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Hi, my name is Wes Gray, I’m directing a documentary about ADHD titled Are You ADD? I became very interested in the subject, as one could imagine, when I found out I had it at the tender age of 53, just over a year ago. It was like reading the final chapter in a mystery novel, where everything that happened in the book finally makes sense.


As far back as I can remember I was labeled as a daydreamer and underachiever in school. Guilty as charged on both counts. Although I excelled in things I was extremely interested in, such as creative writing, art, and music (Which are 3 subjects that seem to have been low priority in my public school in the 70s), everything else seemed like climbing Mount Everest, just to finish simplest homework assignment. In an effort to retain the last drops of self-esteem the public school system hadn’t yet drained me of, I resorted to drugs and started a rock ‘n roll band. Awesome career choice, right?


I managed to eke out a living as a musician playing in taverns until my early 20s, and work some odd jobs while my band wrote an album’s worth of material to give the music thang one more shot. At that time, My girlfriend moved in with me and before long (surprise) she was pregnant. I was just beginning to do some heavy soul-searching that year. Whereas before that I would've just told her to have an abortion and moved on with the party, now with my newfound Christian faith I just couldn't do that. I asked her to marry me, and it was the best decision of my life. We are still married to this day. I’d like to say happily ever after, and for the most part it has been… except for a little thing called ADHD.


The funny thing about ADHD when you don’t know you have it, your behavior often seems perfectly normal to you. Although I’m glad we were married young, most people put a little more thought into getting married than I did. A common trait of ADHD is being impulsive. Looking back on my life I could go on for hours about crazy things I did, most likely due to impulsivity.  As Dr. Edward “Ned” Hollowell, a leading ADHD expert says “..if your impulsive, that’s bad…  you don’t know what you’re going to do next, you’re a gun that fires without aiming…and sure enough impulsivity can be dangerous, but, what is creativity? but impulsivity gone right. You don’t plan to have a creative thought... you don’t say it’s 10 o’clock. Time for my creative thought, and lay it like an egg. Creative thoughts necessarily pop… they are impulsive, spontaneous… they depend on your being somewhat disinhibited.”


Another common trait of those with ADHD is having a hard time focusing when someone is speaking to them for any length of time. After decades of working labor type jobs to support my family.  I finally discovered that creative type jobs paid more and were much more suited to me.  Not knowing these ADHD traits were hardwired into my genetic code caused a lot of grief in my life. My biggest nightmare was when a factory supervisor would come over on the noisy floor and rattle off a paragraph of instructions that he expected me to do without having to repeat himself. I lost more jobs than I can count due to that one trait, and not knowing what caused it, or how to fix it.


That brings me back to the title of this article,  How I Made a Six Figure Income with Untreated Adult ADD.  My dirty little secret is that it only happened once in my entire life. But when you have ADD you hang on to those victories, no matter how short lived.  A few years ago I got an estimate of my Social Security income from the government. It went back all the way to my earliest jobs and year-by-year it listed my income. If I turned that list into a bar chart, it would look like a roller coaster because my income varied so much throughout my life. I probably don’t have to tell you how hard that must been for my wife and family. After being diagnosed with ADHD, the level of understanding and empathy for each other has grown tremendously. And with treatment, there is now hope that the roller coaster ride is finally over. Yes, ADHD is real and has a equally real impact on society.

 


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