ADHD in the new world

In Kerry McCarthy’s video “Is The Internet Rewiring Our Brains?” she mentions something that a lot of people love to mention when talking about how the internet is bad and no good and we should stay away from it and our attention spans have decreased in the last blah blah because of blah blah.

She talks about how the rate of children being prescribed ADHD medication has tripled in the US since 1994, and this was my response: 

“As someone who has ADHD and Bipolar depression and has been in therapy for seven years, I can say that medication has saved me. We are living in a world that runs counterintuitively to the way ADHD brains work (sitting in class for six hours a day for one, chained to a desk for 8 hours a day for two, and yes like you’re pointing out in this video an ever-increasing reliance on screens), which means we have to do anything we can to keep up in a world that is hell bent on leaving us in the dust. I can’t sleep without medication, because my circadian rhythm doesn’t allow me to sleep before 3am without meds, meaning I can’t wake up at 7am ready for a day at school or work with only four or less hours sleep.

“The reason that the rate of ADHD diagnosis has increased so much in the last 30 years is not because we’re addicted to screens, but because our understanding of ADHD and the treatment necessary for it — in a world that is hell bent on leaving us in the dust — has increased. So when you think “oh no so many people now have ADHD than they used to,” that’s not true, the same way that there aren’t so many more queer people now than there used to be. We just have a better understanding of who we are and what our needs are. A tripled rate in the diagnosis of ADHD is a GOOD thing, because it means so many more people will be able to understand themselves better. I struggled for many years before I realised I have ADHD. A diagnosis would have saved me that much sooner.

Modern society is exacerbating the problems associated with ADHD with very little allowance for helping us to function within it. More diagnoses mean more awareness and understanding means more systems put in place to help people with ADHD and similar disabilities. Why wouldn’t this be a good thing?”

I should say that the USA is fucked in terms of how it treats any disability, disorder or illness, in that it just throws pills at the symptoms and charges hundreds of thousands of dollars for them. So they are not the paragon of good health and medicine practice that we should be looking at. But my point remains: why aren’t more diagnoses of actual disorders that affect people, and affect people in a world that devalues us, a good thing? I still haven’t been diagnosed with ADHD because my therapists are incompetent (one says the other should do it, the other says the first should do it, ad infinitum), but at least in Australia I can rest easy that the majority of my healthcare remains the same whether I would be diagnosed or not. I can function without ADHD medication. However, I cannot function with medication for my Bipolar. Without it, I am an emotional, psychotic, paranoid mess. Without my diagnosis, I would be dead. 

There are reasons why people evolved to have ADHD. Most likely, when we’re out on the savannah, ADHDers could spot predators from a long distance because we are easily distracted by moving and shiny things. We sleep later than people without ADHD, so we could stay awake in shifts that let others sleep through the night. There are evolutionary reasons why ADHD is around, it’s just that now we have created a society that devalues our abilities. 

It’s time to rethink how we perceive and judge people with disabilities. I’m not even going to get into the Autism debate, but rest assured that vaccines don’t cause Autism, and if you think your child would be better off dying of polio than being Autistic you’re a complete piece of shit. Many of my family members have Autism and they lead perfectly normal and healthy lives. Most of my friends have ADHD. So think about that when you next disparage someone for seeking treatment for a condition that a lot of people have, and that is almost impossible to live with in our current society.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *