by Kenny Francisco
I am not sure how to tell this story. It’s difficult. At times, it’s sad, it’s happy, it’s scary. But it is always FRUSTRATING!!!!!!!!!!!
My name is Kenny Francisco. I don’t want to be anonymous. I want you to hear me. I want everyone to know I said it.
I grew up in a lower to middle income family with a history of abuse. My father abused my mother; both verbal and physical abuse. He also abused us.
From the time I was very young, I knew I had problems. I felt smart, but when I tried to express my answers, it often turned to embarrassment. This was a serious problem when I had an answer to a question the teacher was asking.
When I got to the board to write the answer, I had forgotten what I was going to write. I would repeat the answer over and over and over and over, so I wouldn’t forget it. Without fail, someone would distract me for one millisecond and POOF!!!!!! Gone. I would stand at the board trying to think of what I was going to write. I was overwhelmed by anxiety. I am standing at the front of the class, a piece of chalk in my hand, with all eyes on me. The teacher tells me to write the answer. I put the chalk to the board and stand there. The teacher says, “Mr. Francisco if you are going to go to the board don’t play your games. Write the answer or sit down. Don’t waste class time.” The laughing begins. Now I am anxious, embarrassed and miserable.
Our family environment was one of abuse. I was no stranger to negative reinforcement. When the laughing began, I would lash out in anger. I knew I would get sent to the office and get paddled. The thing is, I would rather get paddled than laughed at. The paddling was familiar. I understood it. It was a joke compared to the beating I would get when I got home. I understood being beaten. Being told I was stupid, that I wasn’t trying. I understood the consequences of being bad. I never felt that way about being good because it always turned into the same embarrassment.
As I grew older, it became more difficult. I went to rehab. I’ve done time in prison. I’ve been in a strait jacket. I made it through school without actually passing. I got passed up for job opportunities. My potential overlooked. I call this “the shuffle”.
Knowing I needed help, I sought treatment for my ADHD. I made the effort to explain my history. The Nurse Practitioner’s response was, “your history is not what we are here to talk about. We are here to find the right medication.” How can you help a person with their problems if you don’t want to hear them?
I am 55. Nothing about my ADHD has changed except my age. I have learned to cope and process things. I have discovered that the more severe the ADHD, the harder it is for people to understand, so they don’t try to.
I ask intelligent questions. People don’t like to think someone so “lazy” and “stupid” could be so intelligent.
It’s like knowing all the answers, but not being able to put them to paper. Failing the test even though you know you could ace it if given a little more time.
When transferring information, I have to look at it many times to get it on the paper right. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. I have to look at a 7-digit phone number 14 times to dial it.
It takes me more than an hour to complete paperwork with many steps. There isn’t enough time to spend an hour and a half on something that takes another person 10 minutes. I have tried to explain this to people; I don’t know why I keep trying. They think I don’t want to do it.
I have 5 credit cards because I have to have a lot of everything! One isn’t enough. One million isn’t either!
I had almost $1,000 in gift cards. I don’t redeem them because I can’t explain the frustration I will endure; it is not worth the money! If that makes sense to a person who doesn’t have ADHD, I would like to meet them. Once again, I’m labeled as lazy.
I read a story on ADDA’s site that sounded like I wrote it. I cried reading it, and it compelled me to write this story. I would like to reach more people to help with understanding and coping with ADHD. If this story resonates for you, won’t you share your story and help someone else?