You know the story: ADHD does not really exist and has been created so that Big Pharm can make lots of money! They make stimulants and they sell like hot cakes.
That’s just one example of the many myths and misconceptions about ADHD, so I am not even going to begin to outline the reasons why it’s wrong. Let me say that ADHD really is a condition and that it can affect your life negatively. On the other hand, it is important to remember that people with ADHD also have a lot going for them.
Here are 10 feelings that only they can identify with. Read these and you will begin to understand what it feels like to have ADHD- then spread the word. It might help people to learn more about the disorder.
1. They feel rejected
Sad, but true. It is all to do with the problem of being unable to control their impulses, and keep them under control. That leads to all sorts of problems in social interaction at school and later in adulthood. People do not understand that it is connected to the way the ADHD brain is wired and that it is not due to laziness or being forgetful. People with ADHD can find it almost impossible to pay attention and stay on topic in conversations and meetings. It is no wonder they are sidelined.
2. They feel discouraged and dejected
They interrupt and make inappropriate remarks. They talk and laugh too loudly. They also tend to talk rather a lot. They hear remarks like, “I just told you that, don’t you remember?” or, “You only care about yourself.” As you can imagine, people lose patience and the person with ADHD feels dejected. This can lead to low self esteem and depression.
3. They thrive on love and support
If they are in a relationship, they will thrive on affectionate support. That may seem obvious, but there are millions of people who still do not believe that ADHD is a real condition, even in 2015! Parents and partners who know something about ADHD are savvy enough to give real support.
4. They can hyperfocus when their curiosity is aroused
Stephen Tonti describes how he fell off his chair at school trying to watch all the kids playing outside. Watch the video where he explains that once his curiosity is aroused, he is able to stay hyperfocused and all the fidgeting and distracted behavior disappears. He can stay focused for hours. All this happens when he gets excited and really into a topic or area of work. Very often, the problem with ADHD kids and adults when they are in the zone is that you can never get them to stop or finish!
5. They are happier with a well structured routine
Adults and kids with ADHD hate boredom. In addition, they are impulsive and highly distracted. But give them a routine and a well structured timetable and they will start to get things done. They actually have a love/hate relationship with routine. But learning to use visual cues, checklists and timing activities can make an enormous difference.
6. They feel frustrated
The main cause of frustration is trying to focus and get a task done. Society demands that we are punctual, precise and tidy. Each one of these things is a nightmare for an ADHDer. They will get there but it is often a very long and painful process. Imagine just trying to focus on what a person is saying, with one fact or name to remember. One sufferer describes this experience as being like trying to access information when there is a loud hum which prevents you from understanding what people are saying:
“Now you’ve lost track of the first person and begin to feel panic. You start looking for the first people in order to recollect their information, but you can’t because you’re still collecting from the others. Now every bit of information that breaks through the hum carries the same weight. There is no way to distinguish what is most important. You try to start over, but you’ve already forgotten much of the first bits you’ve collected. It’s a losing battle and eventually you give up on that task and berate yourself for failing.”- An adult with ADHD.
7. They are consoled by ADHD success stories
A sufferer is always comforted by the fact that many people with ADHD seem to thrive in spite of all the drawbacks and handicaps. They have exploited the creativity and sensory intensity that also comes with ADHD. Often, senses are so sharp that they can be creative in art, music and writing. They are inspired by Ty Pennington, Will Smith, Michael Phelps and thousands more who have thrived with ADHD.
“I can distill complicated facts and come up with simple solutions. I can look out on an industry with all kinds of problems and say, ‘How can I do this better?’ My ADD brain naturally searches for better ways of doing things.” – David Neeleman founder of JetBlue.
8. They are exhausted from so many things going on
Ask any person with ADHD what it is like and they will tell you that their filters are not working at all. Normal people filter out distractions and irrelevant facts when they take a phone call in a crowded place. But the person with ADHD has so many things coming at them that it often feels overwhelming.
They would just love to have an OFF button in their brain so that they could wind down and relax. Unfortunately, this is not possible for them. Stephanie Sarkis is a psychotherapist and she described ADHD as like having non-stop committee meetings in your brain where you have to look at all the options. It’s exhausting.
9. They are happy when multi-tasking
The ADHD brain as we have seen is all over the place and this is great when you have to multi-task. Some ADHDers can really use this to their advantage. Most people are told that multi-tasking can ruin concentration and that it can take a lot of time to get back on track when you switch from one task to the other. The person with ADHD finds it absolutely normal and can really get lots done:
“To do ANYTHING, I have to multitask. In fact, as I’m typing this, I’m drinking coffee and talking on the phone! It’s like if my brain doesn’t have enough stimulation, then I’m comatose.” – An adult with ADHD.
10. They often hide their ADHD
Adam Levine from Maroon 5 has ADHD and he has done a lot of work to help people to come out with ADHD, so that they can get treatment and function better in society. ADHD still has stigma attached to it and coming out at work can be risky if you do not have a sympathetic boss, for example. Adam is working on the Own It campaign with other ADHD charities so that adults especially can reach out and get reassessed, if necessary. ADHD is not just for kids and it continues into adulthood. There are about 10 million adults with ADHD in the USA.
Now that you know what it is like to have ADHD, why not reach out and help someone you may know with the disorder?