Daniel J Vance

A National Institutes of Health website states that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is “one of the most common childhood disorders.” Symptoms can include impulsiveness, difficulty focusing on one thing, struggling to follow directions, talking nonstop and being in constant motion, being very impatient, blurting out inappropriate comments, and interrupting conversations.

Matt Lust, a 27-year-old doctoral student in sociology at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, offers no excuses for his ADHD-related behaviors. Growing up in Virginia, he was taught to accept responsibility for his actions.

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“But I didn’t realize I had ADHD until I was diagnosed by a U.S. Air Force Academy psychiatrist at age 19,” said Lust in a telephone interview. “One thing most people don’t know is you can’t be on any medication at the Academy, period. Because of the way ADHD influenced my military performance, they chose to recommend my dismissal based on medical reasons. It devastated me and in many ways I never got past it.”

The activity inside his mind goes one of two ways: It’s either like the feeling a motorist gets driving a freeway at 100 miles per hour or else that of being stopped dead in traffic. His mind has no middle speed, he said.

Perhaps much as anything, Lust has struggled with the stigma of having ADHD. Again, taught to accept personal responsibility, he hasn’t wanted people thinking he’s using ADHD as an excuse for any of his disorder-related behaviors, which at times can range from saying inappropriate comments to having great difficulty focusing on task.

Since leaving the Academy, he has avoided psychiatrists completely because he doesn’t want to accept yet being labeled as having ADHD. “I was raised to not complain and to not make excuses,” he said. “At colleges I’ve attended, I have never registered with the office of disability services. I don’t want people thinking I’m getting any special benefits or an easy out. I’ve always wanted to succeed on my own merits.”

As a UNLV student now, he struggles most in not being able to focus well in order to write down his thoughts and research onto paper for professors.

He strongly advised: “But don’t be ashamed to talk about having ADHD and don’t be afraid to get more resources if you think you need them.” The National Institutes of Health website says behavior therapy and medication can be effective treatments.

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