Living Life Misunderstood

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?


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      • Ada Kuonen
      • April 23, 2020

      I am very happy I found this site. I’m 66 years old and was “diagnosed” with ADHD in my late fifties.
      I did not do a test, because the therapist who told me, had ADHD himself( I could even diagnose him, after I found out, it seemed so clear all of a sudden!)
      In my late forties I found myself living alone and had to fend for myself. It was extremely difficult, I could not hold a job, manage my paperwork or generally get my life together.
      So, it was an enormous relieve at 64 when I got to the age of retirement. My life improved a lot since then, because now I can more or less live my own life.
      But I still get frustrated, because although being a very creative person I don’t seem to have the energy or the determination to get creative again. There is not only a lot of distraction around all the time, but also a lot of fear that I will not be able to do a good painting or drawing, although I know being creative will give me a lot of joy and also purpose in life. Besides I don’t have to be good, I keep telling myself, just enjoy it.
      Taking courses ànd getting very enthusiastic about it only helps me until the course is finished. After that I’m feeling all lethargic again and can’t get myself to move.
      The new language I started learning with great difficulty( since I forget so much) gives me some measure of satisfaction, but I know the painting is actually much more fun, if only I could bring myself to it.
      It would be nice to hear about ways how other ADHD people solve this problem.

      • dean
      • April 11, 2020

      I took loads of time to myself, burnt through alot of savings, to remind myself that all the criticism incurred should not bet taken to heart. You need to accept that this has an effect on your own self image, leads to unhealthy levels of self criticism, and lends it self to the obstruction of a reasonable analysis of your situation.

      Get a handle on the social dynamic

      Constantly berating yourself is a nasty habit to break, give yourself time and don’t give up

      Small things that give me a smile or make me LMAO are my best friend

      • Dolores
      • March 29, 2020

      Reading all your posts validates my feelings and I wanted to thank you for sharing. I have had the same struggles as you but it wasn’t until about 9 months ago that I understood why I was called lazy, temperamental, emotional, stupid and other names. I was 71 before I was diagnosed. Now at 72, I am trying to make the changes I might have made at a younger age. From time to time, I mourn the person I might have been if only I had known, How would my relationship with my family have been different? But can’t cry over spilled milk, can we? So I am learning all I can about myself and this diagnosis. Therapy and medication are helping to minimize the symptoms but it is the behaviors are still a major challenge as I am trying to get through my last semester of my master’s program in counseling. Again, I appreciate all of you for sharing your stories. Be safe, be well.

        • L
        • March 30, 2020

        Hi Dolores,
        It seems you and I could form a club and call it the Post-Menopausal ADHD Club. I also was diagnosed at 71.
        I send you heartfelt compassion on your journey.

      • Shawnee Brooks
      • March 25, 2020

      I understand and can relate to all you have said. You are unique and special. Find people who appreciate us!

      • Jay
      • March 25, 2020

      Yes,this most certainly resonates, and perhaps this has brought me a step closer to writing mine. I want to dig deep into what it is really like living this way: the daily battle; the anxiety and pain over confronting the mountain of regrets, mistakes, lost relationships, and lost time; grieving over the loss of the life I could have had if I thought and processed like others; the guilt, shame and torment that ultimately leads to isolation and separating myself from who i could have been, standing side by side sometimes and longing to be the other guy in time to restore honor, credibility and relationships. I better stop because I’m actually starting it here.

      • Jeri
      • March 25, 2020

      “Our family environment was one of abuse. I was no stranger to negative reinforcement.” I wonder how many of us can say the same. . . I know I can.

      • Kerry Arnoldi
      • March 25, 2020

      Kenny, I have lived that life too. I am sorry when I hear another story that matches mine because I know how lonely it is to try so hard to maintain anything like a schedule, a friendship, a task, and even a thought. I try to “fake” being me..the me others want and expect me to be. I have medication I can’t remember to take. I hate technology because it’s someone on the other end who has expectations that I do not want to provide for them because I am worn out from tap dancing through my life to entertain people so they won’t know under my happy mask is a 65 year old little girl who has too many ideas but not the ability to start any of them. I married an Engineer who is kind, brilliant and loving who accepts me as I am and travels down my roads that go nowhere and says, “That was fun!” And I have a little black & white Shih Tzu who also has ADHD, and looks straight into my soul with her beautiful brown eyes. That heals me and gives me joy. My greatest fear is losing them. I can’t fix this. I have been trying, trying and trying for 65 years and I am a great faker. But I will get up, take a shower and give myself a big smile in the mirror and start again!

        • Shawnee Brooks
        • March 25, 2020

        Thank you for sharing your story. I needed that.

      • CYNTHIA
      • March 25, 2020

      How do you cope and process things?

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