A young man who turned to drink and drugs to escape the turmoil wrought by undiagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) but has since completely turned his life around is urging people to come along to a new support group for the hidden condition that meets monthly in Clarendon Street.
Niall Greene and partner Emma Weaver set up Adult ADHD NI in 2012 in Fermanagh, due to what they described as a complete lack of support for people suffering from what’s very much a forgotten disorder.
Adult ADHD now has six support groups across the North, including one launched in April that meets on the first Friday of every month at 2pm in the Beacon Centre at 20 Clarendon Street.
Niall said suffering from the condition was hugely debilitating and that getting a diagnosis was a life-changing experience.
“Everything seems so disorganised, which leads to frustration and feelings of anger towards yourself,” said Niall.
“I didn’t get an education. I left school with no education whatsoever. I couldn’t hold down a job for any length of time and couldn’t manage money. I had no concept of managing my finances.
“With undiagnosed ADHD, without realising, I started self-medicating, through drug and alcohol abuse. I started suffering from severe bouts of depression and anxiety and then again using alcohol and drugs to take those feelings away.
“Lucky enough I did a drug and alcohol rehab back in 2004 and after that I was seeing a clinical psychologist and she was the first to pick it up. I started reading up about what ADHD was myself and I finally got a diagnosis in 2006. It was completely life-changing.”
Emma said the condition, which is borne of dopamine deficiency, affects the executive function of the brain and yet there were no supports available when they started out four years ago.
“It came from need. There were no adult ADHD support services in Northern Ireland. We went looking and we couldn’t find anybody. We started up a group in Enniskillen and people just kept coming and coming and coming and coming,” said Emma.
She said the Derry support group was founded out of a similar need.
“It only started in April but again from the need,” she said. “The condition itself affects a vast range, every different aspect of people’s lives, in terms of education, employment, even social situations, people find it very difficult.”
Niall said: “We support adults affected by ADHD or if you are a parent of a child with ADHD you’re welcome to come along to the support group meeting.
“It’s a very relaxed atmosphere just talking about how ADHD affects you and, I suppose, peer support on how to manage the ADHD symptoms.”
Niall and Emma are encouraging people to come along to the Beacon Centre at 20 Clarendon Street on the first Friday of each month from 2pm to 3.30pm. You can also get in touch via www.adultadhdni.org or by visiting the group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Adult-ADHD-NI-379357025481054