experience which is why it has taken me so long to write a blog. (well that is my excuse anyway) On hindsight I probably should have researched the process a bit better instead of almost passing out during the birth.  There is a photograph of me holding Amelia not long after the birth and I am a pale green colour but still managing to look very very proud.  Overall it has been an amazing experience which has completely changed me as a person and  it has only been three months. My partner Emma and I have been waiting for Amelia to come into our lives for quite a while and neither of us can believe she is finally here.  We are loving every moment.  I am learning new skills like changing nappies, walking around the house like a ninja so as to not wake the baby and surviving without sleep.  Amelia is teaching me to live in the moment and appreciate life like I have never done before and as she grows I look forward to teaching her  to develops skills to cope with life.

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Proud Daddy

Before she was born I always had anxiety about becoming a dad.   I never thought it would happen for a start and I worried that if I did become one, would my child be like me?  I am an adult with ADHD who has had great difficulty looking after myself never mind being responsible for a child of my own.  However, as I have gotten older and learned more about my ADHD and myself I have found that life has become a lot more manageable, I no longer see myself and my ADHD from a negative perspective and instead I have a more balanced view of myself and of other people.   Over the years through therapy, study and trying to improve myself I have learned that regardless of having ADHD, just like everybody else in the world I have good days and bad days and it is just part of the human condition.  Growing up with ADHD I received a lot of negative verbal and nonverbal messages that I was a bad egg and one to avoid and it has taken a long-time to uncover, discover and discard that mess and  a process that I am happy to work on for the rest of my life if need be.

I still  sometimes fear that my ADHD might impact Amelia in a negative way, however I think that is a healthy fear and one that should not be ignored.  We all have strengths and weaknesses and by identifying  and using our strengths to their full potential and working to improve our areas of weaknesses or find support in these areas if needed there is no reason to be afraid.

Important parenting skills such as time management, organizing  tasks, implementing routine and  managing emotions happen to be areas in which adults with ADHD have deficits and failing to recognise, or not working to improve on these deficits can only lead to increased stress and a sense  failure or  inadequacy in parenting.

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An area of ADHD that I have found  myself concerned about is distractibility.  Distractibility alongside poor memory is the reason I walk away from  restaurants leaving my wallet or mobile phone on the table.  Holy feck!!  What if I forget Amelia? Although I can’t imagine it ever really happening, it is something that has crossed my mind and if anything it has made me much more mindful and vigilant when we are out.  However, distractibility can be a real issue that causes me difficulties and if I were to just ignore it I am sure that it would have a negative impact on my relationship with Amelia in the future.  So it is very important for me to remember what is important and for me that is being a Dad  and a partner that is present, loving and available. Perhaps the key is maintaining a healthy amount of distractibility that allows the person to be themselves with their ADHD without compromising relationships with family, easier said than done I suppose.

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Having  ADHD is a very frustrating thing .  You constantly forget appointments,  tend to be extremely disorganised, often you  will have problems completing household tasks; keeping track of finances and  most of all  people with ADHD feel misunderstood by everyone.  But having ADHD is not an excuse to be an asshole and to think that it is ok to take frustrations out on your family or your loved ones.  So for me the number one thing for a parent with ADHD is  to  find help to manage difficult emotions so that you are not hurting the people you love and creating a negative atmosphere within the  home.  I always promote counselling and psychotherapy and I truly believe that all adults with ADHD should have weekly sessions with a good therapist to help regulate emotions, untangle distorted thinking, get to know yourself better as well as improving relationships with the people closest to you.  Other areas can help regulate emotions such as meditation, mindfulness, sports, but I have learned that the  first few months of being a parent can make most of this very difficult, so perhaps only one or two of the above.

I am sure that as time goes on there will be other issues that will present about being a Daddy with ADHD and I will share when the time comes, but for the moment I am still in doting daddy mode, hyper-focusing on this new  little life that is teaching me so much, including my capacity to learn new things and how much I enjoy being a parent.   I have found that my hyperactivity and boundless energy has found a new release valve in my life through being Amelia’s light entertainment throughout the day .  I knew all those years in pantomime were preparing me for something BIG – singing endless silly songs and creating much  laughter and giggles..   Apologies if this post is a little over the place, I have been out of practice this last few months but hope to get back in the swing of things and thank you for reading. This post is dedicated to my lovely partner Emma who has done the hard work and to my lovely little daughter Amelia.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

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

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ADHD the square pegs.

