I felt like I was different

Photo of a man at a self-help group meeting
PantherMedia / Andriy Popov

Scott, 36 years old

"The most important thing was the realization that my behavior has nothing to do with my character. ADHD is a disorder that you can live with and that you can cope with."

I was 17 when I was first diagnosed with ADHD – that was 19 years ago now. My parents didn't urge me to see a doctor, I just noticed on my own that something was wrong. I occasionally had depressive phases. My pediatrician then diagnosed depressive moods as a complication of ADHD.

I wasn’t prepared for the and wasn't sure what to make of it at first. But some of the things that had happened in my past gradually started making more sense. The most important thing was the realization was that my behavior has nothing to do with my character. ADHD is a disorder that you can live with and that you can cope with. That was the key thing for me.

I felt like I was different

I had a very good childhood, with a solid and structured family life. But I didn’t have an easy time at school: I was often overexcited and impulsive, and I had trouble concentrating. I was the class clown. And I also skipped class a lot and had to repeat two grades. Another thing that was unusual was that I only needed five hours of sleep each night. After that I was ready to go.

I couldn’t stand any failures

From an early age I started putting myself under pressure to succeed and set myself goals that I often failed to reach. Sports were important to me as a child and teenager, and I enjoyed them but I also suffered because of them. Winning was fantastic and losing less so. I had a difficult time dealing with that and I would then do things like smash my tennis racket. It wasn’t the best reaction on my part.

But I did manage to finish school and finish my apprenticeship. It really helped to have a goal and a dream job to work towards: I really wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps. I was very motivated, and I enjoyed learning new things. I hardly ever missed a class. After I completed my training I started a self-employed career straight away. Today I have a company, a family and a child. My wife is a very calm person, so we go well together.

Medication helps me to manage my life

After I was diagnosed, the doctor prescribed medication for me. When I started taking the medicine as a teenager, I had a lot of headaches and felt nauseous. That went away after a while. I still take tablets today, but I now only use them when I need to, in consultation with my doctor. They are slow-acting tabletsand they are easy to manage.

I still feel the positive effect of the medication: When I get to work in the morning I’m much calmer and more structured. I take care of each item of business and move on to the next. If I don’t take the medication, I end up trying to do everything at once, and start a lot of things and then don’t finish them properly. That can make things quite difficult. Things work much better with medication and I can keep a cooler head.

When I don’t take the medicine I’m restless, chaotic and disorganized

You can still tell that I have ADHD by the fact that I never feel calm: I always want to do a thousand things at once, whether at work or elsewhere. My work is very important to me, I do a lot of sports and am very attentive to my family. A 24-hour day really isn’t long enough for me.

I also can’t keep still physically. I always need to stand up and walk around, and feel like I’m being powered by a motor inside me. When I go on vacation I never manage to lie on a beach for more than three hours. After that I need to do something. What bothers me the most is that I bite my nails. It’s pretty embarrassing. I keep on doing it without thinking and just can’t seem to stop.

The other thing that’s difficult for me is staying organized and planning a structured daily schedule. I’m self-employed, and always need help in my job and other areas of my life. Every day my wife gives me a note with a list of tasks I need to do, and then I go down the list and take care of them. Without other people’s help, I wouldn’t know where I put my keys or filed something. My inbox would be six feet high. I also wouldn’t know how to do things like check my bank account or transfer money.

I appreciate my strengths: Ambition and social skills

But I’m also extremely ambitious. I usually accomplish anything I set my mind to. Then I can be quite extreme and will often work through the night. I try to do everything perfectly but also want to do everything all at once. For instance, right now I’m learning to be a dog trainer as well as seeing to my family, doing my work and my sports.

I’m very communicative too, and am good at interacting with people. That’s one of my other strengths.

Over time I’ve developed strategies to manage myself better. I’m much less impulsive nowadays. I still feel physically restless and also talk a lot. But those are things I can handle.

My work involves a lot of contact with people who have ADHD, and I volunteer in self-help groups. I enjoy sharing my experiences from the last 20 years with others. That’s really a lot of fun.

Focus on life and not the disorder

My mother was also diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, ten years ago. She now takes medication and that’s working out well. My son is now about two-and-a-half years old and people often ask me whether he has ADHD too. I’m not concerned about that yet though. Even if he does, then so be it. It always depends on what you make of the situation. His head is full of nonsense, just like his father’s. But that’s perfectly fine.

I also think it’s important to focus on living your life and not worry too much about the disorder. You should concentrate on your strengths and not on the things you can’t do. ADHD is not a life-threatening disease. I believe that looking at the positive side of things when you have children with ADHD is the main thing. I got lucky in that respect. My parents helped encourage me to do the things that I could do well, and didn’t just point out the things I didn’t do well or couldn’t do at all.

That has helped me to make my way through life: I don’t consider ADHD to be a disorder – I see it as something that makes me special. There are some things that I can’t do, but I can also do a lot of things that others aren’t able to.

Acknowledgment

Our real-life stories summarize interviews with people who are affected by the medical condition. Our interview partners have given us permission to publish their stories. We would like to express our sincere thanks to them.

The real-life stories give an insight into how other people cope and live with a medical condition. Their opinions and comments are not recommendations by IQWiG.

Please note: The names of our interview partners have been changed to protect their identity. The photos are of models.

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Please note that we do not provide individual advice on matters of health. You can read about where to find help and support in Germany in our information “How can I find self-help groups and information centers?

Updated on September 20, 2018
Next planned update: 2021

Authors/Publishers:

Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

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