Chad Kesler's Story shares the trials
of growing up with ADD and Addiction
My Life’s Story
Hi! My name is Chad Kesler. If we didn’t meet, I wish we could have. I’m sort of writing this but not really. A lot of the words are mine, things I’ve said to my family and friends, things I want you to know, some of my goals and papers I’ve written. I would have been twenty years old now.
Some people thought I was shy and I had a “tough guy” act. If you were my friend, you would know that I would stick by your side no matter what. If anyone messed with my friends, my brother who is deaf, or made fun of a kid having troubles in school, I’d have a “word” with them. On vacations, I noticed that the homeless people just seemed to know intuitively, when they saw me coming, that I’d help them with money, food or whatever I could. In the end, the drug dealers took advantage of me that way and that is something that changed many lives forever. I regret so much the day that I got involved with drugs and the people who sell them!
I wish I would never have gotten into drugs. I swore all through High School that I never would. My friends and I used to talk about it all the time. We couldn’t believe anyone would want to “do that to their body”. From the first day I stepped into Eagle Valley High, I could get any drug I wanted. It was up valley too and it was being pedaled by the kids that you would least expect. The jocks, that used to make fun of my friends and me for smoking cigarettes, were even doing them.
I found out, the hard way, that it’s not always bad kids and losers that do drugs. I wasn’t bad and I wasn’t a loser but I made a choice one night that turned out really bad in the end. Drugs are everywhere, man. By the time I graduated, cocaine was at most parties. Kids would disappear for awhile. Like go in to the bathroom, parking lot or a car and you just knew what they were doing. Lots of times I wouldn’t even let my friends or girlfriend go to some of those parties. It was really hard to find something to do around here anymore. I was alwaze scared the police would show up and we’d get busted along with the users. A lot of the upper classmen, especially the year I graduated, were doing cocaine or crack. I mean a lot, maybe as many as one fourth of them!! For some reason drugs were just everywhere this year.
“I had the World by the Balls”
It was the best day of my life when I graduated, Class of 2004!! I was so happy!! I had the “world by the balls” as my friend, Ty, said. I was so proud of myself but I don’t think any one had a clue just how hard I had actually worked to get this far. I think most people, including my teachers, just thought I was lazy, disorganized and unmotivated. It was partly true but no one seems to have any idea what a challenge school is for someone like us. One of my teachers, in my Senior year, politely said that “college wasn’t for everyone”. It’s difficult to believe in yourself when no one else does. I didn’t want to go to college anyway. I’d had enough school!
In my Val Victorian Speech, that I had to write for school, I pretty much said it “like it was” for me. These are my favorite parts:
“I would encourage others to find something that they enjoy doing every day that way they have something to look forward to at the end of a long hard day.....
Alwaze have a good attitude about everything that you do and try to make the best out of every situation...
So far the lessons life have taught me are, it is a privilege to live and just breath, so you might as well live life to the fullest because you never know when it will end…
I am very excited about my future. After High School I am going to the Universal Technical Institute for customizing cars and motorcycles. I don’t care how much I make while doing so, I just want to wake up and say heck yeh I have to go to work today...
I enjoy traveling. I have been to London, Italy, Venice, Florence, Jamaica, and Mexico. I plan to go to Australia and other places like that. I enjoy seeing other peoples cultures, some I like and others make me feel very grateful to live where I live today. Other than that I am pleased with my life so far and am very thankful for everything I have”.
I meant every word I said too. I wrote that speech about two months before I got involved with Crack. It’s amazing that everything you’ve worked for can go down the drain in one night by making one bad choice. My whole life changed drastically and I made a decision that I regret so much and now I can’t change it. It was only four months later that I took off, never to return.
