Seymour Telegraph

Understand­ing ADHD is key

Geoffrey Johnstone is the pastor of the Seymour Baptist Church. In this article ‘Rodney’ is an amalgamati­on of people he has spoken with about their experience­s of ADHD over the past few years.


Last year my friend Rodney was diagnosed with ADHD.

One night he arrived home from work to find his family waiting for him. After an evening meal filled with periods of awkward silence they retired to the living room. Eventually, Rodney’s married daughter stepped forward to speak on behalf of the family.

“Dad, we have made an appointmen­t for you to see a psychiatri­st,” she said.

Life was not easy for the family. Rodney cannot remember exactly what it was he did to upset the people he loved. There were descriptio­ns of erratic behaviour, a roller coaster ride of emotions and questionab­le decisions that left the family financiall­y and emotionall­y damaged.

Rodney spent an hour with the psychiatri­st, who already had the answers to a four-page questionna­ire from the family. He remembers saying, “My mind is like a room filled with six television sets demanding my attention.” My friend is an intelligen­t man, with a personal library in excess of a thousand volumes. However, he struggles every day to express the emotions and the facts that occupy his mind.

“It’s like someone locked a door in my brain,” he eventually realised.

Rodney and I caught up at an in-service-training retreat.

“You know,” he concluded. “I always wondered what was wrong with me.” His voice cracked and his hands trembled slightly. “In a way it’s like a huge burden of responsibi­lity has been lifted off my shoulders.”

In Australia 10 per cent of children and six per cent of adults will be diagnosed with ADHD. It is considered an hereditary condition. Basically, there is a part of the brain called the basal ganglia that controls movement, motivation and reward. If it cannot communicat­e with every other part of the brain then problems arise.

People with ADHD have difficulty making decisions. They cannot pay attention for very long. They say and do things without thinking. This leads to frustratio­n and anger. Life can be difficult for people with this condition.

However, we must also consider the other side of this conversati­on. During the COVID-19 lockdown, one and a half million prescripti­ons were issued for ADHD medication. That was a 4450 per cent increase. To put that in perspectiv­e, if 100 prescripti­ons a year were written before COVID then that number increased to 4550.

Questions are being asked. For example, a high school chaplain shared his concerns with me about a Year 7 student who was recently diagnosed.

“In the morning his mother gave him $5,” the chaplain said.

“For breakfast he bought a can of coke and a Mars Bar. By 9.30am he was so hyped up with sugar the teachers put him in time out.

“By the time he turned 13 his mother had lived with three different partners. No wonder he was struggling.”

I sincerely hope that one day we don’t call ADHD the “lazy diagnosis”. Remember, your mental health is your responsibi­lity. Do your research.

 ?? ?? Personal experience: Geoffrey Johnstone with his son Jay, who in part inspired this article.
Personal experience: Geoffrey Johnstone with his son Jay, who in part inspired this article.

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