ADHD Has Been the Making of Me; Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Doesn't Just Affect Children. Adults with ADHD Are Impulsive and Distracted ... Yet Also Highly Driven and Creative. Anna Moore Meets Successful People Who Make It Work to Their Advantage

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), December 8, 2013 | Go to article overview
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ADHD Has Been the Making of Me; Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Doesn't Just Affect Children. Adults with ADHD Are Impulsive and Distracted ... Yet Also Highly Driven and Creative. Anna Moore Meets Successful People Who Make It Work to Their Advantage


Author Louise Mensch's announcement earlier in the year that she had long struggled with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) made headlines and raised more than a few surprised eyebrows. The disorder -- which is commonly associated with young boys, chaotic behaviour in class and an inability to focus -- seemed far removed from someone so dynamic, driven and high-achieving.

And yet those experienced in the field could just glance at her CV and pick out a pattern. She has written 15 novels and was elected as a British member of parliament before a shock mid-term resignation two years into the job; she moved to the US, launched a blog (unfashionista.com), followed by Menshn, a rival to Twitter -- which soon shut, with her co-founder claiming they no longer had 'anything resembling a working relationship'.

Mensch's personal life has been busy too. She was married to her first husband for nine years and had three children. Her current husband, an old friend, was a married father of three when she reportedly declared her love out of the blue. (His now ex-wife claimed Mensch had actually been having an affair with her husband for 20 years.) Impulsiveness, distractability, a tendency to 'overshare' (Mensch provides constantly colourful headlines, often self-generated); then there's the low boredom threshold -- it's not unusual for someone with ADHD you In Ireland there psychiatrist children with time for a consultation be a to race through careers in search of new challenges; add to this her hyper-focus and super-drive when inspired and engaged.

Though often seen as a 'condition of childhood', it is increasingly being recognised that ADHD can be diagnosed in adulthood. Two to four per cent of the global adult population is estimated to have ADHD, depending on location. In some countries up to seven per cent of the population is thought to be affected by the disorder; in Ireland the rate is believed to be lower -- between one and three is just one for every 168 ADHD; waiting public can year per cent. Most may be unaware they have it. Girls in particular slip under the radar -- boys are two to four times more likely to be diagnosed.

'ADHD is picked up in schools when it causes extreme behaviour -- the type of hyperactivity you can't ignore,' says Jan Assheton, an ADHD coach whose clients include lawyers, accountants, artists and celebrities. But girls seem more prone to the sort of ADHD characterised by 'inattention' rather than 'hyperactivity'. 'Girls tend to want to please -- they don't misbehave -- but may have been written off as "not trying hard enough" or "not reaching potential".'

Lauren Evans, 29, was a university student when she was diagnosed with ADHD. 'At school, I used to doodle, write lists, sneak in headphones, I even took a hamster in once -- it never ever occurred to me to actually take in the lesson,' she says. 'I hadn't considered that anyone else would.'

Her natural intelligence, the school's structured environment and her attentive parents, who made her do homework and revision, got her through -- though this involved tears, tantrums and extra tutors. At university, Lauren found lectures and tutorials tough and when she sought help, she was eventually referred to a psychiatrist who diagnosed ADHD and prescribed cognitive behavioural therapy and Ritalin. 'It was a relief,' she says. 'I'd always felt guilty about what I'd been like and it was nice to know I wasn't just a horrible person.'

For Lauren, the medication was miraculous. 'The veil of foggy exhaustion and confusion lifted,' she says. 'For the first time in my life, I enjoyed a class and was able to concentrate about 70 per cent of the time, which was incredible.' Lauren is now a manager and responsible for a team of 16. It's a full-on job, but she only takes Ritalin from time to time, for example, to get through a long meeting. Most importantly, her diagnosis has enabled her to anticipate and avoid problems.

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ADHD Has Been the Making of Me; Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Doesn't Just Affect Children. Adults with ADHD Are Impulsive and Distracted ... Yet Also Highly Driven and Creative. Anna Moore Meets Successful People Who Make It Work to Their Advantage
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