Welcome to the About Gina Pera page.
You’re seeking support and education for Adult ADHD, right? You value your life, your relationship, your family, right? You seek reliable expertise, right?
Yet….have you noticed? Finding solid ADHD expertise on the Internet—or even in the mental-health profession—can be tricky! On this page, I briefly offer my credentials and how I might help you.
You’ll find more information throughout my ADHD Roller Coaster blog site. Now, you (individuals, couples, and professionals) can also join me in comprehensive online training: Solving Your Adult ADHD Puzzle Piece.
Mission: Elevating Lives Through the ADHD Lens
My goal has been three-fold:
- Reducing suffering and elevating lives by providing support, validation, and education
- Providing intelligent and informed conversation around Adult ADHD—and its treatment standards—for the average person
- Emphasizing that ADHD couple therapy requires educating and supporting each partner and the relationship—in a fair and equitable way. That is, not simply asking the partner to be “more understanding” or executive secretary to the ADHD partner.
My published body of work, including two major books and a chapter in Dr. Russell Barkley’s clinical guide, carries out this mission.
Why This Mission? I’ll Tell You
In 1993, I was a print journalist living in San Diego. Then I met my future husband, a scientist. In the process, I accidentally discovered Adult ADHD—and the overwhelming need millions of people had for knowledgeable support.
It all left me stunned—the lack of awareness and professional help. Twenty years later, it still does! Each year, research tells us more about the personal costs of poorly managed/unrecognized ADHD. We must do better.
See that photo above? It’s our wedding, in 1999. Notice me in the dripline? See the soaked fabric on my shoulder. I didn’t know I was in the dripline! I thought it was just raining hard. My husband didn’t realize he’d put me in the dripline! Consider that literal and metaphorical, for years until we found our way.
Once I realized how common our challenges were for millions of others, I decided to shine a light on the path for others behind us. And he has supported me every step of the way. He is a life scientist, after all.
“But What Are You Exactly, Gina Pera”?
I get that question a lot. Trouble is, my work defies easy categorizations.
- One week I’m successfully leading the charge for the FDA to downgrade inferior Concerta generics that were sending lives off the rails.
- The next week, I am presenting a plenary talk at a professional ADHD conference on our Adult ADHD-Focused Couple Therapy model.
- Soon after, I’m facilitating my long-time face-to-face groups (one for adults with ADHD and one for the “partners of”) in Palo Alto, California.
- Somewhere in between I’m producing two ground-breaking book and this blog—the first site of any kind on adult ADHD! (2008!)
So, I lack a simple marketing message. But smart folks manage to find me, and I am grateful for their company. We make fast progress!
They say they know I’m in their corner. My cross-disciplinary knowledge, in particular, helps them to solve many a mystery in their lives. Who knew XYZ [sleep apnea, addictions, driving safety, sensory processing and auditory processing disorders, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, etc.] might be related to ADHD? Not their physicians. Not their therapists.
Sure, this is more common knowledge in ADHD world now. But it wasn’t for many years. And yes, I’ll credit my efforts toward making that happen.
The truth is, there is nothing simple about ADHD. You deserve a comprehensive understanding and evidence-based knowledge. And, I work to make it accessible to the average person and to mental-health professionals.
The Lived Experience
My direct experience with Adult ADHD began in 1999, while still trying to make sense of my new husband’s inexplicable behaviors. Browsing the library’s “new books” section, an interesting title caught my eye: Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, by Daniel Amen, MD.
That book changed my life alright—along with my husband’s life and many tens of thousands of people my work has helped.
So shocked that we didn’t know about adult ADHD—that none of our couple therapists knew, either—I started volunteering in my community to organize lectures and groups.
That’s how I started on my path to becoming an Accidental ADHD Expert.
Service and “In the Trenches” Research
- Founding and leading for 16 years an online group for the partners of adults with ADHD—1,000 members at any one time and 14,000 posts overall (and counting)
- Leading two face-to-face groups in Silicon Valley for 15 years: One for adults with ADHD, one for the “partners of”; both free and open to the public
- Providing editing services pro bono for an important book addressing Adult ADHD and the Criminal Justice System: Spinning Out of Control
- Attending years of high-level conferences on ADHD—taking copious notes and asking questions
- Reading many hundreds of published papers—and dozens of books
- Conducting the most comprehensive survey on Adult ADHD, the ADHD Partner Survey, the findings of which are included in Dr. Barkley’s clinical guide
Writing and Speaking
- Writing this award-winning blog for 12 years—and reading every comment (responding, too)—almost 6,000 at last count
- Publishing in 2008 the groundbreaking, award-winning Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.? —the first and only book to comprehensively detail Adult ADHD, the impact of late-diagnosis, the dual nature of “denial”, the potential effect on loved ones, and evidence-based treatment strategies
- Being invited by a preeminent ADHD expert, Russell Barkley, PhD, to write the first-ever chapter on couple therapy for his “gold standard” clinical guide.
