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Monday 21 January 2019

Celebrity ADHD

Photo: Dan Jones - via The Sun online
So, in an interview with The Sun newspaper, British tv celebrity Ant McPartlin admitted he has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - ADHD – at the age of 43. 

In 2018 the presenter and on-screen partner of Declan Donnelly (“I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!” “Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway” and “Britain's Got Talent”) was arrested and convicted for drink driving, after which he took time off to go to rehab - which eventually lead him to receive his ADHD diagnosis.

To many people (mainly those who have ADHD or their families) this probably won't be a surprise.

As it says on the website of Fastminds - a wonderful ADHD and Autism Support Group in Kingston-upon-Thames in Surrey that we’re proud to be involved with – the implications of late ADHD diagnosis include:
  • Chronic psychological distress
  • Learned Helplessness
  • Poor self-care
  • Substance abuse (in 2015 after botched knee surgery Ant slowly became addicted to taking prescription drugs along with alcohol, including use before television appearances)
  • Low self-esteem
  • Employment difficulties
  • Troubled long-term relationships (Ant was divorced in 2018)
Other UK celebrities with an ADHD diagnosis include comedian Rory Bremner; broadcaster Richard Bacon; performer, producer and award-winning founder of the band Black Eyed Peas; and Olympic gymnast (and Strictly Come Dancing winner) Louis Smith, to name but a few.

Of the four, Louis Smith and are the only ones to have been diagnosed as a child. 

We hope that Ant will join a good support group like Fastminds, as he’d be amongst his “tribe”: creative adults who probably struggle with the same type of Executive functioning issues as he probably does:
  • Paying attention
  • Organising and planning
  • Initiating tasks and staying on them
  • Regulating emotions
  • Self-monitoring - keeping track of what you’re doing (like speeding perhaps Ant?)
It helps when people understand they're not going through the challenges alone - there are others in the group who may have lived through similar difficulties. They share their experiences (good and bad) of things such as mental illness; symptom history and diagnosis pathway, and strategies that help them cope with things like relationships, organising paperwork, financial problems, and decision making (such as decluttering).

Cherry Rudge - Founder of Rainbow Red and the Hoarding Ice-Breaker Form - has been studying ADHD and Autism and attending local ADHD support groups for several years; in 2017 she wrote about how the ADHD brain in the context of clutter, disorganisation, compulsive shopping/acquiring or hoarding in Jo Cooke's acclaimed book "Understanding Hoarding", and contributed a diagram (below) which illustrates some of the challenges faced by people with ADHD.

At an ADHD Support Group like Fastminds, Ant would be welcomed with open arms, and not judged. Because Fastminds is peer-led, and run by volunteers who live with ADHD and/or Autism every day, and people can be themselves, without having to put on a show and be what others feel they should be.

And, by the way, we should point out that Fastminds is an acronym for common symptoms that are often seen in ADHD:
  • Forgetful
  • Achieving below potential
  • Stuck in a rut
  • Time challenged
  • Motivationally challenged
  • Impulsive
  • Novelty seeking
  • Distractible
  • Scattered 
Without effective support groups and campaigners like the wonderfully creative folks at Fastminds (check out the amazing cards they designed and sell to raise money as part of their Neurodiversity Festival in 2018) there might be an awful lot more people in rehab, or in a drunken stupor or in jail, all because of a genetic neurological condition that has ruled their lives since birth.

Sadly, despite the increasing need for support groups like Fastminds (because Autism and ADHD are genetic, so it's not going away any time soon!) they receive very little support from Government, and getting an ADHD or Autism diagnosis can take months or even years. Imagine the cost of this to tax payers in antidepressants and counselling alone (let alone benefits payments!).

Some, like Ant, have money to pay for such treatment and therapy - others do not.

So, Ant, we wish you all the very best for the future, and hope that you use your gift of ADHD to support support groups like Fastminds, and help raise awareness of the types of challenges faced by people born with a condition that can be:
  • wonderful - because of the gift of creativity and entrepreneurial spirit it can bring; there are LOADS of famous celebrities and public figures around The World who have ADHD, including American Olympic swimming legend Michael Phelps, American singer and actor Justin Timberlake (who also has OCD), hotel heiress Paris Hilton and American Olympic gold medal gymnast Simone Biles.
  • a curse - because of the overwhelm and mental and physical health issues that can come with it; common co-morbid conditions include Autism, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Depression, General Anxiety Disorder, Fibromyalgia or OCD. Which often means people are unable to work and rely on benefits to live (that's another blog post for another time....)
  • Undiagnosed for many years. Medical professionals rarely have sufficient knowledge about ADHD or Autism to recognise it, and just end up treating a person's mental health (by prescribing CBT or antidepressants) instead of getting to the root cause and underlying reasons about why the patient's mental health has been affected
  • misdiagnosed by medical professionals - it's not uncommon for people to be misdiagnosed with conditions such as Bipolar Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder

If you’d like to know more about ADHD, please take a look at Rainbow Red’s Pinterest board for LOADS of helpful videos and information.