‘Why I won’t let ADHD rule my life’

Dan Greer with his daughter Gracie
Dan Greer with his daughter Gracie
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Dan Greer has lost 17 iPhones, has been in trouble for leaving petrol forecourts without paying and finds it difficult to remember names.

With a million things going on inside his head all the time, Dan knew since he was a child that something was not quite right, but it was only two years ago that he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Dean Greer when he was captain of the chess team at primary school. He is second from the left being squashed

Dean Greer when he was captain of the chess team at primary school. He is second from the left being squashed

Since his diagnosis, Dan has found life a lot easier as he has been able to use techniques and put systems in place to make his life easier.

And with the support of a new Lancashire support group for adults with ADHD, Dan has realised he is not alone.

Dan, 40, who studied and lived in Preston but now lives in Darwen, recalls: “When I was younger, I had every trait of hyperactivity, but no one realised what it was.

“I was always running around and playing chasing games and I permanently wanted to do something that involved excitement and I was also very competitive.

“At primary school, I got by by being top of the class in Maths and I was also very good at sport and chess.

“I have since learned that many people with ADHD are good at chess because it involves thinking of multiple things at once.

“I was aware even at that age that I was always thinking very fast in my head. There were many things in my mind, and sometimes it was overwhelming.”

When Dan went to secondary school, he found himself struggling and his grades dipped off and he found exams difficult.

He explains: “One of the symptoms of ADHD is an inability to focus on things that do not interest you. It looks like you are being ignorant or rude, but you are not. It is part of the condition.

Art was one of the subjects Dan excelled at and after leaving school, he went to art college where he learned he had an aptitude for photography and he now works as a freelance photographer.

Dan recalls: “It was around this time that it really sank in that my brain was working much too fast. I was always on the go and did not seem to wind down.

“I think the best way of describing ADHD is the words of a doctor who wrote a book about the condition who said: ‘It is like having a brain with a Ferrari engine with the brakes of a tricycle’.”

Dan began working as a photographer on cruise ships which he loved, but he began drinking at night to calm down and it soon became the norm.

At the age of 37, he suffered a sports accident which left his hand in a splint for a year and he could not work as a photographer and his life as he knew it seemed to collapse.

Dan remembers: “I was at home all the time and I could not drive or work and I had a bit of a breakdown. My friends refer to this time as ‘the Alan Partridge Toblerone months’.

“I started drinking to mask it, to the point where it was becoming an issue. I have since discovered a lot of people with ADHD self-medicate with alcohol.”

Dan sought help with his alcohol problem and he stopped drinking completely in June 2011.

A former girlfriend had told him on a number of occasions that she believed he had ADHD so Dan decided to look at the symptoms online. He says: “I could not believe it. All the symptoms were describing me. It was very strange and enlightening.

“I used to think ADHD was just something the Americans had made up for naughty children, but I realised it was very real and explained why I was the way I was.”

Dan went to see a doctor but says the GP was dismissive.

Dan says: “I am not very patient and after reading the symptoms, I knew I had ADHD and I needed a diagnosis.

“I ended up going privately to the Priory in Preston and they diagnosed me.

“It was such a huge relief to finally know what it was.”

Dan says his life has become infinitely better since his diagnosis. He meditates twice a day using transcendental meditation, which is proven to help children and adults with ADHD, as well as people who had trouble with addictions.

He also takes medication when it is needed.

Dan, who is a dad-of-one, says: “Before my diagnosis, I lost 17 iPhones. Since I was diagnosed, I haven’t lost one.

“Before I knew I had ADHD, I forgot to pay for petrol twice because I was talking to someone.

“To put into context how often people with ADHD forget things, after I was first diagnosed, I went to the library to get some books out on the condition.

“But I discovered none of the books on ADHD had been returned, as the sufferers had forgotten to return them.

“There are still struggles, but now I know what I am dealing with, I can get by.

“I have now got my own photo studio and last year, I did my dream job of photographing the Stone Roses for the band.

“Life is good for me now and, hopefully, it will only get better.”