- Being asked to produce for Routledge Press the first clinical guide for treating ADHD-challenged couples: Adult ADHD-Focused Couple Therapy: Clinical Interventions, with esteemed ADHD authority Arthur L. Robin, PhD.
- By invitation, speaking at international high-level ADHD conferences
Everything that affects people with ADHD concerns me. “Relationship” issues don’t operate in a vacuum. Everything that affects the ADHD partner affects everyone else in their sphere.
ADHD Consumer Watchdog:
What good is “pursuing treatment” when it drops you on your head? And maybe discourages you from ever trying again? Sorry, but “talk to your doctor” too often proves a dead-end. Or worse.
- Successfully lobbied the FDA to downgrade the first two Concerta generics—so consumers who rely on their medication working would not have to accept an inferior substitution
- Helped consumers navigate the new mess after the 2017 White House administration’s new FDA chief approved a flood of inferior Concerta generics
- Concerned about the misuse of genetic tests to guide ADHD medication choices, I recruited my scientist husband to join me in writing a seven-part blog post series.
- Warned about the risks of Adderall 20 years ago—and ended up being right, darn it (The Tragic Truth Of Prescription Adderall, or “Madderall” remains my most popular post)
- Among the first to warn about differences between brand and generic medications, in the context of ADHD
Combing cross-disciplinary research to help the public understand that ADHD is a physical condition—it affects more than “attention” and “focus”
These blog posts are among my most popular—and in most cases, the topics appeared here first:
- ADHD Poses Health Risks for Many Conditions and Diseases
- ADHD, Balance, and “Postural Sway”
- Post-Orgasm Irritability and “Jerkdom”: ADHD & Sex
- Addictions, ADHD, and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
- Can Stimulants Normalize Iron Uptake in Individuals with ADHD? Maybe
- ADHD and Obesity
- ADHD and Nicotine: Historical Ads
- Is It Alzheimer’s—or ADHD?
Adult ADHD Relationship Expert:
Everything that affects the adult with ADHD affects the partner (and children). That is not hard to understand.
You deserve a comprehensive education and strategies targeted to your needs. Not “Five Tips and Tricks”. Not standard couple-therapy beliefs that uncomfortably shoe-horned into ADHD relationships.
In addition to my published work, I’ve covered the gamut on this blog:
- You Me ADHD Book Club — Recognizing the neglected needs of dual-ADHD couples, I asked two women with late-diagnosis ADHD (husbands same!) to write chapter-by-chapter essays based on their reactions to reading Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.? Their essays also illustrated that ADHD relationship issues are not simply “ADHD vs. Non-ADHD”
- Educated readers on the link between ADHD neurobiology and behaviors such as empathy and reciprocity
- Wrote first-person essays on my own marriage, through the lens of Adult ADHD
- Explained common Adult ADHD phenomenon that, misinterpreted and left to continue, could wreck lives (The Automatic No and Self-Medicating with Argument)
No Pharmaceutical Industry Support
Compared to when I started this blog (2008!) and the few glorious years after, the Internet has become the Wild West on Adult ADHD.
Anyone can say anything. The louder they say it, the more credibility they are accorded. The online marketing cabals —a sort of mutual-admiration society echo chamber—mislead. Amateurs market themselves as experts, and desperate consumers don’t know the difference.
There are no “gatekeepers”. I do my best—and have a few scars to prove it!
Consider the stakes: The difference between accurate and skewed information—is the difference between a life well lived and a life hobbled.
Online and even within non-profit organizations, one pharma in particular dominates. Long known for its aggressive and fraudulent marketing practices, it influences much of what we read and hear about ADHD online—through the people and events it supports.
That support often comes covertly. For example, public relations is performed on that person’s behalf . That person is placed on a non-profit’s board. The goal: To carry that company’s marketing agenda.
That agenda does not serve you. It serves that company’s short-term profits and those compromised “experts.” If you think I exaggerate, just a few years ago, that pharma paid a $53M fine for fraudulent marketing. This happened predominantly in the field of ADHD, for downplaying the risks of its product, Adderall. It continues, unchastened. (Even now, many physicians prescribed based on pharma-rep pitches from 10 or 20 years ago. To bad effect.)
For example, until the last year or two, I was the only person warning about Adderall. With the advent of publicly available analytics (that is, anyone can pay to see a website’s statistics), commercial outlets saw how popular my Adderall post is—and paid to Google-search boost their own superficial versions.
Award-Winning Print Journalist
As an old-fashioned veteran journalist with a reputation for accuracy, I’ve brought to this topic since 2000 my skills in
- Listening and asking good questions
- Parsing statistics
- Vetting experts as being reputable and truly expert
- Assessing and gleaning key points from the published research—and gauging the strength of the research
- Chasing down facts (and following the money)
- Synthesizing complex information into everyday language
- Knowing the limits to my knowledge and referring for more information to vetted research and/or specialists
- Merging all this with the detailed stories from thousands of adults with ADHD and their loved ones.
Thank you for spending time with me. I’ll try to make the most of it! Let’s work together to elevate our lives and the standard of Adult ADHD care.