I felt a cleaving in my Mind--
As if my Brain had split--
I tried to match it--Seam by Seam--
But could not make them fit.
The thought behind, I strove to join
Unto the thought before--
But Sequence ravelled out of Sound--
Like Balls--upon a Floor.
--Emily Dickinson (1864)
Most people can probably identify with the poem above as being true for them occasionally, when their thoughts become tangled and disjointed. However, for the child or adult with ADHD like me, this is a normal, everyday thought process. ADHD is a neurological syndrome whose classic defining triads of symptoms include impulsivity, distractibility, and hyperactivity or excess energy. About 15 million Americans have it today, and a majority of them do not even know that they have it. The condition occurs in children and adults, men and women, boys and girls, and it cuts across all ethnic groups, socioeconomic strata, levels of education, and degrees of intelligence. It used to be thought that this was a disorder of childhood alone, and that one outgrew it during adolescence. We now know that only about a third of the ADHD population outgrows it, meaning two-thirds have it through adulthood. I myself have had ADHD since I was age six.
When we are young, we go through many phases or obsessions of what is the cool thing to do or what we have fun doing. Well when I was 8 and a half years old, my obsession was with roller coasters. Every year I went up to the small town nobody knows about of Port Clinton, Ohio during the summer to visit my grandmother. This was the year I was going to beg her with all my might to take me to Cedar Point; the greatest amusement park in the world at that time which happened to be only a half hour away. “I’ll take you” she said “But you have to bring a friend because there’s no way in hell I’m riding those huge loop-de-loop rides with you.”
So it was settled. We arrived with one of my friends who lived down the street, and I was so excited my hands were shaking and I felt like I was going to catch on fire if I didn’t get out of that car that second and run to the entrance. We got off the first ride. My mind was blown. It was the first real adrenaline pumping moment of my life, and I was eager because I knew there were many more to come. I was looking up in the sky all around me. My thoughts began to race, too fast for me to control them. Which ride would we ride next? How long will the line be? Why couldn’t I have been 50 inches tall earlier so I could have ridden these rides last year? By the time I finally brought myself back down to earth, I was alone. I looked left, right, up and down. They were nowhere to be seen. Being only eight years old, a sense of panic shot through my body like a doctor had just stuck a needle into my neck sending the panic racing through my veins. I ran to the security desk I had remembered seeing at the front of the park. “I lost my family”, I told the man at the counter. “What is your name son?” he asked me. They announced my name over the loud speaker, “Will the parents of Justin Furgurson please come to the lost and found station.” I never felt more humiliated in my life. He took me to this small room just down the road to wait for my grandmother to arrive. After what felt like years, my grandmother showed up. She didn’t even ask how I managed to lose them because she was just happy to have me back. Quite frankly I don’t believe I could explain to her how I managed to if I tried.
I don’t like to refer to ADHD as a disorder or something that someone “suffers” from, but more as an advantage that makes us different from the average person. In a way, you have the ability to access any information you have ever processed in your brain at any given time, and if one learns to use this to their advantage, the amount of knowledge they have will be unsurpassable. There are also disadvantages to having these capabilities though, especially when you are...