Brian Thompson’s Struggle with ADHDby Shaheen E Lakhan, MD, PhD, MEd, MS | December 15, 2006
I am 48 years old and one of eight children, and born and raised in Baltimore, MD. I have been divorced once and have four children from three marriages. My story is kind of difficult to explain, but I think worth the time. My first marriage was to a woman who had a five-year-old daughter who I adopted. We had two boys during that time and were divorced in 1989. In 1992, I met my current wife Suzanne who was widowed at 29. She was pregnant at the time of her husbandâ€™s death and we now have our youngest son who is 15. We have a great family, and frankly, the highlight of my crazy life.
My earliest recollections of being a child and feeling a little different go all the way back to kindergarten. I remember always needing a lot of attention and being very disruptive. School was like a huge punishment for me that I now know was due to my learning disabilities. Unfortunately, not having the disability diagnosed for so long caused many problems in school and my professional life. I have always been an interrupter and very poor listener. I attended approximately 10 schools before going to high school, which I entered in the 10th grade. Although I graduated, it was at or near the bottom of my class of about 550 kids (all boys). I was an above average athlete and perhaps where I gained my most success as an adolescent. But even playing sports, I always seemed to be in the middle of everything that brought negative attention. I suffer from poor hearing in my left ear, about 90 percent loss, which only made the situation worse. I have always had health related issues; mostly injuries do to sports or just problems in general. I have had between 15 and 20 surgeries over the years for many different things.
In my professional career, the pattern continued. Although I have been somewhat successful, I have had as many as 17 or 18 jobs. There is always a problem with something. I think it has been my desire and need for success and fear of failure that has motivated me all these years. I currently work for myself as a business broker.
Ironically, the turning point in my life, and especially in my professional career, occurred when my son was diagnosed with ADHD at a young age. Part of the evaluation process involved me discussing my sonâ€™s behavior with his teachers and with his doctors, and during these conversations I always felt that we were also describing my behavior. I think people have only started to realize in the last few years that ADHD is not simply a childhood disorder, but that it often continues throughout adulthood. From what Iâ€™ve seen, most adults who have been diagnosed with ADHD later in life, like myself, realized they had the disorder after one of their children was diagnosed, and then they recognized that the same symptoms that had been negatively affecting their child had been negatively affecting them as well for their entire lives.
It can be a little sad to think about how certain things in my life could have been different if I had been diagnosed and treated for ADHD earlier, but I am determined to look forwards and not backwards. I have had excellent help from my doctor, David Goodman, and I see him on a pretty regular basis.
Certainly the biggest difference in my career occurred when I was prescribed Adderall XR for my ADHD symptoms, as the medication has helped me tremendously. Being successful in the consulting business requires a lot of due diligence, strong communication and attention to detail, and medication basically enables me to be more proficient and efficient at getting things done. People with ADHD can become somewhat overwhelmed with tasks, and then get easily sidetracked into distractions. Before I knew I had ADHD, I was constantly making lists and trying to break larger projects into small pieces so that I wouldnâ€™t be jumping all over the place and not actually getting anything done. I was always getting distracted, whether it was from a noise, a new idea, or the phone ringing.
For me, Adderall XR eliminated the distractions, or at least made me less aware of them, and allowed me to focus and concentrate. I have become very proficient at getting tasks accomplished, and now when I start something, I can complete it. I return calls on time, I meet my deadlines, I can work on a project and not stop until it is done. I set out daily, weekly and monthly agendas and am actually able to stick to them.
For the first time in my life, I feel confident that I have a very bright future with my family and business, and it feels good.
— Collected by Janice Miller of RMJ Group, LLC.
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