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How Driven to Distraction Saved My Life

Updated on July 21, 2015

I attribute Driven to Distraction for literally saving my life. When harnessed correctly, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can bring many benefits. However, it is very difficult to learn how to harness ADHD's benefits, if you do not know that you have it. This is exactly where I was before reading Driven to Distraction by John Ratey.

You Will Believe in ADHD

I grew up believing that mental health was an overused field. I was taught that psychiatrists and therapists only made money when they had people to treat, so they were creating conditions and mental health problems to keep themselves in a job. I was taught that mental health conditions were just a symptom of someon who had not learned to cope. These beliefs caused me years of pain and lost opportunities. The more I experienced issues with organization, staying on track, prioritizing tasks, etc., the more I believed the problem was me. This led to frustration, loss of self esteem, and feeling that I could not do anything right.

This all changed the day I was introduced to John Ratey's book. I was working in the Situation Room for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. A coworker and I were working the night shift. Like usual, it was a slow night. We had plenty of time to talk. My coworker sat at a computer across the room monitoring the news and talking. I was doing my usual flight of the bumble bee. I was running between three computers where I had three new projects up. These were not mandatory, or even assigned projects, they were things that I thought would be nice to have, however, I was working like the deadline was only a few hours away.

I would soon realize how much one question can change your life. My co-worker turned to me and asked, "Have you ever been tested for ADHD?" Instantly, my mind and my mouth passed first, second, and third gear, and went straight for overdrive. I explained that ADHD did not exist. ADHD was a mental condition that had been trumped up by mental health professionals. My co-worker was very patient. She explained that she had worked with school children to test them for ADHD. Then came the question that would change my life, "Do you have an open mind?" My co-worker asked it non-chalantly. Of course I said yes. She asked me to buy Driven to Distraction, read it, and tell her what I think.

I always have loved a good challenge. I accepted my co-workers proposition. I truly believed that after reading the book, I would have a stronger argument about why ADHD did not exist. Before I went home, I stopped by a local bookstore and purchased Driven to Distraction. After reading a few pages, I could not put it down. Within the first chapter, my life had begun to change. I read a page that described the symptoms experienced by one adult with ADHD. It chronociled the person's issues with organization, how their mind was constantly changing, they were always "scanning" their environment to the detriment of other activities.

My jaw hit the floor. I read this page again. I laid the book down on my coffee table. I walked around my living room several times scratching my chin. I could not believe it. I needed a second opinion. I took the book into my wife. She was pulling some food out of the refrigerator. I handed her the book. The book was open to the page that I had been reading. I asked her not to look at the cover and only read this one page. She read the page. I watched as her expression changed and her eyes lit up. She looked at me and said, "This page is talking about you! What is this book about?" I explained to her that it was about ADHD. By the end of the day, I had made an appointment with a psychiatrist.

Driven to Distraction is not number one on my list simply because it changed my life. Driven to Distraction offers a complete description of ADHD. Dr. John Ratey's writing style is not medical in nature. Dr. Ratey avoids using unnecessary legal jargon. He explains ADHD in a way that anyone can understand. As an adult living with ADHD, Dr. Ratey is acutely aware of the misunderstandings that Adults with ADHD face. He explains these societal misunderstandings and offers the reality along with the underlying science.

Interview with John Ratey, M.D.


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    • bziebarth profile image

      bziebarth 2 years ago from Columbia Missouri

      Thank you for your comment. I am sorry I didn't respond sooner. I have been focusing on my own blogs. I just recently returned to hubpages. I wish you well in all your endeavors.

    • embee77 profile image

      embee77 7 years ago

      Congratulations on your discovery. From your other hubs I can tell you've taken the wakeup call seriously. I did, too, when I found out about my ADD at the age of 40. I've done so much research and soul searching, I feel pretty knowledgable about the subject. Sorry you had to grow up with such negativity about the mental health profession. But now you're helping spread the real word on the subject. Glad to find you. Keep up your writing. ps - Don't forget Ned Hallowell is Ratey's coauthor. Check out his website - very thorough.