I'm aware that I'm less than some people prefer me to be, but most people are unaware that I'm so much more than what they see.
I'm ADHD, a condition characterized by behavioral problems including inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. In spite of what some people might believe, ADHD (or ADD) is real and it can have negative repercussions in one’s life. Don’t minimize its significance and impact. We certainly have a lot to learn and spread awareness (especially in a country like India) about this disorder and what it really implies. Yet, just because we don't fully understand something, doesn't mean we can deny its existence.
Also, there is a stigma attached to the word “disorder.” People assume that it means something is unbalanced or dysfunctional. In a sense, that is what it means, but that should not be interpreted as an implication that something is unnatural. Our inherent imperfections are what make us both human and unique. Not to mention, something is only “dysfunctional” when the system refuses to accommodate it. If people understood ADHD better, then it wouldn't be viewed as such a debilitating ailment or something to be cured. I've ADHD for as long as I remember and it’s no fun!
A lot of stuff never made sense to me before I actually discovered this “explorer gene”.
Normal people have a sort of mental secretary that takes most of the irrelevant crap that crosses their mind, and simply deletes it before they become consciously aware of it. As such their mental workspace is like a huge clean whiteboard ready to hold and organize information.
ADHD people have no such luxury. Every single thing that comes in the front gets written directly in bold, underlined red letters no matter what has to be erased in order for it to fit.
It has a significant social impact on one's life, causing disruption at school, work, home and in relationships. It's kind of like your brain is moving at a different pace than the rest of world, like having a Ferrari brain but with chevy brakes. You become a mess of your own thoughts. It’s like driving in the rain with faulty windshield wipers. Moments of clarity along with lots of blur.
Having a normal conversation can be a serious challenge. I have to struggle to stay in the moment when talking to someone, paying attention or waiting, and the whole experience is so tiring that I find myself avoiding situations that will involve a lot of social interactions or detail. It's hard to collaborate with anyone and to be in tune with someone else.
Doing mundane things can also be incredibly difficult. When a task isn't sufficiently stimulating and you lack the focus to address it, it ends up becoming an unmanageable source of anxiety. This could be little things like making a phone call or checking your email. Your style of thinking is nonlinear and you have to parse things non-linearly which makes it difficult to follow the mental preferences of other people. Unless something is super-exciting or addicting, it takes an immense amount of activation energy in order to do anything at all.
Although ADHD doesn’t cause learning disabilities but people with ADHD are more likely to have complications like OCD, Bipolarity, Anxiety disorders, Depression etc. Obviously, it presents a huge issue. This is why the experience of being ADHD can be so isolating and why many adults mistake it for depression or something other.
The ADHD tendency to hyperfocus can, in some situations, be a really good thing. The same mechanism that makes you obsess over a hobby can also make obsess over a hard problem until a solution seems to come to you out of nowhere. Unfortunately, thinking about problems isn't all society asks of you. You have to manage relationships, take care of your body, pay bills and juggle a hundred other things, which can all be very hard when your brain makes you miserable every second you're not doing that thing you are supposed to and can't stop thinking about.
To put it simply, ADHDers are wired differently and they experience persistent symptoms and functional impairments which varies at each stage of life, depending upon its severity. It affects not only the lives of the patients themselves, but also their families and carers. It deteriorates the overall quality of life.
However there is a brighter side to ADHD. It’s worth noting that some of the trait’s most common characteristics – creativity, multi-tasking, risk-taking, high energy and even resilience– are, in fact, strengths when leveraged in the right way and in the right career. Of course in our over-diagnosed, over-medicated culture, we choose to only focus on the negative aspects of ADHD, which include procrastination, inability to concentrate, forgetfulness, disorganization and easily distracted. One easy way to think about ADHD is having a low boredom threshold. Those with the trait become frustrated with routine, whether that includes sitting in a classroom for eight hours a day, or spending time chained to a desk at the office performing routine tasks. But there is so much more to this trait that can be leveraged to an advantage.
ADHDers are often at their best in crisis mode, multi-tasking and free associating to intuitively reach a solution. And if they find something they truly love to do, they are able to focus for hours on end.
ADHD is the price paid for creativity.
ADHD are innately creative and entrepreneurial. Daydreaming can lead to some pretty monumental ideas. Entrepreneurship fits perfectly with the ADHDer’s need for stimulation and a willingness to take risks. Individuals with ADHD possess innate energy, grit, creativity, originality, insight and interpersonal skills. And these are the ingredients of entrepreneurship.
I think it's often served as a source of strength for me. In spite of the lifelong malady that is ADHD, people affected by it can thrive. ADHD may allow you to thrive as an entrepreneur. Embrace it, and leverage your condition to achieve success.
All in all, having ADHD makes life paradoxical. You can superfocus sometimes, but also space out when you least mean to. You can radiate confidence and also feel as insecure, can perform at the highest level but feeling incompetent as you do so. You can be loved by so many, but feel as no one really likes you. You can absolutely intend to do something, then forget to do it. You can have the greatest ideas but feel as if you can’t accomplish a thing.
But, India is a terrible place to have ADHD. Citing ADD/ADHD for reason of underperformance and underachievement is laughed at. More because it is still unheard of, and people are not aware. People with ADHD/ADD go their entire lives being told they are lazy, unorganized etc. Even psychiatrists in India are skeptical about the validity of this disorder. If you have ADD, it’s your damn problem. You might be considered dull and be even forced to push on.
ADHD is not a new thing. There always has been people in past who were ADHD but these people never had to sit 7-8 hours in school or office. They were thinkers, philosophers, writers working on their own terms and was always in control of their work environment. But in modern world ADHD is a big curse. Only way out is to find a work environment where you are in control.
By the way as per research conducted wrt ADD/ADHD, the people with ADD/ADHD are generally more intelligent than their counter parts (Not a rule of thumb though). It is just that they need to find something that really interests them before the actual flow starts to kick in.
So, never sell yourself short because of ADHD, be proud and use the abilities ADHD gives you. It's not a disability; It's a different ability.
People should think before they judge. ADHD is not a choice, learned behavior, temper tantrum, a willpower issue or an inability to willingly control oneself. It is a medical condition, chemical imbalance, a big deal to those who suffer with it, a fight to fit in, a struggle to develop relationships, deathmatch to maintain focus, a war to maintain brain and body, a REAL thing!
Please educate before you conversate.
It's hard and its real. There’s a reason we are, the way we are.
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