"ADD/ADHD in the 21st Century"
I gotta say, this is really a tough time for kids like you and me to live in. It’s tough for any kid, really, but kids that have ADD/ADHD is what I mean. Kids today, have a lot of advantages and we’ve grown up where sports rule. We didn’t have to entertain ourselves because we were entertained by TV and video games. Both of these things were full of violence, not the greatest influence for kids. The worse part now is that drugs are so easy to get and they are so much more potent now then before. If you have a job in this valley, you even have pretty good money to spend. Trust me, in the end, it’ll never be enough. Dealers give you drugs on an IOU basis until you get hooked and then they own you. Your life becomes a lie and you’re paranoid all of the time, alwaze looking over your shoulder.
This fast paced, computerized world is a difficult place for kids with wiring like ours. I mean our brains just work differently. They say there are now 1 in 3 to 5 kids that have learning disabilities like us. We’re generally very sensitive, in tune with nature, and spiritual. That’s because we don’t sit around thinking about stuff, we just learn to trust our gut. With all of our excess energy, we tend to be very active which promotes being athletic. We tend to be very artistic or musically inclined. When we have a creative impulse, we just go with it. Of course, following our impulses, without thinking things through, gets us in plenty of trouble most of the time. Anyway, I think we would have survived great in the wild, west days. Think about it. We would have been in tune with the herds, athletic and fast for chasing game, creative for making crafts for trade, survival by trusting our intuition and instincts.
But it’s tough fitting in these days. We get lost in public schools. We lose confidence in ourselves and so does everyone else because they don’t understand us. That’s because we can’t stay focused and we keep missing important things and the teachers just talk on and on. Sitting still and listening just doesn’t work for me.
“When I was Younger”
When I was younger and the teachers called on me, I was alwaze embarrassed because lots of times I didn’t even hear the question. I was either thinking about sports, motorcycles, or girls and sometimes I was shooting paper wads or trying to talk to other kids. I really hated sitting still in class. The teachers said I was disruptive. I actually liked P. E. and art, though. I liked being active and working with my hands.
I guess what I really want to say is that no one understands how you feel, but I do. You see, I lived your life. It’s frustrating because you know you’re different then the other kids but you’re not sure how or why. You’re alwaze the last one to finish a test. Sometimes they even pull you out and put you in the “slow” classes or special study halls. It helps in one way but you really feel stupid and embarrassed. You alwaze get in trouble with other kids that are like you and you can never compete with the brainier kids. The teachers and principal are forever giving you a bad time. You try to be good and it seems like it never lasts and before you know it, you’re in trouble again. When everyone keeps blaming you, it makes you just want to quit trying.
We’re under a lot of pressure from our teachers and our parents. I loved my parents and I just wanted to please them and my teachers. I remember I would work really hard for two or three days to bring a grade up and then another one would drop. I just couldn’t work that hard all of the time. It took so much effort for me. After working hard on a project, a lot of times I’d forget to turn my homework in the next day and then I got a bad grade. I hated tests because I missed a lot in class and I was too embarrassed to ask questions or to ask for help. I don’t know why I couldn’t ever remember my multiplication tables. Geez, I worked on them every day and it was like starting over every day.
Everyone is alwaze ragging on me to “get organized”. They ask me to do about five things and by the time I do one, I’ve already forgotten the other things I was supposed to do. It makes me feel worthless. Everyone is disappointed with me a lot and I’m disappointed with me too. I alwaze feel sorry and I wish I could be different but I just can’t seem to change my behavior.
I hate school. I don’t see why we have to go. A lot of the stuff we learn there we’ll never need to know anyway. I guess I must not have been paying attention in kindergarten because I don’t even know the order of the calendar months. I guess I’m a pretty bad speller too. To me, alwaze is spelled just like it sounds. I never could get that word right. I guess I forgot to add punctuation too.
In Sixth grade, the school had a meeting with my parents. They decided that I have to take sixth grade over again. I guess that settles it, “I’m not the brightest apple on the tree”. I begged and cried but everyone thought it would be best for me. I’m so embarrassed and I don’t want to stay in school another whole year. Maybe I can go to summer school and catch up with my friends somehow. Problem is, I don’t want to go to school in the summer, that’s for sure.
