Medication Myths With Bob on Line 2

By Rick GreenQueen Alexandria Butterfly

We had a contest on the TotallyADD Facebook page, “What is dumbest thing someone has ever said to you about ADHD or ADHD medication.”

Most people shared two or three ludicrous examples.

Sure, many were familiar, ones we’ve all heard, like, “I don’t believe in ADHD.”  Or, “You’re just too busy.”  Or, “Our whole family is like that.  It’s because we’re Irish.”  (Or Italian, Russian, Hispanic… insert your heritage here.)

One exhausting aspect of ADHD is defending your diagnosis from people who have strong opinions, based on complete hooey.

At one point I decided that the next time someone started spouting nonsense about ADHD, that I would ask them, “Do you believe the Queen Alexandra Birdwing is the largest in the world.”

Confused, they would ask, “The largest what in the world?”
Me: “The largest butterfly in the world.”
Them: “How the hell would I know?  I don’t know anything about butterflies.”
Me: “True.  But you obviously don’t know a darn thing about ADHD and that hasn’t stopped your from spouting all kinds of ignorant gibberish.”

I haven’t actually done that.  I don’t have the nerve.  (Let me know if it works.)

“I Know What I Know!”

Stupid opinions used to set me off.  Incensed, I would spew a torrent facts, numbers, statistics, studies, even listing some of the genes that have been identified.

You can guess how well that worked.

People smirked, “You can get studies to prove anything.”  “Well, I’d like to see that study.”  And my favorite, “I know what I know.”  Which is code for, “My beliefs trump your facts.”

If facts changed people’s minds, well, that would end all the arguing over whether humans actually landed on the moon, if vaccines are safe, or whether the President is doing a great job.

Facts don’t work.

I was passionate.  Too passionate.  It actually was off-putting for people.  Ranting away just made me look desperate and defensive.  (Which, actually, I was. Hmm.)

They could dismiss me as a ‘nut’.

Then I learned a better way.  From a master: Dr. David Teplin.

“Call The Number on Your Screen”

We met when I was putting on makeup.  Or rather as the makeup artist at the all-news television network was putting on my makeup for our ‘live appearance to talk about ADHD.’  David already had his makeup on.

As we spoke I asked him, “Are you Dutch?”  I pride myself on being able to recognize accents.  I don’t know why I do because he said, “No.”  Nodding sagely I continued, “Ah, you’re Australian?”  I was close: South African.

(Why do I believe I’m good at identifying accents when the facts, years of me guessing, prove it’s not true?  Another example of belief triumphing over facts.)

In a few minutes the Floor Director guided us through the crowded studio during a commercial break to the news desk.

A quick hello to the host.  A sound check.  And then, “Standby, in 5, 4, 3…”

“Joining Us Live This Evening…”

The host read from the teleprompter, “Welcome back.  Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder.  It’s something we normally associate with children.  But it turns out that adults…”

The host was great.  I tried to keep my answers short.  I probably didn’t.  Live TV runs on adrenaline. Everything seems to happen so quickly.  In triple speed.

I knew it was going well because they let David and I keep going, answering questions from caller.

Now, on any phone-in show, someone in the studio control room screens the calls.  Pre-screening the question, deciding if it’s a good one, getting details about the caller, and putting it up on the teleprompter so the host can smoothly segue, “Our next caller is Bob.  He has a question about diet and ADHD.”

The moment I hear Bob’s voice my heart sinks.  It’s him!  This time calling himself, ‘Bob.’  He sounds stoned.  Moronic.  The Big Lebowski.

This guy has called several radio shows where I’ve appeared.  To the call-screener ‘Bob’ is lucid and intelligent.  He has an interesting question.  He gets put through.  When they put him on the air, he instantly turns into a cartoony ‘stoner.’

Cheech and Chong would blush.

“They gave me the drugs, man.  The Ritalin.  It fried my brain, right, like horrible, dude.  I can’t think straight.  They’re turning kids into zombies.  Drug addicts..

My Fist Tightened 

We so seldom get a chance to talk intelligently about ADHD on radio or television.  (And newspapers?  Don’t get me started.)  So every second wasted dealing with crap like this infuriates me.

My heart raced.  My jaw tightened.  I clenched my teeth in rage and could hardly speak.  Which is lucky.

