Larry truly feels blessed to be alive to share his story. After being diagnosed with ADHD at age 50 and receiving treatment for the last 10 years, Larry’s life has taken a tremendous turn for the better. “It hurts me every time I look back at the majority of my life and have to recount my experiences, when I now know just how easy ADHD is to treat and how enjoyable and successful life can be.” Larry notes that ADHD’s impact is unique for each individual. His story may feel similar or it may feel very different, but either way his story is extremely moving and hopeful.
“The list of things I had done as an undiagnosed individual goes on and on,” says Larry. “When I was young in the '50s, mother used to say to me ‘run around the house a couple of times so you can sit down and eat,’” recalls Larry. “My school days were filled with fistfights and detentions. I dropped out of high school in the '60s. My young adult life in the '70s was drugs and alcohol. The list goes on and on until I was 50 years old.”
It was only after seeing firsthand the positive changes of diagnosis and treatment of a family member that Larry began to understand more about ADHD. He admits that he had many misconceptions and fears that the lack of information brings. “I resisted for many years,” explains Larry, but then he began to spend time learning and educating himself about the condition.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of early diagnosis and treatment. It is never too late to enter the better life that diagnosis and treatment can offer. Don’t wait,” urges Larry.
When asked about the changes he experienced, Larry says it is like asking a person who went for years without a diagnosis for eyeglasses to describe how their life has changed since getting their glasses! “They see far, close, clearer, sharper, etc.” explains Larry. “ADHD affects my life in so many ways and categories.” He admits it could take a book to explain the remarkable impact treatment has had.
“The ability to get control over my emotions of rage and associated inappropriate responses for me were at first most obvious,” says Larry. “Then came an awareness to and sensitivity for other people’s feelings. I had heightened situational awareness to social cues.”
Larry tells of the time his wife returned home from work and he shocked her with a simple question – “So, how was your day?” His wife nearly fainted! “She said that it was the first time in her memory that I had taken time to consider her feelings.”
Stressful situations are also much easier to handle. “Locking my keys in the car before diagnosis and treatment was, let me say, ‘something of an event.’ After treatment my responses to various situations and events were more responsible and controlled.”
The quality of family life has also improved dramatically. “The benefits to the lives of my spouse and children cannot be put into words,” says Larry. As a treated ADHD person, Larry has a better sense of control, pays more attention to other people’s feelings, is a better driver, and responds to situations more appropriately than he ever thought possible.
Why do so many adults like Larry go undiagnosed and untreated for so many years?
Larry shares his thoughts:
“I think fear, the lack of information and societal conditioning is the primary reason ADHD goes undiagnosed. People need to get informed and educated about the condition. They need to read books, magazine articles and now even the Web with sites like yours, add.org and chadd.org, to name a few. As people we need to change how we ‘look’ at individuals with ADHD. Societally, there remains much left over uninformed attitudes and discrimination that those with the disorder just need to ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps,’ ‘just try harder,’ ‘pay more attention.' These attitudes cause much pain and confusion because of the shame associated with the apparent defective nature of a person with ADHD. It is regrettable because with accurate diagnosis and treatment, ADHD is one of the most easily treated disorders resulting in a beautiful and fulfilling life.”
If you have concerns or think you may have ADHD, set up an appointment with a qualified medical professional who is experienced in diagnosing and treating adult ADHD. Larry sums it up nicely, “Do it, the sooner the better.” You’ll be glad you did!
True, Elizabeth. “Re: Request for Quotes.” Email with Attached Web Interview from Larry through Elizabeth True to Keath Low. 20, Dec. 2007.