Mom made the school give me special tests and they finally figured out that I have ADD and learning disabilities. Mom says that’s why I have such a hard time in school. It kinda makes me feel better in a way to know that I’m not stupid. She says I’m actually very smart, I just have a hard time focusing and remembering everything. Now I have to go to special study halls every day and they give me more time to take tests. It still makes me feel stupid and different from the other kids. They started me on Ritlin but I hate how it makes me feel. I don’t eat as much and I can’t really sleep at night. After a month, mom just put me on some natural stuff that calmed me down a little.
I’m really good in sports. I played football for my Dad one year. He loved that and came to my games. I was really best at soccer and hockey, though. I was fast and scored a lot. I remember the teachers said I couldn’t be ADD because I was focused in sports. To tell you the truth, action and staying busy with my hands is about the only time I can focus. The problem is, I can’t get my homework done a lot of times and sometimes I get kicked out of sports because my grades are failing. When I don’t play sports, I don’t have anything to look forward to and I have so much energy, then I REALLY can’t sit still in class. They’re also taking away PE and art this year. That really makes me sad. PE really helped me to settle down and art was fun. I have a lot of good ideas and you can just experiment in art class.
“Challenges of Growing up ADD”
Sometimes I hate my life. I don’t know why but I started carving my initials everywhere in my bedroom and even my skin. Part of it is because I’m alwaze fidgeting and part of it is because I feel bad about myself and frustrated. My mom worries about me all the time. It drives me crazy. She started taking me to a counselor when I was five. He told me I had to work on my lying but sometimes I don’t even know I’m lying. I swear I don’t. To stay out of trouble I do have to lie a lot though. By High School, I’d seen so many counselors that I knew just want they wanted to hear. That’s how I could get out of counseling. I hated sitting around talking. It’s just not my thing.
My brother is my hero. He’s so smart and neat and everyone really likes him. They didn’t alwaze but they do now. I can never be as good as him at anything except in sports. Sometimes I surprise my mom by making her a special dinner and dessert. She loves surprises and candles and stuff. I painted her a picture. It looks real if you look at it from far away. It’s of the mountains.
My friends and I tried smoking a cigarette today. It’s crazy because I’ve been yelling at my dad to quit smoking forever because I don’t want him to die of cancer. It’s weird because it makes me feel grown up and besides all of my friends are doing it when we go snowboarding. My mom and I got into a really big fight about it. I decided to move to my dads. I’d been wanting to spend more time with him anyway.
My friends and I have so much fun snowboarding in the winter and riding motorcycles in the summer. I guess we’re a little crazy but I’m really good at sports. I live life on the edge but I break a lot of bones. I really want to be a professional motocross rider someday.
We even started competing on snowboards. We called ourselves the “Rat Pack”.
I love playing hockey too. I started when I was really little. When I was a senior it was a great outlet for me. We kicked some butt on ice.
I started drinking beer quite a bit by High School. We’d have to sneak it, of course, but there was alwaze someone around that would buy beer for us. My dad bought me my first truck. Man, I loved that truck!! It was a white Dodge Sport, 4 X 4. I got my license and I was on top of the world for about six months until I got pulled over for drinking and driving. To tell you the truth, I can’t remember a thing that happened that night. My memory just “blacked out”. Boy, did I get into a world of trouble over that. I’d been trying to stay out of trouble and did a good job ever since I got caught for stealing cigarettes. That was really dumb but I swear, I just don’t think about how bad the consequences will be if I get caught. I see something and I just act on it. By the time I had to work off all of my attorney fees and community service, I had lost my truck. I was so angry but mostly at myself. I hated that my Dad gave my truck to my brother and I alwaze felt like it was mine. I knew it was my own fault though.
