I often am asked about why a person with ADHD should try meds, and one response I give is that meds can give you the clarity and calmness of mind to finally have a chance to let the talented, interesting person “inside” shine through without interference from ADHD symptoms. Along those lines is the story of Andres Torres, who helped the SF Giants win the World Series in 2010. He struggled and underperformed for years until he finally accepted his diagnosis of ADHD and decided to treat it. After that he went from the minors to win the Series. His story will be told in an upcoming documentary tentatively titled “Gigante.”
When I tell adults who have been undiagnosed, or who have not yet decided it’s worthwhile to treat their ADHD, that treatment can allow them to express strengths inside that ADHD symptoms have obscured, these adults are often skeptical. I understand this – they have spent many years learning and relearning the “lesson” that they just can’t seem to pull it together, sometimes blaming this on a series of “unlucky breaks” rather than their ADHD. If they just “try harder” they’ll be able to do better. Or, worse, they internalize that maybe they aren’t worthwhile, after all. If that’s the case, they reason, then ADHD meds won’t make a difference.
But these common interpretations of their lives aren’t right. They are worthwhile. And “trying harder” doesn’t work when you have untreated ADHD. “Trying differently” does – and that’s just what Torres did. By finally facing his ADHD (at the suggestion of team management who wanted him to finally unlock his potential) he “tried differently, ”following a path – treatment – that is known to be successful for those with ADHD.
You might wonder whether ADHD medication would be considered a “performance enhancing” drug in the world of professional sports, since Torres’ story demonstrates that they can definitely improve performance. The answer is that in the major leagues some players can get an exemption for using ADHD meds for very specific therapeutic purposes. 105 players have such an exemption. Torres wasn’t enhancing his optimal performance the way steroids might. Torres’ use of ADHD meds simply allowed his natural talent to finally be expressed without interference.
If you want to find out more about Torres’ story, and about the upcoming documentary, there is an article in the New York Times about it at this link. I hope that many with ADHD will see it and realize that the reason to take ADHD meds is to be able to more fully express who you are.