Davis Ann Bourgeois is one of the most accomplished students you will meet. A broadcast journalism major, at 21, Bourgeois already has an ongoing career. Her passion and dedication were enough to land her internships and jobs at Fox 5 and NBC 7 among other local stations. For this reason, when she told me she has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and anxiety, I was immediately interested in her story and in that of other people who share the same diagnosis.
According to the Attention Deficit Disorder Association, “ADHD is caused by chemical, structural, and connectivity differences in the brain, mostly as a result of genetics.”
While most people get diagnosed in their childhood, Bourgeois said she found out she had ADHD during her junior year of high school.
Her symptoms were extremely physical, “I would get panic attacks, shake and feel like someone was sitting on my chest. In bad situations, I would get a horrible pain in my stomach. Doctors have described it to my mom as feeling contractions,” she said. “My ears [would] ring and my body would get really cold, and this is when I have learned to know I am about to faint.”
Despite the hardships, Bourgeois has efficiently learned to cope with her condition. “I have become very good at managing my priorities to my advantage,” she said. “My medication keeps me calm and focused. I noticed [that] I panic and faint when I find myself under a lot of pressure.”
For this reason, Bourgeois said she often lets people know early in her interactions that she may faint, adding that “life at PLNU is no different than everyday life with my condition. It doesn’t define me and I have learned that if I inform people that I faint and my body, due to low blood pressure, seizes then, if it happens, people can be aware of it.”
San Diego based stand-up comedian and Army veteran Louis Bernardo Sotelo described ADHD as “a mental blockage that does not allow you to function at your best.” In addition to medicine, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is often suggested in the treatment of the disorder. But, while Sotelo takes advantage of the help that the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs offers, Bourgeois said that church time was the only “therapy I have ever allowed myself to have.”
Although ADDA reports that five percent of the adult population in the United States has ADHD, the stigma around the condition is still persistent.
“Most people whom you interact with don’t care that you may have ADHD,” Sotelo said. “When you tell someone you have it, you can see them look away slowly, like they are thinking, ‘Not this stuff again.’ It’s just difficult to get things done. People without the disorder don’t, won’t, or can’t understand that.”