I swore I would never drink and drive again. I did get into trouble drinking again though but at least I wasn’t driving. I still had to go to court. Man, it’s just not worth it. It just screws everything up. I wish there was just some other way to hang out that you weren’t alwaze getting into trouble. It upsets my parents but drinking and partying is what everybody does. My mom drives me crazy worrying and lecturing me all of the time. I can never get ahead with money either. I spend it as fast as I make it and I alwaze owe my parents for attorney fees or classes or something.
You know, when I was a sophomore, one of my friends, tried to commit suicide. It really upset me. I just couldn’t believe someone would do that. I told my friend Ty that if I ever did anything THAT stupid and screwed it up, to just shoot me because I was too stupid to live. I would never have thought, in a million years, that I’d end up doing that someday.
My mom tried to get me into a special school in Denver for kids with ADD when I was a Junior. I kind of wanted to go but I really don’t like school and I don’t really want to leave my friends. My dad doesn’t think I need to go to a special school. He thinks I just need to “apply” myself. I must have changed my mind a hundred times but in the end it didn’t matter because the school didn’t accept me. They said they didn’t need any more boys but if I was a girl, I could get in. They were also afraid I’d lower their statistics if I couldn’t go to college.
I knew I had a drinking problem when I got that DUI at 16 but I didn’t want to admit it because that meant I’d have to stop partying with my friends. I went too far though the day before Thanksgiving, two years ago. I got my mom’s old truck out of the shop for her. That thing is built like a tank, luckily for us. It was an old 1986 Ford Truck. A guy I was working with bought me a bunch of beer and we started drinking early that day. By ten, I was driving over to my friends’ house. It was just right down our road and I drove off the road and flipped mom’s truck. We weren’t going fast but I couldn’t believe we crawled out of that thing. The cab was smashed right down to the steering wheel. What if I had killed my friend?
That was the final straw. I felt horrible and I started going to AA the next day, Thanksgiving. I just get so angry at myself because I just don’t think about what I’m doing. I was pretty successful with AA and proud to get my first chip. I began to notice that I could think so much clearer all the time now. It was amazing. It was like not realizing that your eyes were bad until you put glasses on one day. It really surprised me. I loved waking up and feeling good on the weekends instead of feeling bad and just sleeping all weekend. At first I couldn’t go to any parties. Eventually, I started going but took a big supply of red bull along so I had something to socialize with. It was funny to watch how stupid kids are when they get drunk. They fight a lot too. I was alwaze the designated driver or “designated decoy”, as we called it. I actually liked that I could help other kids out. My Dad got me a new Dodge Truck but I alwaze liked my first truck the best. I was really proud of myself and for Christmas I wrote a letter to my mom and signed it in blood. I swore on my life that I would never drink again and I knew that would be the best present I could ever give her.
I stopped going to AA because everyone in there was older and I hate sitting around listening and I didn’t feel like talking that much. On graduation day, I drove everyone else around to the parties. I’d been sober for six months already. I couldn’t wait to be grown up, out of school and on my own. I had a job painting with some guys for the summer. I’d been accepted to go to UTI and I was really proud of that too. Everything was great until I fell off the roof one night. A bunch of us were just goofing around and we were sitting on the roof talking. I went to jump down and caught my toe in the eve. I’d just had surgery on my right wrist so I stuck out my left wrist and shattered it. It’s alwaze something with me!!
“One Bad Choice”
I couldn’t get in for surgery right away so the Doctor gave me some percocet for the pain and I had to hang out waiting for four days. It was really boring and I was depressed that I had messed up my wrist. They didn’t know if it would heal right or not. I couldn’t work and there was nothing to do. An upper class man, who I hadn’t seen around much in years, started coming over and hanging around while mom was at work. He wanted to borrow my truck sometimes and I let him. Then he needed a place to stay and so I said it was OK. I liked having the company, actually. All my friends were busy working. I found out later that he was using my truck to deliver drugs.
