Danielle Fisher Comes Out on Top of ADHDby Shaheen E Lakhan, MD, PhD, MEd, MS, FAAN | October 13, 2006
Danielle Fisher, a petite, 21-year-old college student from Bow, Washington, made headlines last year when she became the youngest person to conquer “The Seven Summits” – the highest mountain on each of the seven continents. While her drive and passion helped her become one of the best alpine climbers in her age group, Danielle also trounces tradition in another way. Danielle, along with millions of adults in the United States, struggles daily with the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Danielle Fisher: In my case, I was never really great at school. I would often daydream during class, and would jump from one activity to another without actually finishing any of them. The teachers told my parents that I was intelligent, but too easily distracted, and of course this had a negative impact on my grades. I actually felt relieved when I was diagnosed with ADHD in the sixth grade. Finally, I knew there was a reason I was having difficulty with activities that my friends could easily complete.
Fortunately, my friends and family were very supportive after I was diagnosed. In fact, my mother had also been diagnosed with ADHD just a few months prior, so she already knew that it is a relatively common disorder, and that it can be treated. Even so, when you have a disorder like ADHD, in my opinion the most important thing is to find a balance between knowing that you need help and making an effort to push through by yourself. In my case, I take Adderall XR daily, which is a medication to help manage ADHD symptoms. I also meet with a professional counselor who helps me organize my schedule and keeps me on track and focused on my goals. But, at the end of the day, I have to take responsibility and make a serious personal effort to focus on my objectives, follow through on tasks I’ve laid out for myself, and basically push through distractions or difficulties that other people without ADHD would not even notice.
I first started climbing with my dad and my climbing mentor Mike Woodmansee. My first climb was in the North Cascades in Washington State, and it was the summer before my sophomore year of high school. That same summer, we also climbed Mount Rainier in Washington and I just basically fell in love with the excitement and challenge of reaching the mountaintop.
When I’m climbing, I feel like I am a totally different person. I become very focused and determined. I forget about the pains of blisters, scrapes and bruises and the fact that I have ADHD. I just keep on going. Since I started climbing, the person I am on the mountain has increasingly become who I am in all aspects of my life, including school and work.
After I succeeded in climbing the seven summits in June of last year, I have been fortunate enough to be able to help raise awareness about ADHD and to emphasize that being diagnosed with this disorder does not mean you have to give up or compromise your goals. I think it is very important to discover what your passions are because when you are enjoying what you are doing or working towards something you are excited about, you will be able to focus on that goal. In fact, in a way, I think I have tackled ADHD as if it were a mountain. Both are always going to be there, but with resolve, determination and a good support network, I can come out on top.
For more information about Danielle, please visit her Web site at www.DanielleFisher.com.
For more information about ADHD, please visit www.ADHDSupport.com.
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