TRURO - A Shortts Lake resident has turned his mental health disorder into a learning opportunity that is now benefitting others as well.
Keith Gelhorn, 37, was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in 2009. Although at first the diagnosis eluded him, it soon began making sense.
"I thought the diagnosis was ludicrous because I thought it was only people who were hyperactive or children who had it," said Gelhorn. "But my whole life I knew something was wrong. I had problems with procrastination, organization and a lack of study skills."
Eventually, Gelhorn became a plumber, gas fitter and worked with hydraulics, but the loss of a job resulted in depression and anxiety. It was dealing with those mental health issues that ultimately proved he was also suffering from ADHD, which, when not dealt with, can increase symptoms of ADHD.
In 2011, Gelhorn found a way to help himself and is now sharing that knowledge with others. The second-year student in the Nova Scotia Community College Truro campus's disability support services program attended an ADHD support group and took a course on becoming a life skills and ADHD coach.
He now offers free one-on-one mentoring and group sessions to about 15 people at the NSCC where he presents an ADHD support group as well as one on mental health awareness.
In addition, he facilitates a free adult ADHD support group on the first Tuesday of the month at the Canadian Mental Health Association at 25 Revere St. in Truro.
Stewiacke's Margie Archibald, who has come a long way since attending the coaching sessions, was diagnosed with ADHD in 2010 but knew something was wrong for many years.
"I never felt things were quite right. I had depression and anxiety, couldn't pay attention, was impulsive, frustrated, hyper emotional and would speak too quickly" that was sometimes not socially appropriate, Archibald, 51, said.
"Now I'm more confident and have self-esteem. I'm learning about (ADHD) and myself and it's so exciting to feel empowered and to help empower others," Archibald said.
"I used to think I was stupid but now I don't and I know I wouldn't have achieved things I have without this. It gives you hope when you meet somebody else who has lived with it," she said, adding she's an honours student at the NSCC.
Gelhorn said it's important to reach out to youth and adults who struggle with ADHD.
"ADHD can be highly damaging to relationships and work so it's good to learn how to deal with it," he said.
For more information on the coaching sessions, call Gelhorn at 305-8464 or 673-2510 or email www.addvocacycoach.ca.
Did you know?
- There are three types of ADHD - predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive and combined
- Causes are unknown but research shows genetics plays a role. Other facts include brain injury, environmental exposure, alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy, premature delivery and low birth weight.
- What does not cause it: Poor parenting, too much TV or excess sugar, as previously believed by many people.
- Two major treatments are medication and behaviour therapy.