One night, he asked me if I wanted to try a hit of coke. I guess that was his way of repaying me. I never wanted to do drugs and I have no idea why I did it that night but I was just so loopy on the percocet that I said yes. I guess I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try it once. It’s not like I had to do it again. But, of course, I did. A lot of the kids that I started hangin out with were really amped up on cocaine but it kinda calmed me down. I guess because of the ADD. Anyway, one day my new friends showed me how to freebase the cocaine which affected me totally different then snorting it. Once I tried that, I just wanted to keep doing it. Crack is to cocaine like driving an Indy car is to riding a tricycle. There was no comparison.
“The Beginning of the End”
I started getting in more and more trouble with drug dealers. At first they just gave me the drugs, to get me hooked, and said I could pay them later. They started using my truck more and more because I didn’t have any money. I gave them my cell phone to use too. Then I had to sell my motorcycle. I practically gave it away because I needed the money so bad. I hate my life now. I fight with my mom all of the time and she cries and I cry and we talk and I swear I’m going to quit but the next day or two I do it again. I’m so pissed off at myself but the cravings are terrible. When I wake up it feels like I want to crawl out of my skin. I feel so depressed and all I can think about is when and how to get more crack. I always thought I could quit on my own until the day I left. That day in a few minutes, I realized I couldn’t and I just didn’t know any way out.
A week before I drove away for good, Mom gave me her cash card because she wanted me to go get her some cash. I owed the drug dealers so much money they were beginning to threaten me. I was working again and I loved my job with Paul as a car mechanic but I spent all the money I made and I began needing more and more drugs in order to get the same high. I stole money from Mom and lied to her. Actually, I had started lying to everyone. My whole life had become a lie. I never hang out with my real friends anymore. I just want to be with the guys that know how to get drugs. My mom found out about the cash I’d stole on her card. She was so upset and I couldn’t stand hurting her like that. I told her she had to let me go because the dealers were threatening to kill me and to mess with her. I took off that night. By 4 am I came home though. I nearly froze to death out in the back country.
Mom said she would never let me go and that we had to work this out somehow. She wants me to move in with my Dad so he can watch me. My dad and I went hunting for four days and I swore and I was going to quit doing drugs but by the time we got back into town I was desperate and had to do it one more time. My dad and I had such a great trip. I just had to do it one more time and then I was going to quit or go to rehab.
“My Last Day”
I was up all night. Mom woke up and she was upset again. I just hate that she’s alwaze upset and I don’t know what to say so I just try not to make noise or be in the same room as her. This morning I threw some clothes in a bag. I’m supposed to move in with my Dad tonight. I called Paul to see about getting a ride to work. I need to save gas money. I gave Mom a hug and I told her that I was going to quit on my own in the next month or I’d check myself in. I was going to go meet Paul but I just felt so depressed. I was out of drugs, I was out of money, I owed the dealers so much money that I had to alwaze hide from them. I spent my grandma’s college fund on a motorcycle then sold it for half what I paid for it. I feel like there’s just no way to win for me. I’m so depressed and I just want to stop doing this but I know I can’t. I know that my Dad will be so disappointed and upset and I don’t want them to have to spend money on rehab. Man, how did my life get so screwed up in four months? I feel like such a failure.
Maybe it would just be better for everyone if I was dead. I called my Mom and told her I loved her and that I was sooo sorry. I was crying. That was the last time I used my phone or called anyone. I never said goodbye to anyone because I never would have thought I’d get low enough to actually want my life to be over. I really thought I could stop using this drug. I tried so many times. I drove away from my home, my dogs, my friends and my family that I love. I hid my truck so hopefully no one will have to find me. I didn’t know what else to do to stop what the drugs were doing to my family and my life. I just couldn’t see waking up one more morning like this.
“If I had it to Do Over Again”
Looking back from where I am now, it doesn’t seem real. I watched my Mom and Dad and saw how worried they alwaze were. My mom was frantically trying everything to find me. She talked to the police everyday. Put up missing posters and visited homeless shelters. She hired a Private Investigator. She followed users around, the kids that I did drugs with, asking questions. She talked to physics. She prayed. She cried and she cries even more now and I just wish I could hold her and make it alright again but it’s too late. I just wasn’t thinking about what would happen. I just thought everyone would be better off but now I see that their lives will never be the same. I see how much they miss me and I miss them. I see how much guilt they carry because they wish they could have helped me. I never even said goodbye to my friends. They felt bad that they couldn’t help me either. I was right before when I said drugs were stupid and committing suicide was stupid. Dead Right!
