ADHD and so many other letters too!!!
Updated: Sep 9
This post has been a long time coming and one that I have deliberated over painstakingly. Mostly because I still don't know how I feel about it, despite reading lots of books and research papers on it.
Richard Saul MD wrote a book in 2014 called ADHD does not exist - his suggestion was that it was being over diagnosed and that behaviours could be attributable to a variety of other conditions such as eye sight, dyslexia, depression, anxiety etc. I felt compelled to explore his research because I have been conditioned by society, especially (and worryingly) in my early career as a teacher, with comments such as:
"It's just an excuse"
"Everyone is a bit like that"
"It wasn't around when we were younger"
"It's just a label"
"The parents think it's ADHD" (with an eyeroll)
I guess now is the time in this blog to 'come out' - I was officially diagnosed with ADHD in December last year. It's REALLY hard for me to write this as I feel officially 'defected' when I have strived, all my life, for perfection (another trait).
However ADHD is NOT what people think it is and I now have a deep appreciation for the complexity and individuality of the condition.
Symptoms often arise later in life due to times of significant stress, often emotional, and people can experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, extreme fatigue, digestive problems and hormonal dysfunction.
When my Mum was dying and I was going through a divorce I experienced all of these in abundance. Like me, you may be thinking that there are other physiological reasons for these symptoms and you would be right, of course. However, in addition my son had been flagged up on numerous occasions by schools, with me being told he had traits of ADHD. I fought the label until year 8 because I genuinely didn't see what difference it would make. There was no way he was being medicated, he was loved as he was and I was a teacher so could support him. It was only in year 7 that I realised 'the other side' to ADHD - the emotional (and somewhat social) dysregulation. My son had a pretty tough time at school - misunderstood by 'some' teachers, labelled as troublesome, issues with friendships and social situations. So when I embarked on my nutritional science course I began looking into it, gaining a deeper understanding of the biochemistry. The more I read the more I thought .......shit, that's me too, no wonder I felt like I was the only one to truly 'get' Billys feelings.
- A propensity to emotionally over react to very minor things.
- Always super sensitive.
- Worried about what others think to the point where it becomes debilitating.
- Suffered with depressive episodes.
- Easily overwhelmed.
- Rejection sensitive (which in earlier years presented as jealousy/control).
- Impulsive - especially when saying things, shopping or sending messages.
- Find listening to others really hard but talking about myself and things I am passionate about very easy.
- Highly distractible.
- CONSTANT inner monologue.
- Defensive in my reaction to others and therefore slightly judgemental -
"Had to be them, couldn't possibly be me."
- A history of dysfunctional relationships/friendships.
- A tendency to be co-dependent.
- Low self esteem.
- People pleasing and putting others needs before my own.
- Disorganised/chief procrastinator.
I wasn't prepared to accept this lying down so I researched the hell out of it, had my genes tested, tested my mineral levels, had my eye sight checked, looked at my adrenal stress profile, tested my inflammation indicators, vitamin D and B12, even paid for a comprehensive stool analysis (which is NOT cheap) thinking it could be a gut-brain issue. I put off the psychiatric assessment for aaages. Guess I knew what they would say.
If the diagnosis was observational I would have poohed poohed it straight away as it doesn't fit my constructed image of myself but I had had the tests remember and combined with a psychiatric assessment and ADHD diagnostic criteria, I had to face facts!! I have ADHD.
Do we need to label people??? I don't think so.
Do we need to understand why some people behave, think and feel differently to others - ABSOBLOODYLUTELY!!!
Most ADHDers have SNP's (single nucleotide polymorphisms) in catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) and methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR). I know this all sounds very sciencey but the important thing is what they do.
If you have SNP's in these genes (tick) you are already predisposed to gut problems and mental health (tick). Inefficient liver enzymes (also proven by genetic testing) are also shown to be 'a thing' in ADHD and mean detoxification pathways are often less than optimal leading to chemical sensitivity (tick https://www.emmatellett.co.uk/post/toxic-shocker) and hormone imbalances (tick). The trouble is ADHDers also have less antioxidant production inside the body exacerbating the toxicity leading to oxidative stress and mitochondrial/cell damage. The genes involved are also involved in the production of neurotransmitters, namely dopamine, adrenaline and noradrenaline which is why many ADHDers love reward seeking behaviours to provide a hit of dopamine and adrenaline and also why we can get bored easily and often appear/are inconsistent.
Unfortunately chronic activation of these pathways (without the necessary support) stresses the adrenals and depletes resources. The resulting dopamine deficit leads to decreased motivation, low mood and anxiety. ADHDers are also much more likely to use addictive substances, increasing toxicity and putting more pressure on the body. Stress affects these genes further so , as I mentioned before, difficult times can often be a trigger for symptoms.
In a nutshell I think I have to accept it's true!! The good news is that I manage it, and my son's, with natural therapies and NOT medication.
The reason I bang on about the science above is because, for me, understanding thoise pathways has been instrumental in managing mine and many of my client's symptoms.
Identifying what is happening biochemically, and supporting it, is key and I am passionate about spreading this message far and wide.
There is so much to this condition and many are going undiagnosed for their whole lives, often ending up with a debilitating illness later in life.
As our society becomes more complex and requires more of the so-called Executive Functions (planning, prioritizing, etc.), ADHD has just become more obvious and is why we really need to start thinking about rewinding somewhat to accomodate the strengths of children with ADHD. Let me draw your attention to a theory, Research has hypothesised that those with ADHD may have been the hunter/gatherer/protectors of our ancestors https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7248073/
Basically we need to stop trying to fit into a system that 'isn't for us' but ADHD is NOT a weakness it is a strength. When ADHD people are passionate about what they do they are successful. We have to embrace our need for stimulation and risk-taking and think outside the box. That’s when we are at our best.
If you would like to know more about treating ADHD the natural way drop me an email via the contact tab on my website.