Many people with ADHD have problems fitting in. I often hear the people we support through Adult ADHD NI describe themselves as being the square peg in the round hole. Due to a life time of ADHD and experiencing life from a somewhat foggy perspective it can be extremely difficult to navigate social situations appropriately. Kids growing up having the excessive traits of inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness because of their ADHD are less likely to fit in with their peers at school and due to a combination of these ADHD traits as well as having less opportunities to develop in social groups due to rejection by their peers, these children often grow up with underdeveloped social skills and issues such as low self-esteem.

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Since I was diagnosed with ADHD I have become more aware of how socially clumsy I am due to my ADHD, such as interrupting people when they are speaking, abruptly ending conversations by changing the subject impulsively or walking away because I have gotten distracted by something else. My ADHD diagnosis allowed me to recognise the problematic traits I was up against and identify how much my ADHD was affecting my ability to communicate appropriately in social situations.

Having ADHD myself I recognise that people with ADHD can be quite intense and draining for those without ADHD, who are often left struggling to keep up with the constant changes of topics, the jumping back and forth on subjects or the blurting out of seemingly random or inappropriate things during conversations. I say “seemingly random things” because the ADHD mind often makes connections that may not always seem obvious or in relation to the conversation to an non-ADHDer, but for the person with ADHD because their mind work very fast it can be hard and overwhelming trying to keep up with the connections or the patterns of thinking. The blurting out or the quick changes in subject for me, is due to the short term memory problems associated with ADHD and the need to say what you have to say otherwise it will be forgotten and lost forever.

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Hypersensitivity is another aspect of ADHD that affects communication with people and causes them to appear rude or cause offence. I have spoken to many Adults with ADHD that have heightened senses which cause distraction during conversation. For instance I have heightened sense of smell and find it very difficult to hold conversation if there is a strong smell that I can’t identify the source. So imagine trying to have a conversation with me when every few minutes I keep saying “what is that smell?”.

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When you have ADHD you also tend not to mince your words and people on the receiving end are often hit with the uncut and unedited thoughts of the ADHD individual. Without realising, a person with ADHD often offends people accidentally by speaking inappropriately or saying whatever pops into their head and it’s only on hindsight that the person with ADHD recognises the social mistakes. For many people with ADHD every social interaction is over analysed to ensure no social mistakes were made and this can be extremely draining and cause the individual to seclude themselves rather than make social blunders.

Another thing that I have identified within myself is that if a subject arises that I am passionate about I can’t seem to shut up even when I am aware that I am talking way too much and the non-verbal cues I am receiving are not positive. It’s almost like I get overly excited and shift from a dialogue into a monologue and prevent other people from getting a word in edge ways. I often find myself asking those close to me when I am out “Am I talking too much?” because I find it really hard to gauge what is an appropriate level of dialogue.

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These little observations and recognitions of my own difficulties have been extremely important for me in developing new ways of communicating and overall helping me to maintain better relationships with people.   However it is also very important for me to be able to express myself freely and I am lucky enough to be able to do so through my close friendships and relationships with people who understand and accept my way of being.   In an ideal world people in general would be more understanding and accepting of the personalities of those with ADHD and hopefully that will happen through time, with education and willingness for people to try and understand differences. More and more people are recognising ADHD as a real and complex condition that affects the lives of both children and adults. Learning about my own ADHD over the years has helped me to come to accept that I am a bit of a square peg in a round hole and I’ve been lucky enough to meet many other fantastic square pegs along the way. I’ll probably always continue to find myself saying, OH OH, my mouth has got me in trouble, AGAIN!! But you can’t please everyone.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

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

Guest ADHD blogger and friend from Miami, Mauro Bagnariol.

It’s December! 2015 Is Almost up & It’s Time to Focus On Ourselves In 2016

Howdy folks! I want to start off by giving all of you great big hello and introducing myself as Niall’s friend and guest-blogger, Mauro Bagnariol from across the pond. I currently reside in Miami, Florida and am a graduate from Florida International University, having majored in International Relations and Political Science. Also, I am the founder of Tribal Dynamic, a blog/forum where people in our ADHD family can go for help, questions, resource information, and just meet other people and share their experiences having lived with ADHD. Please feel free to go through present and past musings of mine at blog.tribaladd.com and let me know what you think! So this is who I am, and I am very pleased to be able to write and communicate my blurbs to you all!

