11.12PM and 22 seconds
Bob is supposed to write an article on ADHD. He switches on his laptop and stares at the screen as the little circle rotates, signifying that it’s booting up. Bob has a relatively quick computer. It boots up in less than thirty seconds.
Let’s take a peek into Bob’s head during the boot-up sequence.
11.12PM and 27 seconds
This Windows logo has a nice colour. I wonder what kind of ‘blue’ this is. It’s not exactly ‘sky blue’. ‘Sky blue’ is a nice colour, I guess. Why is it called ‘sky blue’ anyway?
11.12PM and 35 seconds.
The sky’s mostly just white. Photos in which the skies are blue are just processed in Adobe Lightroom. Speaking of which,I have a ton of photos to process. But it’s so cumbersome I can’t be bothered.
11.12 and 44 seconds
Dad’s been nagging me about those photos for a while now. I should probably do that soon.
His knee fidgeting from all the waiting, Bob types in his password, opens up Adobe Lightroom and starts processing his photos. He finishes up in just about an hour. Bob is a focused and determined individual who gets his work done.
Although he got some work done, processing photos wasn’t the task that he’d set out to finish.
Bob has ADHD. Attention deficit hyperactive disorder is a mental disability and chronic condition that prevents the affected persons from concentrating on any one particular task, making them prone to distractions and veering off topic. Symptoms include, but are not limited to hyperactivity, limited attention span and impulsiveness.
ADHD is not just a “Look, squirrel!” or an “Ooh, shiny!” syndrome, it’s a complex mental health disorder of a neurodevelopmental type.
We classify ADHD into three distinctive types:
- Predominantly Innattentive
- Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive;
- Combination of the two.
1. Predominantly Innattentive
The quintessential stereotype of the ‘absent-minded professor’, this one’s an absolute airhead. It’s often termed a quiet disorder, because distraction isn’t easily perceivable. For all you know, a certain first-bencher could be incorrigibly distracted and dreaming about the beach. When people hear about ADHD, they expect to see a child bouncing off the wall, blathering about everything and nothing all at once.
The subtle and often ignored behavioral patterns of the inattentive type include lethargy, slow processing and retrieval of information, and social apathy. They tend to direct negative feelings inwardly rather than outwardly, to become anxious and depressed rather than aggressive and openly defiant. Instead of challenging authoritative figures in direct confrontations, they may tend to adopt a type of “passive manipulation” which leads to their becoming perpetual victims, repeatedly rescued by family members, friends, and teachers.
Inattentive students are not known to irritate or behave in a volatile manner. They don’t wiggle in their seats and disrupt students sitting around them. Indeed, they could seemingly maintain concentration by staring fixedly at a textbook or a lecturer for periods of time, but this apparent ‘focus’ may mask a wandering mental state. While there are umpteen medications to treat inattentiveness, daydreaming doesn’t necessarily have to be the antithesis of work. Neuropsychologists believe daydreaming plays an instrumental role in mental processing, reasoning and learning.
“Thought is the labour of the intellect, and reverie is its pleasure.”
2. Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive
Coffee is, like, 9000 times more effective on this breed. When your attention span doesn’t exceed that of a hummingbird, there are naturally a plethora of things to be excited about. Traits include a physical inability to contain your excitement,compulsively checking your inbox, making a gazillion typing errors, getting tired out of nowhere and being excessively passionate about everything. There’s a new addition to Netflix?! My favourite band from the third grade just released a new album! I bought new socks!
“How much sugar do you give your child? She’s overly rambunctious, insubordinate, constantly disrupting the class and needs to be put on something to calm her down.”
There are organic methods to cure this type- by enrolling in yoga, pilates or tai-chi classes or just spending a little more time outdoors, or behavioral therapy.
Children with ADHD combined type do not exhibit a distinct tendency toward either category; instead, they consistently display behaviors associated with both. Unlike those whose behaviors lean heavily toward hyperactive ADHD, these children may have phases where they do sit quietly and can refrain from interrupting others and talking excessively. Still, they do not process information conventionally and the more subtle symptoms of inattentive ADHD continue to keep them from reaching their paramount potential.
Psychotherapy and behavioral therapy can help a child or adult learn to manage the symptoms of ADHD. This includes occupational therapy, which will teach them how to complete schoolwork or job tasks. Parents may also use family therapy to learn to cope and effectively manage their child’s symptoms of ADHD.
With nearly a decade-long experience, I’m able to deliver a first-hand account of what it’s like to have ADHD, innit. From the age of 7 to 12, my teachers would call in my mother every other month and ask her, “How much sugar do you give your child? She’s overly rambunctious, insubordinate, constantly disrupting the class and needs to be put on something to calm her down.”
I was taken to a child psychologist on a day that I was particularly restless and uncontrollable. “You want me to sit in this dark little room? Just sit here? For an hour? Are you sure? Okay let’s just talk. But my hands will be flailing everywhere during this conversation. Alright then. Let’s go.”
Twenty minutes later, I was diagnosed with ADHD of the predominantly hyperactive type, and prescribed an array of pills that were supposed to numb the aggression and impulsiveness. It’s terrifying, because on medication you see yourself behave a certain way and there is essentially nothing you can do about it. With the periodic consumption of these pills, however, my condition revamped expeditiously, and I now find it infinitely simpler to cope with run-of-the-mill activities.
This is a chronic disorder which requires diagnosis. It cannot be cured, but effective treatment from reliable sources may help. At the end of the day, ADHD is not just a “Look, squirrel!” or “oh, shiny” syndrome, it’s a complex mental health disorder of a neurodevelopmental type. You can’t change who you are, and you shouldn’t be asked to. Finding a cure for ADHD would be like discovering the last puzzle part in a tremendous mystery that we’ve been taught to keep to ourselves for so long, but it is now time that we support each other in this endeavor to fight the stigma against mental illness, for we heal not in isolation, but in community.
– Ananya Roy and Manu J Naik for MTTN