The ghost of ADHD wears a multi coloured cloak.
It’s hauntings have afflicted several generations, following us always in the shadows.
Old abandoned mansions and thousand year old castles usually set the scene for a good old family ghost story.
And usually the ghost is a nameless human or an animal that perhaps once lived in the crisp clear light of the living world.
For me, the backdrop to my ghost story is my beloved family, and the ghost has a name; (that currently being) Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder”.
Existing in its original form, as that of a ghost that’s never seen the light of day, but has been actively haunting the living beings inside of my family for years.
It’s a peculiar thing to feel as a child that there might be “something wrong” with your family.
While I was growing up I was made to understand my family had a “complex”. Of course I never questioned this concept, but hoped in blind faith that I would be blessed and able to avoid this familial curse.
At the very best I was hopeful that its stranglehold would be diluted within me, – bearing in mind that I understood that one parent of mine (my mother) was free of this particular curiosity.
In terms of what I grew to observe, the people who exhibited an outward display of exaggerated emotion were situated on my father’s side of the family.
The side that harboured this dreaded so-called complex. This I guess, confirmed for me that yes this family “complex” was real.
Unfortunately as time went on, I heard whisperings that “I, myself” might possess this “complex”. Yes, unfortunately these whisperings did not escape my ear and no doubt affected me somewhat.
Thankfully I was blessed with a reasonably high EQ + IQ combined with a strong motivation to be “normal” “sucessful” and “brilliant”.
This at the very least allowed for me to purposefully wipe away the whisperings, and tell myself that, “I wasn’t wrong” and “I wasn’t bad” and “I wasn’t like them”.
Perhaps I internalised the whisperings but that’s something I’m still figuring out!
Of course this all sounds very silly now, that a girl might be told such a thing, but in defence of the person who spoke of said (complex), and in defence of my family, it probably was the best way to describe multi generational ADHD, when living as one in a time of ignorance.
For instance, how do you put a name to a thing or an object or a phenomenon that hasn’t been discovered or diagnosed yet?
Further, in such a time of ignorance, how would you uncover the real source, of a cluster of symptoms that tend to masquerade as symptoms of every other mental illness, neurological dysfunction and personality disorder known to man?
Heavens, the first official manual of mental disorders to focus on clinical use, the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), was only published in 1952.
Further, without the internet, in those days, the sharing of information was extremely limited, and from what I understand, mental health was still pretty much in the dark ages.
Regretfully I am in no way qualified to speak about psychology or psychiatry, nor can I speak much on behalf of my parents/grandparents perspective or understanding during those years.
At best I can only guess, that information available to them was scant, research was in its infancy and the truth of matters as we know them to be today, was foggy to say the least.
“If only” is a wickedly heart wrenching line to utter. It really is no use crying over spilt milk.
But I can’t stop the cry of my heart that “if only” they knew then, what I know now!
Which brings me to back to the present, and what I must tell you about how I outed this ghost of a complex once and for all.
I’ll never forget the feeling when snap! I knew it – I’ll leave the details for another post – but suffice to say I had my son and I self diagnosed before an official diagnosis was made for either of us.
I believe this is often the case for many with adult ADHD, thanks to the wonderful resource of information we have online.
When presented with the particular list and clustering of symptoms, and after thoughtfully processing ones life experience , mind functioning and familial and generational “complexes” … for somebody with a good sense of self awareness and humility, it’s very hard not to see the light.
The words of my father continue to echo in my ear “I think I might have ADHD as well”. To hear my father say such a thing, hit a raw nerve for me, he is a man of little complaint.
I love you Dad, more than you will ever know, I might have inherited my ADHD brain from you, but I also inherited your creativity, your artistic ability, your humility, your mauri ora, your familial strength and perseverance.
You said, quote; “its too late for me”- and quote; “I can’t take the ADHD medication because I have a heart condition”
Oh! Again my heart cries “if only” . But! alongside that! … a questioning … Is it really too late ?
Is it ever too late to be diagnosed and treated as an adult who has lived out most of the duration of life with undiagnosed ADHD ?
I think perhaps not.
At least not too late to receive the healing a diagnosis can bring , in terms of an end to the ghostlike whispering, pondering and premonition. “THERE IS something wrong with you”… “but what??”