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As Niall has pointed out in his past post, people with ADHD can have persistent and frustrating problems with memory, attention, confusing things, forgetfulness, misplacing objects (guilty of that multiple times), as well as a number of other things which can make life seem burdensome and an ordeal. As Niall further points out, it can have a real effect in our day-to-day interactions with friends, colleagues, as well as during social interactions, where it is imperative that we focus on what others are saying in order to stay in the flow of the conversation and on topic. All of these are legitimate reasons to feel down and as if we’re stuck in a rut, but I also am keen to point out that these are just a part of what makes us unique in the ADHD Tribe and family, and that we possess MANY other traits and gifts which more than make up for those things that can hinder us.

I’ve written on my blog on how we, as an ADHD family tend to develop a self-defeatist attitude and are oftentimes way too hard on ourselves when it’s ok to stop for a second, breathe, and realize that we are human, and as such, we will make mistakes. It’s human nature! It’s what makes us who we are and that’s perfectly ok. There is no reason to beat ourselves up for something we forgot, tardiness, misplacing an item, etc. In my view, I like to see ADHD as a gift; raw, unharnessed energy and talent that when channeled the right way and in the right direction, we can accomplish practically ANYTHING. I treat stories of the “cons” of ADHD with levity to remind my fellow ADHD Tribe members that it’s ok to fall off the wagon sometimes and to instead use it as a learning experience and to better oneself. As Niall mentioned in his previous post about Memory Problems, developing a “system” or “method” to keep you on track is crucial. His mention of using electronic devices to set reminders, appointments, etc is EXACTLY what I do. iPhones, tablets and the like are a mainstay in this era, so why not use them!? My personal “system” is using the Notes app on my iPhone to jot down important things, as well as using the Calendar app to write down EVERY appointment, no matter how big or small and set it to remind me. That, and Siri to remind me if I need to buy milk at the supermarket that day or whatever other task is at hand, lol. These sound simple and inane maybe, but they REALLY help and my world would be in disarray without this “system” I’ve developed. I’ve other “systems” I’ve developed to help me be on time, have my clothes ready for a gathering later that evening or for the next day, things I have to do at work or with friends, etc. It doesn’t need to be an act replica of what Niall or I do, but find a “method”, “system” that works for YOU and implement it on a daily basis and you’ll see improvements and results almost immediately. I tell you from experience.

Now, to focus on 2016! As stated above, we sometimes tend to be self-defeating and don’t focus on those traits of ours that make us GREAT. The ability to hyperfocus in ADHD that allows us to expand our creative minds and really follow through on a task we enjoy and see it to full completion. Our brains are wired to think in a non-linear way, therefore, we have the ability to solve problems in unique and eccentric ways that our non-ADHD brothers and sisters cannot. This is a gift, a unique ability we embody. Use it! How many times haven’t I come up with the solution to a given problem at work or in a personal situation by thinking in this manner and coming up with the solution, oftentimes eliciting a “I NEVER would have thought of it that way!” from others. Whatever your line of work, or whatever the task it at hand, always remember to focus on the “pros” that come with our gifts and our unique talents as part of the ADHD family. Carry this into 2016 and start the year off focusing on how much better this new year will be because of how you’ll tackle any project or task thrown at you head on and with gusto. Also, our ADHD family is imbued with endless generosity, empathy and kindness towards others. We are often the life of the party or the ones friends and loved ones come to in order to share a worry with, vent, and to get advice. We are an incredible asset to the people around us, and they know it, and again, this is why I say that ADHD is a gift with a multitude of talents that sets us apart from the general populace.

It has been an absolute pleasure to communicate with you all! I close by leaving you with this video from our good friends over at BuzzFeed about what it’s like to live a regular day with ADHD. Again, the theme is to take it all in stride, not take yourself too seriously, and above all, don’t beat yourselves up over things!

Mauro Bagnariol

Owner/Founder of Tribal Dynamic

Follow me on Twitter @TribalDynamic

Instagram @Tribalmauro

Website: blog.tribaladd.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8dJMYadkWQ

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

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

Shame on Who?

There is an aspect of ADHD that many people over look which it is extremely common in both children and Adults with ADHD and severely detrimental to the person’s wellbeing and that is a deep sense of shame.

14289-290x290Parents, school teacher, sports coaches and even employers use shame as a method of behaviour modification to try and assert control and discipline. Whether the shaming is obvious or subtle it can be extremely demoralizing for the individual receiving the shame, placing them with a negative self-image as well as feelings of inadequacy, despair and powerlessness. This often leads the shamed person to behave with increased destructive actions or attitudes and in regards to ADHD increases compulsive, impulsive, irresponsible and even addictive behaviours which the individual believes to be alleviating the feeling of shame.

