You probably have a mental disorder, too

As IâÄôm searching for statistics on mood disorders, a floating advertisement takes over my screen for 30 seconds. Flashing words grope my concentration asking me an ironic question, âÄúThink you have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?âÄù Undulating lines direct my sight to a script that reads, âÄúGo online to pay bills.âÄù Orange globes spin at seven different rates. The ad says, âÄúGet distracted.âÄù Four more lines spire across a million glowing pixels. A pulsating orb bursts into a train of diversion. The ad reveals my hypothetic inability to complete the task of paying bills asking if I instead: âÄúgoogle [my] high school boyfriend; shop for shoes; read gossip blogs;âÄù and inevitably âÄúforget to pay bills.âÄù The adâÄôs solution: âÄúOvercome everyday challenges with once-daily Concerta for ADHD.âÄù The captivating square shrinks away to a tall sidebar on the right and continues its seizure. âÄúWhat was I doing?âÄù My eyes are glazed. IâÄôve forgotten the statistics I was looking up because IâÄôm thinking about how many people would respond to that ad, questioning their mental capacity and concluding that Concerta might be right for them. I start imagining Concerta advertising employees Googling their ad to see if theyâÄôve made any press. I see them stumbling upon an opinions column in The Minnesota Daily about college students and the distractions of American society versus the real ails of mental deficiency. The advertisers have inhibited a new multitude of readers, now questioning the possibility that their procrastination might be due to a mental ineptitude that can be cured by taking a magical pill. I picture Concerta employees exchanging high fives as their first-quarter sales jump 5 percent. Suddenly I realize IâÄôve slipped into a tangent. I search further and find that the National Institute of Mental Health reports that more than one in four Americans aged 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. I have ADHD; or so IâÄôve been diagnosed. I tell my psychiatrist that IâÄôm overwhelmed, easily distracted, and sometimes I feel that I have so much to do that I canâÄôt do anything at all. He asks me what my major is. I tell him IâÄôve changed it four times. I blurt out that IâÄôm so scared about not finding work. IâÄôm terrified about paying my loans back. I tell him that my indecisiveness has forced me to take 18 credits and work two jobs just so that I donâÄôt have to pay for a sixth year of school. IâÄôm shaking. My eyes are glassy. IâÄôm sweating like crazy. My psychiatrist laughs at me. He tells me IâÄôm 22. IâÄôm trying to figure out what to do with my life. He tells me that IâÄôm terrified because it seems like such a permanent decision. He says IâÄôm inundated in a school that has 168 different programs, not even counting individual majors or graduate programs. He says IâÄôm spending money I donâÄôt have because college is expensive. ThatâÄôs what loans are for. He tells me I donâÄôt sleep regularly because IâÄôm taking on too much and I consume caffeine because I skip sleep. He says I donâÄôt eat a balanced diet because I donâÄôt have a regular schedule. He tells me IâÄôm a pile of emotion. But, he says, so is everyone else. I start laughing. We both laugh for five minutes. In fact IâÄôm laughing so hard IâÄôm actually crying. He tells me he has some pills I can try that might help me focus. IâÄôm not sure if theyâÄôre doing anything. I go to coffee shops to study. Ironically, I have to put on headphones with music loud enough to cover the background noise. I think about the seizing advertisements we deal with on a daily basis. I think about the multiple worlds in which we live. A wireless world. A cellular world. A televised world. A fictional world. An educational world. An occupational world. A social world. A domestic world. A mental world. A subconscious world. No wonder one in four of us has a âÄúmental disorder.âÄù America is an environment of stimuli and we need to medicate ourselves to survive it. Ashley welcomes comments at [email protected]