Many of these famous people may be argued, particularly the historical figures. However the symptoms of AD/HD have been noted since Hippocrates in 5th century BCE. And though I’ve read many books, I’m the only one to my knowledge to coin ADDar, a play on Gaydar. If there was one other person in class who had AD/HD I could spot them from across the room through subtle wavelengths. No, they weren’t bouncing off the walls, no it was not supernatural, but they were bored like me, looking at the walls, fidgeting.

I was always usually right if not 100% right. It didn’t make us best friends, but I was confirmed many times without knowing them and talking as an aside later – because they had had the same ADDar about me, and had noticed the same thing. We didn’t always call it ADD but we were on the same wavelength – medicated or not.

It’s such a cliché, but yes: I was the guy spacing out doodling, or more interested in the bird on the branch outside the window during a lesson – I still remember being called on about three times by a teacher before I realized where I was again [this is before I’d ever done any drugs – I would just disappear into myself, I wasn’t being oppositional or anything – I would just drift off in my own head]. I’m what is called as the Space Cadet subtype. I kept to myself, never worked up to my potential, always seemed somewhere else – but I was never a behavioral problem – I just never ‘applied myself’. Although I would chirp up once in a while.

The trouble is, people use all the same things to dismiss AD/HD. Like, big pharma, or soda pop and sugar, or that everyone has some of the symptoms here and there. But, while you can take Adderall to focus all night and stay up, you don’t need it. Obviously it will enhance your performance and attention, but for me, it’s like putting on glasses. It’s a perfect analogy for me because I am near-sighted and have astigmatism. The first time I put on glasses, I saw clearly, a whole new world. I saw the trees clearly. It was like that the first time I was prescribed Ritalin. I felt I saw the world as others naturally do. Hell, I even get a reward after finishing a task!?

Teachers in high school all of a sudden were like – you’re – … I mean it makes me a little mad, but, they just had not thought I cared or something, when I was having trouble and struggling. Medication is not the only answer and not for everyone, but it was night and day for me – and they said so, as well with positive feedback. Unfortunately, as I had always been naturally smart and never had a behavioral problem other than skipping class to smoke weed and coming to class high on shrooms and acid before that, I didn’t have the best reputation, either [impulsivity and hopelessness before meds].

I was only caught and diagnosed my Junior Year in High School. As much as my grades improved, my GPA had been shot, and I had been disciplined for having weed on me or smoking cloves on campus [I had to spend a few times in detention when I would have gotten more out of letting go to German class, and you could have kept me after school or something – I wanted to go to class.]

It was too late. I never graduated with my class. I’d been held back and was only two credits behind. I got my diploma that summer, but never got the cap and gown. I had to go to summer school because I had been suspended. I got my High School Diploma – I mean, I had a Varsity letter my first year for all my band involvement, but I still have recurrent dreams where I’m like some twenty-four year old trying to finish High School – it was hell.

School was, and always will be a nightmare for me. It’s not as if I’m rebelling against my parents, but it was just tough for me. Especially with the teaching to the test bullshit. I’m not saying Montessori or Homeschooling, or Charter schools are the answer – and other than philosophy – public school teachers couldn’t afford private school! But teaching to the test is the worst thing for someone with AD/HD.

I wanted to get into learning and question, not study for tax funding. You could say, I was ‘Left Behind’. Meanwhile, the cheerleaders would just sweet-talk the teacher. My only teachers I remember fondly from High School were my AP English teacher [who I am still friends with], my German teacher [who I’m sure passed away], and perhaps my Piano teacher after I had fallen from grace with our fascist band leader more interested in winning marching contests than music. Nobody liked him, really. I was a phenom, a first chair drummer in Junior High band – played with the Philharmonic in Portland and various jazz bands, but he was an asshole. I digress, but still hate him, and I remember other musicians he bullied out.

I was going to go into Junior High more before that high school period, but let’s just say you can imagine that is when I started to struggle organizing different periods, was still confused as we all are – but – also when I started taking anti-depressants after cutting myself. Mind you, cutting was still new and I had no idea anyone else had ever done it. I would go to school with scars on my arm, as if the hallways were an abattoir, and walk out of classes because I had to do the last assignment before the latest one in order. The same teacher I walked out on and that gave me a D+ also nominated and had me inducted into the National Scholastic Society. Had me read my story before council members. If that isn’t AD/HD in a nutshell.

We don’t get your rules, we don’t like your rules, and we try harder than anyone, but if you think we are strange; it’s a mutual sentiment. We generally have the smarts, but I despised jumping through hoops. I didn’t hate learning about sentence structures and grammar, but I despised having to include a T.C. here, a C.C. there as if I were in fucking math class having to solve for x rather than write a fucking story. When we had a poetry unit, I think I got my only A. I don’t need to have four fucking drafts to turn in. I’ll write it like how I want to the first time, though even though it’s genius it was a day late so, actually more like a B- or C+.

Even drawing class was like that, with the drafts and such. Funny, because before I had my mental breakdown and dropped out of college, my art teacher never had us do drafts. We would practice techniques, and I even had my work displayed without being told exactly how I was ‘supposed’ to do it. I just put my heart into it. But I was suffering from social anxiety. We would pose, and everyone was amazed at how still I was. I was always terrified. But I lost all my sketches and was always fair.

I guess my point was famous people who either claim or have been theorized to have AD/HD. See if you discern a pattern – though not in any particular order- and AD/HD and its subtypes often have comorbid symptoms. My friend had dyslexia and depression, I have depression and anxiety, my other friend had PTSD and depression, … you get the picture. A life of failing the harder you try kinda shoots your self-esteem. Hey, try harder! Okay, I did? I thought so?

