By: Marty Levine
I learned I had ADHD when I was 85 in 2015. My wife kept complaining that I was losing “it”. She thought I might be developing Alzheimer’s. So, I phoned the Veterans Affairs and told the young lady, “My wife thinks I’m losing it”. They did a CT scan and put me through six hours of testing. That’s how I found out I have ADHD.
It occurred to me I’ve had it all my life. As a child and teenager I had been a “nerve end, hyper, manic-depressive”. I was always thought of as the little guy with the big mouth. I was a poor student and never a team player. My family just accepted my behavior and assumed that I would outgrow it. They said, “Marty is different.”
When I was diagnosed with ADHD it gave me a feeling of being freed. What made me different now had a name.
As I grew older I am more of a loner. I don’t feel a need for social contacts. For most of my adult life I have been self-employed, but when I worked for someone else, I would do my job as if I owned the company I worked for. My employers were always pleased with my work ethic and were not happy when I left.
When I came home from the Korean War I immediately signed up for classes at a local community college. I got a job at Lockheed Aircraft working the swing shift to support myself. I failed miserably at college and knew I’d better get help to figure out what to do to make a living.
That was the first time I asked the VA for help. They sent me for vocational counseling. They determined I had a 99.5% aptitude in business administration and a 98.5% in artistic traits. I went to the library to seek the help of a research librarian. I wanted to find a “depression proof” vocation that fit within my aptitudes. I found that the beauty industry actually grew in the 1930’s and 40’s. I started cosmetology school and knew I was home; this was my profession for life.
Let’s get back to the present…
My wife of sixty years said that I have always been difficult to live with but she noticed a change in me this year. I was becoming more difficult to live with and was having more problems recalling things she told me. It frustrates her if I respond to her complaints in what she calls a childish manner.
I recently had three events in succession that moved me to seek help for the most profound depression I have ever experienced. The first was after I had completed a project I had been working on for eight years and realized I had no one to share it with.
On my 80th birthday I decided to teach myself to play the piano, unfortunately I had trouble with learning and remembering the notes. When I converted the notes to numbers it solved that problem. During the past eight years I have transposed 545 popular songs from musical notes to numbers. The second event was when I realized that I no longer had the stamina to complete my chores in a timely manner. The third and most crushing event was being diagnosed with macular degeneration.
I went to my primary provider who referred me to a counselor which led to a visit with a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist would not prescribe medication for an eighty-eight year old man, but he did recommend trying a therapist to help combat the depression.
Now that I’m in the winter of my life and look back, I have to say that I am thankful that I have ADHD. That may sound strange but if it wasn’t for my non-conformity, the driving force that kept me going, I never would have enjoyed the life I’ve had.