The dark side of ADHD Part deuce
The Dark Side of ADHD, part deux
Hello, people, welcome back to the blog! Hope everyone had a great weekend. Last week, we started a series on the dark side of ADHD. Squirrel!! If you don’t get that, check out last week’s blog. This week, we’re going to continue the discussion, but we’re going to focus on what it’s like to have ADHD, from that person’s perspective. I’ve made a little list of things patients have told me, and I want to share that, because they tell it best; far better than I can.
First, I just want to bust a couple more myths. Someone asked me about sugar causing ADHD, and that really put a bug in my bonnet about myths and misconceptions. There’s still so much misinformation out there, so I want to stamp it out.
“ADHD is a learning disability.”
Wrong. ADHD symptoms can definitely get in the way of learning, but they don’t cause difficulty in specific skills like reading, writing, and math, as a true learning disability does. That said, some people can have ADHD and a learning disability, but it is not one itself. Now, just because ADHD isn’t a learning disability doesn’t mean that kids can’t get help in school. And for that matter, adults with ADHD can often get support at work as well.
“People with ADHD can’t ever focus.”
Wrong. While it’s true that people with ADHD can have trouble focusing, they can actually experience hyperfocus. If they’re very interested in something, they may focus on it very intensely, to the exclusion of everything else, even to the point that they cannot pull themselves away. That’s hyperfocus. Some kids with ADHD are very easily distracted in class but a bomb could go off when they’re playing a video game, and it wouldn’t faze them. Adults might have trouble focusing on the parts of work they find boring, but they totally pour themselves into the aspects they really enjoy.
“People with ADHD would be more successful if they tried harder.”
Wrong. ADHD isn’t an issue of laziness or lack of motivation. A person is considered lazy if they have the ability or capacity to do something, but they just don’t want to exert the effort to do it. People with ADHD are often trying as hard as they can to focus and pay attention, and they exert as much effort to get things done as those without it- and often more- but their condition keeps them from getting to the finish line because they’re so easily distracted along the way. They’ll eventually get there, it just may take a little longer. And btw, telling someone with ADHD to “just focus” is like asking someone who’s nearsighted to just see farther. It doesn’t fly. If they could, they would. The reason they struggle with attention has nothing to do with attitude… it’s due to differences in the way their brain is structured and how it functions.
“People with ADHD aren’t smart.”
Wrong. ADHD isn’t related to lower IQ. People with ADHD may be perceived to have lower intelligence because they work differently than everyone else. But the truth is, most people with ADHD are highly intelligent and creative… even more creative than their non-ADHD counterparts. They’re also more intuitive thinkers and better at managing crises. Tell Albert Einstein (yes, the theoretical physicist) that people with ADHD aren’t smart. Or Sir Richard Branson, the billionaire business mogul. Or John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States. Or actor/producer/rapper Will Smith. Or actor/comedian/producer Jim Carrey. Or Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time. They all seem to do just fine. People with ADHD aren’t dumb, and kids with ADHD can grow up and be just as successful as anyone else. The factors that contribute to the success of a child with ADHD are mostly related to how their parents and teachers react. If they take the time to understand what’s going on, embrace the learning process, and help the child find ways to manage it, they greatly increase that child’s chances of success.
So what’s it like to have ADHD? Here’s what I’ve been told…
It’s rarely feeling like you really enjoy anything, because you’re always so distracted by something else.
It’s constantly coming up with great ideas, but failing to focus or work efficiently on any one of them long enough to make it a reality.
It’s knowing how long it takes to get ready in the morning, but not being able to tell how quickly time is passing until you’re already late.
It’s being able to note every single detail of a classroom, but being unable to pay attention to the one thing you’re supposed to be looking at.
It’s struggling in every aspect of your life, but feeling that other people don’t recognize your suffering as a legitimate disorder.
It’s feeling exhausted at the end of a hectic day, but too overwhelmed with thoughts to actually fall asleep.
It’s having a conversation in a public place and hearing every noise around you… except for the voice you’re supposed to listen to.
It’s being barely focused on everything around you, or so hyperfocused on one thing that the world around you ceases to exist.
It’s hearing all the instructions, but not being able to hold them in your brain long enough to actually use them.
It’s remembering that you always need your phone, keys, and wallet before you leave the house, but still having to play hide and seek for them every single time.
It’s knowing you need to switch to another task on your to-do list, but being too hyperfocused on what you’re doing to disengage from it.
It’s being completely bored with what’s in front of you, but totally restless and jittery with excitement about all the abstract thoughts circling in your head.
It’s always trying to do too many things at once, and not multitasking efficiently enough to finish any one of them.
It’s believing you can succeed in your career, while also fearing that your ADHD will cause you to fail.
It’s knowing you need to reach a long-term goal, but lacking the planning strategies to take the right short-term steps to get there.
It’s wanting to control your intense emotions, but not realizing you need to until after you’ve had the uncontrollable outburst.
It’s having a brilliant answer to a question in the back of your head, but taking too long to communicate it, so someone else answers.
It’s knowing you’re smart, but feeling stupid all the time, because you have trouble putting your thoughts into words.
It’s knowing that you shouldn’t interrupt someone, but not being able to stop yourself from speaking out loud.
It’s working twice as hard for twice as long as everyone else, but to get just half as much done.
It’s knowing that you need a particular environment to be productive, but not wanting to ask for special accommodations.
It’s being excited to make plans with someone you love, but forgetting about them because you didn’t write them down.
It’s being focused on everything and nothing at all, which makes it feel like you’ll never get anything done.
It’s wanting to take control of your life and achieve your dreams, but feeling like ADHD will always have control over you.
As you can imagine, ADHD can cause a great deal of frustration. People can feel hopeless at times, and feeling misunderstood makes it that much worse. Misconceptions propagate in silence, and ultimately can prevent people from seeking help. By taking the time to learn more about ADHD, you’re already making an effort to beat that, so be sure to share what you’ve learned.
That’s a good place to stop for this week. Next week, we’ll talk about gender differences in ADHD. I hope you enjoyed this blog and found it to be interesting and educational. Please feel free to share it with family and friends. Be sure to check out my YouTube channel with all of my videos, and I’d appreciate it if you would like, subscribe, leave comments, and share those vids! As always, my book Tales from the Couch has more educational topics and patient stories, and is available in office and on Amazon.
Thank you and be well people!