Ooh, Shiny! What ADHD Is, And What It Isn't
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Health and Wellness

Ooh, Shiny! What ADHD Is, And What It Isn't

Myth-busting Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Ooh, Shiny! What ADHD Is, And What It Isn't
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When I was seven years old, my 2nd grade teacher came to my parents with “concerns.” You know, the thing everyone loves getting called with.

She thought I was having trouble focusing in class, keeping track of my belongings, and was quick to panic or have a meltdown. Which, to her credit, I was. My parents took me to a doctor where I was diagnosed with ADHD. Now, ADHD is not a fun nickname for the reason I’m so effortlessly beautiful and charming, though I understand your confusion. Those are my most overpowering qualities.

In layman’s terms, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a neurological disorder that occurs when your brain’s prefrontal cortex is smaller that it’s supposed to be. The lucky recipient of a dainty prefrontal cortex--such as yours truly--has trouble focusing, staying still, staying quiet and reacting with appropriate levels of happiness or anger in social situations. This is due to the cortex’s inability to filter and prioritize new information: everything comes rushing in at once.

If you ask a random person off the street what they think ADHD is, however, they’ll probably say some along the lines of this:

ADHD. Does. Not. Ever. Make me run off in the direction of small rodents or cellophane candy wrappers. Not once in my nineteen years.

You know who does that? Dogs. I'm not a dog--although I would love to bury the “ooh, shiny!” joke deep in someone’s backyard. Besides being inaccurate and mildly offensive, it’s just bad comedy. The idea that people with ADHD have the attention span of your puppy is just one of the common misconception I’m going to bust today--that is, if I can make it to the end of this article without getting distracted by my own fingernails. Here’s hoping!

Ritalin and Adderall are addictive and dangerous. In the wrong hands, sure. But anything is dangerous in the wrong hands. The TV remote in my little brother’s hands means we have to watch three straight hours of ESPN. That’s a fate worse than death. People with ADHD need methamphetamines, which is the active ingredient in Ritalin and Adderall. The word “meth” tends to make people panic, but this isn’t "Breaking Bad".

Amphetamines just help the neurotransmitters in our minds (which are notoriously slow due to being confused and overwhelmed all the time) pick up the pace and match the speed of neurotransmitters belonging to people without ADHD. Besides, the doses of methamphetamines in Adderall pills isn’t enough to be habit-forming.

People with ADHD are bouncy, loud and always cheerful. Well, some of us are. The H in ADHD--hyperactivity--is often the smoking gun in diagnosing a child with ADHD. Running around, talking a mile a minute, and constantly fidgeting is one of the reasons Ms. Connelly encouraged my parents to test me. But ADHD is more than sprinting up and down the stairs a hundred times just because you can. Many times, ADHD involves quietly spacing out, daydreaming, and more often than not, sitting down on said stairs halfway up them because you forgot why you were going there in the first place. Which totally did not happen to me last week. What.

(Sometimes we're Alvie, and sometimes we're House, just like everyone else. Although we should all strive to be Lin-Manuel Miranda.)

ADHD isn’t real, you’re just lazy. Oh man. Hooo boy. Now you’ve done it.

ADHD recognized as a legitimate mental disorder, not only by the National Health Organization, but also by The American Psychiatric Society’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the Big Official Book of Mental Conditions Wicked Smart Doctors Have Concluded are No Joke. (This may not be their actual subheading.)

ADHD is real, and often it’s the cause of someone seeming lazy or disinterested. When we lose focus, we miss big chunks of what’s happening around us. When we lose big chunks of what’s happening around us, we can’t keep up with the rest of the group, and we become discouraged and lost. My dad, who also has ADHD, used to remind me as I struggled to get through my homework, “we have to work twice as hard just to keep up”. That’s very true. We have to study twice as long to retain the same amount of information as your classmates; we have to practice twice as much to learn a dance combination or perfect a lay-up.

So when you see someone with ADHD achieving great things, know we were working four times as hard as the average person to do it. Just ask John F. Kennedy, Leonardo da Vinci, and Emma Watson--or are you going to accuse a U.S. President, the greatest inventor in history, and motherf*cking Hermione of not trying hard enough?

If anyone needs to give a little more effort, it should the the "ooh, shiny!" camp. Write better jokes.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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