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ADHD and Living Your Best Life

Foreword by Rick Green

I was thrilled to meet Gina Pera in person at an ADHD conference in Toronto. We taped a fascinating interview with her there which we have turned into 3 blogs, How Does Adult ADHD Impact Relationships, Challenges ADHD Adults Face, and this one. Gina’s passion and ongoing commitment to understanding ADHD and it’s impact on adults and their relationships is inspiring! As a researcher, a writer, speaker, and through the support groups she leads, Gina changes the lives of so many people.

Walking over a wooden bridge

ADHD & Living Your Best Life

For me, the biggest issue is that, whether it’s children or adults with ADHD, it results in a loss of human resources.

There’s too much of a tendency to dismiss these problems because people think, “Oh, he’s always been like that, and he always will be. Why can’t you just accept it?”

It’s not a question of whether I want to accept it; it’s a question of whether the person is getting the information they need, to have the best life that they can have.

Some people will think that I’m trying to make people with ADHD be “normal”, or “just like me”. That’s not my motivation. I love to have people come to the adult group that I moderate, and I love to see them elevate their lives.

They often come in with negative mindsets about what they can and can’t do in life, focusing on their limitations. They’re defining their personality by their ADHD symptoms, so they don’t know what their personality is, because they’re so encumbered by those symptoms.

Why Getting ADHD Treatment Is Important

It’s so great to see people stretch beyond their symptoms, and still be themselves even with some of the ADHD traits—though, I don’t make blanket characterizations of ADHD, because everybody I know with it is different. After getting treatment, they don’t lose their personality; they become more themselves, and less defined by symptoms, and they have all kinds of new opportunities. That, to me, is what it’s all about when helping children or adults: Not being defined by your limitations.

It’s not about becoming “normal”; it’s about becoming functional, so you have a choice in the matter, so you don’t let your biology dictate what you’re going to do. Instead, you can have your higher mind dictate what you’re going to do.

Sugar and coffee in a cup

Let’s Talk About Self-Medicating

My husband and I have been watching the series Mad Men, which is about the advertising industry in the 1960s. If you’ve seen it, you’ll notice that they’re all smoking cigarettes. Well, I remember that from my childhood. Everybody smoked cigarettes then, and you know what? Cigarettes are a very effective dopamine delivery system to the brain. It’s a deadly system, but it works pretty darn well.

And what happened when we quit smoking cigarettes?

Let me tell you about a commercial I saw. At first I thought, “What is this?”, because it showed people leaving their houses in the morning, and they couldn’t find their keys and had to go back and get them, and then they had to go back in and get their purses or wallets, and when they came out, they drove the wrong way down the street. And I thought, “Is this an ad about ADHD?”

Then I realized that it was an ad about what happens to some people when they quit smoking!

You just know that this happens a lot when people with ADHD stop smoking.

The One Myth About ADHD I Want To Dispel

I have a friend who has bipolar disorder, and he is an advocate. He is also a journalist, and he has a website, educating people about bipolar. He and I were talking, and we both said that we have to stay off the internet, because there is so much nonsense there about bipolar and ADHD. There are some good sites, but if you aren’t educated enough to know what you’re reading, you can be led astray very quickly.

There are websites on the internet that claim ADHD is a pharmaceutical invention. I think a lot of the backlash against medication is because a lot of people were hopeful that medication could help them, and they tried it, but they had a physician who wasn’t too skilled.

Maybe they were trying their best, but they just didn’t know that ADHD is not a one-size-fits-all disorder. You can’t just prescribe one pill that’ll make it go away in everyone who has it.

Medication requires careful titration (gradual ramping up or down of doses), monitoring, and protocols.

So, I think that a lot of people are very disappointed, and a lot of them spend a lot of time on the internet—self-medicating maybe— letting out their anger and oppositionality about these conditions.

There are surely enough side effects to warrant this kind of sentiment, but it’s so destructive because these medications can do people so much good when used the correct way.

We know pharma has a lousy history with marketing. We know that marketing departments do what they do, and it’s unfortunate that it involves medications that affect people’s lives.

I hope that the pharma industry is cleaning up its act, because the ADDers that I know can’t wait for newer and better medications to come out, because there’s that chance that those new meds could be the exact formulation that’s going to work with their neurochemistry the best.

About Gina Pera

Gina Pera, now author of two books about adult ADHD (available on Amazon), was an award-winning print journalist before turning her attention to ADHD. Her work for USA Weekend magazine won the prestigious Best Magazine Edition award from The Association for Women in Communications as well as a Unity Award in Media from Lincoln University of Missouri, recognizing accurate exposure of issues affecting minorities and disabled persons.

For the past 16 years, she has researched and written about Adult ADHD while also advocating for better awareness and treatment standards.

A popular speaker, she provides education and support for the ADHD community, leading discussion groups in Silicon Valley and a 1,000-member Internet-based group for the partners of adults with ADHD around the world. A native of Memphis now based in the San Francisco Bay Area, she enjoys gardening, exploring Bay Area hiking trails with her husband, and connecting with her favorite online communities. Gina’s website is ADHDrollercoster.

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