Shaun Ryder on the ‘eureka moment’ of being diagnosed with ADHD: 'It explained everything'

·4 min read
Shaun Ryder said being diagnosed with ADHD was an 'eureka moment' for him (Photo by Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)
Shaun Ryder said being diagnosed with ADHD was an 'eureka moment' for him (Photo by Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Shaun Ryder was known for his erratic behaviour over the years, which was put down to his heavy drug use, but last year he was diagnosed with a condition that suddenly made sense of who he was.

The Happy Mondays frontman was diagnosed with ADHD and, speaking on White Wine Question Time, he said it was an amazing moment as lots of things suddenly made sense.

“It's an absolute eureka moment because it explained everything,” he told podcast host Kate Thornton.

He continued: “It explained why I lived a wildly chaotic life. I couldn't learn. Your brain is not wired up the same, the messages don't shoot across. 

"I had trouble understanding what people were saying, because there’s other sorts of conditions with it - you know, controlling your temper and your emotions and everything else.”

Watch: Shaun Ryder opens up about how his ADHD led to his drug abuse

ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - is a neuro-developmental condition that affects behaviour. The NHS website says that people with ADHD “can seem restless, may have trouble concentrating and may act on impulse.”

The star, who has six children, said he had his suspicions when his youngest daughter was going through the process of diagnosis herself.

“I've got six kids, and four of them have got it,” he said.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 29:  Shaun Ryder of Black Grape performs at Star Shaped Festival at O2 Academy Brixton on September 29, 2018 in London, England.  (Photo by Lorne Thomson/Redferns)
Shaun Ryder performing on stage in 2018 (Lorne Thomson/Redferns)

“My daughter, who's 12, when sort of things had gone a bit skew-whiff, we had to start looking into it and that's when I found out it’s got to come from somewhere - and it's all come from me.”

Read more: Woman diagnosed with ADHD at 44: 'I thought it only affected young boys'

Ryder, who cites meditation with helping him deal with his ADHD now, said having the undiagnosed condition was one of the reasons he first turned to drugs when he was younger.

“Drugs made me feel normal,” he told Thornton.

“I was a fidgeter – I couldn’t keep still. I always felt uncomfortable and then as soon as I took certain drugs, I didn’t feel uncomfortable. I could sit still without moving about.”

Listen: Shaun Ryder talks about the luck involved in The Happy Mondays’ success

“Heroin to me made me feel normal… where I didn’t feel odd or ridiculous. Taking a drug that cuts out all emotions for me was great - especially when you don't know how to deal with emotions.”

The star, who didn’t learn the alphabet until he was 28, is determined that his daughter has a better experience than he did at school – however, he says there’s still a large amount of education needed on how to deal with the condition in the classroom.

Bez and Shaun Ryder of the Happy Mondays performing on stage at Astoria Theatre, London, 14 March 1989. (Photo by Ian Dickson/Redferns)
Bez and Shaun Ryder of the Happy Mondays performing on stage at Astoria Theatre, London, 14 March 1989. (Ian Dickson/Redferns)

“Believe it or not, there’s still a big ignorance about it - in the 1960s and 70s, you could understand it,” he said.

Read more: Robbie Williams writes a song with Shaun Ryder after bonding over interest in UFOs

“I’ve sent my girls to private school, because I thought you would get more help with ADHD – and it didn’t work out like that. There’s actually more help in the normal schools.”

Ryder, who has been told it’s a miracle that he’s ever learnt how to read and write, said school was difficult for him as the condition often had earmarked as a naughty kid.

Ryder credits his wife with helping him deal with this ADHD (Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)
Ryder credits his wife with helping him deal with this ADHD (Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)

“With ADHD you can get a temper and struggle with your emotions,” he explained.

“I was branded an absolute lunatic and bad behaviour and all that, so I never got on with school.”

The Celebrity Googlebox star said that while growing older has helped him find an inner calm, he credits a lot of it to his wife of 11 years, Joanne, who used to be a special needs teacher.

“She got me before I got me!” he exclaimed.

He continued: “She totally understood and understands my behaviour. What I think is funny, a lot of people just think it's outrageous, because I just don't think! I have to really keep focused and in control and she does a good job of that.”

Hear Shaun Ryder talk why he feared hanging out more with the celebrities than the creatures in I'm A Celebrity in the latest episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen now on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Pre-order: How to Be a Rock Star by Shaun Ryder | £20 from Waterstones

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