Before we get how I got into karate, let’s talk about ADHD for a moment. Firstly, one of the things that irritates me the most in life is when people say that conditions like ADHD don’t exist. These people will profess that ADHD is something that parents blame when their kids misbehave, and something people use as an excuse for their problems. This attitude, and I’ve had to deal with a lot of it, drives me up the wall. ADHD is not something that you can just reason away as “bad parenting” or “that’s just your attitude”. It’s something I have to live with every day, and despite what those people think, it is very, very real.
I don’t blame these people too much for those ideas however, not fully anyway. Given the nature of ADHD it can be difficult for an outsider to understand what it’s like. They think it’s all in my mind, and I need to overcome it, shouting phrases like, “STOP FIDGETING!” I must have heard that hundreds if not thousands of times growing up, along with, “WHY CAN’T YOU SIT STILL?” That one was always funny because I legitimately thought I was sitting still only to find out that I had been tapping my foot for twenty minutes straight without realizing it. My personal favourite though is, “ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?” I’ve heard that so many times the words have lost all meaning. The one that hurts the most however is, “WHY DID YOU DO THAT? DIDN’T YOU THINK IT THROUGH?!” The answer nine times out of ten is, “NO, I DIDN’T!”. Most of the time when I blurt something out it just happens. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s inappropriate, and sometimes, I end up hurting people I care about without meaning to. Growing up I had teachers, family members, friends, coaches, and countless others going after me for my behaviour. Very few of them understood or tried to understand that I couldn’t help but be that way, that my affliction wasn’t something that I could just turn off and “be a good boy”. I can’t turn off my ADHD any more than a man with no legs can walk.
Consider this. You are watching TV, and The Big Bang Theory is on. You’re mind starts thinking about other shows you like and the channel switches to NCIS. As angry as you are, you run with it, planning to go back to Big Bang after NCIS is finished. However, you’re mind wanders again, and you start thinking about the WWE show on the next night, and the channel switches to WWE. This instance repeats itself over and over again, your mind moving faster and faster until the TV is flicking so quickly you can’t even follow what show it’s trying to go to. At that point, all you want to do is turn the TV for a while, but the unfortunately the TV is your mind, and you can’t shut it off. Sound frustrating? Well, it is, especially for a ten year old kid that legitimately wanted to focus on something for five minutes and couldn’t do it.
To help with my condition I started to take Ritalin in small doses, eventually figuring out the right amount to take every day. Today I’ve replaced it Biphentin, which works even better. Now, I know there are people out there that don’t like medications, especially psych meds, but I am no way suggesting every ADHD person needs meds. They work for me, but that doesn’t mean they will for everyone, and medication should only be taken by someone who is comfortable taking it. To the parents out there, if you are going to pursue that route with your child for any mental disorder, do your research thoroughly and make sure you have a good doctor (preferably a Psychiatrist and pharmacist to help you get the right drug and dosage for your child. I stress this because too many parents start giving their kids drugs to calm them down and they end up becoming zombies, in the end doing more harm than good.
As much as the meds was helping, it wasn’t enough (as they never are with treatment for a mental disorder). The biggest problem was that like most kids with ADHD, I had no focus in my life. I did ok in school for a few years, becoming the smart, funny kid the teachers liked having around, even if I could be a bit of handful at times. As the years went on though, my impulsive and constant state of distraction stopped being so funny to my new teachers, and I started to have more and more trouble keeping my focus in class, often getting bored and acting out, which was made worse by having more than a few teachers that didn’t understand my condition or flat out didn’t think it existed (idiots). My parents tried sports for a bit, and I ended up playing soccer for a while, but I was never any good at it. Played baseball for one, maybe two years, and hated it, even tried swimming for a bit, but like everything else I just ended up getting bored. When I was ten I started singing lessons and it was fun for a while, but I wasn’t really interested to start with so I never went anywhere with it. My parents even tried putting me in a church youth group and for the most part I hated it because I flat out didn’t want to be there.
Bottom line, I didn’t fit in anywhere I went. I was the weird kid that couldn’t sit still. As a result, I was heavily bullied at school, with most times the teachers not able to do much to help, often pointing to my behavior as justification for the bully’s actions against me (sound familiar ladies?). The end result of all this was that I was becoming a pretty angry kid. I began lashing out at other kids any time one of them even looked at me wrong, telling teachers off when I thought I was being treated unfairly. Got suspended from school a number of times, and began to get a reputation as a “trouble maker”, a far cry from the funny, energetic kid that everyone had loved just a few years before. I was headed down a pretty bad path, looking back I probably never realized how bad I was really getting. The anger combined with the impulsiveness got worse and worse until I ended up hurting to other kids during my outbursts. I was seeing a therapist, and my parents tried to help, but it seemed that nothing I was doing could curb the anger that had built up inside me after years of frustration.
But then, almost by chance, karate came into my life, and things for me changed forever.