Shame ADHDIts common knowledge that parents and teachers find a large majority of children with ADHD harder to manage and due to this the children with ADHD are more likely to be on the receiving end of shaming. “Bad girl!”, “Act your age” “how many times do you have to be told to be quiet”, “tell the class what I have just said, you don’t know, that is because you were not listening”, “Why do you have to act so stupid.”, “if I have to tell you one more time, you will be sorry”. Back in the day physical shaming was commonly used, I remember on many occasions a teacher lifting me clean off my school chair by both ears and feeling so ashamed and embarrassed. There is also the non-verbal shaming such as angry looks or ignoring the individual. These are all examples of techniques authority figures such as teachers, parents and many others use without fully understanding the impact that the shaming may be having on the individual.

I write in a previous blog about the connection between Oppositional Defiance Disorder and ADHD, or as I called it  “Piss Off You Won’t Tell Me What To Do Syndrome”and perhaps shaming is one of the primary causes of defiance. If you constantly publicly shame someone through an abuse of authority you will often see the person on the receiving end acting out in defiance of the mistreatment. If the child grows up experiancing those in charge criticizing and shaming than there will be a feeling of anger, and mistrust of all those in positions of authority. Many people affected by ADHD will understand exactly what I mean.

A life time of constant shaming because of the ADHD or should I say lack of understanding from others about ADHD often results in the individual experiencing extreme mood swings, low self-esteem, higher rates of self-harm, destructive behaviours and eventually the person will withdraw from society and experience deep depressive episodes. Studys have shown that people with ADHD are at higher risk of suicide and due to the stigma and lack of understanding regarding ADHD I personally can see why this is happening. In my experience only in desperation do we find the courage to share our deep feelings of shame.  Shame is a debilitating emotion however it can be alleviated by talking through your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust or a professional therapist.

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I will reiterate what I have said in previous blog posts.  Society needs to recognise that both children and adults with ADHD have greater difficulty focusing, regulating their emotions and actions, filtering out or ignoring distractions, delaying gratification as well as organizing and prioritizing their work, to the frustration of many parents, teachers, employers etc. This is due to an Imbalance of chemical messengers in the brain  These individuals need open minded support, positive reinforcement and not to be shamed or humiliated as a means to assert control. There are fantastic ADHD support services in many areas willing to support parents, educational providers and employers to help them understand ADHD and as a result this will help the individual thrive, to feel valued within their community and reach their full potential.

FB_IMG_1445445280160I want to end this Blog with a special thank you to Rory O Donnell from my own County Fermanagh who is going to run the Dublin Marathon on behalf of Adult ADHD NI a support service here in Ireland that my partner Emma and I founded. Thank you and good Luck Rory!!

If you wish to sponsor Rory a few quid please follow the link below.

http://adultadhdni.org/en/Rorys-page/

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

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

Lost in transition.

ADHD is a hidden neurological disorder that is extremely complex which in many cases lead to school exclusion, family breakdown, drug and alcohol abuse, crime, homelessness, as well as a range of anti-social behaviours and psychological disorders. In this post I will give my top 10 reasons why we as a society need to get the finger out and start to create the much needed stability and extra support to ensure our children and young people no longer get lost in transition.

  1. Approximately 4% -5% of the population have ADHD – one child in every classroom of 25 and an estimated 50–66% of those will continue to have difficulties managing ADHD in adulthood.
  2. People with ADHD don’t always present as predominantly hyperactive but may be extremely disorganised, impulsive and impatient which causes great frustration and stress on the individual. Due to large scale lack of knowledge and understanding of ADHD many people remain undiagnosed, untreated, stigmatised and fail to reach their potential due to their condition.
  3. People with ADHD, a classified mental health condition, are significantly more likely to be arrested, convicted and incarcerated due to aggression and antisocial behaviour.
  4. Many studies have shown the correlation between the early onset of substance misuse and ADHD and it is extremely common for Adults with ADHD to have a drug, alcohol and/or gambling addiction.cocaine_2118089b

The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research indicated that ADHD was in the top 5 factors that can affect the likelihood and speed of developing an addiction. Here in Northern Ireland, disgracefully, there is not one mention of ADHD in the Strategic Direction for Alcohol and Drugs 2011-2016 and although we have wonderful 155 page detailed autism strategy action plan, and rightly so, ADHD services continues to be ignored.  The picture below will give you an idea what young people and their families are currently experiancing in regards to their ADHD healthcare here in Northern Ireland.index

