09 January 2012

Food. ADHD. Eh.

Recently, NPR posted on their Facebook page about the link between diets and ADHD. It was brief article, and the jest of the article is that changing the diet of youngsters will cure all.

As I read through this article, I felt that I should share some thoughts that I had on this, and it was strong enough that I have reopened the blog. It has been almost three years, but everyone knows my thoughts on writing: eh (Really, it goes against my ADHD.)

I know that for some, it is really challenging to understand what having ADHD is like. It is like trying to explain insomnia to someone whose head hits the pillow and they are out. Or restless leg syndrome to someone that can sit still for hours on end.

One of the ways that I can explain it is to grab 5 books. Lay them out on a table, all open. Now start reading. Changing books after each sentence. Oh, did I mention you aren't allow to mark where you left off in each book. Also, turn on the following music: Paul Simon's Graceland, Beethoven's third and fifth, and for good measure Widor's Toccota on repeat. While doing all that, write your PHd thesis. GO. (For extra credit: Call your parents, grade exams, and tutor some in data structures implemented in Python.)

So, the first thought that I have to share is that the brain is a muscle. Deal with it. It is, and if think differently, then well, the rest of this won't make much sense.

For me, most days are the same as a 16 hour endurance ride on a bike, but for the mind. There are points where it is just shear pain. My brain actually hurts. It takes a serious amount of brain power to complete a task, or a set of task. Reading a book is like bench pressing 40x my weight.

I have been dealing with this for years. YEARS I TELL YOU. I have been on a number of meds. I have tried a couple of the diets. But when it all comes down to it: I have ADHD, and I have to deal with it. There is no cure all drug. There is no fancy treatment to make it go away. I know this because I spent most of college thinking there was. Talk about let downs.

With all this, I feel that I have a pretty good system down for dealing with my ADHD. It really all comes down to a number of small things that I have picked up over the years, many of them taught to me my special ed teacher in high school (Thanks Donna!). My work spaces are littered with small scraps of paper covered in nonsensical writing, that means nothing to anyone else, but these are basis for how I move through my day.

But to go with that, I take meds from time to time. I eat decently. I exercise when I can. I have a pretty good social life.

Now you wonder 'where is all of this going?'

I will tell you.

I have heard many stories about the growing number of ADHD kids in schools these days. I contribute this to:

  • the medication nation
  • the need for parents to have an excuse for their apparently poorly performing children
  • teachers not wanting to deal with misbehaving kids
Now you say: "Charles, your crazy for saying this!"

And I say: "Well, I might be, but how many kids are actually ADHD. Medically diagnosed, and not just slapped with a label?"

I don't have time to look into numbers now, but it would be an interesting stat to look at. But with that statement, I can say this:

The research that is covered in the NPR article has some serious merit to it. Diet has defiantly has a place in the treatment of ADHD. For all I know it could 'cure' it and when I say 'cure' it, I'm talking about those that don't really have ADHD, but a screwed up body because of stupid things that are put in their bodies.

But there are many other things that can help with the treatment: controlled environment, structured work, meds, coping mechanisms, and tiny scraps of paper.

Hmm...after writing all this, I guess I'm really responding to all the comments on the article that pissed me off.

ADHD exists people. Deal with it.