Because Dr. Teplin chuckled warmly, pointed out that this is indeed a common concern.  Somehow he made it clear that this was obviously a joke, a prank, “But this person raises a great point.  So many people think these medications are dangerous.  When in fact…” (Those weren’t his exact words.  But you get the idea.)

I was in awe.  I’m sure it showed.

David didn’t miss a beat, smoothly taking the reins, then making one interesting point after another.  A psychologist specializing in ADHD, David knew this was an opportunity to reach thousands of people. Nothing was going to throw him off.

David actually seemed delighted that ‘Bob’ had called, seizing the opportunity to address a key point, “Medication is still surrounded by a lot of mythology, misinformation, and emotional baggage.”

At that moment Dr. Teplin became my hero.

When we realized TotallyADD needed a Professional Advisory Board, Dr. Teplin was the first person I called.  (In fact, maybe he called me and volunteered?)

Afterwards the call-screener rushed in to apologize, “He sounded completely normal when he spoke to me, he had a great question…”

Never Again 

On the train home that night I stared out the window, frowning, wondering, why

did Bob’ lie to the call-screener, and then everyone who’s listening.  Deliberately spreading lies.

It’s one thing to repeat myths and misinformation about ADHD because you don’t know the facts.  We all do that.  Not just about ADHD.  Until we know better.  But this was deliberately undermining everything that we, Dr. Teplin and thousands of others are trying to change.

What was ‘Bob’s’ motivation?  (I think like a television writer.)

Religious beliefs?  A bad experience?  Self-loathing?

My ADHD brain created amazing scenarios, one convoluted backstory after another.  I sometimes think I’d be a great ‘conspiracy theory guy.’

Mysterious Motivation  

That evening I was still generating increasingly unlikely theories, until I realized I was still ‘hooked.’  The caller had gotten to me, and he was still getting to me.  David had let it go in a few seconds.  And here I was, hours later, still stewing over it.

The fact is, I’ll never know why Bob spreads lies, fear, and misinformation.  There are people like this everywhere.  On the internet they’re called Trolls.  Before the internet they were called Dickheads.

Never Again

At that moment I vowed that I would never let anyone steal my power and throw me off.  Never again. Never ever.

But I have ADHD.

So, every time I got triggered and found myself going on and on and on to some poor victim who dared to mention that they had heard ADHD wasn’t real, or that kids in France didn’t have ADHD, or t

hat it was food dye, or cell phones… I would eventually catch myself, and then vow never again.

Never ever.  (I’m working on it.)

Most of the time I smile at the person, nod, and agree, “That’s what I thought.  I think most people have heard that.  But in fact, they’ve actually identified a number of genes… and brain scans are showing some amazing differences…”

The biggest confusion and mythology is around ADHD medications.  In the early days of TotallyADD I avoided the topic as much as possible.  I’m not a doctor.  But the most questions and entries in our Forums are about medication.  By a long shot.

Eventually, I took every quote we had about medications from about 40 ADHD specialists and a slew of regular adults with ADHD, and we created a comprehensive guide to ADHD medications.  The working titles was 99 Short Films About ADHD Medication.  

We eventually went with was ADHD Medications: Straight Answers to Big Questions.  The first video in that 5 video series, ADHD Medication: A Powerful Tool is on sale for only $7 (Reg $19.99).

It’s our first and last word on the topic.  It lays out the facts so people can make the right choice.  And it arms them with knowledge to defend that choice.

Putting In That Pause

I know how easy it is to be thrown by other people’s ridiculous opinions, or ignorant comments.  But getting upset, or worse, halting your treatment plan because someone made a nasty comment, or a hurtful remark, is a tragedy.

You don’t have to become a crusader, fighting for truth, justice, and the ADHD way.  It might be wiser to keep quiet and bite your tongue.  Just don’t let anyone stop you from moving forward and getting on with your life.

Trusting yourself is not easy.  After a lifetime of ADHD we may not trust ourselves to do what we should do.  Eventually, we take the word of others over our own experience.

Trust your feelings.  But get the facts.

What if someone says something hurtful, nasty, or judgmental, and you have that rush of anger, rage, and doubt?  Simply chuckle, and say, “You know a lot of people think that’s true…”

You can even say it with a South African accent.  Or a Dutch accent.  Or Australian.  They all sound the same.

