After enduring a life of having A.D.H.D and going through the struggles growing up, I would like to share my experience in hopes that others look for other options instead of pharmaceutical options for A.D.H.D. At the age of 7, I was diagnosed with A.D.H.D. This stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. This is a condition where kids like me have a hard time focusing and putting attention towards one or multiple things. While normal kids grow out of some of these phases, kids like me never really did and it was growing more apparent as I made it to the upper grades (4th, 5th, & 6th) in elementary school. A child with ADHD might day dream a lot, forget things easy, squirm & move a lot, and have difficulty getting along with others which pretty much sums up my child hood in grade school. I couldn’t sit still for long and my attention span was little to none. My parents eventually seeked help and got the diagnosis about my disorder. To my benefit they didn’t want to put me on any type of prescription medicine and researched into other options. This was the start of my journey towards rectifying my condition, but with little resources over 20 years ago, my parents were in for a challenge. That didn’t stop them from figuring it out and finding a solution though.
Tough Elementary School Years
My parents had a feeling years before I was officially diagnosed that there was something different about me. I struggled to focus well at all in my elementary school years. While for many kids its normal to struggle to focus well at anything. However it became very apparent as I transitioned to middle school that my focus was not improving. I would not be able to focus for more then 15 minutes without getting a headache or having a breakdown. It was hard for me to sit still for long periods of time without wanting to do something more to stimulate my mind. I struggled with reading, writing, and many other standard things during grade school. My teachers especially were never pleased with me. I still vividly remember ticking off my 1st grade teacher so much that she pulled me out of the class by the ear for a timeout a few times. I’m pretty sure all my elementary school teachers reached out to my parents because of my struggles with focusing and inability to stay on task. Grade school for me was a not a fun experience unfortunately. I came to school everyday and had a lot bullies. Despite being a big kid, this didn’t scare off the bullies because they knew I was an easy target. I got annoyed and aggravated easy by their teasing and didn’t hold back on how mad it made me. Then when I did get serious and hit back, I would typically be the one in trouble in the principal’s office. The best part of the day was the last school bell of the day that allowed me to leave a school filled with hard nosed teachers and bully kids that didn’t try to understand me. Once I was home, I had my loving family and my best friend child hood Labrador dog who loved interacting with me no matter how weird I was. Spending years going to school like this not only affected my learning curve, but it severely affected my confidence growing up into the upper grades.
The Treatments & Road Trips
So after years of seeing me struggle in grade school my parents decided to find a solution. They weren’t going to put me on any drugs so they researched into other solutions. The solution they found proved to be extremely effective; Biofeedback. Biofeedback is the process of gaining greater awareness of many physiological functions of one’s own body. Its known more today as neurophysical medicine which focuses on improving the brain to work more efficient. After my parents discovered this solution, they were all in. We lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Biofeedback company known as Drake Institute was located in Los Angeles. I would require 40 sessions in order for the Biofeedback to be effective. When I said my parents went all in, I meant it. They would need to drive me 800 miles (back and forth from San Francisco to L.A. and back to San Francisco) just to get me a few treatments over the weekend. Every weekend was a road trip that summer which provided for some good times and also long trips. This was the summer right before I would start High School so the timing worked out because I would need improved focus to get through High School. I would be able to get 2-3 treatments done max in a 2 day span as the treatments themselves were taxing on my 13 year old. I would spend over an hour with my head connected to a computer. The Doctors would have me focus on two separate brain waves and my goal was to focus and get these brain waves to connect. Every time they connected I would get a point. If there was one thing that I could focus on for long periods, it was any type of game whether it be a board game or a video game. The biofeedback sessions were like a video game which totally made me excited to come back and keep doing them. Back then I didn’t even think about how tiring it was on me or the fact that it was improving my focus little by little. I was excited for each session in hopes that it would help me get better. After getting all 40 sessions in, the changes in my focus didn’t improve just like that either. It wasn’t that simple. There was one thing I needed to do in order to improve further. I needed to improve myself mentally. This is why I strongly believe pharmaceutical medicine isn’t really effective for A.D.H.D. because medicine does nothing to help you improve mentally to improve disorders like this.
The Results Of Biofeedback
The improvements the biofeedback did at The Drake Institute were apparent months after the treatments. I was able to focus on school work longer without getting a headache. My attention span got much better. However the damage on my own self esteem, social skills, and inability to push myself were still there. I lacked confidence and drive after living most of my childhood feeling like I wasn’t good enough to do things. It was going to be up to me to end up finishing what the biofeedback treatments started. The real improvements didn’t happen till after High School. I graduated and then jumped into being an adult. My blog post (Fat & Depressed at 16 to Fit & Passionate at 34) covers more in depth on how I transitioned from High School to Adulthood. When I lost 100lbs and worked on myself in my 18-19 year old years is when I made the biggest mental improvements for my A.D.H.D. I got more confident and I got more focused. I was able to work full time jobs and focus all day. I learned to accept my disorder and work around it. Knowing I have the tendency to forget things, I developed a note taking habit so that I can always refer to a note in order to remember stuff. I set reminders for myself for important tasks in my personal and professional life. Even today I still struggle to focus, but I catch myself and just refocus and get back to focusing. I don’t get down on myself or do anything to kill my momentum. I accept my A.D.H.D. disorder and I don’t let it make me feel like its something that’ll make me feel like I’m inferior to others like I used to in grade school. I meditate here and there in order to help refocus my mind so that I can control my anxiety. Over the years in my 20’s and in my early 30’s I struggled to get to sleep, but I worked on perfecting meditation to work on slowing my mind down. After months of working towards it I’ve been sleeping so much better for years now. The difference between how I was in High School compared to now is that I work towards fixing things about myself. I work towards self improvement. I value myself too much to where I don’t ever want to give up on myself. While I have a family to support and also have a job that requires me to help others, I prioritize helping myself and giving myself what I need to be strong in my everyday life. I makes use to fill my cup so I can be able to fill others.
This is how I got past my A.D.H.D. disorder. It didn’t take drugs, prescriptions, or any kind of pharmaceuticals. It took me mentally working on myself and doing it for years. There is never going to be a mental hurdle that gets fixed in a small amount of time. Even people that don’t have disorders like me have their own mental personal battles and if you spend years going through those personal battles and not dealing with them, you can bet that it’ll take years to work towards rectifying those mental struggles. However that shouldn’t stop you from starting. That shouldn’t stop anyone from working towards self improvement. When I think about my ‘why’s on why I would improve myself. I think about how benefiting it’ll be for myself. I think how it’ll benefit my family because I’ll be stronger mentally and more happier for them. There is so many benefits from working on self improvement and that is why I’ve dedicated my life to always improving myself. I strongly recommend biofeedback as an option to work towards improving A.D.D. and A.D.H.D over taking prescription drugs anyday. Its the harder path, but its the path get yourself right from this disorder once and for all.