Nevertheless, we were born thinking outside the box. The idea of conformity for its own sake always rubbed me the wrong way instinctually and viscerally. It riles me up. Good for you, you like the latest Top 40 band that will be forgotten in a month and shop at Old Navy, blah, blah.

Anyway, list – and I cannot confirm or pick up an ADDar signal from them all:

Henry Winkler, Alfred Hitchcock, Steve McQueen, James Carville, Mozart, Jamie Oliver [and almost every chef – I guarantee Gordon Ramsey, Emeril Lagasse, Anthoney Bourdain, Rachael Ray – the kitchen is fast and multitasking – processing a lot of things at lighting speed – but that’s just my ADDar], Ellen Page, Dustin Hoffman, Woody Harrelson, Galilei, Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison [he’s one of the most famous I’m pretty confident on – he had like a hundred projects going on at once, etc.], Howie Mandel [he’s famous for being OCD, but again, comorbid and dual diagnoses are very common], Cher [I’ll add Lady Gaga, that’s a no brainer], Ozzy Osbourne [substance abuse and nicotine is VERY common], Kurt Cobain [duh], da Vinci [like the Edison thing, he was always doing 10,000 things at once].

So basically, actors, artists, musicians, writers, comics, cooks, inventors, that sort of thing. All my life I felt like I was outside looking in. I think we all have that in common. I always felt like it wasn’t me with the problem. You could just never see me. I can play in your world, can you play in mine?

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Khirad, my keyboard decided to give up the ghost last week, so I’m late to respond. (Had the on-screen keyboard option, but it was so awkward it was taking me four times longer to type even simple statements.) Anyhoo…

I’m wondering whether you’ve ever read anything — or watched YouTube videos — by Gabor Mate’. He’s a medical doctor who practices in Western Canada and he also deals with ADD. He said that the first time he took Adderall he had the same experience you had. Something like: “Ah… so this is how neurotypicals feel!”

He specializes in addiction — which he feels is almost always rooted in early childhood trauma. He has a really accessible writing style and a very non-judgmental take on how people (including himself) sometimes go off the rails multiple times before getting things sorted out. His stuff really resonated with me.

Unrelated but interesting: His son is journalist Aaron Mate’.


I sense that you kind of fell out with me because of my attempt to share my excitement about The Law Of One with you, but I think this post is exceptional, AND very relevant to me, as one of my two biological grandsons has been diagnosed with AD/HD.

I am a black man who grew up in the segregated south. Black boys were not allowed to have AD/HD in those days. In fact I never knew of ANYONE who was ever diagnosed with AD/HD when I grew up, although there were a few kids who behaved the way kids who are diagnosed with AD/HD behave today. So when my daughter told me that my grandson was diagnosed with it, I was skeptical.

Since she is a single parent, she has asked me to administer corporal punishment on him a couple of times, because he has exhibited extreme negative behavior, such as hitting his mother. Again, I am old-school and that is ONE thing you NEVER do. To hit anyone is bad enough, but the hit your mother is inexcusable.

I have two biological daughters, two stepdaughters and two stepsons. I spanked my biological daughters when they were growing up, but not too much because they did not have many behavioral issues. I think I spanked one of my stepdaughters one time when she about eight. I spanked one of my stepsons almost everyday from about nine years old to maybe twelve. I have a very good relationship with all of my children today. We laugh about the spankings now that they are adults.

My grandson is twelve now, and my daughter had never asked me to spank him until about a year ago. He has NEVER misbehaved in my presence. When he was younger, her approach to discipline was not to use corporal punishment, but when he hit her, she thought he needed more severe discipline than meds or counselling. I reluctantly obliged, because I am not around my grandson too often and I had not spanked a child in many years. From my perspective, a parent or a grandparent NEVER wants to hit their children. However, my attitude use to be, and to an extent it still is, that I would rather hit my child to teach them in love, rather than have a policeman hit him or her without love.

My grandson is extremely intelligent and has great concentration for things he is interested in. However, his attention span is severely limited in things he is not interested in. Counselors have told my daughter that he has not developed an ability to make “executive” decisions, and that he might not develop that ability for a while, so some things we would expect him to do at his age, he CANNOT do because the lack of development in this area. Until he develops that ability, adults will have to help him in that area. I can accept that, but I still cannot tolerate him hitting people, ESPECIALLY women.


Khirad, you’re more than welcome to play in my world — on your own terms —
and it would be very valuable and enlightening to learn how to play in yours!

You have a great deal of insight into your condition, and I think what you’ve
written deserves to be read by an even greater readership than POV can provide. Have you ever met or been in touch with Jessica McCabe? If you haven’t, I think she would be very interested in knowing you and reading both parts of My ADD Journey Through Life — for a start.

And as I have no idea if you got to read my response to your post around June
23, I’m taking the liberty of re-posting it to you below in case you haven’t seen it yet:

“You’re welcome, and thank YOU for posting Jessica McCabe’s TED-X talk! My knowledge of the disorder notwithstanding, it was more than worth my time watching it.

Not only do I agree with you and Ms McCabe that ADHD ‘is a terrible name’ for the disorder, hearing her say it gave me the idea for a much more fitting way to
call it, and one that doesn’t include ‘hyperactivity,’ as not everyone who has it is hyperactive.

So since people who have it don’t actually have a deficit of attention but do have difficulty regulating their attention, why not simply call it ‘ARD,’ for ‘Attention Regulation Disorder’?

If you think ARD is more appropriate than ADHD, please feel free to popularize it — and who knows? You may help change the name for the better.” *

*If this has never been suggested and is ever adopted, I’m not interested in getting the credit for it.