West Georgia Voices
Living with ADHD
By Justin Monsewicz
When was in second grade I was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. I took medicine from the third to the fifth grade. But before I started middle school, my mother asked if I wanted to continue. I said no. I was tired of feeling as if I no longer had a personality. I felt like lifeless drone. I wasn’t an excited kid anymore; I was zombiefied -- staring blankly at the teacher as she taught the various lessons.
The trade off to not taking the medicine was a lack of focus. If I sat in the back of the class, I was easily distracted. When I sat in the front, the teacher could make me pay attention. My problems continued in high school: I spent long nights studying and working on projects. I scrambled to keep up with my classes. I graduated high school with a 2.89 GPA.
My first year at UWG meant getting used to the chaos of college life: new people, more classes, more school work. I was on my own now. Independent. But that also meant there was no one there to make sure I finished my work. The first fall and spring semesters meant more late nights just to stay afloat.
By the start of my second year, I knew I had to get back on my medicine. The change came rather quickly for me. The university’s Student Development Center (now the Counseling and Career Development Center) screened me and I was diagnosed with ADHD. Taking the medicine again was a huge adjustment for me. But this time I was aware of changes in my demeanor. After a few months, I was able to deal with the changes. I was also able to keep who I am intact. Since I began taking ADHD medicine again I’ve been able to focus on my studies and improve my GPA. It’s 3.12.
Some believe that it is possible to gain control over ADHD. I agree to a certain extent. But I do not think I would be able to succeed in college without the medicine. ADHD makes it hard for me to focus on one thing or to be organized. When I take my medicine, I can keep my thoughts, priorities and daily life organized. But if I don’t take my medicine, my thoughts and ideas become scrambled. My mind jumps from one thing to another. The focus on my studies falters. I just can’t get myself in order.
People tend to focus on the negatives that come with ADHD, but there are some positives. One of the greatest is my ability to think creatively and come up with solutions that don’t occur to others. My thought process tends to be rapid fire and constantly changing. I am able to run through scenarios, ideas and solutions faster than most. This also means that when I’m sharing ideas out loud, my thoughts can seem very random to others. It can make for funny conversations. But those conversations often lead to a lot of ideas and solutions.
Another positive of ADHD is that I tend to have a more excited and happy attitude. My mind is always going and so am I. I can get easily excited and distracted by things. Yes my friends tend to make the “Ooh, something shiny” joke around me, but I’m OK with it. Luckily, they’ve all been able to get used to my ADHD. They know me now. When we are talking I may look around, but I’m still listening.
What I consider to be not only a positive, but also a joy of having ADHD is that I am easily able to connect with children. My random thoughts and excited nature help me keep up with them. I can entertain them and make them laugh. In a way, ADHD is keeping me young.
Yes, living with ADHD is hard. But there are several upsides: creativity, happiness and a “kid-at-heart” playfulness. The chaos can be stressful. But the positives can be pure joy.
You just have to be willing to find them.
Justin is a senior, majoring in mass communications. He is president of the Public Relations Student Society of America at UWG and a student writer at UCM.
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