 

7 Replies to “Medication Myths With Bob on Line 2”

  1. Ah Rick, thank you for posting this! You could have been any of us, so many of us, me. What a great example Dr. Teplin was – oh my he certainly was a clever and quick thinker! I wouldn’t have been there like he was, my thoughts would have been like yours. Pretty impressive. But what I like most is the thought process you went through, because yes, we all need to do that. You’ve given us a very good lesson in this. “Either way, don’t let anyone stop you from moving forward and getting on with your life. Trusting yourself more than other people is not easy. ADHD means your memory is unreliable. You feel unreliable. You don’t trust yourself to do what you should do. Eventually, you may not trust your own feelings, and take the word of others over your own experience.
    That is the truth – and that is the hard part. we really DO feel this way. You have put it in a nutshell here. Which makes your final words all that more important to remember!!
    “Don’t. Trust your feelings. And understand that rush of shame, guilt, anger, rage, and doubt… that’s just one more thing you’re learning to manage.”
    Thank you for this, Rick!
    MKLMSW in IL

    1. Before I knew i was ADHD or even what it was really about ( my son was diagnosed 4 decades ago grandson 2 decades ago) i envied those people in my life who exuded grace and charm in just such circumstances and wanted to be just like them. On those rare occasions when it actually occurred i was “over the moon” with pride.
      Your initial reaction thoughts were exactly what mine would have been. Not speaking them instantaneously is my new goal and i want to congratulate you for swallowing your tongue. Another victory for us. Well done.

  2. Your blogs have been soo helpful. Today i have actually copied some of your words in to a Note to keep reading and thus supporting me throughout the day. Like, realizing that understanding why someone does something will not necessarily make a difference in how i feel, so just leave it and work on ending the preoccupation with it instead! – and “The goal is simple: More happiness. Less struggle.” -and “Putting In That Pause …. you don’t have to become a crusader, fighting for truth, justice, ….” -and, like MK noted, your reminder to trust ourselves, recognize-believe-honor our feelings, which in turn really helps me feel okay about myself if don’t crusade every time i hear something ignorant/mean/inconsiderate. Thank you thank you, thank you for tips to overcome such obsession and for the remind me that is okay to conserve energy for managing myself.

  3. I should tell you now that I like your blogs, your video library, your emails on Fridays, and your internet website. However, I do appreciate what Mr. Trump brings to the table in America. I know one has one’s opinions, esp. as an editor.. Many of your ADHD and ADHD friendly readers perhaps share my opinion as well so leave out the politics.
    I know, we ADD’ers care passionately about our vision of the world and asking someone to leave their opinions at the door in editorials is like saying, “Get on your own website, then. ” ;-). Well, anyway, I like you and I want to feel less like an outsider when I read your work. Thank you for being you with boundaries! And by the way, as an American, I watched both Conventions’ (and one is continuing now) highlighted speakers, so I like to keep my options open.

  4. “Trust my feelings” indeed. That’s a very hard thing to do when they are unreliable and so often – wrong.

    I’m going to clarify that. Decisions I make or actions I take based on my feelings are often wrong.

    There’s a perfectly good reason for that: I have both autism spectrum disorder and ADHD. The ASD is the source of the “feelings problem”, the ADHD makes manifestations of that worse.

    When I make rational decisions without considering how I feel about it, or how others feel about it, I am wrong on occasion – but at least I can look back on it and understand why I was wrong. When I make decisions based on how I feel, there is a very high probability two things will happen.

    A) people don’t understand and feel hurt, angry, or rejected, and
    B) I have no idea why.

    I should also mention that my memory is very reliable, better than most people’s.

    There’s a reason why my wife’s second-favorite statement to me is, “I can’t believe you said that!”

    What aggravates situations is that emotional responses are much faster than intellectual ones. In “emergency situations” your first reaction is “fight or flight”, not “what is causing this situation”.

    Dr Teplin seems to have overcome this problem.

  5. Some years ago I had a male friend who did not know anything about ADD/ADHD. I tried explaining it to him but I’m not very good at explaining things so I sent him an email with approximatey 4 website links to ADD/ADHD websites.

    When we met up in person I asked him if he had looked at any of the websites and he said he hadn’t and had no intentions too. I asked him why and he replied that he doesn’t need to look at any of them because he knows what ADD is. Bearing in mind he didn’t know what it was I asked him what it is, and he replied with the following:

    “It means you’re a spastic and that you need constant care 24 hours a day 7 days a week because you’re incapable of looking after yourself”.

    I punched him in his gonads.

    The End.

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