Bill, a thirty-three year old man, has two kids with ADHD, each with a different mom. He is single, unemployed, struggling with trying to find both work and a relationship. He is smart, but he was never “a student.” He has good managerial skills, but with each job, as with each relationship, he loses his inhibitions such that when he is angry, he “goes off” on the person who irritates him. Bill’s temper is an obstacle to his success, yet he feels he has no control over himself. I asked him if he has trouble focusing and he said “well, I don’t have to focus much any more, but when I was a kid, I never finished my work.” I wondered if his “temper” had to do with his inability to inhibit his impulses, the hallmark of ADHD. He thought about it and agreed. I suggested we try a stimulant. He agreed again. Within one day of being on a stimulant, Bill reports terrible regret that he wishes he had taken this medication “a long time ago.” My whole life would have been different,” he said. This was such a bittersweet moment. On the one hand, I was thrilled that we had found a tool to help him with his frustration tolerance. On the other hand, I felt his sadness that so much damage in his life could have been prevented, had there been an understanding of his struggles.
Bill’s kids were a clue that he had similar struggles, yet, since there is still the myth that ADHD is only a childhood disorder, no one in Bill’s life thought about him getting the very same treatment which is helping both of his biological children. Ignorance like this makes me concerned that we as child psychiatrists are not getting the word out. I believe it is our professional responsibility to educate the public about disorders which can be identified and treated, both in children and adults. As I have said before, this blog represents a small step.