What It's Like Having ADHD, A First-Hand Account

Behind The Scenes Of My ADHD

ADHD or ADD is a common mental disorder that many children and adults struggle with. Even though it's existence has been proven there are still myths and misconceptions that it doesn't exist.

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What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder known as ADHD and is a highly-genetic neurobehavioral disorder found in people of all ages. According to the Vyvanse website, about 10.5 million adults suffer from ADHD.

Yes, I am one of those individuals.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that people think the ADHD or ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder is just having the inability to focus, but it is much more than that. According to WebMD studies show that neurotransmitters in the brain work differently in the brains of ones who have ADHD versus ones who don't. Certain parts of the brain of people with ADHD are also less active or smaller than ones without it. This does not affect their intelligence, this just means that part of that brain is smaller in size or less active.

Growing up with ADHD is a lot harder than it seems. Teachers would get upset with me in the classroom because I would not understand what they said the first time. People thought I was ignoring them or did not care what I had to say. This is not the truth, my brain was not able to absorb what they were preaching because my brain was somewhere else or their information was not registering.

I always struggled to follow the rules throughout my grade school years and pay attention in class, but that didn't stop me from pursuing my goals. I still get called out for excessive talking to this day, but I realized is not a bad problem to have when making friends. Even though ADHD has its flaws such as having a short attention span, forgetfulness and being fidgety it has its rewards.

My brain is always filling up with new ideas and theories around the clock. It can be exhausting but it makes me think so much more creatively. I watch movies and look at pieces of art and see how I can alter them in my own way. I have trouble sleeping because my mind is always motivated to take on a new challenge or project. I noticed since I change my mind so often it has prevented me from having addiction tendencies.

The great thing about being a talkative person with ADHD is that people see the positive in me instead of the negative. People think when I forget something they just think I am being funny, but deep down inside I know it is my ADHD. Even though it seems funny at the moment, I come home feeling ashamed later. I am not ashamed that I messed up, but that I am so different from my friends.

At times I have waves of low-self esteem because I always knew I was much different than my fellow colleagues. School would frustrate me at times because I didn't have the attention span to sit down and study for hours. I realized later in life that I wasn't less smart than the other students, it was just that I learned the material in a different way.

I decided to use my strengths. Instead of staring at a book I go to tutors and discuss the material out loud to learn it. My style of learning is much different than others, so I have to learn how my brain works to succeed in school. Collaborating with my peers has also helped me out throughout the years because studying alone is not interactive enough for me.

Even though I lose Hydroflasks and miss appointments on the daily and it can be frustrating, I have learned tools to be less forgetful. Writing notes and getting close with organized people are tools that I use as reminders to get through the simple things in life.

There are still going to be people out there who deny this mental disorder exists and blame people for being lazy or irresponsible by not acknowledging ADHD. The best thing is to educate people by telling them that this is a legit disorder that affects many children and adults.

I can sit there and bash myself about how I need to get my life together and compare myself to others who don't have ADHD, but it's not going to benefit me. Instead, I have to just have to understand how my brain works and apply that to my everyday life and career.

It takes time to figure out how my brain works and what helps me be productive in my everyday life. I just need to learn once I find the certain things that keep me focused, organized and positive, I stick to those things. It will always be a fight and a challenge to live with ADHD for the rest of my life. The more I learn about myself and the more self-aware I am the more manageable it can be.

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It's National Eosinophil Awareness Week And More People Should Be Talking About It

It's time to raise awareness about eosinophil-associated diseases and support those, including myself, who are affected.

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For anyone who is unaware, May 19 to May 25 is considered National Eosinophil Awareness Week as recognized by the American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (Apfed) since 2007. The purpose of this week is to raise awareness and help educate individuals on the various eosinophil-associated diseases. Despite its existence being virtually unknown to many people, this week has become very significant in my life and I think more people should be having conversations about it.

If you had asked me about eosinophil-associated diseases two years ago, I wouldn't have been able to say a single thing besides maybe defining an eosinophil the way I learned to in my AP Biology class senior year of high school. But as of a few months ago, it has officially been one year since I was diagnosed with an eosinophil-associated disease — something I never imagined would happen in my life. While I won't share too much of my own experience because it's honestly quite personal and still a little sensitive to discuss, it's safe to say that eosinophils completely changed my life.

I was fracturing bones like it was my job — I think I had upwards of nine stress fractures in my legs and feet in a year and a half time period. I had to stop playing sports my senior year of high school and couldn't run at all. I was nauseous 24/7. I was rapidly losing weight to the point where I had lost close to 35 pounds and none of my clothes fit me. I couldn't swallow anything, including water. Eating was painful. I had no appetite.

I was sick and in pain ALL the time to the point where I would get emotional or even cry.

I missed school days, tests, exams, social events, and eventually had to quit my job for an entire summer because even getting out of bed was hard for me. Ultimately, even the decision about the college that I chose to attend was partially based on my health and the doctors I would need to visit frequently.

But the most significant thing was that I was experiencing severe depression and anxiety and was honestly just straight-up scared. Think about it: I was experiencing a wide range of life-altering symptoms yet no one could figure out why and even when they did, there was no cure and only limited options for treatment. Unfortunately, this is the reality for many patients and their families. The process of diagnosing an eosinophil-associated disease can take years and require pretty much every medical test you can even think of because these diseases are all classified as rare diseases.

I was experiencing symptoms for a year and the journey to an accurate diagnosis took about a year after that. The journey itself was not easy, as it involved numerous doctors and countless medical tests to eliminate other potential diagnoses like cancers, parasites or even celiac. Since then, I have been involved with treatment for a little over a year. For me, treatment involved several medications and steps, including gaining the weight I had lost.

But the main piece was cutting pretty much everything out of my diet, meaning no gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, seafood, or nuts. Gradually over time this treatment involves reintroducing the foods individually (each for a three-month period) to see what can be tolerated or which foods make my eosinophils act abnormally and then restricting my diet accordingly.

Since starting treatment my life has been gradually changing in a positive manner, which is something I couldn't have imagined when I initially became ill. Yes, I will still be sick for the rest of my life and experience the chronic waxing and waning of this disease, but hopefully years of experience and knowledge will make me better equipped to handle it. One day there may even be a cure. But until then I will continue to raise awareness and participate in National Eosinophil Awareness Week in solidarity with the few who are also sharing in my experience living with an eosinophil-associated disease.

While I wrote this article with the intention of participating in Eosinophil Awareness Week by raising awareness and educating (to some extent), it was about more than that. I wanted to give you a synopsis of my story and the challenges I face to make this week more understandable and more real. This was because I know that eosinophil is not only challenging to say (even I struggle) but also challenging to conceptualize.

If you're interested in learning more or you're still confused, I recommend doing some quick reading on Apfed's website because they are extremely helpful in the way they simplify the complex information.

If you would like to see what you can do during National Eosinophil Awareness Week, you can also click here to visit Apfed's day-by-day guide for the week, which included some fact sheets, information about wearing magenta to support the cause, and other information about individual participation.

Editor's note: The views expressed in this article are not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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