ADHD: “That is NOT what I thought it was”
“Smart and hyperactive;” that’s what they told me as a child. Then in 1999, a psychiatrist told me, “Oh, we call it ADHD now; don’t worry; you’re doing well in Law School, right? You have depression; Pills?”
I spent four decades thinking that “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” was simply another bullet in my upper jelly’s resume, which I’d summarize as: “[70s to present] ants in my pants; data processing at speed light; related skills: prolific use of a cool IQ.” I thought it had to do only with this unmeasurable amount of energy I’ve always had. I was wrong.
These past months I learned ADHD is so much more. Think about the human body as a walking lab with a wiring system (the nervous system), in which there are workers creating chemicals (neurons creating neurotransmitters) that will send different messages to our brain. You may have heard, “Have some sex and get some endorphins! They’ll make you feel happy!” Well, endorphins are one of those chemicals saying: “human, feel happy!”
When it comes to ADHD, there’s a problem with a neurotransmitter called “dopamine”, which has the task of sending two messages: “human, please regulate your emotional responses (be cool and behave like the rest of the flock), and please take action to achieve specific rewards (get some shit done to feel rewarded)” What is that “problem”? The science guys don’t quite agree yet, so let’s keep simple today and say that in an ADHDer lab, the dopamine is not being properly handled.
Consequently, ADHDers cannot control our emotions as we’d like to, and we cannot set ourselves to do something and just do it. We need to do new stuff constantly, because the feelings of pleasure and reward don’t come soon enough, and we need to find something goooood… Hyperactivity sets us on a wild quest and, in that pursuit, we end up chasing squirrels, …, and probably having a colossal meltdown if they don’t eat their nuts exactly as we expected to.