Welcome to the ADHD Roller Coaster, specifically the About Gina Pera page.
Finding solid ADHD expertise on the Internet—or even in the mental-health profession—can be tricky!
- How do you know if the information is reliable?
- Moreover, how do you round up all the bits and pieces into a useful, actionable whole?
For 20 years, I’ve helped folks find their way—adults with ADHD and their loved ones. Compassionately. Responsibly. Comprehensively. With humor, when it’s appropriate. Along the way, I’ve earned the endorsements of preeminent ADHD experts and the folks riding this ADHD Roller Coaster with me.
I will never forget what it was like, to feel so alone and misunderstood by the public and the mental-health community. My lemons are your lemonade. Drink up!
On this page, I briefly offer my credentials.
New! I am excited to announce that my long-awaited course is here! Participants can also join me and your peers in comprehensive online training: Solving Your Adult ADHD Puzzle.
Mission: Elevating Lives Through the ADHD Lens
My goal since the late 1990s has been three-fold:
- Reducing suffering and elevating lives by providing support, validation, and solid education
- Providing intelligent and informed conversation around Adult ADHD—and its evidence-based 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 this blog, two major books, a chapter in Dr. Russell Barkley’s clinical guide, online training, and group support 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. It felt like an episode of The Twilight Zone! 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 behind us. My husband has supported me every step of the way. He is a life scientist highly also motivated by elevating lives and health.
“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 CADDRA, 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 books 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. They count on my cross-disciplinary knowledge to help them to solve many a mystery in their lives. Who knew XYZ [sleep apnea, addictions, driving safety, balance issues, 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 am happy to 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—one that helps you understand your particular ADHD-related issues and solutions. I make that accessible to the average person and to mental-health professionals.
The ADHD Relationships Lived Experience
Let’s back up. My direct experience with Adult ADHD began in the late 1990s, 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. My online group for local partners of Adult ADHD soon grew international, by demand.
That’s how I started on my path to becoming an author and internationally recognized Accidental ADHD Expert.
Service and “In the Trenches” Research
- Founding and leading for almost 20 years an online group for the partners of adults with ADHD—10,000 members have come through and 14,000+ posts overall
- 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 (paying my own way, too, having rejected pharma support of any kind)
- 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 14 years—the longest-running website of any kind on Adult ADHD
- 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, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Handbook for Diagnosis and Treatment.
- 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
ADHD Roller Coaster Blog Mission
Everything that affects people with ADHD concerns me. “ADHD Relationship” issues don’t operate in a vacuum. Everything that affects the ADHD partner affects everyone else in their sphere.
You’ll find here blog posts on a huge range of topics—from first-person essays to key research findings.
ADHD Consumer Watchdog:
What good is “pursuing treatment” when the prescriber or therapist metaphorically 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.
My first book was supposed to be my “exit strategy” from so much pro bono work. But then the economy tanked (2008) and I heard too many disappointing stories about care providers. So, I kept at it.
Sampling (just use the search box to find the topic that interests you; links will be messy!):
- 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
Adult ADHD Educator:
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 Jerkiness: 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). When you stop and think about it, it’s 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 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 (Adult ADHD and The Automatic No and When ADHD Leads to 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, as they are called —a sort of mutual-admiration society echo-chamber—mislead for their own purposes and their non-disclosed funder. Amateurs market themselves as experts. Desperate consumers don’t know the difference.
There are no “gatekeepers”.
Consider the stakes: The difference between accurate and skewed information is the difference between a life or relationship well lived — and a life or relationship hobbled.
Since the beginning, I have been entirely self-funded. Why? Because conflict of interest is real. With my background in print journalism, I know it is a slippery slope.
Also: My book was the first to take a solid “pro-medication” stance. That was a risk in 2008 when the “ADHD is a Gift” campaign dominated in the popular press! Medication is the single most effective tool in the ADHD toolbox, and I did not want this message tainted any apparent conflict of interest.
To be clear: You’ll never hear me castigate “Big Pharma”. The pharmaceutical industry has funded much ADHD research, and that’s often a very good thing. It has helped to legitimize the diagnosis. Researchers must provide evidence and undergo peer scrutiny. Their reputations, careers, and other types of grants depend on it. And they must by law disclose this support.
By contrast, the financial support behind many ADHD-themed websites and personalities is typically done covertly, with no disclosures. That’s a problem.
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.