Youth Blog


Ms B's experience with ADHD

I was diagnosed with ADHD at a very young age. When I first saw Dr. Carew I was in primary school, by then I had already gone through a few bullying moments from my own friends where they teased me and got upset with me for interrupting them, changing the subject all the time, not listening properly etc. This caused me to be scared to speak amongst my friends. Teachers would often tell my parents I didn't finish tasks, spaced out, was distracted all the time and would interrupt and bring up irrelevant things or subjects that had already been spoken about. After starting on Concerta things started to improve. My marks improved, my concentration levels increased, I no longer struggled in social situations as I had before with my friends.

I continued on the medication throughout High School, realising that I am a better me when I am on the medication. I knew and still know what it is like to be off the medication and I don't like the way I am when I am off it. I feel myself and a better me when I take it. I used to skip weekends and holidays and it didn't feel good which led me to taking my medication every day. It's not that I am dependent on it because I can go without it and have gone without it for long periods of times at some points but I choose to take it because I feel like myself on it. In high school I was able to study for long periods and retain the information. Sometimes I needed to take a Ritalin for an extra boost of concentration but in the end I was able to pass matric with a 71% average and 2 distinctions. I then, into my first year of studying at Stellenbosch University, decided that my body had become so used to the 36 mg Concerta and I could feel the effects wearing off on me. I made an appointment and was pushed up to the 54 mg. I finished my studies and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Geography and Environmental studies and am currently doing my Honours degree in the same subject.

Never once have I had anything negative to say about ADHD medication and I have never had any negative side effects from it. When people ask me about it or tell me their experiences I always say that every person is different and will react differently to it. In my view I feel that people who take ADHD medication as an adolescent instead of a young age feel the effects more. I always say that I don't have negative effects because I have taken it for so long. A lot of people get concerned over weight loss on the Concerta but the way I find it works for me is that my brain doesn't tell me that I'm hungry. I can feel my stomach rumbling from being hungry and often I am so caught up in what I am doing that I want to finish it. I choose not to eat in that moment but in saying that the medication does help me not to comfort eat, as I used to do. If I'm bored or not doing much, most of the time I want to eat almost anything and the ADHD meds keeps me focused on what I am doing so that I don't have those urges.

My dad and stepmom don't quite understand ADHD and often ask me do I still need to be on the meds or why I am on it but I think it's because they don't understand the fundamentals behind it and what it actually does to a person or how the Concerta helps. Many times from my experience and talking to other people, the issue is that parents don't have a full understanding of ADHD and how it will ultimately affect their children if undiagnosed. For me, I'm forever grateful for my mother, who is also ADHD, for noticing it in the first place and recognising the potential negatives it would have had on my life if it weren't diagnosed as well as recognising and understanding the benefits ADHD medication would bring to my potential. I can't imagine what my life would be like now if I did not meet Dr. Carew. She was always concerned about my future and about me, making sure I saw her regularly enough and making sure that I was still going on an upwards trend. Dr. Carew often gave me very good advice in dealing with ADHD which I still use today. Throughout it all, she always comforted me, reassured me, understood me, helped me and made me feel confident and secure about myself and the way that I am and the way that I live my life living with ADHD. I don't think I would be the way I am and where I am today if my mom had ignored all the signs and if I had another doctor.


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Dr Lesley Carew is a registered Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist practising at the Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital in Cape Town with a satellite sessional room on Thursday afternoons at the Akeso Milnerton.


Tel: 021 423 8774/6
Fax: 086 641 5388