We’ve All Grown Into Our Disorders – Patty Fedeli Column

Jun 12, 2009

In the midst of a swine flu epidemic, rising numbers of dangerously undiagnosed cases of lyme disease, and the daily threat of contaminated food, I laughed myself sick when I read the article in last week’s Nugget entitled, Regaining Focus.

It warned every Canadian to be aware they may have Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

The symptoms are creativity, an active mind, and difficulty focusing on boring tasks. If you have ever worried that you are not living up to your full potential, you probably have Adult ADHD.

I asked Hubby to access the website for me so I could take the quiz. Guess what? I have ADHD. So does Hubby. So does my 92-year old grandmother.

There is debate in the health community as to whether the disorder even exists, but any way you look at it, this is quiz is a laugher.

According to the ‘experts’ the first thing to look out for is inattention. Daydreaming is now a disease. Making careless mistakes is an infirmity. The good news is, forgetting or losing things is no longer the key indicator of Alzheimer’s Disease; you probably have ADHD.

Hyperactivity is also a bad thing. You must be able to sit statue-like in a chair for hours at a time. Any movement of hands or feet, the kind of activity we’re encouraged to engage in to prevent blood clots from forming on long flights, indicates you have a treatable disorder. And you young men should ignore the girl in the corner playing with her hair; she’s not flirting with you, she has ADHD.

The final indicator is impulsivity. Throwing caution to the wind and doing something spontaneous is anarchy. Breaking into conversations, no matter how dull, indicates a debility. If you have trouble waiting in line, you are ill.

Honestly, have you ever met anyone who does NOT manifest any of these alleged symptoms? For the MTV generation, the people who grew up inundated with images that change every seven seconds, is the inability to focus any mystery? For the generation that is being rewarded for simply showing up, are careless mistakes inexplicable? For a culture that is being bombarded with government-sponsored ads demanding that we all ride bikes, jog and walk, play soccer and tennis,
swim and garden, skate and ski, and generally fill each waking moment with health-saving exercise, is it any wonder it’s difficult to sit still?

As companies continue to battle the slumping economy by cutting staff, do you know anyone who isn’t annoyed by the length of time we must stand in line everywhere? And how much potential will be reached by graduates unable to find a job in the field for which they devoted the last four years of their lives?

According to the ADHD website the purpose of evaluation and assessment is to help sufferers achieve their goals. Here’s how it works.

The most outspoken afflicted celebrity, and therefore the condition’s mascot, is Howie Mandel. Before his diagnosis, Howie travelled the circuit as an in-demand comic, telling hilarious stories and imitating a chicken by inflating a rubber glove pulled over his head. (It was the ’70s and you really had to be there.)

Since his diagnosis, Howie has become the robotic emcee of the stupidest game show to hit the air waves since Queen for a Day. And medication has made him focussed enough to make a very good living by repeating four key words over and over again; Deal or No Deal.

Swimmer Michael Phelps uses his ADHD to “increase his ability for reaction time” making him an Olympic-calibre athlete. Out of the water however, ADHD makes him engage in activities without thought of possible consequences; like sharing a bong with cellphone-equipped, internet-savvy teenagers.

You have no idea how grateful I am this condition was not universally recognized while Johnny Cochrane was alive.

I’m no health expert, but it seems to me the biggest threat to mankind’s mental and emotional wellbeing is this ridiculous need to conform. Will the drug companies and the health industry not stop until this world is populated with automatons who never push the envelope, never say or do anything outrageous or funny or even mildly entertaining? Are individual personality quirks so frightening that we have to invent conditions so we can label and then control them?

I suggest, instead of spending money on behaviour modification and mind-numbing drugs to battle the adult version of this disorder, let’s pool our resources and start up an ADHD colony. The ‘quirky’ people can spend guilt-free time writing books and entertaining scripts, creating art, and investigating the universe. And if they are too unfocused to do the dishes or stand in line at the grocery store, they can always assist the failing job market by hiring the newly dull and focused to do it for them.

Patty Fedeli is a career housewife with an overactive imagination. Her humour column appears Mondays.

Article ID# 1611022

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