Back in 1951 it would have been impossible for her to diagnose my problem: ADD. It took a lifetime to gain relief.
A month ago I swallowed a single pill (Vyvanse.) Within thirty minutes, sixty years of irritating distract-ability melted into an unfamiliar sense of well-being.
No cure is perfect. The pill can only be taken once a day & lasts eight hours. I continue to overreact to loud noise. Yet, the core improvement is dramatic.
Society has routinely punished rather than treated ADD. But it is now clear that some of our most successful scientists, artists & leaders have been plagued with this disorder.
Here is a deeply important point from psychiatrist Daniel Barton, M.D.: ADD & bipolar illness often co-occur & can aggravate each other! Curing one can alleviate the other.
How could ADD sufferers affect you in positive ways? Consider some ADHD/Bipolar sufferers who changed the world. They include Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Mark Twain (bipolar) & Abe Lincoln (depression) along with artists from Beethoven to Brahms & entertainers. For example, note the frenetic yet creative energy of the late Robin Williams & the great Jim Carry.
In their powerful book, Delivered from Distraction Drs. John J. Ratey MD & Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. shed light: "People with ADD often have a special “feel” for life, a way of seeing right into the heart of matters,...This is the person who can’t tell you how he thought of the solution, or where the idea for the invention came from, or why suddenly he produced such a painting never having painted before, or how he knew the shortcut to the answer for the geometry problem. All she can say is she just saw it, she could feel it."
With their sometimes uncanny intuition people with ADD can transform our lives, these two experts say.
"In places where most people are blind, the person with ADD can, if not see the light, at least feel the light, and she can produce answers, apparently out of the dark. It is important for others to be sensitive to this “sixth sense” many ADD people have, and to nurture it. If the environment insists on rational, linear thinking and “good” behavior all the time, then these people may never develop their intuitive style..." (emphasis added.)
Finally freed of part (but not all) of the challenges of ADD it is hard not to wish that a cure had come sooner. But, Dr. Barton suggests that much of my success came from learning to overcome adversity.
In any case, I am grateful for the healing experienced thus far. So are the innocent people around me - finally relieved of some of my irritability.
"You are back to being your best self," one close relative told me. I hope this column helps you "deliver" someone you know from "distraction."