Holiday Thoughts From Rick Green

Dear Friend
TotallyADDSo, here it is, Christmas Eve for everyone who celebrates it, and the first day of Hanukkah.  The year is winding up for many of us, whatever our faith. (Or lack of faith for some after a pretty dramatic and traumatic year.)

For 5 seasons I produced a series called History Bites.  I believe it is the only television program that ran on a comedy network and a history network. It was very clever and the cast and writers were awesome.

I learned a lot about history, different cultures, and a different faiths. And of course the many variations and subsets of those faiths. There are scores of different  “Christian” denominations.  It’s a bit like ADHD, a complete spectrum with common elements and many different variations.  

Like ADHD, ultimately, spirituality is deeply personal.

What amazes me is that while there are thousands of different faiths, some ancient and long gone, others recent and still growing, there are a few things they all seem to share.

One of them is giving thanks.

It’s something we need to be reminded to do.  For example, I’ve seen a lot of people posting things on social media about what an awful year 2016 was. Not just because of all the music legends who passed away, but all the other events and crisis.  People are posting, “Good riddance to 2016.”   But one thing I learned from all those episodes of History Bites, it’s this: We are actually living in the best possible time in history.

Life has never been that’s good for so many people.

What about those who are starving? Or living in war zones?  Yes, it’s terrible. But in the past it was worse. Whatever percentage of people live in poverty, hunger, and disease… it was far worse.

Life was shorter. More capricious. And brutal. There were no antibiotics. No grocery stores. No “Health and Safety” regulations. No child-labor laws.

Until the 1800’s, there was no real police force. No fire department. No 911. Barbers were also dental surgeons. (Apparently the classic red and white striped barber’s pole represents blood on towels.)

People with mental health problems were ridiculed, or burned as witches. Until 1952 ADHD was called a Defect of Moral Control. (Nice.)

The average person was incredibly ignorant, very prejudiced, and lived in fear.

Picture life before a flush toilets, toilet paper, or feminine hygiene products. Not to mention refrigeration, central heating, and running water. (Oh, and sewers.)

Today, a person living in a bachelor apartment in North America has access to a wider range of food, entertainment, education, and safe transportation than even the richest nobles enjoyed in medieval times.

Listen, I don’t want you to feel guilty for not walking around all day shouting ‘Life is great!’  I’m certainly not out to suggest that the world is fine, or that people are not suffering, or in dire straits. Nor am I going to suggest there are not huge challenges ahead around the environment.

But I want you to understand that daily life is getting better, and it used to be much worse for everyone. But especially for women, children, or anyone who was ‘different.’

And I don’t just mean back in the Dark Ages or Ancient Rome.

You see, last year I found all of my elementary school report cards.  Today, any teacher reading them would quickly realize that I had ADHD.  It’s all there, “fidgets, interrupts, daydreams, tunes out, doesn’t listen, needs to try harder.”  Instead, in the comments from my teachers and my parents, there is this overwhelming sense of disappointment, underachieving, failure, weakness… Laced with impatience that I never seem to improve.

There’s frustration that somehow telling me to ‘Try harder,’ isn’t producing the expected breakthrough.

I had tears in my eyes reading those Report Cards the first time.  It all came back to me in a flood of melancholy–I was NEVER good enough.   Never fulfilling the promise of who I was.  Or who they  thought I should be.  

Rick GreenThe things I did well? They mentioned some of them: coming up with stories, drawing, being creative.  But every positive is immediately followed by, “but, Ricky’s printing is not improving…. Ricky’s handwriting remains a problem…”

I truly hated school. I’d forgotten how much. I had forgotten how dispiriting it was. And how I came alive after 3:30,  rushing home to work on my gigantic model railroad, put on stage plays, create art projects, build go karts, do magic, make forts, invent games that the whole neighborhood wanted to play…

History Bites  explored the tumultuous transformation that humans have gone through over the past 5,000 years. But  in my lifetime the transformation around ADHD has been phenomenal. And yes, I know, I know, I know… there is still too much suffering and stigma, and not enough resources and support.  But rather than  complain about how the world is still not perfect,  I want to take a moment to acknowledge some of the good.

Rick and Ava GreenI’m most grateful for my wife, Ava, who has been my partner in all of this from the very beginning.

Both of us are grateful for Patrick and Janis McKenna for their courage in sharing their story in ADD & Loving It?!

Ava and I are grateful for every doctor, researcher, coach, and expert who has graciously shared their time, and knowledge with us. I’m grateful for all the people who helped us create TotallyADD.com,  and who keep re-creating it as we go along. Thanks to PBS and all the people who made sure our program made it to air. (It was considered risky. Many stations feared ADHD in adults was too controversial.)

We appreciate and admire everyone who has found our website, seen our videos, read the blogs, and gained knowledge to change their lives for the better. Which of course impacts the lives of everyone in your circles. We love hearing from you! Every day brings messages of gratitude. And we do read them.

We’re especially moved by all of you who have gone above and beyond, offering each other support, compassion, and advice in the forums, and in the comments on the blogs and videos.  TotallyADD.com is not just a website. It’s the cumulative experience, and struggles, and wisdom of thousands of members.
 
You need to understand that you have changed the world for the better in ways that you will never know.

And we are particularly grateful to everyone who has supported us in our mission by purchasing our videos, books, and audios, or by donating. Your support is what has allowed us to keep going, and to remain independent. We are not funded by a university, or pharmaceutical company.  Which is why we get to be funny, entertaining, and a bit ‘on-the-edge.’  You make that possible.   And those of you who purchased something from the shop and give it to a friend, loved one, doctor, local school or organization, you too are changing lives, creating ripples of knowledge, and hope that radiate outwards, and affect people that you will never meet.

How cool is that?!

Yes 2016 has been a challenging year. But sometimes when you have ADHD a challenge wakes up the brain, gets the juices flowing, and becomes an exciting challenge. That was 2016 for me.

How about you?  What are you grateful for?  Big or small…what were the highlights of this year for you? Who are you grateful for?  Ava and I would love to hear from you in the comments below!
My wish for you is that 2017 is your best year so far.
Happy Holidays from me, and from all of us at TotallyADD!
Rick Green,
President and Founder of TotallyADD