Yep, one bad choice, in a few minutes, had ruined my life and the lives of everyone that loved me. I wish I had it all to do over again. It’s too late for me but it’s not too late for you. I hope you are listening. I hope you or someone you love won’t make the mistake I made. Believe in yourself and if you’re in trouble, there are so many people out there that want to help. I hope you’ll be able to reach out to someone, anyone. I wish I had!
"Quotes from Chad over the years"
I think the following reveals how Chad felt about school and how his self image revolved around his feelings of inadequacy in his learning environment. I believe very strongly that kids need to be able to compete with their peers. I believe they should be in a school with kids like themselves that learn things the same way they learn things; taught by teachers that understand them and can encourage them instead of criticize them.
According to Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M.D., co authors of Answers to Distraction and Driven to Distraction, "There is a corrosive effect of ongoing humiliation on a (ADD) child's psyche. The worse consequence of having undiagnosed ADD throughout one's school years is not attributable to the ADD directly, but to the indirect emotional damage that occurs. The child takes in all the bad things that are said about him and, over time, begins to believe them."
This is a complete the sentence when Chad was just learning to write. Note spelling challenges.
I wish the principal would: “change the lunch time to 12:00”
I hope my teacher will: “like me dering the school year”
I look forward to: “geting beter at math”
I dread: “I do no want to go to the prensals ofis”
I can hardly wait to: “go to lunch”
I am afraid that: “I might get an f on mi report card”
When I think of homework: I “wory that I might no get it done”
More than anything else, I wish: “I did not have to go to school every day”
July 1997: A note from a guide at the “Meet the Wilderness Program” (This reveals that Chad could focus in “on the edge” type activities and also reveals his feelings about his self image
“The guides and I were especially impressed with Chad’s ability to organize his gear and prepare himself for the day’s activities. We could always count on Chad to be ready ahead of schedule and have those extra things in his pack that made the difference between just making it and making it safely.
As you will see in his narrative, one of Chad’s biggest challenges is seeing himself as a success in areas other than sports. Chad had incredible focus during both the peak ascent and the rock climb. If he can convince himself that he can transfer that focus to other things, there will be no stopping him.”
Complete the sentence. March 4, 1998 (13 years old) Difficult time of his life. A lot of anger and fear. Also, it is interesting to note that ADD makes people much more sensitive to sounds, touch and all of their senses because they aren't as able to filter them.
I get very angry when: “people do annoying things like smacking their food”
What I hate the most is: “people who smack their food”
When I was a little boy I was scared that: “mom and dad would get into fights”
When I was a little boy my feelings were hurt when: “my brother teased me”
What I love most about myself is: “I am active”
I think I’m a good person when: I “do things for people”
Someday I hope I can: “understand school better”
Complete the sentence: July 1999 (14 years old)
What I like about myself: “I am athletic and like to do a lot of things”
What others like about me: “I am funny and like to do a lot of things”
What I don’t like about myself: “I am not the smartest apple on a tree”
What others don’t like about me: “That I am not smart”
What makes me happy: “Knowing that my dad and my mom love me and a sunny day”
Why I am afraid to be happy: “Because I don’t know for sure if my parents love me”
What I do to sabotage my happiness: “Because I feel that I did not deserve it. So I make a stupid reaction and I am stuck feeling like I want to go away and never come back (die).”
New Years Wish written at church: “I want school to come easy and understandable so I can pass and get good grades and to be happier in life”
This was something Chad had typed on the computer probably around 6th grade
“When I go to school I awls dream of being the smartest”
Growing Up with ADD back to How ADD Led to Addiction