  1. 75% of adults with ADHD will present with other psychiatric comorbidities such as sleep disorder, anxiety, depression, personality disorders and addiction.
  2. Many people don’t realise that ADHD is a condition that is treatable. Studies have revealed that those who have had their ADHD treated adequately have shown marked improvement in self-confidence, better professional and academic functioning as well as healthier family relationships. Results have also shown overall improved psychological functioning with reduced risk of comorbidities including substance misuse and other addictions.
  3. In the UK the population receiving treatment for ADHD is lower than the estimated population prevalence of the disorder, we have asked for the Northern Ireland figures and we were told they are non-existent.
  4. Studies have shown that untreated ADHD is extremely costly to society. Due to increased unemployment, increased rates of early drug use and alcohol addiction, as well as significantly lower academic outcomes, higher rates of marital breakdown and increased criminality.
  5. Young people with ADHD are at higher risk of self-harm, suicide attempts and completed suicide due to a combination of ADHD and comorbidities.                                      language-of-depression-620x400
  6. Despite many of the myths surrounding ADHD it is a condition that you can have regardless of IQ, socio-economic background, religion, or gender. ADHD does not discriminate..

Although it feels like we are fighting a losing battle in regards to ADHD Awareness, every now and then something positive and reassuring happens.  Only last week I was invited alongside Rose Kavanagh as representatives of Adult ADHD NI & INCADDS to Leinster House in Dublin to help implement ADHD into the new drugs strategy in the Republic of Ireland.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

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

  1. ADHD Institute                                                                                                                                             http://www.adhd-institute.com/burden-of-adhd/epidemiology/#sthash.ymQtEZal.dpuf
  2. ADHD Awareness Month                                                                                             http://www.adhdawarenessmonth.org/adhd-facts/
  3. Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety Northern Ireland                                http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/new_strategic_direction_for_alcohol_and_drugs_phase_2__2011-2016_
  4. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.                                                                            https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg72

ADHD Stigma

Many people with mental health conditions report the stigma and discrimination they experience from their families, friends, employers and society as a whole. As with other Mental health conditions there is the same stigma associated to ADHD and like other mental health conditions just because you can’t see ADHD it doesn’t mean it’s not there. The more negative aspects of ADHD frequently present as behavioural problems and as like people with specific types of mental health conditions people with ADHD often have difficulty controlling how they think, feel and behave yet there seems to be less tolerance for those with ADHD. They SHOULD just know better, and are often labelled lazy and told their ADHD is just an excuse for bad behaviour.

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People in our society generally don’t understand ADHD and when we generally don’t understand something, we tend to fear it. That is why in the old days here in the UK and Ireland if you had a mental health condition you were branded a lunatic and locked away. Looking back it was society that was insane treating the vulnerable so poorly. Look at our prison systems today, or perhaps they should be called our modern day lunatic asylums, 40% of young offenders present with ADHD. Again fear and lack of understanding and our refusal to look at ourselves as part of the problem. I’ve personally spoken to young people that find life easier locked up because of difficulites they have living in our society due of their condition.

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Even when ADHD is treated it can be extremely stressful and lonely. Especially if you have no one else to talk to about what you are experiencing. Not only do we have our condition to deal with the traits of ADHD, having ADHD means you are also six times more likely to have other conditions such as depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol addiction, social exclusion as well as finding it extremely hard to maintain daily structure, manage relationships with people or hold down jobs.photo.PNG-48

Let me make this clear WE DON’T GROW OUT OF IT. Like other mental health conditions some of us manage it better than others, depending on our circumstances, or the severity of the ADHD. I recognise that it can be very difficult for people prone to prejudice and judgmental thinking to accept that some of us find life more difficult but that is the reality of mental health conditions such as ADHD.

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There is a major difference that I have identified between other mental health conditions and ADHD. If a person with depression for example felt that they were being stigmatised by family, friends, employers and society there is usually a reasonably adequate mental health system that understands the condition and willing to help the person experiencing the depression reduce symptoms. In regards to ADHD this is simply not the case. Healthcare professionals throughout Ireland and the UK are simply not trained adequately to help people with ADHD. There is a lack of willingness to try and understand and treat the condition and this mistreatment can have devastating effects on people’s lives. Many psychiatrists don’t realise that Antipsychotics are not recommended for the treatment of ADHD in adults. Here in Northern Ireland adults have been misdiagnosed and given Antipsychotic medication simply due to untrained psychiatrists refusing to recognise ADHD as a real condition.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

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

Vulnerability, hero’s and ADHD

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it, like us on Facebook Adult ADHD NI and follow us on Twitter @Niallgreene01 & @AdultADHDNI.

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